Can Your Business Idea Survive in the Goldfish Economy?

With the average human attention span decreasing, how will you adapt?

Can Your Business Idea Survive in the Goldfish Economy?

Does your business idea and a goldfish have anything in common? Apparently, they do. Or at least, that was the findings of a recent Microsoft study show:

In a 2015 study – titled Attention Spans – surveying 2,000 Canadians and observing brain activity of 122 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs), Microsoft revealed that our attention span is rapidly declining; the average human attention span went from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2013.

By contrast, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds!

We’re being constantly barraged by advertisements and messages we have to filter out –we’ve gone from being exposed to around 500 advertisements daily a few decades ago to over 5,000 advertisements daily now. For most humans, our constantly decreasing attention span is a survival mechanism, but what does this mean for businesses?

We’re in what I call “the goldfish economy.” Essentially, if your business isn’t designed in such a way that someone with the attention span of a goldfish will easily do business with you, you’re very well on a downward spiral.

Here’s How to Insulate Your Business and Make Sure You Survive the Goldfish Economy:

1. Have a Clear Value Proposition: According to Nielson Research, users generally leave web pages within 10 to 20 seconds but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer; essentially, you need to communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds or lose the attention of your users.

If pages on your website – especially key pages that are supposed to drive revenue – are convoluted and present people with a host of options, you will lose majority of your sales before they begin.

Psychologists have for a very long time argued about the danger of having too many options: Barry Schwartz dedicated a whole book – The Paradox of Choice – to this concept and established that giving people too many options not only ensure that they are less likely to take action, but it can also lead to dissatisfaction.

In a year 2000 study, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper also found that presenting people with more options led to less action. The study observed shoppers at an upscale food market; a group of shoppers were presented with a table of a variety of 24 jams, and another group of shoppers were presented with a table featuring a variety of 6 jams. Iyengar and Lepper found that shoppers were ten times more likely to buy from the table with fewer options compared to the table with lots of options.

By having a clear value proposition – a single, isolated offer – you can hold people’s attention much longer, get them to pay more attention, and close the deal.

2. Embrace Personalized Marketing: How much do you know your users? If you don’t, it’s time to start studying and gathering information about your users because the survival of your business depends on it.

Numerous studies have been conducted that show that users are tired of the increasingly impersonal marketing they are exposed to: a 2013 study by Janrain found that 74% of consumers get frustrated with websites when they are presented with content that has nothing to do with their interests. A study by Aberdeen Group found that 75% of consumers like it when brands personalize messaging and offers.

Another study by Marketing Sherpa found that embracing a personalized approach to email marketing can boost conversions by up to 208% compared to the usual “blast-and-batch” approach.

3. Ensure an All-Round Speedy Delivery: Whether it is speed of delivery or speed of support, you can no longer afford a delay.

I specialize in analyzing and profiling web hosts based on speed, uptime and performance factors, so speed is something I take very seriously.

Research shows that a one second delay in site loading time will lead to 7% loss in conversion, and that 51% of U.S. shoppers abandon a purchase because of slow websites.

Research also shows that 72% of consumers expect brands to respond to complaints within an hour.

Optimize your website for speed; you can’t afford to keep users waiting! Optimize your customer support to make sure you’re getting back to customers as soon as possible; and optimize your delivery mechanisms to make sure customers are getting what they ordered very quickly.

4. Create a Mobile Strategy: As cliché as it sounds, a solid mobile strategy can revive your business and give you some extra boost; the Microsoft study earlier referenced found that the first thing 77% of people aged 18 to 24 do when not preoccupied is check their mobile phones; 52% check their phone at least every 30 minutes, and 73% check their phone last thing before going to bed. A study of 2,000 Smartphone owners found that the average user picks up their device more than 1,500 times a week! Research by Deloitte Digital found that mobile influenced retail sales to the tune of over $1 trillion in 2015. Interestingly, Google – the biggest search engine in the world – now uses mobile compatibility as a ranking factor.

While attention spans are decreasing, people are spending more time on their mobile devices; by leveraging this to your advantage, you can take advantage of people’s low attention span and increasing distractions to increase your business growth.

5. Understand and Operate by The Rule of 7: The aphorism, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” couldn’t apply better when it comes to business! The rich get richer because they have the resources to increase their wealth; understanding this rule, how it ties to “the rule of 7”, and leveraging it well can mean the difference between success and failure for your business.

The Rule of 7 is a marketing axiom that says that, “your prospects need to come across your offer at least 7 times before they will take action or purchase from you.

Essentially, when you see mega corporations advertising repeatedly in every channel, there’s logic behind their approach; the fact that repetition is a very effective persuasion technique is deeply rooted in psychology, and it’s time to use that to your advantage. Make sure that your prospects see you wherever they turn to and – shrinking attention span or not – they will have no choice but to turn to you when it’s time to make a decision.

John Stevens is a business expert, consultant, and founder of Hosting Facts, a company that analyzes and profiles web hosts based on performance.