Poynter points some great facts from a study about what surfers look at and read while online. The organization doing the study tracked where people’s lines of vision fell while reading webpages. Granted the study consisted of 46 people in San Francisco (and judging by my past experience of supplementing my non-existent collegiate income with various brain studies in dark, windowless rooms at 8 o’clock at night, this probably is not the *most* scientific study ever, but it will do).
It reiterates the obvious (obvious to veteran internet marketers) mostly: you have about half a second to grab people’s attention with your headlines online. Once you have them reading the article though, they will stay as long as you have something worthwhile to say to them.
Other less obvious, but just as important points the article makes are that the larger a picture is the longer people will take to look at it. To me this is telling us that people “Read” pictures. They process the picture not as a whole, but instead take in various parts. You can use this effect to benefit your online marketing efforts by making your pictures relevant to the message, as opposed to just putting up a photo of three people staring in amazement at a TPS report behind a computer monitor (stock photos are generally the early signs of a cancerous online marketing campaign). Instead, you can use a relevant picture to get the users attention and then insert a short text phrase on the photo.
Though I’m sure many final decision makers will fight you on these facts, it will be worth it when they see their ROI skyrocket because you’re the one using science and results to bring in leads instead of online marketing voodoo.