You have about 20 seconds to engage your audience. Take more time and you risk losing them forever.
Hi, I am Al Bargen and I admit that this is quite dramatic. But this is the reality of today’s online content-writing world.
According to a Nielsen Norman Group research study users will only stay for 10 to 20 seconds on a web page. If nothing grabs their attention in that short period of time, they are going elsewhere. And it takes a lot more effort to woo them back in, rather than creating content that’s worth their while from the get go.
Complexity vs Simplicity
Get rid of complicated words. Your readers are not dumb (quite the contrary). But the most effective way to send your message across is to use simple words. Be concise!
You don’t need ridiculously long paragraphs if what you’re really trying to say is “read me.” Just look at how popular Twitter is with its 140-character limit. Brevity is a skill.
If you can convey your message in the fewest words possible, then half the battle is won. Choose your words wisely.
Capture Like a Champion
Readers skim and browse online content. That takes just a few seconds. Their eyes scan for phrases, keywords and images. In short, they are selectively reading.
Titles or headlines are usually the first to get readers’ attention, so this is where engagement really begins. Create titles that will hook readers and compel them to read more of what you have to say.
Just make sure you don’t over-promise in your titles so your actual articles don’t end up being a dud. Nick recently brought to my attention this site, and it has helped me tremendously with creating catchy titles.
Break Down to Build Up
Long paragraphs are a major turn off. If the audience wants to read a boatload of text, they’d go read a novel. Break the content in your blogs and articles down into digestible chunks and build up excitement by hooking them to read your books or try your services.
Use bullet points, headings, or subheadings to break up long paragraphs. Design and organize your articles so they are in tune with selective reading (skimming and scanning) behavior. Use bold and italics sparingly.
But be careful. Not every other word has to be emphasized. That will dwindle it’s effect.
The Magic of Enticement
Hooks grab attention quicker than anything else. It’s your quickest way to influence people. One of the most effective ways to hook your audience is to involve them.
- • Ask them a question
- • Make a thought-provoking statement
- • Write stories that they would care about and make them ask for more
- • Level with your audience. A personal touch goes a long way
- • Conversation works better than presentation. Talk to them like you’re talking to a friend or a neighbor. Go for the emotional impact.
These suggestions should get your writing muscles pumping, either from the adrenaline rush or from sheer panic. In any case, you have to take action so you can influence your target audience and keep them coming back for more.
Question: What are your favorite ways to capture your audience’s attention?