Overcoming the Rigors of the 8-Second Attention Span

by Victor Green
3 mins read

As surprising as it may seem, the greatest threat to email marketing campaigns of all shapes and sizes isn’t your competition in the inbox, but rather the tendencies of the viewers on the other side of the screen. With the team of experts behind the Statistics Brain Research Institute reporting that the average adult only has an attention span that lasts a little over eight seconds, it’s safe to say overcoming this challenge is the most daunting task for brands and marketers alike.Adding in that plenty of these readers also try to multitask while consuming your content – even though Psychology Today’s Garth Sundem notes that only two percent of people are truly capable of multitasking in a functional manner – just makes this process all the more complicated and intricate.Thankfully, there are ways to work around the rigors of the eight second attention span and ensure that your content not only engages the reader, but also impacts these viewers in a meaningful way. With this thought guiding the discussion, here’s everything that you need know about making the most out of this vital attention span window in the inbox.

Start with a Scannable Approach

Before doing anything else, Entrepreneur magazine’s Cynthia Price suggests that you commit to a “scannable” approach to your content creation. Yes, it can feel a little disheartening to work under the notion that most of what you write won’t be read, but the bright side is that if these bits and pieces that stand out catch the attention of the reader during these crucial eight seconds, then you have them hooked and committed to digging deeper into your content.As far as scannable content goes, there’s nothing wrong with bullet points, synopsis paragraphs at the beginning and end of your message, and even highlighted text throughout the email. Essentially, anything that jumps off the page and makes a bold statement or claim can help you reel in the readers who are simply flipping through your virtual offering.

Tell a Story, Not “Stories”

Outside of creating scannable content, Price also points out that avoiding the temptation to hit on multiple ideas or concepts within your email content can also reduce the risk of losing the attention of the reader during this window of opportunity. Think of it this way: If you’re in a hurry and just want to get down to the big point of a message, is it really worth your time to sift through content that’s not directly related to the topic at hand?If possible, hold off on the tangents and associated ideas as you create your content. Not only does cutting down on these extraneous selections keep your reason for reaching out in the first place distilled and straight to the point, it also gives you plenty of valuable fodder for future inbox initiatives and messages. For any brand that’s struggled to consistently come up with powerful content over a sustained period of time, this new mindset can be a real lifesaver going forward.

Go Visual

In terms of imparting a ton of information in mere milliseconds, Ashley Cummings of Business 2 Community explains that there’s no better tool than visual content. Specifically, humans process graphic offerings in just 13 milliseconds; a timeframe that is 60,000 times faster than traditional text alternatives.Naturally, stepping away from standard body content and firing off visually oriented messages can be a little disconcerting at first. However, as long as you keep your call-to-action (CTA) firmly at the forefront of this offering, as well as use these images to tell a story that excites the reader, there’s no reason why this form out inbox outreach can’t be just as – if not more – powerful than standard text emails.

Brevity Is Your Best Friend

The final takeaway from this look at overcoming the rigors of our modern eight second attention span is more of an ideological stance than an actual tip or trick. Simply put, regardless of what you do with your email marketing campaigns, it’s imperative that you keep these messages as short as possible.From traditional written messages that include an elevator pitch and a CTA to cap off the text content, to a strikingly visual approach like this email from Pizza Hut that is showcased in the aforementioned article posted by Ashley Cummings, the recurring theme across many successful campaigns boils down to skipping out on “fluff” content. If you can do this and get straight the point, then there’s no reason why your brand can’t capture the attention of readers from around the web who are notorious for their ability to jump from message to message in the blink of an eye.

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