Do You Need Estimated Reading Times, Part 3: What Are the Best Practices?

Anastasiia Lavrinenko
January 31, 2019
reading time

Do You Need Estimated Reading Times, Part 3: What Are the Best Practices?

Anastasiia Lavrinenko
January 31, 2019

How does reading time increase customer engagement?

Reading time does increase customer engagement, but it does not apply to all types of content under 1,000 words.
Adding reading times specifically relates to the audience. Most often, people arrive at blog post because they’ve done searches on search engines or clicked on social media links that direct them to that page. They needed a specific answer or very specific information for whatever it isthey’re trying to accomplish. They are also educating themselves or trying to learn more about your company’s products or services. As a result, they need to be able to see how long it’s going to take to be able to obtain that information by putting their average reading time.
In my experience, I’ve seen that reading time improves two key statistics: time spent on site and bounce rate. If you include the reading time associated with your blog, you should be able to see an improvement of up to 20 percent in both of those metrics in a positive manner.
When it comes to longer form content such as e-guides, white papers, and e-books, including an estimated reading time is not recommended. I don’t recommend it because of the objective you wish to achieve for the reader. The reader isn’t reading an e-guide or e-book to obtain very specific information or knowledge. It’s actually much more broad. They’re trying to educate themselves on a much larger topic or area. As a result, the reading time is not appropriate because they’re already prepared to make a significant investment of their time reading the content that you’re providing.

What makes an article attractive to readers? What is the impact of newsworthy versus evergreen content?

It’s important to differentiate both short-form versus long-form content, what makes it attractive and why is it important. It’s going to help the readers determine whether they want to make the investment. We need to further bifurcating this between B2C and B2B readers. Shorter form content makes sense for B2B readers.
However, I do want to differentiate between line staff and executive staff. Executives are especially pressed for time. As a result, they are much more judicious on how they allocate their time throughout the day.
In addition to providing the estimated reading time to potential B2B executives, you should also provide a punchy and short introduction to your article before the actual article begins. Sharp introductions should consist of one to two sentences and a couple of bullet points clearly describing what the contents are about and what value the reader is going to obtain by reading it. By including that information, you’re much more likely to get the executives that continue to read on and potentially forward the content to subordinates within the organization.
In summary, having an estimated reading time for most situations makes sense. However, be sure to focus more on short-form than long-form content.

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