How Long Should My Emails Be?

How Long Should My Emails Be? image email typing 600x399How Long Should My Emails Be?

This is by far the question I receive most during my classes. While there’s no clear cut answer as to how long an email should be (it’s very dependent on what your audience is looking for), there are a few rules of thumb to follow in order to have the most impact with your emails and demonstrate proper email etiquette.

Short and effective

I encourage my attendees to keep their emails as short as possible while still remaining effective because the vast majority of people reading emails today are starved for time. Your average user is only going to scan your email for a few seconds to see if it pertains to them. If they see long blocks of run-on text that does not appeal to them, they will shut down. And when they shut down, that means your email is headed to the “Later” folder, if you’re lucky. Most emails that miss the mark are headed to the trash bin.

Make sure your email content is easy to read, visually engaging, and grabs your reader’s attention. This will entice them to read on and draw their attention down the screen to your call to action.

The one-page rule

As a rule of thumb, I never recommend that you go over a page for an email. It makes no difference whether it’s a newsletter, an event announcement, a promotion, or a card. Anything over a page long starts to feel really long to your audience. In print media, the rule is to keep everything “above the fold” because it has the best chance of being read. In digital media, we call it “above the scroll.”

One way to keep your emails to a page is to use small excerpts from your content and allude to more information. By using teasers and then linking to the full content, you’ll create interest and gather crucial metrics. One link in your email opens the door to a wealth of knowledge. It shortens the length of the email and allows you to track the individual, date, and time they clicked on that link.

Find your sweet spot

I have seen instances where emails have gone over a page long and still been effective. Anytime you have a truly interested and engaged audience, you can get away with a longer email. The key is to find your sweet spot. What’s going to be most effective for the vast majority of people on your list?

Again, while there’s no cut and dry answer, I always suggest that you keep your email to an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper. Most computer screens tend to run about 11” tall, and if you use that as a visual reference, you’ll create a communication that works well for just about any audience.

On the other end of the spectrum, an email can be too short. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you and your audience. If there isn’t sufficient content to grab your reader’s interest, they’ll move on to the next email. Set the appropriate expectation with your audience and then meet that expectation. As long as you follow what both parties have agreed upon, you will build trust with your audience. When you build trust, there’s no end to how effective your campaigns can be.

About how long are your emails? Tell me what has worked for you below.

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