Ask for what you want up front, before you lose their attention.

YES, even your friends.


If you are part of the minority and read more than the subject of an email, thank you reading this and giving me your most valuable asset; your time.

I am and have always been intrigued in finding ways to get people to do things. I have unofficially studied and observed how to get friends to join me at the sports bar. I have paid attention to which methods worked with the least friction to get people to hang out. I have been described as a people watcher. YEAH, I’m the creeper in the mall watching people walk by.

I even employed a sales trick to get a girl to call me back, IT WORKED she became my wife.

I have always wanted to know the magic or voodoo behind getting people to do things. This has drawn me into the world of marketing and sales. I read articles, watch video and listen to podcasts often about marketing and the people who say they are good at it.

Over and over again, we hear that the human attention span is getting closer and closer to the attention span of a mosquito. This is evident in emails where two questions are asked and only one answer is received. People are taking less phone calls because they take too much time. Text messaging has become the choice medium across all age groups. It allows us to consume we were are ready, and oh boy are we consuming text messages more than ever!

I am also a victim of a shortening attention span. I have tried to study for an upcoming exam and it requires me to log off both of my email providers and SHUT OFF my phone. YES I said SHUT OFF not just silence because I can still hear the vibration. I even put the damn thing in my desk drawer because it is such a distraction.

So when the following happened this month, I wasn't surprised but it was intriguing to me. Yeah, I know I’m weird for paying attention to this kinda thing, but oh well I’m weird.


I am responsible at my brokerage to get a list of vendor’s together that could help real estate agent’s and their clients get good work done at a reasonable rate.

Here is the series of event’s that lead me to conclude that 40% of real estate agents don’t read past the subject of an email.

Here is exactly what happened:

  1. I personally (face to face) asked for a list of vendors from about 15 agents, only 2 agents gave a comprehensive list. The rest intended on providing one but never followed through. I concluded that asking for more than one name at a time was too much. So I decided to ask for one vendor at a time.
  2. An email was sent to approximately 85 agents asking for home cleaners that had been tried and tested. We received 5 emails from very helpful agents that gave me names and phone numbers. This information did not have emails, addresses or mailing address so we could contact these vendors in a less aggressive way than phone calls.
  3. In order to improve the quality of the information a Google form was created for ease of input. An email was sent to the same approximately 85 agents asking for an electrician this time. In the 3rd line of a 5 line email there were instructions asking people to use the Google form. ONLY 2 out of the 5 agents who responded followed these instructions. One agent replied to the email with a name and number and then went back and reread the email, apologized for not following the instructions and then responded via the Google form. I concluded that the instruction was too far down in the email for people to read.
  4. In order to remedy the issue, the next email asking for a termite guy/gal to the same 85 agents had instructions in the FIRST line of the body of the email. We again got 5 responses, but a surprising two agents didn't read past the subject line of the email. The first line clearly asked for the form to be used. The 5th line asked that info not be emailed. That is 40% of the people who responded who didn't comprehend or possibly read the bold instructions in the first line of an email.

I could not believe that marketing CALL TO ACTION rules applied in these situations. I was legitimately surprised that 2 out of 5 people who responded didn't read the first line of the email. They read the subject and replied with a name and number even though the email said not to.

I am trying to build a resource that will help people. I am not trying to sell something to these agents. I expect buyers to put up blocks when it comes to emails trying to SELL them something. I did not expect an email from a colleague to get the same low level of attention that it got.

I would say the response rate of almost 6% was thanks to the kindhearted agents who were trying to help and did not realize I was going to write about them. I would never expect a 6% response rate on a sales email but I did expect them to read the whole 5 line email. Boy was I stupid for expecting that.


Well for me, I will work on getting better call to action in ALL my emails. I have already started limiting my emails to one question at a time. Have you every sent an email with two questions and only get a response to one of the questions?

I am not so romantic that I think that anyone will be able to change the trend of a dwindling attention span. I do believe that I need to get better at communicating and getting to the point quicker, while still providing the information for the people who want it. Especially if I want to affect change in what people do and who responds to my emails/communications.

I have always known that if I am trying to get a stranger with a sales filter up to respond, I need to be sure my call to action and email is very clear as to what they need to do.

WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW is that I need to do this in every email and all communications to be more effective even with people who already like me or at least pretend to like me.

The perception of our communication is paramount to its intent. So if the communication is ineffective it is the fault of the communicator. In other words; if they don’t understand, it’s your fault! You need to change what your saying.

So remember if you want people to read it, you might consider putting the point in the subject line or at least GET TO THE POINT quickly!

Have any of you experience this? Do you disagree? Leave me a comment

Like what you are reading? Do me a solid and recommend this post. My self esteem is directly correlated to the response I get to the words I put out. Thank you in advance for making me feel better about myself.