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How to Get Your Target Audience’s Attention in Less Than 10 Seconds

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Eight seconds.

That is the said you need to catch your audience’s attention nowadays.

Can you beat the clock?

Catch Me if You Can

“The average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.”

This attention-grabbing paragraph has been making the rounds and has been quoted by publications small, big, printed and online. It may have even been used in countless speeches and presentations.

However, an article published in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website has busted this “statistical” information. Based on in-depth research and interviews with field experts, it seems that this widely popular stat has no solid research backing.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and the US National Library of Medicine – both listed sources for the “research” – they have no record of any such research to support the said statistical data.

Something Fishy

They say there’s also no reported evidence that proves goldfish have such an attention span. On the contrary, over a hundred scientific papers have been written on goldfish. For decades, neuro-psychologists and scientists have used this fish species as a model for studying memory formation and learning and it turns out… goldfish do not have short attention spans, and they do have memories.

So what does this example tell copywriters?

For one, that was one catchy quote. Not entirely factual, but catchy.

Second, you need to be conscientious when you write. It is not enough that you grab the audience’s attention but hook them at least with something substantial.

There will be differing opinions about this – as what happens to anything and everything under the sun – but you cannot deny that there is wisdom in fact checking. When you read on, you will find out more on other aspects of writing that will help you become a responsible copywriter in Dubai.

Here are some top tips on how to craft messages that will capture your audience’s attention – humans and goldfish alike.

1. Know your audience

This tip comes out over and over again. And for good reason.

When you do not know whom you are talking to, then how can you craft a message that will resonate with your intended audience?

Make it personal. Tailor your message to stand out from the sea of voices – all competing to grab your audience’s attention. Personalize emails. Personalize ad copy. Personalize even your product “names” (shout-out to that Coca-Cola campaign).

If you want to write content that sells, then you have to know who your audience is so you can talk to them in the way they will understand.

They must be able to relate to what you are saying. If you completely ignore who they are, then your message will simply fly over their heads and your client’s dollars just vanish into thin air.

2. Write a catchy headline

That 8-second statistic may not be all true but it is undeniable that people do tend to just click the close button when your headline doesn’t tickle their fancy one whit.

Whether you’re writing a blog, an online article, or a social media post, you need to digitally “jump and wave” so your readers will be compelled to give your article the time of day.

You can use various means to grab the reader’s attention such as asking a funny or even weird question, quoting numbers, making bold statements, or creating a sense of urgency or mystery.

You can also employ the technique that answers the questions what, why, how, and when or provide solutions to their problems. If your headline is useful or relatable to whatever is going on in their lives, then you will have a better chance of hooking them in.

3. Craft an attention-grabbing introduction

When your headline has succeeded in bringing them within your grasp, the challenge now is to make them keep reading. Not everyone who clicks on your title will read all the way down to the end.

You need compelling copy to keep them interested. Start with a gripping introduction that will enthrall their mind and keep their attention to you. You can start with an interesting question, pepper your introduction with mind-boggling facts, or borrow from the masters and use inspiring (or controversial) quotations.

An attention-grabbing introduction will affect them enough to stay and take action, if called for.

4. KISS it

Keep It Short and Simple.

Brevity will help if you are talking to the fast and furious generation. People have so many things to do and places to be in. Everything, it seems, must be ready at the push of a button.

So does your content. If you’re a business copywriter, website content creator, or social media writer, being clear and concise will be a power that will draw your audience in. Of course, this is not just limited to these fields, as the KISS model is an essential tool in putting your message across in the most clear-cut and understandable way.

5. Encourage engagement

In the age of hyperconnectivity, social interaction is another vital element in lassoing your audience’s attention.

When you have their eyes and minds trained on your products and services, encourage action by employing social media channels. The power of social media is spreading like wildfire and its far-reaching influence can bring about the rise and fall of brands.

Inviting your audience to interact with your products or services will forge an emotional connection that will allow your brand to stay top of mind.

Hook, Line and Sinker

This may have taken more than eight seconds to read, but surely, you have gained much from sticking to the end.

The abovementioned tips will help you in creating content that propels people to take action. Whether it is to click like, press share, or actually test and buy what you offer, the power of your words will be valuable in an ocean full of fish all jumping to be recognized.

Don’t just swim with the tide. Stand out and be recognized. Write right.


Hisham Wyne is an award-winning copywriter, brand consultant and content creator based in Dubai. He has over a decade’s expe­rience in helping brands get their messages right. From crisp web copy and zippy brochures to in-depth company profiles and analyt­ical annual reports, Hisham makes words work for you – so you can sell better, gain visibility, and give your brand a unique voice.