Don’t let deep content experiences hurt website conversion

Despite persistent reports that the human attention span is in freefall, marketers still use long-format content on their websites.

Some examples: Brutally long lists of 15 bullets or more. Explainer videos longer than 5 minutes. 57-slide presentations. 10-step purchase processes. Deadly dull downloadable documents.

Marketers, there’s nothing wrong with deep content – users will engage it in the Consideration stage of conversion.

But people have trouble paying attention and you need to manage content – and conversion – in ways that keep consumers moving forward. Here are 6 ideas.

Six pointers for handling deep content experiences on your website

1. Message discipline.  “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.” This is Aristotle’s proven way to get to someone’s long term memory. So consider reinforcing relevant information – call to action, main product features, special offers – to build comprehension, recall, and conversion.

2. Limit your lists. The serial position effect reminds us that the first and last items in a list are remembered while the middle items are forgotten. So arrange your most important bullet points accordingly.

3. Repetition and content bursts. In video and audio, use repetition over time to assert key points. People retain input more effectively in video and audio content when it is delivered in spaced-out bursts. Remember the European History exam you tried to cram for in a single all-nighter back in college? Of course not. That’s the point: Cramming content doesn’t work. Intermittent bursts are better.

4. Use process bars for serialized action steps. If your site needs to guide consumers through complex or extended transactions, color-coded process graphics can 1. Show them where they have been and 2. Orient them as to where they are and 3. Help them see the next steps to completion. Used properly, process graphics can lessen the likelihood of abandonment.

5. Use filters and toolbars. Limiting the amount of content you present can improve consumer retention. For example, retail and travel sites have learned how user interfaces such as filters and toolbars can reduce content options and help consumers focus. Here’s a wonky bit of research showing how horizontal toolbars outperform the traditional left-hand vertical sidebar.

6. Do content testing. Do A/B testing to optimize content presentation. Some examples: 1. Experiment with different ordering of bulleted content to see if some sequences outperform others for engagement and recall. 2. Test content-dense landing pages against content-light pages and 3. Test short-format content (videos, articles) against longer versions.

When you’re ready to use evidence-based practices to solve marketing communications problems, contact us.