The “3-30-3” Rule: Does your marketing content measure up?

So you’ve decided to incorporate a content strategy into your marketing plans—great! While numbers show that conversion rates trend at six times higher for companies leveraging content marketing than those that don’t,1 simply putting content out there doesn’t guarantee it’s going to resonate with your customers. In a previous blog, we discussed some of the key best practices for a content marketing strategy, including the value of quality over quantity and talking to your audience’s specific needs and concerns. But even if your content is highly relevant and well executed, in today’s fast-paced world it can be particularly challenging to catch – much less keep – a prospective buyer’s attention. Well, that’s where the “3-30-3” rule can help guide you in crafting content that draws reader in and makes an impact.

Whether you’re crafting an eBook, a whitepaper, a guide, a blog, or other written collateral, the “3-30-3” rule means you have just 3 seconds to grab a reader’s attention, 30 seconds to engage them, and roughly 3 minutes for them to spend reading the content. Let’s dig a little deeper on what this means and how to apply these guidelines in your content development:

  • If you only have 3 seconds to capture your reader’s attention when they first encounter your asset, it’s critical to make sure your title is catchy, exciting, and compels them to want to know more. Whether it’s enticing them with a challenge statement or question to make them think twice about something they’re doing or not doing (similar to the title of this blog post), or a power statement regarding a new way to address their specific pain points – the key here is to quickly convey what they will get out of reading your asset and why it’s important to them.
  • Once they’ve clicked to open or download your asset you’ve captured their initial attention, but you only have roughly 30 seconds to keep it. This means you need to get right to the point and front-load some compelling facts, stats, or other statements that will immediately engage the reader. The idea here is to ensure their interest is growing and reconfirm why they need to keep reading.
  • With the expectation that prospects will spend just an average of 3 minutes reading your asset, it’s important to not only put the most important information you want them to absorb early on in the piece. You don’t want to “bury the lead,” so to speak, where your reader might miss it if they don’t read the piece in entirety. Try to keep things concise, organize your content into easily consumable sections, use bullets and pull quotes or graphics to highlight important points – essentially, make it so that even if they only skim through, readers can still easily pick up the main points.

Of course, the “3-30-3” rule is intended as a general principle – there is no reason to believe that someone won’t ever spend more than 3 minutes reading your piece of content. You’ve probably spent longer than that reading this post already! But it is still a great guideline for ensuring you’re structuring your content in a way that encourages maximum engagement and return.


Want help with your content strategy or feedback on a piece you’ve already crafted? Connect with us at Cadence Preferred today!

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