There’s a fascinating article on Slate.com about how much — or how little — people typically read when they view online content. According to data traffic analysis firm Chartbeat shared with Slate, more than a third of the readers on a typical site won’t scroll down. A majority of visitors drop off during the first half of an article. Relatively few make it all the way to the end:
I’m absolutely sure this is all true. It matches my own experience as a reader, and I’m pretty confident it matches your experience, too. So let’s cut to the chase and discuss What It All Really Means for content marketers:
- This may be interesting data, but there’s nothing new about the reader habits being described here. Lots of people scan printed newspapers and magazines, looking for key bits of information or signals that they should go deeper into a particular piece of content. Online readers might a little more prone to scan-and-skip behavior, but I doubt there’s a huge difference.
- Quality content accepts this behavior as normal and expected. When you pick up The Wall Street Journal, the front page gives you a good grasp of the day’s top stories — even if you never read past the jump.
- The Chartbeat numbers aren’t depressing; they’re actually rather encouraging. When you consider the likelihood that any individual reader will find a particular piece of content interesting enough to spend time reading it to the end, even a 10 or 20 percent engagement rate sounds pretty good to me.
So yes, we do live in an “age of skimming,” as the author of the Slate article points out. But when readers do take the time to see a piece of content through to the end, that makes it even more important to reward them with great content and a wonderful user experience — from the first pixel to the last one.