How long should a marketing email be?

It depends.

We hate reading that as marketers. But sometimes it really is like that. For marketing’s biggest questions, the answer is: it depends.

When it comes to how long a marketing email should be, it depends on several factors.

  • Do you mean B2B or B2C emails?
  • What do you mean by marketing emails?
  • What’s the difference between a marketing and a sales email?

There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when answering the simplest marketing-related question.

What does it depend on?

  • Audience
  • B2B or B2C
  • Purpose of email
  • Promotional or not

But there are some general stats about emails you can pull from. There were more than 293,600,000 sent per day in 2020. While much of that is sent without collecting data, there’s still an enormous chunk of data floating around about the ideal lengths of email copy. We’ve collected a pile of statistics about email length for you to sort through.

It Depends on

Length of Subject Line

According to TOPO, prospects open less than 24% of sales emails. One in four emails you send to those individuals is opened. Subject line is key in determining whether B2B emails are opened.

According to current research, emails perform optimally when subject lines are less than 41 characters. Another study by Boomerang found three to four-word subject lines got the most responses.

Length of Email Snippet/Preheader

Here are some of the answers:

  • 50-100 characters are the recommended length
  • Some mobile devices won’t show all 100 characters so keep that in mind
  • Figure out where some of the various cutoffs are on popular devices for your audience

Length of Email Copy

This is the meat of the post. But I hate to tell you all the statistics about emails give one answer: it depends.

Let’s examine some of the facts:

Length of CTA

The ideal length for a CTA is between two and five words.

Anything beyond that confuses the message.  One-word CTAs can be effective, but often they’re too constraining.

As a consumer, I’ve gotten stuck on landing pages where the CTA says “Buy” when I am certainly not ready to buy. Short CTAs work best with two words to create actionable complete CTAs.

How can I create effective email copy?

Shorten up email copy by:

  • Using bullet points
  • Throwing out “weak” words (just, that, only, maybe)
  • Having a purpose
  • Using complementary image sets
  • Using active voice

Remember to pick a purpose:

  • Welcome emails – Keep it short but sweet. Make a nice first impression and invite readers to interact.
  • Abandoned cart – Keep it short and simple. Remind without pushing, perhaps offering an incentive if they return and buy what was in their cart.
  • Action-triggered emails – A good chance to quickly offer positive reinforcement for the action and another CTA.

Marketing is a spectrum between initial exposure and the sale. Determine where your email lands on that spectrum. Place emails across that spectrum and test how many and what kinds of words work best.

It depends on a lot of factors. Use this information to start experimenting to get more from your email efforts.

Let us know what you think:

  • How long should an email be?
  • Where’s your sweet spot both as a writer and a consumer? 

This post was originally written by Acadia Otlowski on December 3rd, 2020.

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