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What’s the Ideal Email Length?

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

What’s the ideal email length?

I’m not talking about the email that you send to your boss about next week’s schedule. And I’m not talking about email that you send to a client with a list of questions for the project that’s due in two weeks … or an email in which you reach out to a vendor for information … or a quick “thank you” email to your sister for the care package she sent you…

I’m talking about the email marketing messages you send to your own email list. 

The ideal email length for your mass emails

You might call them automated emails, email blasts, or mass emails. By scheduling email campaigns using an email list manager like Constant Contact, you can communicate with a large number of readers consistently. Plus, you save time and money.

These are the readers that have purposefully chosen to receive your emails. They’re your fans – qualified readers who have demonstrated an interest in your content, products, or services. You’ve gone to the trouble to gather heir email addresses. And you’ve started to send helpful content to those readers regularly – say, once a week. 

If you write emails that are too long, then even your biggest supporters may get overwhelmed and just hit “Delete” or worse – unsubscribe. But emails that are too short? You risk being viewed as a lightweight, especially if your content is solely promotional or lacks value.

So … what’s the ideal email length for those messages? 

Answer: it depends.

What's the ideal email length? with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #EmailMarketing

Two kinds of email marketing messages

There are all kinds of ways to categorize email marketing messages

You’ll see plenty of valid listicles online that tout “12 types of email campaigns” or “15 kinds of email you need to send.” Email marketing messages include trigger emails, transactional emails, re-engagement emails, seasonal emails, brand story emails, drip email campaigns, lead nurturing emails, sponsorship emails, video emails, new content announcement emails, product update emails, internal update emails – and more.

You may get overwhelmed. I know I do.

So, let’s simplify. We can group all those different kinds email marketing messages in two broad categories:

1. Nurture emails

In this category, I include email newsletters, product announcements, special promotional sales, invitations, curated content, online appeals … the kind of content that offers value to your reader. You send these kinds of emails to give your readers helpful information.

Doing so cultivates them as part of your circle. You show your readers you care about them because you’re taking time to stay up to date in your niche and then in turn providing them with useful content in that specific area of interest.

2. Notification emails

In this category, I include welcome emails, subscriber confirmations, payment receipts, shipment and tracking status, holiday greeting, registration confirmations. You know – the kinds of emails that are short, sweet, and to the point.

You create them to send out automatically when your email list manager receives a trigger, such as when a reader fills out an opt-in form or makes a purchase on your blog or website.

The ideal email length for a nurture email 

The ideal email length for your email newsletter (or other nurture email) is approximately 20 lines of text. That clocks in at about 200 words. So say the good folks at Constant Contact, who tracked the click-through rates of over 2 million campaigns sent by their users to customers.

You needn’t cram all 200 words into one paragraph, though. You can break up all that informational goodness into shorter sections, such as... 

  • Offer about 50-100 words for your newsletter feature and then link to the full piece on your blog or website.
  • Write a teaser headline for each piece of hyperlinked curated content. Insert visual space in between each article.
  • Create visual boundaries with section breaks in between your main content and your additional resources. For instance, announce your special offer and its benefits. Then insert a line. Below it, offer a button to “Learn More” or list the deadline and special code for readers to use.

The ideal email length for a notification email

Less is best. As in a lot less. The ecommerce experts at Drip analyzed several different studies and came to a clear conclusion: the ideal email length for a typical notification is between 50 and 125 words.

That’s not a lot of words. So make yours count.

  • Lead off your message in the subject line by including a benefit.
  • Offer your confirmation or welcome or thank you but link to additional content so you don’t clutter the email: “Click here to download your receipt for your records.”
  • Include a related image with text that communicates some of your message, such as “30% off through July 31.”
  • Eliminate extra words so your email content is smooth and clean.

Is your email marketing message too long?

A recent AWeber study reports that the average email length is 434 words. But readers spend 51 seconds or less on each email. The average person reads 150-200 words per minute. That means most emails that are 400+ words will go unread. 

Don’t let yours be one of them! The best tip for the ideal email length? Less is best. Keep yours to 200 words or fewer.

You may need to brush up on writing tight. Do so and readers will appreciate your content and return the favor by opening your email marketing messages, reading them to the end, and clicking through to your site for more information. 

More Writing Tips for Email Marketing Messages

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Start and Grow Your Email List: A Simple Tutorial ...

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