3 Lessons for Creating Better Online Content for a Short-Attention-Span World

Few people read to the end of online articles, and many don’t even bother to scroll past the introduction.

Those are among the findings of “You Won’t Finish This Article: Why People Online Don’t Read to the End,” an interesting and fun piece on reader habits by Slate technology columnist Farhad Manjoo.

But what do those findings mean for content marketers? Here are three key lessons.

1. Wow Them Quickly

By the end of online articles, a good portion of the
audience is no longer there, so wow them quickly
and make your main point early.  
Don’t start your content slowly, then build it up to a crescendo. Wow your readers at the start, or they’ll never get to the middle. The first sentence is more important than the last sentence. Spend time crafting that lead!

2. Make Your Main Point Early

No matter how strong your lead is, some readers are still going to navigate away. So don’t have a long introduction before stating your main point, sometimes called the nut graph. State the purpose of your blog post, article or other content before readers have to scroll, or risk having 10 percent or more navigate away knowing little more than your headline.

3. Emphasize Quality Over Brevity

While the article’s findings promote brevity, you don’t want to lose quality for the sake of writing shorter pieces. Longer, well-crafted content that has value to your target audience is much better than short, flimsy content that has little value and fails to support its claims. After all, it’s not necessary for potential customers to read your entire content piece to make the conclusion you really want them to make: “This company really knows what it’s talking about!”

For Those Still Actually Reading

Hello, anyone there? Just seeing if anybody is still left. If you are, thank you. You have a longer attention span than most. But when you produce content, remember that we’re in a short-attention-span world, so write for that reality.

Post written by HRmarketer / Fisher VISTA team member Eric Anderson.

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