Do people read long-form content?

We are told that everyone on the internet has the attention span of a gnat. You have to write short copy and get to the point immediately or people will leave.

This is not true.

What is going on here, and why do we have this misconception?

How do we know it is false?

Website spy on you.

Not in a freaky “we’re watching you through a camera” CIA way. But they are watching.

They use session recordings. Services like Hotjar, CrazyEgg and Inspectlet track what visitors do. Every click, every scroll, every interaction with the page is sent back to their servers so that the website owner can watch it later.

Everyone is doing this. Well, not everyone. I am not doing it on this blog, for example. But for big companies, e-commerce websites or anyone with an analytics team, they probably have it installed.

This should not freak you out. It is all anonymous: you haven’t told them who you are. The session recording they watch could be anyone.

Unless you are on Facebook. Then they know exactly who you are. Every time you hover over that pro-Trump article or dietary video ad, for example, Facebook makes a record of it. But then, you’ve already told them all of your secrets and uploaded all of those private photos…

Anyway, I do have the software on Worfolk Anxiety. Specifically, I use it to see what people do on my landing pages. When I pay for an advert, I want to see how effective it is.

What do people do? Find out below…

What does turn people off?

First, let’s look at what _does_ turn people off.

It is true that people do get bored easily online. It is not necessarily because we have a reduced attention span. But there is a lot of competition.

Back in the day, you bought a newspaper and took it home. If you got bored, you would probably keep reading anyway. The alternative was to put your shoes back in, walk back to the corner shop and buy another newspaper.

Not so with the online world. If you are bored of that Guardian article, the Telegraph is two clicks away. Or dog videos. Lots and lots of dog videos.

With all this competition, people have upped their game. They make content easier to read. They use short sentences. Regular sub-heads. They get right to the point and keep the content interesting.

All of these things should be done in any piece of writing. But with the online world being so cut-throat, online writers have been forced to do it much faster.

So what do people do?

When you do get down to practising all of these good writing habits, people read your content.

The sales letter for our free 30-day anxiety challenge is over 1,000 words long. That is longer than 95% of the blog posts I write. It is two pages of A4. But people read it.

There are two types of visitors that hit that landing page. The first reads the headline and then leaves immediately. The second slowly scrolls down the page reading everything.

And almost nothing in between. Once people start reading, they read it all.

The pros get much better results

I have spent a lot of time working on my writing. But, not being a naturally gifted one, I still have a LONG way to go. I am not under any illusion that it is otherwise.

So I highly doubt my content is some magical exception to the rule because of how good it is. People just have longer attention spans than we think.

Better writers know this. And use it.

Sean D’Souza’s sales page for his article writing course is over 7,000 words, for example. Someone was telling me about a Ramit Sethi sales letter that was 47 pages long: and didn’t even have a call-to-action until 75% of the way through.

Conclusion

Whether you are blog posts, articles or sales copy, one thing is clear: people will read well-written stuff. If they are interested in the subject matter, they are willing to invest the time in consuming it.

If you are losing readers, then it is not internet attention spans that are at fault: it is your writing. Make it more readable, and you will hold people’s attention to the end.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 11:00 am and is filed under Success & Productivity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.