February 9, 2015

Why Your Video Viewers’ Short Attention Span Can Be a Good Thing

Ever tried to train an 8-week old puppy? It’s a good thing they’re so damn cute because it can feel impossible keeping their attention in between tail-chasing and peeing on the carpet.

Well, your video viewers aren’t much different (but hopefully without the uncontrolled urination). Did you know that these days the human attention span is considered to be only 8 seconds long?

8 seconds. That’s it.

That means after only around 8 seconds of watching your video, 20% of your viewers will drop off, and the drop-off rate only gets worse from there. That probably sounds terrifying to a marketer. How do you get across everything you want to say in such a short amount of time?!

Instead, try to think about it like this: you WANT people to drop off of your video. Is your mind blown yet?

It’s true. When people drop off, that means the people who are left watching are your real leads. They’re genuinely interested in you, your product, and what you have to say.

In honor of our 8-second attention span, here are the top eight ways you can capture the right viewers’ attention in the first 8 seconds of your video.

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1. Create a strong title

This first tip is a bit of a cheat because your viewers will see the title of your video before they hit play. But it’s since it’s a huge part of what makes someone click play, it’s on the list. People need to know that your video content is exactly what they’re looking for. Vague headlines won’t help them figure it out—they may click because they aren’t sure if your video is relevant, and then drop off if it isn’t. Or, they may not click at all so they can keep searching for a more obvious match to their needs.

2. Make an attention-grabbing splash screenAttention-Grabbing Splash Screen

Like number 1 above, tip 2 also works to engage viewers before the play button is clicked, but without it, viewers would be a lot less likely to watch your content! Pick a splash screen that’s more interesting to look at because it will suggest your video is more interesting to watch (who wants to watch a talking head for 3 minutes?). If you have a video marketing platform, you can A/B test your splash screens to figure out which one gets the most clicks from your viewers.

3. Jump right into your main point

Now that you’ve got a whole whack of great attention with your exciting or even nail-biting title and splash screen, it’s time to weed out the viewers who aren’t really interested in listening or taking action on what you have to say.

Within the first eight seconds, you need to jump right into your best content. Tell your viewers what they’re going to learn, or what you want them to take away from your video. Then you’ll guarantee that viewers will hear the most important information before they drop off.

If they’re intrigued and want to know more, they’ll keep listening, and you’ll be on your way to converting a lead. If, after hearing your spiel, they realize they clicked on the wrong video, or your content has nothing to do with Product A or Question X that they cared about, they’ll drop off. And that’s okay with you, because you never really had a chance of converting them anyway.

4. Don’t waste time with introductions

No IntrosYou may not want to hear this, but no one cares who you are. They care about what your product can do for them. So don’t waste those precious seconds at the beginning of your video on introducing yourself or your expert or whomever else is jammed into your video. People will click away from you before they even learn about how awesome your product is! Think about it: even celebrities don’t get introductions when they’re doing endorsement commercials. Jennifer Garner starts right off the top talking about Capital One. If she doesn’t get a fluffy and credential-detailed introduction, neither should you.

So how do you provide that intro information? Consider adding it to the description, or place it in the video as text.

5. Tell a story that aligns with your brand

Please, please, please, don’t just regurgitate facts and figures. If you want to be watched for the right reasons, you need to shine in the first few seconds. Show your personality, and show the human side of your company. People are inherently interested in other people, so use the first eight seconds to help your audience jump into your story.

Just keep in mind the story you tell has to be relatable. If you go on about “I did this, and then I did that”, you’re going to lose people. Keep in mind what you would care about if you were a customer.

6. Keep it short, st…ud (trying to keep it nice here)

On some level, people recognize their short attention spans, because as soon as they hit play they’re clocking the total time of your video. Your video’s length will help them decide whether they’ll be able to sit through it all. 25 minutes? No way. 10? Naaahh… 5? Maybe. But there’s another video over here on a similar topic, and it’s only 2 minutes long! I’ll click that one. If you want to make a good impression so that they don’t drop off in the first 8 seconds, you need to let them know that your video is condensed enough to give them just what they want to know, but in the shortest possible time.

As well, keep your shot lengths short. You only have eight seconds to make an impression and grab your viewer’s attention, so don’t make them focus on one talking head or one button or one screen for the whole eight seconds. Break up your shots frequently enough that your viewers’ attention is held, but not enough to seem uncontrolled and unfocused.

7. Edit

When making great content it’s important to edit to have a strong message. It’s even more important when you realize you only have eight seconds to relay that message impressively. So edit out all those umm’s and ahh’s, cut out fluff words, and tighten up every sentence so that every word that leaves your mouth is useful to your listener. Only then will you be ready to post!

8. Edit again.

This isn’t a joke. Edit again, but this time, do it after your video is posted. Why’s that, you ask? Because, if you have a video marketing platform like Vidyard, you’ve just gained an insane amount of useful information about your viewers. Now you can go back and cut out sections they didn’t watch, trim down your intro if they skipped over any of it, and generally just make your video the best it can be so that the majority of your viewers watch to the end and participate in your Call-To-Action.

If this post kept your attention to the end, congratulations, give yourself a pat on the back. You now have some awesome tips that will help you keep the right attention on your own video marketing content. Try it for yourself when you make your next video!

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Emily Ross

Emily Ross

Emily was previously the Brand and Creative Manager at Vidyard. Today, she's a UI writer at Intel. Emily loves creating interesting and unique content oh, and food...if you haven't already noticed, she loves food.

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