Why the Length of Your Email Matters

Invariably, when marketers and copywriters begin transferring their notes – be it from their head or scrawled out in a notebook – into the copy for an email marketing campaign, they open up Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This is the first challenge when it comes to finetuning your email marketing campaign into a winner. The reason being is that the template for email is set in a much a different format than a blank word document. One technique that you can do is build your email marketing template into Word so you can get a better perspective as you write. 

That said, many times I find myself editing down copy because when it is transferred into an email marketing template and tested, one quickly realizes that they’ve written too much.

But this begs the following questions:

Is it, in fact, too much? What is the perfect length for an email marketing campaign? And what are we supposed to learn from this information once we find out that the perfect length of a broadcast email newsletter for a random week in February is 247 words?

Well, I’m going to tackle these issues in the paragraphs that follow and I think we’ll all have a better understanding – especially about that last point. And if I can take a moment to just flesh out that last idea, which I believe is paramount because I hear many email marketers are split testing but at the end of the day what are we supposed to do with the results? 

Let’s begin our analysis with the first two questions, which are the opposite sides of the same coin. The simple answer to know if an email is too long is to look at the click-through to open rates (CTOR). This engagement metric shows us how many subscribers engaged with your email after opening it. It’s an important way to look at your email because unlike the general click-through rate that combines in other factors (namely, deliverability rates and open rates), the CTOR is an absolute bellwether in knowing if your call to action is clear, convincing, and converting. 

And that is the main point, make sure your email is long – or short – enough to get someone to click on to your site and take action there. If your goal is for your readers to make a quick purchase on coffee mug then a picture with the sale price might be enough; however, if you’re try to sell something a little more elaborate, make sure you get your audience warmed up before getting them to click onto your site. 

Email is not the web in the sense that you don’t want – or better yet, can’t get – your readers clicking too soon. A recent study found that nearly one-third of all search engine results end up with the searcher clicking on the first result. And the numbers quickly slope downward the further you scroll, with the top organic result having a 10x more likely chance to receive a click compared to a page in even the 10 spot. On the flip side, when it comes to email, you cannot expect to start an email with, “Dear Andrew, Click here. Good-bye.” Rather that main call-to-action has to be further down after educating your reader about the information you wish to impart.

Finally, what do we do with all these tidbits that we pick up along the way? 

Just to set the scene: you’ve split tested and discovered the perfect length for your weekly newsletter. You realize that 250 words works better than 350 words. (I know that’s the case, at least for one of my clients.) So, what do you do? Here are three things that you absolutely must do:

  1. Clone it. 
    If you’re writing the emails make sure you keep use the similar length. If you have a copywriter, make sure you transfer this knowledge. Remember, we are creatures of habit and the “sweet spot” length should resonate with your audience email after email.
  2. Benchmark it.
    But don’t rest on your laurels. Write down on a sticky note what the expected CTR should be, and then make sure you keep getting these results. If the results falter, then go back to the drawing board.
  3. Implement it.
    This is where you can go from zero to hero. Remember the email marketing welcome series that someone wrote 5 years ago? Well, revisit it and implement the findings of today, because what worked then, most likely won’t work today.

I’ve got some more ideas, especially how one little hack increased engagement results by 29% and I’ll be sharing this secret and many more at the upcoming 2020 Inbox Expo. So be sure to come and I look forward to seeing you there!


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