Disrupting The Disrupted: Marketing In The Era Of The “8 Second” Attention Span

New research tells us that this article has about 8 seconds to grab your attention!That’s right! 8 seconds!  That’s the length of the average human attention span according to a study done by Microsoft Canada in 2013.  Earlier research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI) of the National Library of Medicine, Maryland, USA, found that the average human attention span in the year 2000 was 12 seconds.  It has dropped by 4 seconds since 2000. 

We lost about one-third(33.3%) of our attention span in the last 15 years.  That’s alarming!  How long can we keep our focus in the next five years? Ten years?  

The study found that our memories are worse than that of a Goldfish.  The average Goldfish can hold focus for almost 9 seconds. 

Come to think of it, it’s quite embarrassing.  And who do you think is the culprit? Us, humans!  We did it to ourselves.  Scientists say ­that the cause of the short attention span was brought about by man-made devices and the growing use of mobile internet.

About 80% of smartphone users have two screens open at any given time according to Dr. Peter Lin, a surgeon in L.A.  For example, we got used to having a phone and a laptop open concurrently.  Or we are accustomed to sharing a post on Facebook while watching Shank Tank on Youtube, and replying to your boss via Gmail, all done simultaneously.  We are guilty of this.  We got used to “multi-tasking” — a term coined by IBM which means several tasks are done at the same time, thinking that we can achieve more by doing so. 

But the truth is, multitasking slows us down.  We may feel like we are productive in juggling several tasks but we usually end up delivering poor results for each of the tasks.

According to the study, there are four factors that affect our attention span: 

  1. Media consumption
  2. Social Media usage
  3. Technology adoption rate
  4. Multi-screening behavior

Due to these activities, our long-term focus erodes with more screen time and social media usage.  Overall, the study found that our digital lifestyles have an adverse impact on achieving prolonged focus.

Marketers Should Evolve 

Marketing is executed primarily through the use of effective communications. Craft the right message, present it to the right audience, and deliver it at the right place, at the right time.  While this is still essential to marketing success, it’s just not enough.  The marketing game has changed since the advent of mobile technologies and the internet.

Acknowledging this fact is crucial when designing your marketing strategy.  You are not just competing for business.  You are competing for the target market’s attention.

Below are some strategies you can implement:

1.  Craft compelling headlines

Spend time to create great headlines.  Make it short and powerful.  Provide a benefit-driven statement in the first sentence of your letter.  Your headline is the single most important element of your sales copy. No matter how captivating the rest of your sales copy is, if you falter here, the rest of the content wouldn’t matter. If your headline sucks, then no one will ever see the rest of your sales copy.

 2.  Harness the power of video marketing

  “Videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text.”

Video drives significant visitor engagement and retention rates.  The Marketer’s goal is to capture the audience’s attention in 8 seconds. Your marketing message must be concise and direct to the point.   The role of the video then comes into play.  Videos offer the best medium to capture your audience’s attention. 

According to a study done by Invodo, 65% of viewers consume more than seventy-five percent of each video content, remarkably higher than text-based content.  The video is the ideal medium to drive conversions. Did you know that humans process a visual content in just 13 milliseconds?  It’s the most efficient way to drive conversions according to more than 70 % of Marketers. Moreover, explainer videos can increase product purchase by more than 85%.  And “Cisco predicts that nearly 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2018.”  These statistics are the reason why most firms are investing heavily into video marketing.

3.  Make sure that you have the right  “Message to Market” match  This criterion is one of the first rules in Direct Response Marketing.  Take a look at your business.  Examine your processes, your marketing messages, your website, and the other tools you use in your communication.  How effective is your approach?  Are you telling them more about your interests? Or are you talking about their needs and wants? These two methods will deliver two different results.  Choosing the wrong one would spell the difference between winning at losing.  Sometimes, we have a tendency to prioritize our personal agenda and not the client’s concerns.  We have to stay focused on their needs and provide them the value they deserve at all times.

4.  Talk to a “Laser Targeted Audience”  Make sure the that you are selling to your ideal clients.  Deliver the right message in front of them in a language that they can understand.  Make sure it is congruent with what they are interested in.

