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How to Get Your Customers' Attention

Today, I want to talk about the art of managing and directing attention. We live in a time where we’re constantly bombarded with instant gratification, constant distractions, and a deep-seated fear of missing out.

Now, you may think that what I’m going to tell you is that we’re fighting a losing battle. That the inability to pay attention means that people can’t manage their time, and therefore don’t have the time to pay attention to you. That they’re not focusing on what you’re saying, and are bouncing off your page before you can say, “Wait, don’t go! There’s more! We’re the shit!”

But our short attention spans aren’t really an issue.

We watch Youtube videos for a shamefully long time. We’ll read long novels that enthrall us, sometimes staying up all night just to see what happens. We’ll watch 2-hour comedy specials where it’s just one dude standing alone on a stage talking at us. And don’t even get me started on Facebook.

The problem isn’t attention span. It’s content. So we’ve got to tackle the problem a different way. We need to ask ourselves:

How can I entertain while I inform?

Because everybody loves to be entertained.

How to Grab Their Attention

Create curiosity

When you create curiosity, you create an information gap. This small space of not knowing grabs people’s interest. They need an answer to this unknown.

Using words to make it work

1. Ask questions

Write open ended questions that are instructive. This keeps people interested and drives people to figure out the answer.

This million dollar business was started from an old laptop. What did they do that made them succeed?

2. Tell people to how to do something

We all want to learn from other people that have been in our shoes and succeeded. Highlight what you know and teach people how they can get similar results.

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Create emotion

Emotion captivates us. And when we love a brand, we often love the story behind it and the emotion that it creates. I’ve talked before about how important a good story is for your business.

Take a look at this video for Thai Life Insurance. Granted, it helps that they put an adorable little kid in the ad, but the story is stellar, and the emotions it triggers help you remember it later.

You can trigger an emotional response in your copy, too. Think about what benefit your brand is selling, and then tap into that emotion.

Another thing to remember is that we all have a negativity bias, and you can use these negative emotions to motivate your customers and keep them engaged.

Using words to make it work

1. Fear factor

Fear is our most powerful emotion and one of our biggest motivators. It prompts us to act now or perish. When we incite a little fear, we incite people to pay attention and do something.

You never want to do something awful like bully your customers, but letting people know that they might miss out is a great incentive for them to pay attention.

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2. Sense of belonging and exclusivity We all want to feel like we belong, and this can manifest itself in many ways. We want to belong to a certain mindset, have shared values and viewpoints. You can create a group feeling through your copy, too.

We only choose the best, and the best only choose us.

This product isn’t for everyone, but it is for people like you.

Surprise them

Humans love novelty. It acts as a trigger in our brain and we’re attracted to anything that seems new and exciting. You can create curiosity in your copy to grab people’s attention.

Using words to make it work

1. Use the power word “New”

This one is a bit of a paradox because people are typically wary over new brands, but will readily buy a new version of a product from a company they trust.

This new line of matching underwear will help your Mondays be the best days. Because it’s true… You can only have a good day with matching undies.

2. Use humor

It’s easy to like people who make you laugh. The same goes for your business. When you have copy that’s funny, people keep coming back to see what else you’ve got to say.

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Holding Their Attention

Now that you’ve got them looking, make sure that they find something worth sticking around for. It’s of course important to have great content, but there are some extra things you can do on top of that.

Make things scannable

We read differently on the internet than in paper copy. We naturally scan our screen looking for words and short phrases that capture our interest. Whenever you’re writing copy, make it easy to scan, and include words that you know will make people pause.

Using words to make it work

1. Use headlines that highlight your main points

When you read through the copy on your site, you should be able to get a good grasp on what you offer, without having to read any of the small text.

2. Break up your headlines with compelling copy

The copy that you use to explain your brand should be exciting, interesting, and focus on how your product is going to benefit the main user. Many companies think that how their product works is very compelling. And it is — to them. But your customers don’t care how it works, they only care about what it will give them. Make sure your copy is compelling to your customers, not to you.

Get to the point

You have to begin with the end in mind. Or, as journalists say, don’t bury your lead. You need to lead with your lead. Put the most important part of your content at the top of your site or the top of your ad.

Using words to make it work

1. Say the most important thing at the top of the page.

When we love our brand, we want to tell anybody who will listen all the intricacies of it. That person is not your customer. Say the most important thing you have to offer at the top of your page, and let your customer know what you do and how you can help them.

2. Use language that’s easy for your audience to understand.

I use a couple different sites to do a lot of my work. One of those sites is Qwilr. Now, I know how to do a little bit of web design, but Qwilr makes it easy for me to figure out how they can help me.

Direct Their Attention

Now that you’ve got people paying attention, you need to make sure they’re looking at the right things. There’s no point in having a sales page that doesn’t identify the “Buy” button right?

Be clear and tell people what to do

Why am I here? Like on this planet? Just kidding, that’s way too deep for a blog post. Philosophy can wait.

But, this is exactly what you don’t want people to say when they visit you’re site. The question should never be, “What do I do next?”, “Where do I click?” or “Where’s the info I want?”

That’s the kiss of death, and that sound you just heard was the sound of someone creating a new tab and ditching your site for another.

Using words to make it work

1. Use plain English for your most important buttons

I have been guilty of this, I admit it. I know that you love your brand. And I know that you want to differentiate yourself and be clever. And that’s great, but you need to use simple, plain English for your most important buttons, like Sign Ups and Buy Now.

Do Say: Buy Now!

Don’t Say: Gimme All The Goodies!​

2. Use color to get people’s attention

So this is really a design step, but make sure that your words are offset by colors that will show people that they need to click something to go to the next step. There’s nothing more annoying than staring at a page and realizing that the words you thought were definitely not clickable, are the link to the next page.

Make their next steps easy and actionable

Each page should only have ONE thing that you want them to do. Let’s say you’re new to my brand. You’ve clicked on a link to a sales page, ready to buy an ebook about creating copy. On that sales page, next to the Buy Now button, you see some text that prompts you to sign up for a free newsletter, also on creating copy.

Would you still buy?

My guess is, probably not. I’ve distracted you from your main goal, and also put doubt in your mind.

If I can get this for free, maybe I shouldn’t bother with the ebook I have to pay for.

I’ve effectively talked you out of something that will help your business, and simultaneously talked myself out of a sale.

Using words to make it work

1. Remove distraction on the page.

On sales pages, you can even remove the majority of navigation, leaving only the home button at the top. This will completely remove the distraction of navigation.

In the same vein, edit down your sales page to only the most important things. Keep the copy short and sweet.

2. Only have one thing they need to complete on that page.

Don’t confuse your customer with too many things on each page. Each page should serve only one purpose. If it’s a blog page, people are there to read, if it’s a sales page, people are there to buy.

Make the action that they’re supposed to complete obvious by guiding them with your copy.

It’s Your Job to Entertain

I think Jerry Seinfeld probably said it best:

“There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have infinite attention if you are entertaining them.”

And that’s really the take away. Getting people interested doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to figure out the most entertaining way to show people that you’re helping them.

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