Email Marketing

Email Marketing in a World with 8-second Attention Spans

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Wajeeha Gull


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Do you always feel like something's nagging at your brain? If the task of concentrating is a challenging one, rest assured, you aren't the only one.

Research shows that the average human being has an attention span of 8 seconds. This means that the same person who could binge-watch a whole Netflix series a decade ago can barely hold their attention for a YouTube Short today.

In a world of the easily distracted, companies must carefully navigate their email marketing campaigns. Since there are so many businesses competing for the customer's attention, a successful email marketing campaign proves itself worth the click.

Also Read: 6 Cold Email Calls to Action that Get a Reply

Latest data reports reveal that a whopping 347.3 billion emails are sent every day. Moreover, a single person's Inbox is filled with around 100 to 200 new emails every 24 hours. Also, average open rates for email marketing campaigns lie between 20 to 40%.

Over 200 email messages are exchanged every 24 hours

Let that sink in.

Given that your existing customers are wired to shift attention after the 8-second mark, read on to discover high-value email marketing strategy tips for your business.

The impact of a short attention span on your email marketing strategy

Short attention spans are a modern-century challenge for email marketing. In other words, companies only have a few seconds to grab their audience's attention.

Impactful messages pack a punch

Safe to say, your target messages should pack a punch. But that's not enough. Successful marketing efforts achieve beyond initial recipient attraction and keep them interested till the very end.

When the email campaign is effective, readers won't just skim through the text. They will read the message body in detail all the way to the CTA.

Marketing emails that manage to keep the reader engaged pave the way to a high click-through rate, drive sales, and boost customer loyalty.

Your guide to tackling short attention spans with killer email marketing campaigns

Create email campaigns immune to shortening attention spans. Follow these email marketing tips to convert inactive subscribers to loyal customers.

Create a catchy subject line

Create a catchy subject line

Subject lines are like the first hello. If they're great, people won't forget them.

The first second or two within the total 8-second attention span will be spent analyzing the subject line. Naturally optimizing subject lines pays off drastically in the form of improved open rates. But more often than not, small business owners create subpar email subject lines that don't get the job done.

In the worst-case scenario, subject lines that constantly fail to grasp attention get flagged as spam by email service providers.

At times, this occurs when marketers use spam triggers in the subject line of a marketing email campaign. Other times, they are so poorly constructed and/or misleading that recipients send the email to their spam folder.

To create a compelling email subject line, make sure you do this instead:

1. Keep it short

Most email service providers cut off subject lines beyond 50 characters on mobile devices. Considering that most people use their smartphones to check emails, you should aim for full subject line visibility.

Aim to convey your point in 50 characters or less to make the most of your recipient's screen.

2. Personalize with recipient name

Most of us don't expect to see our name pop up in the Inbox without clicking on an email. Going against the grain by adding the recipient's name adds that shock factor that leads to an open.

Not to mention, personalized subject lines strengthen brand-to-subscriber relationships.

3. Be mysterious

Evoke a sense of curiosity with mysterious subject lines that hint at something special while keeping the mystery alive.

For instance, 'Want to know a secret?' and 'A surprise is waiting for you...' Make sure they aren't clickbait though.

4. Create urgency

The fear of missing out is real and it's booming in the 21st century. Everybody wants a piece when there aren't many left. So, don't be shy to make the most of it.

Let your subject line inform customers of limited time, discounts, and other offers.

5. Clarify the benefit

When hinting at mysterious surprises isn't your audience's cup of tea, give them exactly what they're looking for.

Showcase the benefit of your brand communications through the subject line. From proving a solution to directly offering knowledge, make sure the pros are under the spotlight, right from the start.

6. Stay away from clickbait

Clickbait generates hollow email marketing statistics and hurts your campaign performance. While they might get a business high open rates in the initial phases, customers will eventually catch up and mentally (or literally) block your messages.

Or worse, they might digitally block your domain, impairing the ability of future campaigns to bypass spam filters.

7. Speak your audience's language

The concept of relevant email marketing strategies starts at the beginning.

Subject lines should reflect the tone of the email body. For instance, if your business caters to a segment of 40-year-old corporate professionals, ensure that the subject line is as formal as it needs to be.

8. Encourage action

Complement your CTA with a proactive subject line. Empower the customer to take action by leveraging strong verbs.

The right language can make a world of difference. Just look at this: 'Become a member and save 20% today!'. When a push to action is complemented by an incentive, open rates go up.

9. Conduct split testing

Check how the same email performs with different subject lines. Businesses eager to nurture leads can save plenty of money by removing poor subject lines that don't resonate with their target audience.