5.  Email is still King

The digital landscape has transformed over the years, but email has prevailed to be an essential backbone of any successful business. Email nearly doubled its Return on Investment (ROI) compared to the other traditional digital channels.

The majority of executives prefer to do business and correspond via email.  According to a study done by Emma, 75% of executives prefer to communicate via email.  And they spend an average of 2.6 hours per day browsing their inboxes.

According to Emma, 58% of adults reach for their mobile phone first thing in the morning when they wake up to check their emails.   They do this even before the brush their teeth of have coffee.  Checking your messages is now the number one activity of choice on a mobile device. 

In 2015, the average number of emails people receive will is up to 84 per day.  About 87% of these emails are “opt-ins,” meaning the recipient gave permission to the sender to send him/her messages via this channel. 

People check their smartphones an average of 150 times a day.  This habit is good news for the marketers who use email marketing as their primary strategy to reach their clients.  Which then results in a high batting average for consumers to consume their messages. 

The Takeaway

The internet creates an information-rich environment for all of us.  That’s the reason why we use it so much.  However, this tends to promote a compulsive behavior which drives us to check our smart phones, sneak at our emails, and glance at our social media updates constantly.  We are living in a perpetual state of distraction and interruption.  This situation is dangerous!  That mode of thinking crowds out a more contemplative, calmer way of thinking.  And that focused way of thinking is how we learn. 

This process is called “Memory Consolidation.” It’s a neurological process that gradually converts information from short-term memory to long-term memory. As we acquire new experiences and memories, our brains create more and more of these connections.   This process plays a significant role in learning. 

Ergo, we need to bring this back.  If not, we will never get a chance to learn anything because of distractions. Attention is crucial!  If we always divide our attention, then we don’t leverage the consolidation process.  Then we don’t gain knowledge which would put our very humanity is at stake.

The internet is useful in a lot of ways, but the best thing we can nourish our minds is to find some time every day to relax, disconnect, and focus on one thing at a time. 

Are you a multitasker? Can you stay focused on a specific task by more than 8 seconds? What do you think is the effect of having a short attention span to our children’s learning?  I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know your thoughts and share it in the comments section below.


About the Author:


Creator at JovelCipriano.com

Jovel’s 20 years of experience in the field of IT and Entrepreneurship is the driving force behind his successes. He is a sought after authority in the fields of Entrepreneurship, E-commerce, Internet Marketing, and Export. This ex-IBMer has earned global recognitions from the WTO, APEC, and the UN. Jovel graduated from the University of the Philippines with a double degree in Computer Science and Tourism. In his spare time, Jovel enjoys adventure sports such as surfing, scuba diving, and mountaineering. He loves traveling, playing guitar, and exploring exotic local cuisines.

Other Articles:

Pick A Horse And Ride It: 3 Practical Tips To Get Things Done

5 Ways To Wow Your Customers Every Time

Uber’s Bold Move To Fight In Enemy Territory

Don’t Hold Back The “Secret Sauce”

3 Emotional Triggers That Drive People To Buy 

Startup Secrets: 3 Crucial Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Disrupting The Disrupted: Marketing In The Era Of The “8 Second” Attention Span 

Amazon Sells Customer Experience

5 Reasons why Brick and mortar is still at the core of today’s shopping experience

Omnichannel: The Future Of Shopping

Interception: How Volvo disrupted the way we attract attention

The business world is reaping the benefits of this simple idea

I Figured Out Why Email Is King

5 Trust-building tactics to help you win in any negotiation

Be Present! Rewiring your brain for positive change

Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts: Why Mindfulness practice is essential for your well-being

First Mover Advantage: Why it’s always a good idea to be first?

4 Effective ways to snap out of negative thoughts

5 Smart Tips to Better Handle Criticisms

The Power of GRIT: Identifying the one character strength you need to succeed in business and life

Don’t name your dog “Blackie”: Gaining competitive advantage by crafting a compelling brand name

Sales Funnel 101: Increasing Your Bottom line By Knowing How your Funnel Works