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What Do Short Attention Spans Mean for Content Marketing?

A woman working at her computer smiling.

Attention spans are getting shorter. Armed with technology that can provide immediate answers, the attention span of consumers now hovers around eight seconds. A goldfish has a longer attention span. Shrinking attention spans presents challenges for marketers, but there are ways to create content that still resonates with consumers.

The problem: Shrinking attention spans

A consumer’s inability to focus on something for more than a few seconds is supported in multiple marketing studies. Research shows consumers only spend 52 seconds on a company website, abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load, and take just 10 seconds to review an email sent by a brand. 

Even social media has altered attention spans. The chart below from Insider Intelligence shows Gen Z’s heavy use of short-form social media platforms like Snapchat and TikTok has shrunk their ad expectations to 3-15 seconds. 

The solution: Cater to skimmers and swipers

Consumers skim your content and swipe on. While that might sound harsh, if you know it and embrace it, you can create content tailored to these consumer behaviors. Here are some tips for creating content for focus-deprived consumers:

Make every piece of content skimmable

Whether you’re writing an ebook or a Facebook post, make sure it’s easy to scan. Formatting becomes very important.

For long-form content like a blog article or e-book, be sure to:

  • Write short paragraphs
  • Use subheads to break up content
  • Leverage bulleted lists to convey key points quickly
  • Consider adding a table of contents at the top
  • Add jump links so readers can navigate to relevant sections 

For short content like social posts, be sure to:

  • Keep the message short
  • Put the most important information first
  • Leave a space between your message text and hashtags

Write for humans, not potential customers

When you craft any text, make it easy to read. 

Aim for a 7th-grade reading level

Don’t use big words that can confuse readers. Even the most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade level to improve readability. So, keep it simple and use tools like this Readability Analyzer to ensure everyone can understand it. 

Avoid pitching customers

Stay away from salesy language that pushes a product or service. While you are addressing customers, you’ll attract more consumers with a human approach as opposed to a sales pitch.

Lean on visuals

Rely on visuals everywhere you can. Visuals not only grab attention, but they help consumers remember what they read. Break up a blog post with images above subheads, turn statistics into an infographic, and offer product example pictures when possible. 

Will it take a little longer to create these visuals? Yes, but there are tools like Canva that give you the ability to create DIY graphics quickly. 

If you do create multiple kinds of content, use it for multiple purposes. An infographic in an e-book, for example, helps add visual appeal to your long-form content, but you can also use it as a standalone piece of content. Share it on social, for example, or add it to your newsletter to get more mileage. 

Embrace whitespace

Whether you’re creating a landing page, writing a blog, or snapping a picture for social, take advantage of whitespace. While it might seem unnatural to leave empty space, it actually helps people consume your content. 

If you’re designing a website or blog page, leverage whitespace on the sides to avoid cluttering the page. Keep ample space between lines of text and ensure images don’t crowd words. 

In photography, whitespace is negative space, representing the breathing room around an object. Take a look at the negative space in the photo below. The negative space takes up more room than the product, which makes it easy to consume visually.

Combine content types for more appeal

Take a content idea into two or more pieces in different formats. In other words, write a blog post, but create a content marketing video focusing on the same content. You could embed the video at the top of the blog post. Why? It gives consumers options. 

If they want to watch a video, they can. If they want to skim the blog, they can. 

Attention spans are short, but you’re bound to increase “time on the page” if readers can consume it in the format they prefer. 

As content marketers, you can still attract and retain customers – even if they do have shorter attention spans. With a renewed focus on clear writing, strong formatting, and creativity, marketers can hook consumers and draw them into their content. 
Need some help creating content for short attention spans? offers fully-managed content production services. 

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