eight-second rule in email marketing

8 seconds: that’s all you have folks and here’s how to make it count in an email

First impressions are everything according to consumer insights expert Colm Carey. By Rob Martin.


Does it matter what time of the day people receive an e-mail? How important are the exact words and phrases used in terms of engaging with the recipient and is the reputation of the sender key to connecting?

Colm Carey, who has worked in market research, including digital marketing, for two decades and is an expert in consumer psychology worldwide, believes the tried and trusted e-mail still has a prominent place in the world of digital marketing.

That’s if it comes from the right source, is carefully targeted and is worded correctly.

“What you put in the subject line is important. If the subject matter is of real interest and relevance to the recipient there is a good chance they will open it (the e-mail).

“If it is sensational, contains exclamation marks, or uses phrases like ‘free offer’ it will probably be deleted without being read or get caught by the filters in corporate servers,” he says.



And he believes the chances of the recipient engaging with the e-mail depend on who the sender is.

“If they (the recipient) know you and have used your products or services in the past then you have a good chance (that they will open and engage in the e-mail).

“And if you are a trusted organisation you have a good chance (of making a connection). If you’re a well-known spammer you have little or no chance.”

The eight-second rule is key in digital marketing. It represents the length of time an e-mail sender has to convince a recipient to engage with the e-mail received or to convince a visitor to stay on a particular website.

Carey explains: “This length of time was based on the fact the most sites lose 50pc or more of their visitors within the first eight seconds of them coming to the site.

“The rule applies to first time visitors who are unfamiliar with your web site. It is all about creating the best first impression that encourages people to stay. You get more time from people who were actively looking for you based on a recommendation and from returning visitors.”

So are consumers particularly open to digital marketing and how successful a marketing tool is it for companies?


Just another channel

“Digital is just another marketing channel and, in time, it will become as familiar as print, radio, TV and outdoor. The novelty is wearing off and regulation is catching up, as seen in moves to regulate bloggers who claim to be independent and objective but who get paid for promoting products and brands,” says Colm, an Irishman who has worked on developing reputations between brands and consumers in Ireland, the UK and the United States.

He adds: “The key for success in the digital space is to do less but do it better. Tight targeting using relevant information is vital. Google surveys indicate that 90% of under 25’s in Ireland have a smartphone and 47% of over 55’s have one.

“As people move up the age range they will bring their devices with them. It’s a connected nation and mobile can reach places where fixed line broadband is poor.”

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