You only have 15 seconds to get an average reader’s attention, according to a study from Chartbeat. And even when people click through, most don’t read your entire article or page.
For marketers who are trying to grow their company’s reach, engagement and conversion through content, this can be a terrifying reality. But don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop on how you can increase engagement on your site,
As more and more businesses start to realize that banners are hard to justify and corporate websites that look like 1980 brochures don’t sell anything, marketers are starting to think and act more like publishers. Our goal for content marketing is to attract an audience vs. buying or interrupting it.
But this road ain’t always easy, especially as more and more brands pump out more and more content. So when I saw this study, I thought it might be helpful to spell out the key takeaways.
Here are three tangible takeaways from Chartbeat’s study, and what each insight could mean for marketers like you:
#1: Newsworthy Content Gets More Engagement Than Evergreen Content
The Chartbeat team studied 2 billion pageviews generated by 580,000 articles, to try to understand what topics got the most engagement – the amount of time a person is actively interacting with a page in an active browser tab, including scrolling, typing, navigating or moving their mouse in the last few seconds. What Chartbeat found was that newsworthy topics tend to have the highest engagement.
In August last year, for example, the topics that performed best were Obamacare, Syria, Edward Snowden, and George Zimmerman, while Woody Allen and Richard Sherman dominated in January. The least engaged articles were ones with more generic, evergreen topics, such as Top, Best, Biggest, and Hairstyles.
You’re probably scratching your head right now, wondering how this could be so. Isn’t evergreen content always going to do better?
That’s absolutely right if we’re talking about long-term success, and growth that actually converts into real sales and revenue. Newsworthy content gets quick spikes in engagement rate and traffic when it’s still “new” news, but in the long run those numbers will drop when it becomes old news. Evergreen content, on the other hand, may not see high engagement right away, but you’ll see a slow, steady growth over time.
What this means for marketers: If you are looking to attain short-term lead gen goals and traffic, then newsworthy content will definitely help you reach them. But if you want sustainable growth in traffic and engagement that won’t trickle off after a few days or weeks, evergreen content is your best bet.
#2: Social Sharing Has Little Effect On Engagement
You’d think that the more social sharing a piece of content gets, the more engagement and attention it’d get from a reader, right? According to Chartbeat, their data says otherwise.
Out of 10,000 socially-shared articles they studied, Chartbeat found that there was no relationship between the amount of social sharing and attention readers give that piece of content. The articles with the highest total engaged time had fewer than 50 tweets. On the other hand, articles with the largest number of tweets only got about 20% of total engaged time of highly engaged articles.
What this means for marketers: This data doesn’t suggest you should give up on social media altogether. Not all social is hopeless. This just means that you may want to rethink how you’re spending your resources on those platforms, and perhaps reallocate to other marketing efforts that may help you bring in more engaged visitors.
#3: Banner And Native Ads Don’t Work
Did you hear that? Banners and Native ads Don’t work!
Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat, says that click-through rates for banner ads are now less than 0.1%. This probably isn’t surprising given the increasing popularity and usage of ad blockers in recent years.
Haile isn’t suggesting that banner ads are dead though. Banner ads can still be effective, and there’s a simple formula for it: “You have to create great creative and then get it in front of a person’s face for a long enough period for them to truly see it.”
The fact is that 66% of reader attention on a page is actually spent below the fold, so Haile thinks marketers should be placing their ads in places where people will actually look – instead of fighting for the leaderboard space at the top of a page, which most people will likely scroll past it to get to the actual content they want to see.
And since it’s getting tougher to get people’s attention with traditional advertising, many marketers are now turning to native advertising to try to win consumer eyeballs. But Haile doesn’t think native advertising is the silver bullet to fixing all your marketing problems.
Based on the native ad content Chartbeat looked at, about 33% of visitors actively engage with the content for more than 15 seconds, which is 22% lower than the engagement time of typical articles. And only 24% of visitors actually scrolled down to the bottom of the page, whereas for normal content that number is 74%.
For Haile, this data suggests that brands are paying for content that isn’t actually getting their target audience’s attention and achieving their marketing goals. But he doesn’t think marketers should give up on native advertising just yet. The key to effective native advertising is to create high quality content and an experience visitors will enjoy.
What this means for marketers: You shouldn’t start putting all your marketing dollars into buying up banner ads or sponsoring content. Instead, focus on creating quality content that your audience actually wants and will love. Be the content that keeps people engaged, instead of that banner ad which they’ll likely ignore or find annoying because it’s interrupting their web experience.
What we can learn from Chartbeat’s research is that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to win consumer attention. People will only read and engage with your content if it is interesting, relevant and helpful to them. It’s time to start making our customers the hero of our content.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and comments below.
Are you interested in engaging and converting new customer for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.