length of time on site

Say It in Seconds

The average web visitor doesn’t read much of your lovingly crafted text. You have only 5-12 seconds to get your message across well enough to persuade that visitor to stay.

For some people, this makes it seem pointless to write a good amount of text on the page. Think again. 

First, those few seconds shock business owners, but they’re actually a longer window of opportunity than most traditional advertising affords. Marketing expert Phil Barden gathered up the lengths of time people spend with ads:

  • ads in popular magazines: 1.7 seconds
  • posters: 1.5 seconds
  • direct mail: 2 seconds
  • online banner ads: 1 second

Less than 10% of TV viewers actually watch ads (as opposed to avoiding them with tech options or leaving the room to grab a snack or use the bathroom) and 86% say they intentionally avoid them. Of those who tolerate TV ads, about a third pick up their phones. Presumably some people also talk to other people who are physically present at the time during commercials, since these ads are seen as a social interlude — a time to text with your friends.

People who are trying to sell you a magazine ad don’t say, “We have a circulation of 300,000, but we have no way of measuring how many of those people will actually look at your ad, and on average, those who do will only spend 1.7 seconds with it.”

Perhaps they should, but they don’t. They assure you that 300,000 people will read your ad.

Online marketing is more measurable and more transparent. But it also keeps people’s attention longer — you get roughly 10 seconds to grab your visitors and persuade them to stay.

Second, the average visitor isn’t your customer. The ones who stay after that 10 seconds or so are your customers — the people who have decided that you have what they need.

People reach a website with a question in mind. Is this the place where I’ll find the product I need? Will this website have the answer to my question? Does this company provide the services I’m looking for? It’s only after the visitors answer that question with a yes that they will commit the time to read your page and to explore your website further.

That’s who you’re writing for.

Have a visually arresting page. Make your point quickly. Then make it worth your visitors’ while to stay longer.


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2 responses to “Say It in Seconds”

  1. Thomas Smith Avatar

    I think the importance of your point is conveyed in your own writing, making it excellent! I was definitely caught within 10 seconds, read the whole post and can take away your advice. Thank you!

    1. Rebecca Haden Avatar
      Rebecca Haden

      Thanks, Thomas!

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