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How to Stimulate Action in the Age of Distraction

By the time you finish reading this sentence, a majority of you will have already encountered a minor distraction. Perhaps your phone just started ringing. (You forgot to call your mom back again, didn’t you?)

Or maybe some random noise started playing in one of the 14 tabs you have open in your browser. Or your Lumosity app just reminded you it’s time to exercise your brain to increase your ability to focus.

How ironic.

We live in, what we call, the “Age of Distraction.” It’s the new normal and shows no signs of changing course. In 2000, a Microsoft study showed that the average attention span was 12 seconds. It has now fallen to eight seconds.

Goldfish, apparently, can maintain nine. Yikes.

In a different study, 79 percent of respondents said they used mobile devices while watching TV (dual-screening), and 52 percent check their phone at least every 30 minutes. (Honestly, that seems low.) We’re just a mess of productivity. Gleefully distracted, if you will.

As consumers, we’re bombarded every day with calls to action: Call now! Add to Wish List! Pin This! Like That! Share This! Refer a Friend! Learn More! Don’t Forget the Items in Your Shopping Cart! It goes on and on. We’ve become desensitized to it. So, how do we break through the clutter and become relevant again?

It’s not like the average consumer wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Oh boy! I can’t wait to check my favorite brand’s page and see what’s new!” (Maybe a few do, but not many.)

Therefore, we have to reach them where we know they’ll be. We have to stimulate the action ourselves, despite all the reasons for our over-saturated consumers not to respond. Here are a few tips:

Give every touchpoint a role and reason
Then craft a call-to-action that’s appropriate for their stage in the path to purchase (the consumer journey) and your desired outcome. That can be achieved by asking three key questions:

  • What’s our target doing when they see our advertising?
  • What do we want to make our target feel?
  • What action do we want our target to take?

Determine what role each touchpoint plays in the overall consumer journey and be specific in your delivery.

Make your action compelling
It’s 2015, and it’s officially OK to try new things. The Internet has been around long enough and users can take it. Trust us.

Start by using language that’s action-oriented and enticing (e.g., The Skimm’s “Share that Sh*t” button on every email). Then clearly set expectations as to what is behind the click. The ol’ “bait and switch” routine doesn’t work too well these days.

Tap into people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) to stimulate action (e.g., Pinterest invite-only). And just because consumers make the decisions nowadays, be sure to let them choose what they want based on preference (e.g., “Tap to Call,” “Chat with Representative,” “Email Us,” etc.).

Don’t do these things
It’s time we stop the madness.

Don’t say “Click Here.” Not ever. Stop it. And especially not on mobile ads or in emails.

Don’t say “Learn More” or “Submit.” Let’s try a little bit now.

Don’t be misleading. Again, bait and switch = no bueno.

Don’t forget what device the ad may be on. Use proper verbiage, e.g., “Tap” or “Click” or “Swipe.”

Start the process for them
Not that we want to trick people, but consider giving them a nudge in the right direction by making your CTA something that starts the process. You can ask them to select a menu item, enter their ZIP code or ask them a random question (e.g., “What’s your favorite activity to do on vacation?”).

Earn their commitment early, and they’ll feel like they’re already vested.

Test and optimize
Like any good marketer, you know this one already. But it bears mentioning. Give dual CTAs on a banner ad and A/B test to see what works best. Perhaps “Order Now” does better than “See Full Menu.” Who knows? You don’t. Until you try it.

Don’t be afraid to iterate. Run multiple versions and see what works best.

Congratulations! You made it through the entire post! Now go check your Facebook while catching up on all those emails you’ve been neglecting. It’s OK. It’s just the world we live in.

Posted Thu, Dec 17, 2015 by Slingshot in News, Marketing in the Age of Distraction®