How people choose what to read online
The problem with too much content is neither clients’ short attention spans nor their limited reading time.
What the explosion in information has actually done is change how people read online.
Current behavioural studies suggest that when people now come across new content – including your fund manager’s insights – their attention is governed by trust. Time and attention are scarce – but it’s trust that determines how they’re spent.
Information sources that are regularly read are those associated with a distinct value proposition. Click-bait content may generate views – but is forgotten almost instantly. Try it for yourself: what can you recall reading last month?
It serves the interests not just of marketing, but also the investment and sales teams, to see how people choose what they trust.
The Internet changed audience trust forever
Until the early 1990s, trusted information sources were long-established media franchises, like The Times, the Wall Street Journal or The Economist. Their credibility was built on decades of quality journalism – and few alternatives.
As the Internet grew popular, traditional media moved online, but was now competing with new sources – like web portals and blogs – which had just as much reach.
Soon enough, the Internet became too big for web directories. Instead, people turned to search (mostly Google), and later – aggregators (mostly Facebook). Trust was established by proxy: if something ranked highly on Google, it must be good.
But content availability continues to grow – and diversify: we now have video streaming; photo scrolling; message chatting. Nobody can consume it all, so everyone screens.
Everyone now lives in a private content bubble
Gold standards no longer exist.
Digital readers now pick-n-mix their information sources, creating their own private content bubble.
A survey of how investors use digital media shows just how fragmented the information landscape has become: 38% of respondents cited a source that no other investor mentioned. 68% of respondents said they consume digital media specifically to “go outside traditional media sources and gain new information”.
This is part of a broader trend: In the UK, people spend on average a minute or more each day on 15 different internet sites and apps. Tellingly, 43% of the average daily consumption was spent on sites and apps that were not among the 40 most popular.
A third of internet users only use websites or apps they’ve used before, and this pattern is more likely among those aged 55 and over. The distinction investment marketers make, between sophisticated and retail investors, now becomes clear:
Different investment audiences regularly read and trust different information sources. But in both cases, unless a quick scan of new content reveals a value-add beyond what readers know and trust, content is simply ignored.
How your investment insight can break through
Why write for an Internet that no longer exists?
Your readers judge new information and compare it to what they already know and trust.
They’re quickly scanning to see if you’re bringing something new to the table, and serving it the way they like.
To break into their content bubble, you first have to see it:
Identify the language clients like – so you can match it.
Pick up hot topics coming up in online conversations – so you can position your insights accordingly.
Go through your content backlog, to spot forgotten pieces that can be used again.
With automated language processing, all of this is perfectly possible. At last, you can quantify trust.