The Eight Second Challenge for Nonprofits – Are You Ready?

Feb 5, 2020

A study by Microsoft reported that the average adult attention span is down to 8 seconds.

Your efforts to engage your supporters ultimately boils down to roughly eight seconds. If you can’t make an impact on your supporters in these very few seconds, they will most likely move on to the next thing that catches their interest. No pressure, right?

When you are trying to engage your supporters and cultivate long-lasting relationships, every second counts. As our attention spans dwindle in a world where there is an abundance of content, advertisements, brand promotions, and marketing messages, how on earth is your organization going to stand out in an already crowded inbox?

When it comes to engaging your audience, we know people have grown accustomed to quickly moving through information and only stopping at content that resonates with them. So, ask yourself, are you hooking and holding the attention of your supporters? Are they excited or at least mildly interested in reading your emails?

With all this in mind, let’s take a step back and look at how you are creating email messages and delivering content and see if it could use some improvement.

Is your content scannable?  

Here’s the truth: Rarely do people read content beginning to end.

You have to compel people to engage, and you’ve only got a small window to grab their attention. One way to approach this is by creating emails where you’ve put the most valuable information upfront, and you’ve made it easy to follow – even better would be making it effortless to consume.  Another way to put it is: don’t sacrifice your message for being “gimmicky”.

Below are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your email messages, so your supporters aren’t left distracted and yelling “squirrel,” before taking action.

  • Use short paragraphs
  • Keep your sentences short
  • Use subheads and bullet points
  • Don’t forget to sprinkle in images

Are you making your messages personal?

In an era when people are inundated with boatloads of information and emails, providing an exceptional personalized experience can mean the difference between your supporters reading your email or moving on to the next shiny object.

At a basic level, personalization can mean just using your supporter’s first name in the opening paragraph. While taking a more advanced approach can include changing the content of the email based on the information you have learned about your supporters, such as their donation level, how they designated their gift(s), volunteer status, email engagements, and more.

Either way, personalization is key if you want to grab and hold your supporter’s attention! Think about it, how often do you spend time reading emails that don’t speak directly to you or your interests? Probably not much.

Have you heard of the phrase “Less is More?”

Did you know one of the best-known speeches in American History is fewer than 275 words? Yep, the Gettysburg Address was fewer than 275 words.

So I am 100% confident when I say it is entirely possible to make your emails short, sweet, but impactful.

Your goal is to drive supporter engagement, and NO ONE wants to wade through a ton of sentences to figure out what your email is talking about. To help avoid your supporters from hitting delete or falling asleep, here are a few tips you should always follow:

  • Keep your copy length short. Did you know a study by Bloomerang found that emails with 75-100 words get the best response rates?
  • Double-check for basic mistakes, such as misspelling, punctuation, or grammar.
  • Avoid jargon, fluff, abbreviations, and sesquipedalian tendencies
  • Encourage a single action from the reader by making it clear what your supporters should do next. By the way, check out this great list of effective calls to action from our friends at Classy.

Do you know what matters to your supporters?

No one likes being talked at, and sending relevant information is one of the best ways to ensure your supporters feel like they are part of something bigger. The content you choose should grab their attention and be important to their interests.

Before you launch your next campaign, take a few minutes and think about your audience segments, their motivations, and your goals, so you can offer the content that’s relevant, interesting, and useful to your supporters – segment by segment, if that’s possible.

Are you ready to take on the eight-second challenge?

To sum it up, grabbing the attention of your supporters – and holding it – isn’t crafting a perfect one-size-fits-all message, it’s about crafting the right message for the right audience – at the right time. And the good news is, you have a treasure trove of data that can help you tackle this eight-second challenge!

Still hungry to know more?  Then check out our guides and discover how you can grab the attention of supporters, create a meaningful experience, and foster long-term donor relationships.

Omatic Software
Omatic Software is dedicated to integrating disparate systems and democratizing data access for today’s nonprofits. Founded in 2002, Omatic has worked with thousands of nonprofits globally to remove their data barriers by integrating systems and enabling nonprofit teams to leverage their donor data rather than be burdened by it. The Omatic team has one goal – unleashing the power of data to show a complete view of your donor, enabling data-driven decision making and opportunity creation for your organization.