News The Five Second Communication Rule


Marketing communications have just five seconds to create impact before consumers dismiss them as irrelevant, according to a new study.

The marketing five-second rule was revealed in research from Pitney Bowes, which unveils fascinating insights into consumers’ behaviour and attitudes when it comes to physical and digital marketing.

Pitney Bowes surveyed 3000 consumers and 225 businesses in the UK, France and Germany. The responses unveil a mismatch between marketing methods and consumer preference, resulting in marketing budgets potentially being invested in entirely the wrong areas and companies unwittingly driving away their customers.

Transformation is needed

Organisations have around 40 different marketing channels available to them to communicate and engage with their customers.  In theory, this should mean that consumers receive tailored, relevant, meaningful communications from the brands they love across the channels they choose. It should mean that marketers use the data and insight available to create brand impact by delivering an engaging, personalised customer experience. But the reality is quite different. Pitney Bowes’ research highlights the gap between the communications consumers want, and what they receive. The results point to a need for marketers to transform their communications, to use an intelligent mix of physical and digital channels, and to use the data available to them to deliver creative, personalised marketing campaigns.  

Information will be shared

The research also revealed some surprising insights into customer data, and the information consumers are willing to provide to receive relevant communications: it seems we’re happy to provide personal information such as email and phone numbers if this results in personalised marketing communications. UK consumers were even happy to share their hobbies and interests, age, and buying habits in order to receive more personalised communications.

Despite us being happy to share this information, the businesses in Pitney Bowes’ independent survey readily admit they’re not making the most of their customer data, due to multiple barriers such as organisational culture, a lack of skilled resource or an absence of analytics tools and techniques to do so.

Digital and Physical

To create impact, businesses and brands need accurate and effective customer information management methods in place, and they need to become more strategic, clever and creative with their communications.

Some brands are already getting it right by creating a memorable and effective omnichannel experience: For example a brand might send out to customers a printed direct mail brochure that will be personalised. The customer may then use a smartphone to check the app and view different available images and drop something into a basket. Later on they might complete the purchase on a tablet or laptopThis switching between physical and digital channels is seamless, consistent and effective. A large number of UK, French and German businesses report that they are seeing positive outcomes from taking advantage of a new physical and digital marketing mix.

The intelligence revealed by the Pitney Bowes research is a window into consumers’ worlds. It demonstrates that those who shout loudest are not necessarily the most successful. If we want to deliver outstanding communications which create a consistent brand experience, we need to let our customers take the lead. We must use their data wisely to generate creative, personalised marketing campaigns across a blend of physical and digital marketing channels. And we must remember the five second rule: within five seconds, someone will have blinked.. and one of your customers will have decided whether or not your marketing is worth a closer look.