Create high-quality content

Create high-quality content

Email content lets you communicate with clients. For a business, the stakes are always high because every communication is like an investment. In exchange for well-crafted content, you're hoping the receiver will purchase products or hit that subscribe button.

The goal is to ensure that every conversation is top-notch and leads to a positive outcome. As the most popular mode of B2B and B2C communication, email campaigns allow the perfect chance to make great impressions.

Now, whether a business is able to succeed at seizing the opportunity, is a whole other story. To make sure that you're on the successful side of the line, check if your content is:

1. Objective-driven

The first step to creating powerful email marketing strategies is setting clear objectives. Well before you schedule drip campaigns and set them off to do their magic, establish why you're doing so.

Understand that the purpose behind every campaign is different. While one might be designed to simply inform a subscriber about a new product, another may be used to inform them of an incoming promotion.

So clearly define the purpose. Leverage your email marketing software to manage and monitor according to their goals. Create detailed outlines to plan your email marketing strategy and launch campaigns for old and new subscribers alike.

2. Relevant

To craft engaging content that speaks volumes, you need to understand what drives your target audience. Don't talk about things that will bore the customer, stick to what interests them.

For example, if you're a new energy drink brand marketing to Gen Z, it's probably a good idea to include popular slang and elements of pop culture to build rapport.

Whether it's informative, entertaining, or both, don't lose sight of who you are talking to. Focus on extracting maximum insights from customer data and investigating consumer intent. Conduct research to figure out the target audience's pain points, interests, and aspirations.

3. Valuable

Effective email marketing campaigns are enriched with valuable content. The recipient should get some sort of benefit from taking the time out to read your messages.

Rest assured, you will not be able to sway the client without real-world value. Aside from some much-needed flair, focus on practical information that can make the subscriber's life easier.

From tried and tested tips to detailed guides that shed light on achieving a particular goal, value-added content with actionable solutions receives generous engagement.

4. Conversational

Emails written in monotone rarely ever get any traction.

People don't like talking to companies that come off as profit-maximizing. As an example, let's consider this email from a watch company:

"We are messaging to let you know that we have some new watches up for purchase. They are available for sale, made with 316 LS steel, and the right choice for office-going professionals.'

This is just two sentences and yet unbelievably hollow. Imagine if this was two paragraphs - nobody would make it to the end of the email. Believe it or not, a lot of businesses make the mistake of writing like this.

Now, think about this text instead:

"Eager to find your timeless match? Explore our collection of premium quality watches and discover the perfect complement for your wrist. Buy today to enjoy a special discount on exclusive horological classics manufactured from grade-A materials that always turn heads.'

In the example above, the paragraph starts with a question, directly addressing the customer. There is no jargon, the text isn't too formal and sounds friendly.

Similarly, your clients should feel like they're talking to a friend or a trusted expert who's willing to simplify the technicalities. Email campaigns that come off like well-intentioned advice push subscribers along the sales funnel.

Write digestible email content

Write digestible email content

While customers might have had the patience to read through blog-like emails a decade ago, this isn't the case anymore. An effective email marketing campaign is easy to scan and absorb. Here's how you can improve the readability of your email copy.

1. Be precise

When businesses send targeted messages, staying away from long paragraphs helps them save money. This is no far-fetched claim, it's 100% true. Research proves emails that are too wordy have the highest bounce rate and lowest click-through rate.

Remember, you're dealing with an 8-second attention span so get to the point ASAP. Whether it's the first welcome emails for new subscribers or transactional emails for loyal customers, use your space carefully.

2. Use the right template

The right email template is crucial to readability. Pre-designed versions help content creators fit the right information in specific blocks. For instance, links to the landing page right above the footer, social media links in the footer, and more.

Separated sections for the header, sub-header, footer, body, visuals, and buttons give the overall content structure. As a result, recipients are able to scan the information within a few seconds.

The good news is that various email marketing platforms provide pre-built templates to their users. While the premium ones offer the most features, even free ones are quite decent at times.

3. Leave some white space

It's tempting to fill the entire email body with text or visuals. But by default, the human brain rejects clutter.

When used correctly, white space is a champion at directing the reader's attention to the right places. it helps emphasize blocks of text that demand action or deliver key information.

Next time you receive a promotional email, notice that the discount price is often positioned over a white backdrop. This is no coincidence - white space around important text highlights it.

Incorporate color theory

Pro Tip: Incorporating color theory in business messages is an excellent way to up your email marketing game. Up to 90% of product assessments are driven by color because they can influence the viewer's mood and feelings.

