More people are using the Internet, social media, and mobile appsto stay informed. Much of this online content is presented as B2B marketing communications in brief hyperlinked messages attached to or extracted from larger information sources. Terms such as "the 3-second rule," 140-character Tweets, and short hyperlinked Facebook posts provide excellent examples of this new form of abbreviated B2B marketing communications. As a result of these concise formats, today's online reader can quickly scan hundreds of such messages until they find ones that engage them, an indispensable skill that was not necessary before the Internet. Once engaged, these "short content" readers can decide to click on that message to scan a larger portion of information, watch an online video, or interact with an online app or widget.
Because of all this brief messaging for B2B marketing communications, the online reader has developed a short attention span, unlike the previous generation. Today's readers tend to skim, scan, and skip through documents. They will scan an entire page of text as a single unit, with their eyes focused on the biggest and boldest elements like headlines, color graphics, or bullets. If they find nothing to catch their eye, engage their senses, or arouse their curiosity, they will move to something else. If all they find is a series of text paragraphs, they won't delve any further into those B2B marketing communications.
The traditional white paper must evolve for B2B marketing communications or risk becoming as irrelevant as printed newspapers are for today's online generation.