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Studies Show Consumers Have More Selective Memory – What Does This Mean for Marketers?

David Bosley

We’ve all heard by now that studies show how much shorter the average person’s attention really is. Some studies even claimed that our memory is now worse than an average goldfish (although this study has been heavily disputed). What most people agree with by now, though, is the fact that attention spans aren’t what they used to be.

The most recent State of Attention report conducted by U.K. presentation software provider Prezi takes it a step further. They suggest that attention spans aren’t necessarily getting shorter, they’re simply getting more selective. This is to say that people are still capable of paying close attention when they feel compelled to do so, they’re simply pickier about what content is actually worth their undivided attention.

This study should serve as a wakeup call to digital marketers. It’s not that your audience isn’t capable of paying attention to your digital content, it’s simply that your content isn’t demanding their attention. Creating memorable content is more critical now than it has ever been before. To help you break through the noise, here are three ways to create content that’s worth consuming:

1. Don’t Hold Back

Many companies are afraid to hold back their very best content in an effort to not give everything away for. This is extremely misguided. The very best way to earn your audience’s attention is by giving them something valuable in return for their time. If you’re deliberately holding back, they’ll see right through you. Giving away your knowledge without the expectation of anything in return, however, helps your audience to implicitly trust and respect your brand. When your audience is ready to pay for assistance, they’ll remember who you are and what you do.

Offer up your best ideas and digital content without holding back to really earn your audience’s attention.

2. Experiment With Formats

If you constantly post the same kinds of digital content, it’ll be easy to overlook. You need to create all different kinds of content, constantly experimenting to see what works the best with your audience. Here are some less common content formats you might want to try out:

  • Listicles – extremely popular and easy to read. They’re great for social media since they’re so easily accessible.
  • Interviews – chats with industry experts or satisfied customers can cement you as a trusted authority and provide exceptionally engaging content. Break the interview into multiple videos with one or two questions and answers if you find a longer format too intimidating for your audience.
  • Infographics – you’re taking great information and organizing it in a sleek format. If the information is valuable enough, you’ll be sure to grab attention.

3. Find the Emotional Sweet Spot

An interesting study conducted by the Harvard Business Review several years ago centered on exactly what makes video content interesting and effective. What they found was that emotion was critical to grabbing an audience’s attention. In the study’s case, the best-performing video relied on humor, but any emotion can be just as effective. However, videos that relied too heavily on emotion didn’t perform well either, as they overshadowed the message that the ad was trying to convey.

The takeaway is that there’s a very delicate sweet spot between not enough emotion and too much emotion. For best results, introduce the emotion early in your digital content to hook the audience and then focus on delivering your message immediately after.

Creating content that grabs attention and drives results is not easy. If it was, everybody would be wildly successful at digital marketing. Following the advice outlined above is a great first step and will ensure that you’re on the path to success, even if it doesn’t guarantee immediate results.