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Reeling ‘Em In: How to Create Engaging Documents for your Customers

Some people will do anything for attention.

In the world of celebrities and sports stars, the more wild and outrageous the behavior, the more tweets generated, deals made and awards won. But how do you grab customers’ attention in the real world? In business, the code of conduct is a little different.

The good news is that it’s really not necessary to go overboard to engage customers. For example, creating engaging documents doesn’t have to involve tacky gimmicks or shock value.

Here are a 5 quick tips on how to create documents that better engage your customers: 

1. Keep your messaging concise. There is nothing as off-putting as information overload. Remember how museums were, before anyone identified museum fatigue? When the exhibit labels were way too long to actually read, and in fact caused instant disinterest based on their sheer length? Your document is like a museum exhibition label, which gives you about three seconds to grab your customer’s attention. In all seriousness, that is not such a stretch; a 2016 Microsoft study determined that since mobile devices became widespread, our attention span has dwindled to nine seconds, which is one second less than a goldfish. Stick to short, succinct messages that pique your customer’s attention, keeping in mind a goldfish now allegedly has a one-second longer attention span than the average person. Additionally, understand the first 20-30 characters which is what displays on mobile devices to capture attention and reduce the likelihood that you are deleted before they read your full message.

2. Use visuals. Sometimes I am a sucker for a graphic, even if it doesn’t exactly make sense, such as a crazy image on a wine label. I admit, an endearing possum on a wine bottle doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of what’s inside, but it invokes curiosity, so I consider buying it. For document content, of course you want to tie your visual to your message, but with the same concept. Make sure it’s catchy and interesting. Simple colorful pie charts never go out of style, or infographics, if they’re not too busy. Avoid distracting clutter like unnecessary quotes, or different size fonts. Remember the short attention span study (people = goldfish), and create a visual that provides a compelling piece of information, at-a-glance.

3. Be a storyteller. Don’t be like that guy at a party who starts to tell a story, only to take forever and lose his audience. A good story is subtly organized so that it’s engaging, and over before anyone realizes it, leaving the audience wishing for more. There’s a premise, a conflict, and a resolution. Mapping out your message in that order will help engage your customers. In a business story, this could mean presenting a situation, a need, and then a solution – your business or service.

4. Avoid jargon. If you are writing for a specific industry, be aware of using words that regular people might not know. This might seem obvious, but it is eye-opening when you step outside your perimeters to realize how words people use on an everyday basis in your industry are completely foreign to someone else.

5. Make yourself available. Give your customers an easy way to contact you. Help them connect by providing a “click here” link for more information, or a free trial. A document is more interesting and engaging if there is an avenue for two-way communication.

Clear, relevant content, engaging visuals, and compelling storytelling are just a few of the tools you can use to create more engaging business documents. In these days of goldfish-length attention spans, it’s more important than ever to quickly engage your customers.

To learn more about creating engaging documents and communications, follow us on Twitter: @xpertdoc@David_Squibb

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