Three Important Lessons Every Product Storyteller Should Know

“Will my audience like this?” is the first strategic question every content creator instinctively asks. But, there’s a second, and more important follow-up query that plays an equally important role in content creation that’s often disregarded: “will my audience remember my message?” In an era where Americans take in five times more information than they did in 1986 — that’s equivalent to 197 newspapers — making memorable messages is a bigger challenge than it’s ever been before.

Gear Patrol Co-Founder Ben Bowers addressed this crucial part of the product storytelling process recently at Digital Summit Chicago. Here are three of the key strategies covered in his presentation that all content creators should consider to insure their message gets through.

Lesson 1: Respect Reading Limitations We all have limits to what we can read. People with a highschool education or higher read between 200 and words a minute on average. This is a useful benchmark to compare against the average time users spend on your content. Are your readers staying long enough to read more than 300 words? If not, it’s time to consider a more concise approach to your product messaging.

Lesson 2: Positioning is Everything We’ve all heard about placing important messaging “above the fold.” Few understand how this concept translates to mobile web viewing experiences though. According to eye tracking studies of mobile users conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, 80% of users viewing time was spent on the first screenful of information eight years ago. Today, thanks to the familiarity of scrolling through apps like Instagram, this stat has increased to 81% of time being spent on the first three screenfuls of information. In other words, effective product stories will include the most important messages near the top of the page and this positioning should be verified on a mobile device before publishing.

The tail end of your product message is equally important real-estate, according to science. The so-called “Serial-Position Effect” describes the phenomenon of humans remembering information they encounter first or last far better than they information they encounter in-between.

The bottom line? Don’t bury your critical takeaways in the middle of stories. Instead, lead off with them and try to repeat those takeaways again at the end. 

Lesson 3: Remember Time is Relative Every creator is guilty of being too close to their own work. Strict publishing schedules and notions of “fresh” content are two of the most obvious side-effects of this phenomenon. After days, weeks or even months of working on content, many creators are too quick to dismiss their work as old news to their audience. Avoiding this mistake starts with taking a hard look at important measures of engagement like returning visitors. How many of your readers are viewing your content everyday? If it’s less than 100%, which it probably is, it means what you publish on a regular basis is missed by a significant chunk of your audience. As such, it’s important to think of ways of republishing and repacking stories on a regular basis to ensure maximum exposure.

What time of day are you publishing content? What day of the week? What happens if you were to reshare stories or repackage them to cover different timelines? At Gear Patrol, this strategy has yielded significant dividends. Franchises like Today in Gear serve as a valuable recap of important product news we’ve published throughout the day. Even just resurfacing older content has increased readership to select stories by over 80%.