Seconds Count When It Comes to Marketing

By: Corien de Jong

Brands have stiff competition when winning over consumers and getting them to act. It’s not just other brands – it’s the consumers’ brains themselves. Experts at Microsoft estimated that we have an 8-second attention span. It’s an assertion worth exploring (if you can spare a couple of minutes here).

First, the background. Microsoft released an oft-cited study that reported the average person has an 8-second attention span – down from 12 seconds in 2000. (For perspective, a goldfish beats the human average with 9 seconds.)

For retailers and marketers that means the pressure’s on.

People naturally blame social media speed and brevity, but also the volume of brand messages we can consume in a day. For brick-and-mortar retailers and especially e-commerce operations, this 8-second rule has become a commonality. It’s important to explore and test the edges of how much time your consumers spend on your marketing content.

You want to hook them fast but make it fun to stick around a while. Retailers, first and foremost, want to keep consumers’ attention long enough to make a positive decision while happily engaged so that they don’t abandon your store or their carts.

Here are three marketing musts for retailers in an 8-second attention span world:

  • Use relevant, personalized content. Consumers want to be recognized by name and they want their purchase history to be useful in making other offers or suggestions. Use loyalty programs, email marketing, user-generated content on your social to keep fans engaged with your store.
  • Mobile site visitors demand quick load times – whether they are inside your store looking up more information, shopping online, or somewhere in between. There’s no way around it. Google reports more than half of us will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • Technology like kiosks, self-check-outs and mobile payment options are becoming more common for a reason. Shoppers will line up for “event” shopping, like Black Friday, but they are becoming insistent that they don’t want to wait in line to ask questions about a product, or even to pay.

The 8-second rule of marketing isn’t embraced by everyone, though. A columnist for Entrepreneur made the case for Costco’s long game – exclusive deals, sales prices announced before the product is available, and even a monthly, robust magazine that includes traditional feature articles, recipes, polls and letters to the editor.

But there’s no disputing it feels like an unlimited amount of choices in what to read, or view, or watch, and even which platforms and devices to use. If brands have a story to tell, they should approach their craft with skill, and consider testing out that skill with a stopwatch.

About Brick to Click!

With decades of experience in retail marketing, Gina Lee De Freitas, President of IMM, and Corien de Jong, SVP Executive Creative Director, have the insights and strategies you need to take your in-store and online retail traffic to the next level.

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