For more than 35 years, journalists have been kicking around numbers of “impressions/advertisements” a person is exposed to in one day … “1,500,” “2,000,” and “up to 3,000.”
Ad “impression” level indicates each individual receiving approximately 3000 advertising “impressions” daily. This was certainly a compendium of all marketing/advertising channels – TV commercials, billboards, ad-serving, banner ads, newspaper and magazine ads, email – personal and marketing - to name a few.
Picture this: The infamous Times Square “Naked Cowboy” is an impression in this sea. He sells something. One moment here for you here means hundreds of impressions. Overload! Cereal Island in the grocery store!
This study was prior to major online adoption by most channels; no big social forces were in play (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, cable top box bursts, pre/post roll ads on videos, etc.). So what is that daily impression volume now? It is vast; it is staggering. Too staggering to quantify. I write this as I pick up my branded pen to jot a note on a branded pad and sip coffee from my branded cup.
We now live in what The Relevancy Group™ coined a “short burst” society. Attention spans have become short. Online attention spans have become almost miniscule. Consumers buy DVR systems to avoid ads. Email clients have altered their frameworks so you can automatically filter out and “score” and file away relevant and non-relevant communications. Advertising agencies have had to become more creative. Newspapers are dying. Magazines? Skinny. TV commercials have shortened, creating more 15 second “hooks.” “Hooks” become important in all channels as marketers need to grab this ever-shortening share of a very limited attention span.
On top of all that, every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003, according to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. That’s”.. something like five exabytes of data…,” he says. He revealed this at the Techonomy conference in August of 2010. Has it grown larger? Likely. This means attention spans are even shorter.
The 3-5-7 rule for Email marketing
So what does this mean for email marketers? I think this 3-5-7 is a rule of thumb for email marketers to live by as they plan, test and review their campaigns:
3 - You have three seconds to get someone’s attention
5 - You have five seconds, once you get their attention, to draw them in
7 - If you got this far, you’re lucky. Congratulations. The next seven seconds are critical
It is well documented that email recipients don’t read; they SCAN. First their inbox – from whom is the email? Think about your own inbox. If you see an email from a family member, you open that first. Takes you just a few seconds to find it, right?
THREE SECONDS is how long you have to engage a subscriber with the subject line. Think of your own behaviour. Do you recognize the brand name in the “From Line?” If not, you skip or delete it, right? Everyone is afraid of viruses, phishing, identity theft…
Next comes the “Subject Line” – is it relevant? Is it information you really need or want? If those two important pieces are trusted and seem relevant, perhaps you will open it. If not, you will likely delete it.
Assuming you open the email, you take about FIVE SECONDS to scan the message – promotional or otherwise. Does it convey what was promised in the subject line? Can you easily find the information or call to action/offer/etc?
Do you have to scroll or hunt and peck to find what you’re looking for? If marketers are burying their CTAs, you will more likely abandon the process.
If marketers are smart and have clear calls to action, or specific landing pages, customers engage.
Engagement gives a marketer about SEVEN SECONDS to compel the customer, compete with their competition and cut through the “clutter” that is now our everyday lives, and make it happen.
If they are taken to a specific landing page, your proposition/offer must be formatted brilliantly, be brief and clear. You’ve gotten them this far. Your SEVEN SECONDS becomes the difference between a purchase, a conversion, a sale - or abandonment, unsubscribe or end-user frustration. We all know one bad experience can lose a customer and damage your brand.
Bottom line: you have no time to flounder (yes, every pun intended). Flounder is a bottom feeder. Don’t do that. Work the three, five, seven.
Thanks to Dori Thompson
for sharing her advice and opinions in this post. Dori Thompson is a results-driven executive consultant with 19 years of experience in direct and online marketing, ecommerce, sales, strategy, and research. Dori is also the Co-Chairman of the Email Experience National Council’s Speakers Bureau (US). You can reach her for more information at dori at dorithompson.com.
(1)The Relevancy Group describes the “The Short Burst Society” as a life stage and lifestyle segment of our worldwide population that knows no boundaries. It cannot simply be defined by demographic, social-economic differences, although there are some concentrations within these pods. “SBS” is an attitudinal and behavioral distinction that applies when one consumes and responds to information across a variety of digital devices, in the spoken word, or in a writing that would make a postcard seem verbose. Visit http://ShortBurstSociety.com for additional information.
(2) Charles F. Adams, Common Sense in Advertising, 1965 (McGraw-Hill)
(3) “Affluent Consumers in a Digital World,” IAB, July 2011
(4) “Advertising in America: The Consumer View” Harvard, 1968
(5) “How many Advertising Exposures per day”? Journal of Advertising Research, Dec., 1972.
(6) “What is our real exposure to Internet Ads,” Media Matters, April, 2011
(7) Information era marketing + consulting 2011 study ™ (including personal surveys from top marketers, advertisers, agencies in the U.S.).