4. Create text snippets

A marketing email can have a lot to say without overwhelming the customer. Think of it like a movie trailer - if the latter gave the entire movie away, viewers will be less likely to buy tickets to watch it.

On the other hand, a trailer that hints at just the right stuff will convince movie buffs to line up at the cinema. The logic behind this example is the backbone of rewarding email marketing efforts.

Snippets of data introduce the reader to different blog posts. Buttons that allow the recipients to read the full story are placed under each story header.

Blog post titles and bullet points are the first things a person will likely scan. Both are enough to deliver just the right amount of information to drive the reader's decision.

optimize for mobile device

5. Optimize for mobile device

In 2023, 1.7 billion people use their phones to view emails - a far cry from the 0.7 billion that stick to their computers.

Bluntly put, an email strategy designed for desktops alone is a dinosaur. Since smartphones are the preferred device for accessing information across different digital marketing channels, all business emails should be mobile-friendly.

Without a responsive design, your email will not fit the recipient's screen properly. And in the context of an 8-second attention span, customers won't spend extra effort scrolling across their phones in order to read what's there.

Not to mention, hard-to-access content delivers a crushing blow to engagement. Thus the purpose of optimizing your email marketing campaigns for mobile is twofold.

To reduce bounce rates and increase readability.

Fortunately, businesses can use responsive templates offered by email marketing tools to tackle the problem.

This means you will seamlessly retain mobile users among your clientele when every email will load according to the type of device being used. Not to mention, your sales team won't have to worry about creating different versions for desktop and mobile.

So, don't just settle for space in the subscriber's Inbox. Invest in the right marketing tools to keep your audience attentive and drive campaign success.

Be mindful of the time you send messages

6. Be mindful of sending time

Don't just create campaigns to send them at the wrong time. While the average human's attention span is capped at 8 seconds, don't ignore the hours when your customers are less distracted and more likely to read your email marketing.

Imagine this. XXX, a company specializing in tuxedos for professional adults keeps complaining about low open rates. Upon analysis, it is revealed that XXX sends emails at 12 pm, 4 pm, and 11 pm.

Let's bear in mind that the target market is working professionals who are probably at work from 9 to 5. At 12 pm, they're behind their desk and in work mode. 4 hours later, they're eager for work to end and wrap up tasks for the day. At 11 pm, they're already in bed, watching Netflix, fighting the urge to snooze off.

All of these time windows see the recipient occupied and overwhelmed with other distractions. In this case, it is important to note that there are other activities that are much higher on the average adult's priority list compared to carefully reading their email.

On the contrary, if XXX chose to reach its customers between 1 to 2 pm during lunch break or at 8 pm when they're scrolling on their phone in bed, chances are open rates will go up.

Ultimately, it's about when viewing marketing emails is considered convenient by the subscriber. Needless to say, the best hours for different business niches will vary. So, research thoroughly to understand which times support the highest open and click-through rates.

Use video content

Use video content

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is probably worth ten times more. Most importantly, videos are the best form of communication in a world where people struggle to focus. 78% of professional marketers report that leveraging video in their email marketing boosts ROI (return on investment).

Over the years, adding video content to email campaigns has become a popular concept. This is in direct response to how shortened attention spans impact content consumption preferences. Rather than read through 200 words of email marketing, smart businesses sum it up through captivating videos.

Here's why incorporating video in your email marketing strategy drives amazing results.

1. Enhanced storytelling

The power of storytelling allows companies to relate with their audience on a deeper level. Compared to static text or images, interactive videos enriched with attractive visuals and music have a more memorable effect.

When used within email marketing, storytelling can deliver a stronger impact and boost message retention. At the same time, it helps your brand stand out among competitors who are still deploying a traditional email marketing strategy.

2. Higher engagement

Engagement is often a direct result of the customer being captivated. One way to achieve that is through videos that offer an indulgent experience. Let's think of it this way.

Imagine you're sending the monthly newsletter, this time focused on how your brand helps national charities. A short video, when executed correctly, can build emotional appeal, empowering more customers to donate to the cause.

3. Summarize difficult messages

Email is often the most formal marketing channel among others. Sometimes the messages that need to be conveyed require a lot of text.

Since short attention spans don't appreciate long paragraphs, this puts your company at a disadvantage. With a video, you can leverage visual and auditory elements to simplify complex information while keeping the text as short as possible.

4. Product videos boost trust

Let's say you're sending an abandoned cart email. While reminding prospects that their order is still incomplete, consider including a 'how to use product X' video tutorial.

