How to Capture Online Attention in a Noisy Digital World

by Isaac Oswalt on September 01, 2016

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The internet is a big, wild place. It's full of distractions, competition, and an endless number of activities that eat away at users' time. Somehow, in the middle of all that, you have to create a content strategy that stands out, engages your target audience, and wins you results. Phew! Where does a brand even begin?

One of the best starting places is taking a step back from the content hamster wheel and think about what you're really doing: Why is your content there, and how does it connect with today's internet user? If you want real results, you've got to know how to reach people – and how they want to be reached. Here are several tips for your top-down strategy planning:

1. Information at a Glance

We've heard a lot of information about how online attention spans are shrinking – it's become the latest "cool" thing to say about the internet: But whether you believe attentions spans are around 8 seconds or that you have as long as 7 minutes, one thing is true: Time is valuable. It's so valuable that everything you do needs to consider how much time you are asking people to devote to your content. But just don't take our word for it -  two well know marketers Gary Vaynerchuck and Seth Godin have said quotes along those same lines: 

"Attention is the one thing we all sell against"  - Gary Vaynerchuck

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The easiest way to value people's time and attention? Provide information at a glance - literally. All our advice on headlines, infographics, and titles really comes down to that one point. Give people valuable information even if they are just glancing through your blog or site. Make it clear, increase the font size, and summarize when necessary.

2. Focus on the Big Problems

This point is particularly important for B2B companies, but is applicable throughout the digital world – stop talking so much about yourself. Let's be honest, leads aren't very interested in you. They aren't even that interested in what you do. What your potential clients are interested in is what they are doing, so when you speak to them, speak about their strategies. Speak directly to their plans, the gaps in their strategies, their need for solutions. If leads understand how your services or products fit into their business model, they'll start paying attention.

3. Get Front and Center

Do you really want to cut through the noise? Get on the front page. It's that simple. It's also very, very difficult – every content marketing strategy in the world would love to put content on the front page of social sites, e-zines, LinkedIn's Pulse….but there's only room for a few. To get there, you have to have the best contacts, the best followers, and the best content: It's a tall order, but isn't that what you were working toward? Make your strategy a front-page strategy.

4. Be Pithy, Be Memorable

Have you ever read a blog article and then immediately had trouble remembering what it said? So have your customers – frequently. Take a page from advertising 101: the key to dodging this common problem is creating a pithy, memorable statement or viewpoint that lodges in the brain. The bad news is that there's no one reliable way to do this…we're not all Shakespeare. The good news is that you know when you've done it correctly, because something just clicks when you see it. Aim not only for brevity, but for the sort of brevity that automatically creates a slogan people will remember.

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5. Respect the Consumer

It's difficult to know where to put this piece of advice, because it applies to everything. An enormous amount of content problems can be solved by remembering to respect the customer. As we mentioned, that applies to time and attention spans, but it also applies to their intelligence, their questions, their worries, and their plans for the future.

6. Know What Types of Content Work For Your Messages

There's a time and a place for every type of content. A mistake many brands make these days is saying, "We need to mix up our content, let's get a video up there!" No. Don't use a video unless you have a message that fits well in a video format – we've all seen boring YouTube videos and clicked away within a few seconds. That's the internet attention span at work. Video content needs to be fresh, snappy, and entertaining enough to keep watching. More detailed content probably belongs in an article. Stats go well with an infographic. You get the idea.

7. Enjoy Your Work

Always remember that if you enjoy making something, that's a good sign that others will enjoy experiencing it. If you want to stand out, love what you do.

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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