Humans’ attention span is seriously deteriorating, and content marketers are finding themselves in a tight spot.

Earlier this year, a Microsoft study revealed that the attention span of humans is seriously degenerating, thanks to smartphones. Their findings have indicated that it has plunged from 12 seconds in year 2000 to a measly eight seconds. It’s a shame that a goldfish can hold a thought for a second longer than humans can.

Now, content marketers are finding themselves with a scary dilemma.

The beauty (now the danger) of content marketing is that it targets people’s thinking; whereas other forms of advertising focus on the customer’s experience, online strategies appeal to both the mind and emotion. The success of a content strategy depends entirely on ideas: plant an idea of a good brand and an equally good product in consumers’ minds so they’ll later decide to make a purchase.

Now, we can see why humans’ shortening attention span is a serious threat to content-driven marketing. If digital marketers cannot break this barrier, what should they do?

This seems interesting…oh, look, a cat GIF!

Bloggers and content strategists are now aiming to beat this ADHD-like syndrome. Over the years, we’ve diversified the way we produce content. To accommodate readers’ impaired ability to focus, we’ve come up with listicles, mini-charts and colorful graphics, how-to articles, tweets and other micro-blogging platforms, and so on—all in the name of capturing consumer interest.

We’re not going debate here about whether these techniques actually work. To an extent, we’re all sure that they do. However, if we want to take things a step further and actually build a sustainable content strategy, there’s a need to pinpoint the real source of the problem.

Is it really that cute cat GIF (i.e., short attention span), or a general lack of interest in the online content we produce?

Don’t aim to capture readers’ attention.

Aim to capture interest. Once you’ve done that, build up on it.

There are no shortcuts to this. Creating an interesting piece of content that would stand out in a sea of intelligent insights, cute animal GIFs, and hilarious memes is a serious challenge. It takes time, a lot of research, and patience. Content strategists need to hit the balance between consumers’ need for instant gratification (the “capturing interest” part) and content value (the “building up interest” part).

It’s not an easy task, and all content marketers for sure would be undergoing several trial-and-error attempts to find what works for every possible context. But once you’ve discovered what works for you, congratulations. I think we’ve just found a way to beat humans’ eight-second attention span.

Also, optimize your website.

Digital marketing doesn’t rely solely on valuable and captivating content. The platform by which we reach out to our target audience also matters. Once we fail to satisfy their expectations software- and hardware-wise, they can always opt to give up on your content in exchange for feline-related entertainment.

So, optimize your website as much as you can. Speed and convenience are exceedingly important to readers. Even a one-second delay in page loading time can result in 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in reader satisfaction.

Your customers, who are on the receiving end of all your hard work as an online strategist, are worth the extra effort. When you combine a smooth online experience with interesting, high-value content, the results are tremendously good.