This will provide a clearer understanding of the features and benefits of your products, possibly increasing the customer's interest and likeliness to purchase.

5. Improve click-through rates

Meet higher email marketing KPIs with an interactive video-based call to action that improves conversion. For one, it's much more convenient for people to click on a video compared to reading text. A study shows that the click-through rate increases by 65% with a video attachment.

More importantly, an embedded video widget within an email creates a sense of curiosity. Both combine to encourage subscribers to click a button and take action.

6. More social sharing opportunities

The more social traction company content gains, the better. When videos are inspiring, they're likely to be shared across other platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

Many responsive email marketing templates have social sharing buttons that make it easy for recipients to share.

7. Is mobile-friendly

Since modern email marketing is predominantly designed for mobile, the inclusion of short videos is compatible with smartphone devices. Most devices support playback - this particularly comes in handy when the target market is differently abled.

As an example, if your business sells products to people with hearing problems, a captioned video will be more effective at delivering the message than static text.

8. Keep your email service provider happy

Videos are perhaps the most underrated of email marketing tips. Keeping in mind that videos reduce unsubscribe rates by 26% and increase open rates by 19%, they also positively affect your domain reputation.

Since email campaign deliverability increases, brands stay in the good books of their email service provider. This means that whether you're sending promotional emails or the transactional type, they are less likely to trigger spam filters.

optimize your marketing CTA

Optimize marketing campaign CTAs

Without action and conversion, a business is just as good as a sitting duck. If email marketing open rates are high with a disproportionate amount of click-through rates, review your CTA.

When dealing with short attention spans, there is a greater need to nudge your customer in the right direction. Don't forget, they are already distracted by just about a million other things. So, while they may read your email, taking the next step might not be glaringly obvious unless stated.

This is why a well-crafted call to action helps improve click-throughs in the form of visits to landing pages and product purchases.

In any case, your CTA should clearly indicate the next step. This takes part of the decision-making burden away from the customer since the brand already outlines a clear path to the desired outcome. To ensure that your CTAs are always inspiring enough to get a click, do this:

1. Correctly position the CTA

Eye tracking studies reveal that CTAs placed below the main body in an email template receive ample clicks. This is generally due to how humans visually process the information on a screen.

Also, ensure that the CTA comes after all the information required for purchase. Consider listing the benefits of a certain product before linking to one of your landing pages underneath.

Proper CTA positioning improves readability and drives action by defining a roadmap to certain decisions, particularly for those with short attention spans.

2. Experiment and be unique

The age-old 'discover more' and 'subscribe' are used by just about every email marketing strategy today. While these are not bad CTAs per se, they are nothing out of the ordinary.

When tackling a distracted mind, access that self-affirming part of your subscriber's mind.

For example, a welcome email pitching a parenting guide to soon-to-be moms can end with a CTA like 'Be a great mom'.

This adds an emotional incentive to purchasing a digital product. By implying that people who invest will be able to become good parents, you're already making the most of those precious 8 seconds.

3. Be short and concise

By default, clickable buttons look and feel better when they are just a few words (two to three, on average). Anything more and it just looks like a sentence.

Conciseness can deliver quite the impact. That is if the rest of your email marketing copy is convincing enough to drive action.

4. Leverage numbers

When businesses want to encourage action fast, numbers can be the best bet. They can reinforce what has been said before without dragging the conversation.

Let's say you are crafting an email about a limited-time promotion on the latest clothing collection. You have already stated that there's a 25% discount Why not reiterate that through the CTA?

Something like 'Get 25% off today' can be enough to boost sales.

Create urgency

Create urgency

We have already covered above how useful subject lines with elements of urgency can be. But this shouldn't just be limited to the subject line.

Here's how urgency triggers are essential for combating problems tied to a person's short attention span.

Amid the many distractions people are surrounded by today, deploying urgency can help businesses rise above the noise. In some cases, urgency can even shock the customer and capture their focus.

Moreover, urgency prevents procrastination and eventual forgetfulness. As an example, imagine a stay-at-home dad who is checking their email during the day. Let's say they have received an email informing them that their favorite product is back in stock.

So, there's no doubt that the recipient, in this case, is interested. However, this dad has to get the baby's bottle ready and complete a list of chores before they get time to shop online.

Without urgency, chances are, this doting father will forget about what they read until much later, perhaps, even a few more days.

On the other hand, if the email campaign had clearly stated that only 5 articles of the Wishlist product are left, the dad would have directly hit 'Buy now'.

