Herding Goldfish: Tips for Holding on to Your Buyer’s Attention While You’ve Got It

Care to take a guess on how long the average person’s attention span is? According to Statistic Brain, the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds – down from 12 seconds in 2000*. 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 busy and distracted buyers and guide them on their path to purchase? Well, let’s just say they might be better off herding goldfish! Here are a few tips for how you can tackle the attention span problem and do more with those fleeting moments when you have your prospect’s undivided attention.

Are you adding to the noise or cutting through it?
Statistic Brain defines attention span as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted” and notes that attention spans “have been decreasing over the past decade with the increase in external stimulation.” What does this mean in marketing terms? It means you don’t have much time to make an impression before your busy and distracted prospect is off doing something else:

  • 17% percent of web page views last less than 4 seconds
  • 2.7 minutes is the average viewing time for a single video online
  • The average office worker checks their email 30 times per hour

Marketers have to accept their fair share of the blame when it comes to contributing to the state of overstimulation online. Faced with painfully low click-though rates and form conversion benchmarks (In the B2B realm, we’re talking fractions of a percent), many marketers have responded by shouting louder – bombarding their audience with more emails and more calls to action to click here, watch this, download this now!

According to The Futures Company, the average person sees some 5,000 marketing messages per day – and the number may even be as high as 30,000. In attempting to address the attention span problem, marketers are really just making it worse. For one thing, we’re sending way too many emails. By 2017, there will be 206 billion emails sent every day to 4.9 billion email accounts (Source: Oracle Marketing Cloud). With all that noise, it’s no wonder 51% of white collar professionals believe they are almost at the “breaking point” (Source: LexisNexis).

Are you capitalizing on the coveted moment?
So attention is a rare commodity. Getting someone’s attention for even a few seconds is really hard, so 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 or content download is a precious moment that signals the 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 this marketer-buyer interaction typically works today: You manage to get your prospect’s attention by spending a lot of time, effort and money to get them to click on something, and your prospect – let’s call him Dan – 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 let Dan walk away. As soon as Dan downloads that single piece of content, the conversation is over. 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. Based on what we know about attention spans, by next week, Dan is likely going to be researching something else entirely. You’re sending him an email with content on topic A, but he’s already moved on to researching something at the other end of the alphabet.

You had Dan’s attention. He was ready to consume content, learn more and educate himself right there in this moment, but you let him go…. To make matters worse, you know that Dan downloaded your paper, but you don’t know if he ever read it. It could very well be sitting forgotten in his Downloads folder (where good content goes to die).

There has to be a better way, doesn’t there?

Now here’s where things get interesting
We know that prospects need to consume up to 10 pieces of content before they’re sales-ready**. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pack more of the buyer’s journey into every click? Enter the new era of content engagement. Rather than serving single pieces of content per hard-won click, LookBooks empower buyers to “self-nurture” on their own schedule by providing optimized content journeys in a continuous session.

Recently, we looked at the data from approximately 25,000 content journeys that individuals took with LookBooks in the past year and what we found is pretty interesting: 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 LookBooks 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!

Leave No Engaged Prospect Behind
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 (MQLs): Picture that big school of goldfish swimming away and vanishing into the murky depths….

“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 package and deliver their content 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.

*Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, The Associated Press via Statistic Brain. ** Source: Google Zero Moment of Truth Study