If I told you that people today have short attention spans, you’d probably just say, “Duh.” We all know that our computers and device offer an unlimited number of distractions. But when you look at the research, data is stunning nonetheless.
Statistics Brain has published data from a variety of sources including the Associated Press, the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Research has found that our attention span is less than that of a goldfish and it’s shrinking. The most recent data has it at eight seconds. Basically, it’s a miracle that you’re reading this sentence.
If you’ve skipped a few words, don’t feel bad. On average, people only read 49% of the words on a page with fewer than 111 words. For pages over 593 words, that number falls to just 28%. Yep. That means that whether you’ve written a pitch email or a press release, your audience will only read a fraction of the words you agonize over and you don’t get to choose which ones.
Don’t despair. There is something you can do to increase the odds of your message getting through. Create a compelling user experience.
Start With the Headline
It doesn’t matter if you are writing an email, a blog, a press release or a by line article, the most important thing is the headline. You need to offer a promise to the reader that compels them to read on. The Headline Analyzer from Co Schedule is a helpful tool for improving the titles of your content and email subject lines. It looks at word balance, type and length.
Use the KISS Principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
Remember, people are usually scanning your content, not studding it. Therefore, it pays to make it easily digestible. You want to eliminate overly complex sentences and hard to read passages that make your message less clear.
Break up long blocks of text by creating new paragraphs.
Just hit the enter key.
Give it a try.
Include Interesting and Relevant Images
The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text and 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. This probably explains why studies have found that visual elements can generate up to 94% more views than simple blocks of text. Including images tells your audience something about what you want to say in milliseconds.
I think that sometimes PR folks are too focused on sounding “professional” and not concerned enough with being engaging. There’s too much competition for people’s attention to take that approach. Instead, focus on creating a great experience for your target audience and you’ll see your results improve.