8 Seconds to Pounce Using the 3 Es of Copywriting

Eight seconds. That’s the average attention span of today’s reader, with those precious seconds representing about the time to ready only 30 to 40 words of copy. Or about HERE (at 35 words).

Eight seconds. That’s the average attention span of today’s reader, with those precious seconds representing about the time to ready only 30 to 40 words of copy. Or about HERE (at 35 words). As recently as in 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. But when online and mobile use exploded, along with distractions from multiple streams of media, another one-third of our attention span was lopped off.

Attention span, as defined in a new study, is “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.” Commanding concentrated time in just eight seconds is a tall order for marketers.

As I wrote above, those eight seconds only allow reading 30 to 40 words (based on my informal findings). That represents about five to eight words for a headline, followed by a couple of average length sentences, or three or four short sentences. That’s all the time you’ve got to engage your reader to convince them to give you more time.

Consider these stats:

  • Average attention span in 2015:
    8.25 seconds
  • Average attention span in 2000:
    12 seconds
  • Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their email box:
    30 times
  • Average length watched of a single internet video:
    2.7 minutes

There are a few other stats out there that underscore how we, as a culture, don’t pay attention for very long before moving on:

  • Percent of web page views that last less than 4 seconds:
    17 percent
  • Percent of web page views that lasted more than 10 minutes:
    4 percent
  • Percent of words read on web pages with 111 words or less:
    49 percent
  • Percent of words read on an average (593 words) web page:
    28 percent

There’s more: users spend only 4.4 seconds more for each additional 100 words speed reading through web copy.

What does this mean for direct marketers? You must grab your reader using three E’s in copywriting that:

  1. Entertains
  2. Educates
  3. Engages

This doesn’t necessarily mean writing shorter copy.

  • Copy must work smarter to get attention. Use the three E’s in combination.
  • Eliminate “warm up” copy and stimulate emotion fast by introducing fear, uncertainty and doubt in your prospect’s mind.
  • Quickly calm your prospect’s mind with your solution and why your prospect should go beyond eight seconds to learn more about you.

Grab the reader with the three E’s of copywriting and improve your odds they’ll stick with you. But if you hope to make the sale, your copy must quickly get to the point to interest the reader longer than a mere eight seconds.

Author: Gary Hennerberg

Reinventing Direct is for the direct marketer seeking guidance in the evolving world of online marketing. Gary Hennerberg is a mind code marketing strategist, based on the template from his new book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code." He is recognized as a leading direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He weaves in how to identify a unique selling proposition to position, or reposition, products and services using online and offline marketing approaches, and copywriting sales techniques. He is sought-after for his integration of direct mail, catalogs, email marketing, websites, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. His identification of USPs and copywriting for clients has resulted in sales increases of 15 percent, 35 percent, and even as high as 60 percent. Today he integrates both online and offline media strategies, and proven copywriting techniques, to get clients results. Email him or follow Gary on LinkedIn. Co-authoring this blog is Perry Alexander of ACM Initiatives. Follow Perry on LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “8 Seconds to Pounce Using the 3 Es of Copywriting”

  1. Excellent article (bookmarked)! I agree with Denny. With all the information Target Marketing dishes out, there is absolutely no excuse for boring a reader.

    Find the wound. Pour salt into it. Then bring the balm. I’ve learned over the years how to prune my writing of unnecessary “warm-up” copy and go straight for the jugular.

    I’ve also had to kill my inner “friendly, chatty Italian” along the way but I do let her out at cocktail parties.

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