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Did you know that the attention span of the average adult is less than a goldfish? That means, adults typically pay attention to one task for about 8 seconds.

It’s not that adults aren’t capable of paying attention. It’s simply that there are so many different factors continually vying for the mind’s spotlight that it’s difficult for anyone to pay attention to one thing for an extended period of time.

If you don’t easily believe that there is a world of information competing for your attention, consider the following statistics:

These are just a few stats that represent how many messages the average adult has to process each day, and this is just in their work life.

What do short attention spans mean to your email marketing?

Even though people see an astronomical amount of marketing messages each day, you’ll be encouraged to know that email marketing is as strong as ever. In fact, the ROI for email marketing is about $38 per every $1 spent.

So how do you break through the noise and capture those vital 8 seconds of attention span? You may have to make some changes to business as usual when is comes to your email marketing.

3 ways to improve your email marketing to capture attention

Make your content easy to scan

No one has time to read a lengthy email with a long and flowery introduction and/or a thesis statement. Marketing writing is a whole new ball game, and here’s how you should approach it.

Your content should be a quick, to the point, and, most importantly, easy to scan. This means putting the most important information up front, outlining your content with numbers or bullet points so it is easy to scan, and keeping it as concise as possible. When it comes to email marketing content, less really is more.

As an example, Campaign Monitor customer, Rolling Stone gets it right when it comes to providing quickly scannable content in their email newsletter.

Rolling Stone Magazine email campaign

As you can see in the example, within a few seconds, you know exactly what the hot new topics are at Rolling Stone. Additionally, Rolling Stone provides linked content so readers can click and read more in-depth content as desired.

It’s important to note that Rolling Stone’s email newsletter is not short, concise, and scannable because they don’t have a lot to say. In fact, Rolling Stone has a whole magazine worth of information they present each month. Their email newsletter is short and concise because they understand that subscribers only have a few seconds of attention to digest their message.

When they present their content in a quick, condensed, and scannable way, it’s easier to draw in the people who are ready to read more.

When it comes to email marketing in the era of the 8-second attention span, the first rule of thumb is to present scannable content.

Mobile-friendly is a must

Look around you right now. It’s probably safe to say that at least half of the people around you are using a mobile device. Mobile devices are gaining more and more traction each day as one of the most popular ways to consume information. 40% of online adults will sometimes begin an activity on one device and finish on another.

In addition, 67.2% of consumers use their smartphones to check email and 42.3% use their tablets to check email.

This means if your email content isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on reaching a huge portion of your target market.

Thankfully, this is something Campaign Monitor helps you with. Our pre-designed email templates are mobile-optimized, so no matter which type of device your subscribers use to view it, your email will look great.

Here’s a quick example of the same content from RollingStone’s email newsletter, but on a mobile device.

Rolling Stone Magazine email campaign

The same content loads perfectly and fits within the screen of any mobile device their subscribers may be using to view their content.

Mobile-friendly emails aren’t a nice to have. They’re a must-have. People simply don’t have enough time or energy to take extra steps to try and consume your content if it’s not convenient. Take the extra time to make sure your content converts well on smartphones and tablets. It’s worth it.

Leverage the power of visual content

Did you know that humans process an image in just 13 milliseconds? In other words, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text.

If you’re able to leverage the power of visual storytelling by using powerful images in your email messages, you can get your message across in mere seconds.

Take Campaign Monitor customer, Pizza Hut, for example. In the following email campaign, they are essentially saying you can get a steal of a weekend pizza deal that includes three different types of dippers, and it will be delivered right to your home in no time at all. And, all you have to do to order is click the green button on the email. However, they effectively communicate that idea, not with sentences of copy, but with an engaging image and minimal copy. Check it out.

pizza hut email campaign example

Whenever you can communicate your message with a compelling image that’s complemented by short copy, do it. It can help you get your message across much faster than if you’re relying solely on text.

Wrap up

Hopefully, you’re still reading (or at least scanning). After all, this post is all about how to keep people interested in the era of 8-second attention spans.

In short, the most important thing to remember is that email marketing is an effective way to reach customers, but you have to give them what they want, when they want it in a format they can consume quickly and on the go. You can do this by adjusting your email marketing to make sure to:

  • make your content scannable
  • keep your content mobile-friendly
  • use visuals to your advantage
  • keep it short

For more information, grab this guide to designing high-performing email campaigns.

  • Angie

    How do you weigh the importance of text-to-image ratios and not “burying the lead” in an image that may not be seen against the desire to simply insert a colorfully designed image?

  • Jaina

    Creating scannable emails and obvious calls to action are the winners for me when it comes to email marketing. If you can somehow create content that the customer can scan down to an action point, that should work. Of course, humans are insanely unpredictable!

  • Kim

    Hi Jaina,
    We are big fans of CTAs here too and agree with you on the unpredictability of humans. I guess that’s what keeps us evolving our efforts!

  • Kim

    Hi Angie,
    Great question and I’d day there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. We try to keep a good balance of easy to scan text content that is complemented by images that serve a purpose.

    Cheers,
    Kim

  • Marcus Wahl

    I’m gonna tweet this as keep it short, easy to digest, and visual ;) thanks for sharing

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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