8 -second rule means you have 8 seconds to engage a viewer before they click away
Focus on Ease and Clarity in 8 Seconds or Less

If your website can’t pass the 8-Second Marketing test…you are losing customers and money.  It’s true… you have only eight seconds to get their attention before they click away. Microsoft’s research proved a goldfish will hang around a second longer than people will. The argument might be that goldfish aren’t as smart.

That’s down from 12 seconds in 2000. Canadian researchers have been tracking the changes in a survey of 2000 participants. In another study, they used EEGs on 112 volunteers to validate their findings. Reduction in attention correlates exactly with the rocket-paced evolution of technology.

What it boils down to is with so much information coming in, it’s harder to hold our attention. Our brains try to sort out what is most important to us and protectively operating on semi-auto pilot, delete the rest.

Choices Evolved and Exploded

Back in the early 1960s, there were three television choices and no internet. You could watch ABC, CBS or NBC.  That changed rapidly over the next two decades. It blossomed to over 700 UHF and VHF stations.  By 2013 the growth had stalled and the number of stations peaked at 1781.

If you had access to cable your choices became far more vast than stations broadcast over the air. Today it’s not uncommon for the average viewer to have access to well over 200 choices.

At the same time television was evolving, so were computers and the internet. By 1991, the first chatrooms on the internet became open to the public. From what started as small private forums choices exploded. 

Home computers, popular for work tasks, took on a whole new life. We could work, socialize, play games, stay in touch with family and friends. All you needed was internet capability and your choices exploded. 

The internet race was on.  Now we have access to entertainment on our televisions, and on every electronic device, we own. Small wonder it became the new marketing playground.

It’s a Mistake to Underestimate Your Viewer

The research documented a decreasing attention span. Somehow this got linked to less intelligence. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.  We’ve had to become more choosy.  

We don’t have time to deal with every option, email, or offer that comes our way. So we let our puzzle-solving brains help us out by filtering and deleting what it sees as not of interest.

It’s also a mistake to think that this only applies to websites.  When you’re driving at 60 miles an hour you are whizzing past marketing. Billboards and roadsigns have 6 seconds…think six words or less…to get read. 

Direct mailers have long known we can decide in three seconds whether to put their mail in the open file, or the trash.  

Short, clear, and concise is always better.

Three Ways to Pass the 8-Second Marketing Rule

Everything you put out there, emails, content, articles, needs to pass the scan test. Test the message by getting feedback from a shopper for their first quick impression.

Marketers and brands work so closely with projects, they can miss what a shopper won’t.  Get outside feedback.  

Kill Clutter

Make sure each page, article, email has one clear message. Eliminate confusing.  Reinforce that concept with the right images, videos, and scannable content.

Graphics and images reinforcing the single clear message increase engagement. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” holds true.  It helps us remember what was important.

There is one common problem I see repeatedly. Graphics departments tend to go for visual over readable. They take that carefully crafted message and put it into a long-lump of single content so it fits beautifully next to an image.

The mistake is that the paragraph is hard to read.  It fails the scan test.  We need white space built-in for easy reading. White space is like breathing room for the visitor. 

Unfortunately, many web designers would take each of my sub-sections and make them a single paragraph.  You will lose the reader. Give them room. Make it easy to scan and read.

Engage with Emotion

We can’t help ourselves, we respond non-verbally to visuals, images, color, and sound. 

Fast food restaurants have used color for years.  Red and yellow energize us, however the colors are so stimulating, we can’t stay in the environment for a prolonged period of time. That worked to generate quicker turn-over of the tables and more customers in the store.

Now, living in an age of stress and uncertainty, we crave calm and soothing colors. Look to see more serene blues and greens and gentler background music for all sorts of businesses. 

If you offer a website with a diversity of products for different needs, make navigation easy. Avoid confusing navigation. Anything that brings up roadblocks or frustration is a negative experience. Negative emotions lose customers.

Entertain, educate, and engage their attention.  

It may be harder to make your first sale to people with all the choices out there, but engaging, educating, and entertaining, will keep them coming back.

8-Second Rule Wants Simple Clarity

Sacrificing clarity to put something clever and catchy on your website backfires more often than not.  Clever and catchy are often vague. They create frustration and stop any chance at conversation.  

When it comes to the viewer’s number one question – “Do they have what I need?”  straight forward, clear and relevant is what they want.  Avoid meaningless, vague jingle or clever slogans. There are too many better choices to put up with those.

I love the phrase I’ve seen repeatedly, “If you confuse them you will lose them!” 

Your copy AND your graphic design need to be clear and straightforward.  Get your design department thinking in terms of helping the viewer…not being cute or clever.  

Quality content counts. Copy written for scanning and quick reading, it’s far more useful to the viewer.

Make sure to clearly answer all the questions the visitor may have. You want them to know you can solve their problem, and improve their quality of life. 

Visitors want proof like testimonials from other clients. They want to know what makes you different from the other two billion websites out there.

Guests want to see and feel you are reliable and honest. And a key sticking point can be how to contact you to get questions answered.

Most of all…they want it clear, simple, easy.

How does your content measure up?

If you haven’t had an outside take a look and give you feedback, you should. I have a quick service that I offer to first-time clients to do just that. Message me or book a call on my website.

You may also enjoy these articles on customer engagement.

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