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Attention span of a goldfish – email comic

“You have the attention span of a goldfish” is sometimes used for people who can’t keep focused on something. This can be a conversation, a movie they are watching or something they are reading. An email, for example. The trouble with email is that some people feel they can convey complete stories without proper formatting, and that the other end of the communications line will understand it in a split-second.

What about the fact that there are a thousand signals every day hitting people’s senses, of which a fair share is marketing, email or otherwise? Sending long emails may hurt your case more than it will do good: your message, however important, might not land.

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne, of whose marketing comics I am a big fan, made the attention span comic posted below:

attention-span-of-a-goldfish-email-comic

Here’s the source page on the Marketoonist website of the attention span of a goldfish comic.

The trouble with lengthy emails, including email marketing campaigns, is this that they either get disregarded completely, or are not understood because a reader’s ‘attention span of a goldfish’ kicks in after a few seconds.

Twitter did a pretty good job quite recently with their New Year’s email for Business. One paragraph, one call-to-action and one animation/video. Excellent!

So, a few tips for those who feel their email marketing campaigns or 1-to-1 emails aren’t landing:

  • Emails aren’t books. If you’re not telling grandma how your stay abroad is going, keep it short.
  • If you really -do- need to tell a lot in an email, use proper formatting. Bolding subtitles, paragraphs, bullet points and such.
  • Put the most important part at the beginning and/or at the end. People (unless they are 70+) don’t read: no time. They scan.
  • Test it on yourself, or on someone in the vicinity. Can you or they get the message in under 10 to 15 seconds? If not, back to the drawing board.

When it comes to responding to emails, maybe try the three sentence principle. It allows you to convey your response via email in three sentences or less. See how that works out for you.

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