The time it takes a reader to engage with your marketing collateral has not mattered much—until now, because the average attention span of an adult shrank from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the past decade, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
You now have to capture your readers' attention at the earliest stage of their journey with your company. If you don't, you may never connect.
So the question isn't whether you need readers to quickly engage with your marketing collateral, but how:
- How can your marketing materials be liked and shared by thousands of people across the Internet and social media?
- How can your collateral stand out and be noticed, even if it is a simple service brochure?
Here are six tried-and-tested ways to quickly engage readers by spicing up your marketing collateral.
1. Tell a gripping story
Humans have always embraced stories with enthusiasm: They like reading, hearing, and telling good stories. But thanks to the Web and social media, stories are easier than ever to tell and share with others, and the art of telling stories has become—for businesses—more important than ever.
Storytelling in your marketing collateral creates a deeper, more emotional response than information presented outside of a storyline format. Even with potentially viral content, engaging your reader is difficult unless you practice good storytelling.
Modern content marketing strategies need to inject a product into a storyline, intertwined with personas that relate to target readers. You want your readers to see themselves in your story: Great storytelling includes characters and personas that readers identify with, and a storyline that prolongs the reader's satisfaction with your marketing piece.
Storytelling entices the reader to engage by helping them visualize how your product or service perfectly fits into their world and worldview.
2. Interact with readers through animation
Try animation into your storytelling. Bringing life to static graphics and digital content makes it easy to digest and absorb; it is inherently geared toward keeping a reader engaged and entertained.
Animation—visual movement—differs from mental imagery (such as those elicited by textual storytelling), as it can trigger an immediate emotional response from its audience.
The time required to create an animated sequence can be substantial, and it is hard to measure in terms of an ROI, but this kind of investment is known to engage target audiences and readers, paying off in the long term.
An attractive choice to create a storytelling sequence—to animate a story—is simple SVG animation using SMIL. An example of how animation can be integrated in marketing collateral is the Interactive Service Brochure we developed at my company.
3. Add elements of gamification with social media integration
To jump-start an interaction with your readers, involve them in play. Gamified campaigns raise marketing activities to a new level of entertainment and fun.
Instead of merely scrolling up and down through content, readers can compete with rivals, overcome challenges, fill out a scorecard, earn badges, and share their results on social media. As social media announcements spread quickly, you can easily bring newly interested gamers into the fold, expanding your target audience.
Gamification is a fresh face of marketing, fostering an experience that naturally engages and entices readers to come back for more.
4. Work on creating catchy, visual appeal
Regardless of the type of content, it should include catchy visuals. People trust what they see and images are effective at conveying messages. In short, visual marketing grabs a reader's attention.
Visuals are processed by the brain a thousand times faster than plain text, according to Antonia Di Lorenzo in an article on neuromarketing.
When done correctly, visual marketing can significantly boost buying behavior, at the same time enhancing the customer experience. (Here is an example of integrating visual elements in a digital brochure we developed at ELEKS as part of our marketing collateral.)
5. Stay away from TMI (too much information)
Too much of a good thing is good for nothing. Your content is no exception.
Accordingly, filter your message to help readers easily grasp the most important information, drawing their attention directly to the things you want them to know and understand in your marketing piece.
Readers will likely get tired of massive amounts of content and text. To overcome such fatigue, balance your text with smart and well-thought-out infographics (see the previous section, on images). Infographics can be an effective method for visually telling a story and quickly conveying large amounts of information. Easily scanned, infographics are purpose-built to be shared and to go viral.
When done well, infographics can effectively present complex data in a simple-to-consume and easy-to-understand format.
To stand out in the digital crowd, craft your content to guide readers to critical information without any prompting. Be clear, simple, and concise, abridging bulky text to make things easy to read, skim, and consume.
6. Measure effectiveness
Marketers should not neglect the use of metrics to manage the performance of their online collateral. Metrics provide insight into the evaluation of marketing content, allowing marketers the opportunity to adjust strategies for better results.
Monitoring and performance reporting are easier than ever now, with an array of free solutions available to marketers. An interesting list of analytic tools is offered by Nick Rojas, with a real-time platform, Clicky.com, heading up the list of options.
For many marketers, the go-to solution to monitor online campaigns is Google Analytics, which you can set up to track your readers' interactions with your content and gauge their level of engagement.
Regardless of the solution you choose, analytics should be a critical part of any online marketing strategy.