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Content Marketing

Herding Goldfish: Using Content Recommendations To Hold Your Buyers’ Attention

Care to take a guess on how long the average person’s attention span is? According to a Canadian study, the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds. That’s awfully short. Especially when you consider that the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.

So what does that mean for digital marketers who are trying to get the attention of distracted buyers and guide them on their path-to-purchase? Well, let’s just say they might be better off herding goldfish!

The key is doing more with each fleeting moment when you have your prospect’s undivided attention. Here are a few things to keep in mind to tackle the attention span problem.

Are you adding to the noise or cutting through it?

Merriam Webster defines attention span as “the length of time during which one is able to concentrate or remain interested”. And, as mentioned earlier, those spans are decreasing and this is having detrimental effects when it comes to your marketing. According to StatisticBrain:

  • 17% percent of web page views last less than 4 seconds
  • Only ⅓ of web pages with 600+ words are read
  • 22% of smartphone users check their phone every 5 min

This all means you don’t have much time to make an impression before your busy and distracted prospect is off doing something else.

Having said that, we marketers have to accept our fair share of the blame when it comes to contributing to the state of overstimulation online. Faced with painfully low click-through rates and form conversion benchmarks, many marketers have responded by bombarding their audience with even more emails and more calls-to-action to click here! Watch this! Download this now! That’s a lot of noise…

The average person sees around 5,000 marketing messages per day. In attempting to address the attention span problem, marketers are really just making it worse by adding to the noise and causing even more distraction and division of attention. For one thing, we’re sending way too many emails. In 217 alone, there will be 269 billion emails were sent and received every day to 2.9 billion email accounts.

Content recommendations help capitalize on the coveted moment

So, attention is a rare commodity. If getting someone’s attention for even a few seconds is this hard, you better make the most of it while you’ve got it. As the old saying goes, “You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Every click, conversion, and content download is a precious moment that signals a buyer’s intent. What you do with that moment can mean the difference between starting your prospect on a journey of self-education and closing the door on that buyer forever.

Think about how the marketer-buyer interaction typically works today: you manage to get your prospect’s attention by spending a lot of time, effort, and money getting them to click on something. And your prospect – let’s call him Peter – signals his intent by downloading your white paper on topic A, something he’s really been meaning to research. That’s awesome!

But here’s the thing: most marketers deliver the content and then let Peter walk away, getting distracted by all the other shiny things online. As soon as Peter downloads that single piece of content, the conversation is over–more like a one-stop shop than the journey it should be. And the worst part? You likely won’t have an opportunity to pick it up again until next week when you send him one of your scheduled nurture emails in hopes that he’ll click again on something else.

There has to be a better way… and there is. It’s with content recommendations. Always serving up a ‘next best thing’ for Peter to read so he’s free to self-educate until he chooses to move on (not because he’s forced to).

We know that 88% of people consume 10.4 pieces of content before they’re sales-ready. Content recommendations help pack more of the buyer’s journey into every click. They are an essential piece of the new era of content engagement. Rather than serving single pieces of content per hard-won click, content recommendations help empower buyers to “self-nurture” on their own schedule.

RWe looked at the data from approximately 25,000 customer content journeys that individuals took with PathFactory. The data shows that when engaged buyers are in-the-moment, they’re not so different than a viewer who wants to binge-watch episode after episode of their favorite show on Netflix: they want to consume a lot of content all at once.

33% of all visitors to PathFactory Content Tracks consumed more than one content asset in a sitting and a whopping 7% consumed every piece of content that was offered to them. The total time the average visitor spent reading or watching various pieces of content was 4 minutes 27 seconds. That’s an eternity when the average attention span is measured in seconds! Proof that content recommendations really do work.

Content recommendations help you do more with every moment

If a third of the people in your database have the propensity to binge on your content and you’re only feeding them drips, you’re essentially leaving them behind – not good when you consider that these engaged prospects are your next marketing qualified leads.

One-and-done marketing that serves one content asset per click doesn’t maximize engagement while you have someone’s attention.

To do more with the moment, marketers need to move away from slow scheduled marketing and find new and creative ways to recommend relevant content by packaging and delivering it on-demand. Your prospects are really busy and easily distracted: they won’t wait for you to engage on your timeline when there are so many other fish in the sea.

(And if this post interests you, click on the ‘next’ promoter to discover more helpful content… see what we did there?)


Editor’s note: This post has been updated. The original post was published June 22, 2015.