Therefore, send marketing emails that convey time sensitivity from time to time. Don't shy away from testing different types of email copy to establish exclusivity. Check out these 3 ways to go about it:

1. Specify deadlines

People don't dread deadlines, they dread the consequences of those deadlines. Thus, by stating that a special offer ends by the end of the month, subscribers quickly do a little mental math to see how many days they have left.

2. Add a counter

Some of the most successful brands out there use real-time timers in email marketing. From fast fashion companies to watch retailers, everyone does it.

There are plenty of ways to embed a live countdown in your email. As long as the template is responsive, you can either attach a looped GIF or add an in-email script.

3. Complement with personalization

Crafting urgency triggers in personalized emails proves to be a robust combination. This isn't just limited to including the recipient's name. From location to past purchases, and everything in between - your business can use its customers database to target individual subscribers.

For instance, you know that your subscriber is currently in Redding, California. If this is also where your onsite shop is, an email that reads 'Free coffee tasting at our Redding branch till 5 PM today!' is likely to drive store traffic.

Use automated emails

4. Leverage automated emails

Automated campaigns are an excellent tool for clients with short attention spans.

Email marketing software allows companies to send timely messages enriched with relevant content to pique the recipient's curiosity.

Compared to manual campaign management which can often be slow and hassling, automation streamlines the way a business communicates with its clientele.

5. Build consistency by being on time

Your email service provider adores a consistent sending pattern. Email automation lets teams schedule campaigns according to specific triggers and timeliness. This ensures greater deliverability rates that help your email domain thrive.

Other factors aside, consistent sending patterns cut through the challenges of a short attention span.

Consistency in marketing emails supports subconscious receiver retention. In simple words, when customers get used to checking your brand's communication every other day at 8 am in the morning, they will mentally become accustomed to it and will begin to look forward to it.

6. Enhance email personalization

Personalized content is the key to accessing a distracted mind. A marketing strategy supported by a reliable automation tool can take this up a notch.

By designing email content to match customer personas, you can build stronger business-to-subscriber connections. Not to mention, this increases relevancy and engagement when brand messages resonate with recipients' interests.

7. Send reminders and follow-ups

Customers are much more likely to act or respond when a brand's memory is fresh. So, let's say that a website visitor just added a few items to their cart on your online store.

For some reason, they couldn't complete the checkout process. With marketing automation, you can set the software to automatically deliver an abandoned cart email when this happens.

Such timely reminders have been shown to increase ROI for marketers without putting strain on the already exhausted marketing team.

8. Performance and testing

Automation platforms create campaign reports based on real-time insights. By reviewing performance against projected goals, you can check important email marketing metrics such as click-through, bounce, open and conversion rates.

Additionally, businesses can analyze the quality of their email marketing copy, test subject lines and CTAs, and a lot more.

By crafting different sets for your picky target audience, and selecting versions that perform best, you can make data-driven decisions with a focus on capturing recipient attention.

More to Explore: 10 Email Marketing Blogs Every Marketer Should Follow in 2024

Bottom line

Shortening attention spans is a growing pain among professional marketers. Be it a welcome email or seasonal marketing email, companies MUST adjust their strategy to satisfy the new order.

At the same time, successful email marketing demands that brands effortlessly remain in touch with their prospects. From choosing the right CTAs to countering spam complaints, there's a lot to do.

Thanks to marketing automation, a lot of the grunt work is streamlined. As teams direct their focus on more important tasks, a reliable email marketing tool takes care of the rest.

GoCustomer, our all-in-one email marketing suite, offers a combination of essential features to support businesses all the way from the first email marketing campaign till the very end. From email verification and warm-up to hyper personalized drip campaigns, everything is available in our packages.

Try GoCustomer now to create stellar email marketing campaigns that never fail to get noticed.

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Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Email marketers must now design email messages that are short and crisp, visually appealing, have an intriguing subject line, and a CTA that piques interest. With short attention spans, many people may not thoroughly read emails, which makes it essential for the email marketer to make the content worth the click.
    White space around important text reduces the clutter around the text and highlights it. This makes the text stand out and helps it get noticed by viewers. White space also makes a message more appealing, organized, and neat.
    Videos can help with enhanced storytelling, improve click-through rates, increase engagement, and help explain difficult concepts.
    It is important for your recipient to be free and to be actively checking their email when you send your message. Otherwise, your message will be buried amongst dozens of others send to the prospect that day.
    A subject line should not be clickbait. It should be short, may include numbers and the recipient's name, and it can also be mysterious or create urgency. The subject line should also clearly convey the benefit of opening the email.
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