You’re missing out if you’re not using email as the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy. With the highest marketing ROI, email has become the most crucial marketing asset available to brands.
The challenge is getting your email content right. It’s not easy, and there are numerous contradictory guides available online that will persuade you of the various incorrect ways to use email. One of the most common misconceptions is about their length.
If your open rate is lower than it should be and your CTAs aren’t even being read, there’s a good chance that your emails aren’t being designed well. Here’s what you need to know about getting the right email length every time:
Email Length: Subject Line
Before we look at the body of your emails, it’s important to remember that the subject line is the first thing that your audience sees. As such, it’s your first chance to grab the attention of a customer.
When it comes to the length of your subject line, you should aim to stick between 28 and 50 characters. You should be aware, though, that the subject line length will be determined by how your audience views their inbox.
If your analytics show that most of your customers use their smartphones to open emails, it’s always better to aim for a shorter subject line.
If you have no idea how your customers are viewing your emails, assume that they’re using their phones. This means you won’t miss out on audience members using their PCs and laptops. Some prime examples of ideal subject lines include:
- What’s the top talent acquisition trend of 2022?
- How do phones work, and do you need one?
- Our t-shirt sale is now live!
If 28-50 characters seem too short to convey the information you want to send, consider how that subject line looks on smaller screens. Stick to being brief and to the point. Your open rates will grow, and you’ll have more chances to make your CTAs count when your emails are being opened and read.
The preheader is the first part of your email text, which is visible whenever an email is being previewed. It’s essential to get this right because, like your subject line, it’s one of the first things that your readers see. If you’re not using preheaders as part of your email campaigns, you’re missing out on a valuable tool.
Preheaders provide you with a great space to use CTAs or intriguing messages to draw audiences in. Getting the length right is critical, though. Too long, and your sentences will be cut off, which could confuse your readers and break some very important rules about how to send emails.
Using preheaders is about taking advantage of every resource at your disposal to meet your business goals.
Stick to using preheaders that are between 40 and 50 characters. Like subject lines, it’s better to keep it short than go long.
Whether you’re sending fresh content or remarketing emails, make sure that your preheaders are succinct, to the point, and use enticing language. It’s all about getting your audience to open your email, and shorter is sweeter when it comes to emails.
Email Length: The Body of the Email
So you’ve perfected your subject line and your preheader, and now it’s time for the small matter of the email content itself. If you’re used to getting emails that are basically mini-essays, you may have felt encouraged and tempted to write long books in your emails to try to give your readers something of value.
This is an extremely common mistake.
Although different lengths are ideally suited to different types of email, the fact is that shorter email copy will perform better for you. Aim for between 50 and 125 words only. That doesn’t seem like enough, right? You’ll find that it’s often more than you need.
While shorter emails that don’t overwhelm audiences with information will perform better, you still shouldn’t go too short. If your marketing emails are shorter than 25 words, then you’ll see that your response rates will start to drop. Tracking email links will also reveal that links within emails that are too short aren’t being clicked on.
So, use bullet points to break down information, or stick to a single paragraph of text if you prefer. A single paragraph will tend to have much more impact than that 800-word essay of an email you’ve written.
Avoid fluff and get straight to the point. Tempt your audiences to your landing pages with succinct, powerful, and short email copy.
The final ingredient in a well-designed email is the call to action (CTA). Here are some examples of very poor CTAs:
- Our sale has started! Click here to grab your bargains!
- What is a Call Center Incentive Program? Find out more on our blog!
- If you want to find out more about our special prices, click this link here and read on.
Within these three examples, a range of mistakes are being made. There are few action words, and each one is simply way too long. All CTAs need to be between two and five words. A CTA has to stand out, so it’s always best to keep it as short and sweet as possible.
Don’t forget to use your action words, and if you want to go all out, then design an attractive button that you can use to display your CTA. Stay short and go bright. You can even change the font of your CTAs if you want to go wild.
If your CTAs are too long, then they’ll simply look messy. However, if your CTA is just one word long, then you have the opposite problem.
One word CTAs can be vague or may even come across as emotionless. Some words, like “download” or “submit”, are referred to as friction words. Avoid those at all costs, as they make readers feel like they’re being ordered rather than invited to do something.
Additional Email Length Tips
Now that you’ve seen the importance of staying brief, it’s time to consider when and how you can break the rules.
Not every email needs to stay under 125 words
While keeping emails short and to the point should always be the goal, there are times when longer email copy will be beneficial. It can be hard to know when those times are, though.
- Product and Industry: The ideal email length will depend on your industry and your products. More technical, niche industries may require longer emails because they need to explain more. If you’re showcasing a new product, you may also need to go over 125 words simply because you want to familiarize your readers with that product.
- Target Audience: While what you say is important, so too is how you say it. That’s going to depend on your target audience. Whether you’re sending out basic emails with a well-developed CTA or interactive emails that engage the audience, always know what your audience wants from you. Personalize your emails and segment your audience. Tailor your email length depending on whether the recipient is a new subscriber to your email newsletter, a new customer, or a repeat customer.
Different Types of Emails
You likely have a range of different email types that you use regularly. From welcome emails to abandoned cart emails, every message that you send needs to have a purpose. For most of those email types, keeping it short should always be the first choice.
However, newsletters are allowed to break the rules. Those newsletters can cover a broad range of subjects.
From introducing new products, showcasing your latest industry-relevant blog post, or educating your audience about how to make a to-do list on excel, newsletters can do a lot of heavy lifting.
While shorter emails should always be the goal, you can afford to get a little more verbose with newsletters.
Quick Tips to Control Email Length
If you’re struggling to keep your emails short and to the point, there are some best practices to make it easier for your audience to get what they need. Make sure that you:
- Break content down into sections that convey information in short, informative, and easily digestible chunks.
- Supplement your short copy with brilliant images (avoid stock images at all costs as these are usually impersonal, rarely high-value, and can be off-putting to readers).
- Stay on brand at all times, and remember your target audience.
- If you want to know how many people are clicking on your blog post, you need to know how to use email monitoring. A range of tools can help you learn more about your open rates and how effective your email CTAs are.
- A/B test all of your emails, and pay particular attention to the open rates when comparing the impact of your subject lines. There are numerous sales platforms available to assist in tracking those data.
Email Marketing Remains Vital
What you say in your emails is more important than your word count. If your subject line is catchy, your email copy is crisp, and your CTAs are appealing, then your emails will start working harder for you.
Get your email length right and your response rate will grow, your CTRs will rise, and you can introduce your customers into your sales funnel more easily. That means more sales, more brand awareness, and more potential to grow your brand.
Iverson Carl Velasco
Iverson Carl Velasco is the Senior Partnerships Manager at ContactOut, a recruitment intelligence tool that allows users to easily find email addresses and phone numbers. He has more than a year's worth of experience in link-building, editorial production, and digital publishing.