Wednesday, February 28, 2024

What is the 3-30-3 rule? Essential marketing principles

Three seconds to capture your attention.

Thirty seconds to keep you engaged.

And three minutes to deliver your complete message.

The 3-30-3 rule is a marketing principle to tackle the dwindling attention span of people inundated with content in our current age. Its essence involves captivating visuals and content to ensure you don’t instantly hit that cross button on your tab, hoping to convert you into a customer.

This marketing strategy is utilized (or should be) across all collateral such as blogs, website pages, podcasts, and so on.

But you’re here to learn how to implement this golden rule, so let’s move on.

How to use the three-second rule

When time is limited and the first impression holds high value, your marketing materials must deliver the core message within three seconds. Suppose a scenario where your website’s homepage has a higher-than-average bounce rate, and you’re unsure what the cause is.

Within three seconds a consumer will have decided if they want to stay or leave.

Here are a few suggestions and considerations that can instantly capture a potential customer’s attention better.

Headline: captivating copy which delivers the who, what, and why within moments of reading it is the goal of your text on the main image. Keep the fluff away from the headline and incorporate conciseness for this component.

If you cannot capture their attention within the first three seconds, the customer will never understand why they need your product or service.

Imagery: humans are visual creatures and approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. This means your leading homepage images must strongly relate to the product/service being sold, send a message of its importance, and follow general website imagery guidelines.

General design: color palettes, text, and image positioning all matter when there are only three seconds on the clock for the first impression.

A great example of this is Freshbooks’ website, which has a concise headline, social proof through reviews, and a call-to-action, all within the first image of the landing page.

Or take the image below as an example:

Happy people working in a Servcorp coworking space.

The advertisement has:

  •  A clear and concise headline to outline the product.
  •  A subheading which incites an action.
  • Social proof at the bottom of the image.
  • Photography which has clear correlation to the headline.
  • Legible writing with good color contrast.

Yes, the three second rule can be applied to all marketing collateral. In 2021 alone, it was estimated for the average person to encounter 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day.

Want to stand out? Make it happen in three seconds.

How to use the 30-second rule

You’re in luck.

The website visitor hasn’t clicked off after the first three seconds of landing on your homepage. Now it’s about having compelling content that sells your product/services to the visitor, and ensuring that they keep reading for another 30 seconds.

Let’s stick to the homepage example and continue building on the foundations you’ll need for this component of the 3-30-3 rule.

Subheadline: now you need a general description of what this product/service offers. Outline why the visitor should care about your offering by highlighting the issue it solves. Again, keep it sharp and avoid cliches or jargon, as this can be offputting.

A call-to-action: next in line having a CTA, and there should be around two to three accompanied by an image.

Benefits: by now, the visitor is about fifteen seconds in and it’s time to start delivering on the benefits of your product/service. By the time they complete reading this section, thirty seconds have likely passed and the visitor is sure they are in the right place.

Remember, general website text must be easy-to-read and should follow the optimal range of 400-600 words on your homepage.

How to use the three-minute rule

Your website visitor is reasonably invested in what you have to offer and has the potential to become a customer. By now, you’re closing in on the average time a consumer spends on a page, which is 54 seconds across all industries.

There’s a common misconception that a homepage should have a lot of information to ensure they completely understand your product/service.

But this isn’t necessarily the case. The more content on the homepage, the greater the risk of less punchy content and your message becoming muddled or not delivering quickly. 

Suppose a homepage has more than 1,500 words; this means you need to structure more than double the recommended amount of content in a method that doesn’t bury the lead or confuse people.

We distinguished the optimal range of copy on a homepage as 400-600 words, and let’s assume yours is right in the middle with 500. The average reader takes about 1.7 minutes to read 500 words, and you’re left with 1.3 minutes according to the 3-30-3 rule.

Unless you’ve struck gold and the visitor is ready to purchase, the website now needs hyperlinks that direct them to different pages since it’s already exhausted the homepage content. The destination of this page can be based on hundreds of strategies and there’s no right answer.

Typically it could lead to a blog page or case studies of your business succeeding. But either way, it’s best to assume the visitor only has a short amount of time until they consider exiting the website. 

Here it will be beneficial to have persuasive content of why the visitor needs your product, or showcasing its usage in a successful manner.

Track it with analytics

You can have a comprehensive overview of your website with Google Analytics within ten to twenty minutes of using it. It can provide key insights into how long someone stays on a particular page before clicking another link or completely bouncing off.

There are also applications such as CrazyEgg, which have heatmaps to show which part of a page is most viewed, clicked, and so on. All of these analytics can assist in optimizing your 3-30-3 rule because if a large volume of visitors are bouncing off your homepage as soon as they arrive, it’s time to reassess your three-second approach.

Why the 3-30-3 rule is important

Adapting this ideology across all marketing efforts is essential in a world where consumers have many options. The average consumer is happy to exit your website if they aren’t captivated right away – after all, the average website bounce rate is between 26% and 70%.

As you become more familiar with the 3-30-3 rule and learn how to implement it better, your marketing skills will improve and the findings can be passed to the rest of your team.

For example, informing your web design team of a list of changes they can make to increase the time a visitor stays or sharing this approach with your organic SEO team for more engaging content. Overall, the benefits of the 3-30-3 rule can’t be overlooked and will force you to realize the importance of time.

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Amy Menzies

Amy Menzies

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