Strategies Digital Retailers Can Use to Cater to Short Attention Spans

- Luke Metcalfe

Millennial’s shorter attention spans is an oft-cited fact.  But the attention spans of many users is short, and to rise above the competition you must be able to cater to that group.

There are a number of steps that digital retailers can take to cater to younger generations. Ultimately catering to short attention spans is all about making the buying process as simple as possible. It’s a UX problem. But, one that should be constantly evolving. No user experience should be static for any length of time, as customer tastes and needs evolve.

As you look for ways to improve your UX and find ways to appeal to customers with short attention spans, consider adopting these strategies:

Reduce Points of Friction

Any company with a significant amount of traffic should be optimizing their product pages for conversions. However, many companies spend time tinkering with A/B split tests and never see the results that they want. Often, this is because they are focusing on small tweaks and overlooking several bottlenecks that are driving down sales.

It can be difficult to spot points of friction when you’re too close to the design and copy of the page. It’s easy to overlook something small that customers are getting hung up on. It could be a non-functioning button on an older browser version or confusing wording on the product page.

A few ways for digital retailers to reduce friction on their website include:

  • Live chat engagement. Live chat can give your customers a quick and frictionless route to ask questions and better understand products. It takes quite a bit more effort to send an email or submit a support ticket. Consider a retail environment. How many sales would you lose if customers were required to take a number and wait in a line to ask questions? Make it easy for your customers to ask for help.
  • Customer surveys are extremely valuable. If you want to know what kind of questions your customers have or pinpoint where engaging with your brand has bothered them — ask them. Surveys can help identify points of friction and provide invaluable insights into your customer’s thoughts.
  • Use data as your guide. Where are your customers getting hung up in the checkout process? What is your data telling you? Use your data to make informed hypotheses about points of friction for customers at all stages throughout the buyer’s journey.

Even small points of friction can have a huge impact on sales. It can take some time to identify them, but making an effort to speak with customers can be eye-opening.

Do the Research for Them

When younger shoppers come to your website and consider purchasing a product, there is a good chance that they are going to open a new tab and do a little research before clicking that “buy now” button. This is true both in physical stores as well as digital retailers. 72% of young shoppers research online before purchasing in-store.

They may go to Amazon to check reviews on a similar product. They may do a search on Google or social media. Either way, it gives the customer a pretty good excuse to leave your site and get sidetracked. I’m pretty sure everyone can remember a time when that has happened to them.

Try to cover their bases for them. Include bits of information that they may leave the site to seek out. What do the Amazon reviews have to say about the product? Why is this the right product for the price point? What features does this product have that competing products do not? By providing them with this information on-site, you can reduce their need to seek out information from other sources and potentially become sidetracked.

Personalization is Key

Want to keep someone’s attention? Talk about them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and customers love companies that seem to know important details about them. Consider a local gas station. If the attendant knew your name every time that you stopped in, told you about sales on a favorite product of yours, and generally was pleasant to be around, you would probably get your gas there every time.

That same concept applies to digital sales as well. Find every opportunity to personalize the experience for each shopper. Amazon, of course, does an excellent job of ensuring that all pages on their website display information that may be relevant to each individual visitor. You’ll see endless widgets that display recently viewed products, product listings based on your purchase history, and other tangentially related information.

Rich Media Attracts Attention

According to Kleiner Perkins, by the end of 2017, video will account for 74 percent of all online traffic. More than 500 million hours of online video are watched every day. Of that, the 24-35 age group watches video content the most. Specifically young men, who watch 40% more online video than young women.

Video provides a simple and frictionless way for people to learn about your products. They don’t have to sift through long, boring product pages to learn about your product. Videos give your brand the chance to really put itself on display.

Take a look at DollarShaveClub’s marketing video:

It’s funny. It’s entertaining. It’s great at keeping the attention of a visitor with a short attention span. But, it is also extremely informative. You can include a lot of information about your products in a video.

Quality In-House Support

One thing that younger generations with notoriously short attention spans really dislike is a disconnected support service. If they have a problem with or question about a product and they call into a support line, they don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting on hold, speaking with someone that can’t solve their problem, or trying to discern information from an impersonal scripted response.

To appeal to short attention spans, your in-house support team must be empowered. They must be able to provide quick answers and solutions to those that call in, without referring the complaint up the chain. Great support wins the hearts and minds of customers. They can forgive a mistake. They can’t forgive terrible support.

Simplicity is Key

To cater to customers with short attention spans, you should focus on simplifying all aspects of the ordering process. Focus on providing rich-media experiences and providing them with as much on-site research as you can. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers for feedback. Points of friction and bottlenecks are debilitating but easy to miss.


Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics

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