The Best Length for Your Next Email

Scrambling to figure out how long your emails should be?

You’re not alone. Email marketers have been digging at data for decades to zero in on the “perfect” email length.

And while every email and industry is different, conventional wisdom and research covering millions of emails have taught us one thing:

When in doubt, “less is more.”

For marketing emails across the majority of industries, keeping your copy to a tight 100-200 words is considered optimal for readability.

And while that may not seem like a lot of space to work with, it’s more than enough to entice your readers to take action.

So, if you think that keeping your emails brief is a challenge, we’ve got you covered!

We’ve put together a quick checklist to help guarantee your marketing messsages are ticking all the right boxes in terms of email length and readability.

With that, let’s dive in!

1. Cover Your Basics

No matter what type of email you send, your marketing messages should cover two bare minimums every single time.

That is, your emails should:

  1. Remind people who you are.
  2. Offer readers something to do (check out a deal, click a link, etc)

The good news?

You can easily remind readers of who you are without sacrificing precious real estate. Through effective use of logos, branding elements (think: color) and your email signature, you can remind readers who you are at a glance minus any lengthy introductions.

This message from Dollar Shave Club is a great example of reminding readers who you are at a glance. From the header logo and brand-centric imagery and copy, there’s no mistaking who this email is from.

Dollar Shave - Email Length - Sendlane

This message also hits on the second point: the need for readers to take action. If your emails aren’t highlighting something actionable, whether it be advice or a promotion, it’s easy for people to sleep on them

Oh, and that action item should be front-and-center (much like DSC’s call-to-actions are highlighted multiple times).

In a day and age where people’s inboxes are crowded, marketers need to do everything in their power to make their messages easy to digest. Hitting on these two elements of your emails make it happen without being wordy whatsoever.

2. Don’t Give Too Much Away Upfront

The purpose of your emails should be to give people a “taste,” so to speak.

Because if you’re saying way too much, there’s no reason for them to click through! When in doubt:

  1. Use short sentences and snippets to “preview” your links (think: not paragraphs!)
  2. Include actionable language so people will be drawn to click through (“check out”, “see more”)

That means if you’re an ecommerce store, you can talk up your latest deal or discount and invite readers to check out a product page to learn more.  No need to go into painstaking detail, you know?Gilt - Email Length - Sendlane

Same rings true for your latest newsletter or blog posts. Crafting snippets that pique people’s interest and hype up your content can work wonders for your click-through rate.

Survey Monkey – Email Length – Sendlane

This sort of “sneak preview” approach to promotion taps into your readers’ natural sense of curiosity. Rather than overload them with information, let them decide for themselves what content they want to check out.

3. Let Visuals Do the Talking

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words!

For the sake of grabbing your reader’s’ attention and avoiding huge chunks of copy… eye-popping images can help you say more than a paragraph ever could!

Brands like Apple regularly roll out image-centric campaigns will minimal text that totally kill it.Apple Watch - Email Length - Sendlane

The takeaway here is two-fold:

  1. Rely on images to break up any big paragraphs
  2. Use graphics to supplement your copy, not distract from it

Images and graphics also help make your email more scroll-friendly, making it easier to guide readers to your offer or CTA.

Remember: anything you can do to avoid a wall of text is a major plus.

4. Make Your Call-to-Action Pop

For the sake of readability and your CTR, making your CTA can’t-miss is a must!

How do you make it happen?

  1. Use a different color scheme for you CTA buttons, preferably something bright or bold
  2. Rely on both image and text-based CTAs in your messages

That’s why many marketers sprinkle multiple opportunities for readers to click through within  their messages. This allows people to take action immediately without scrolling through or potentially dropping off.

The emails like the ones we send at Sendlane act as a sort of “one-pagers” that get straight to the point. Check out how we use a combination of text-links and a bright button to encourage our awesome contacts to read more.

 Email Length - Sendlane

Making your links stand out might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to accidentally hide them if you aren’t careful. Bold colors and buttons are always helpful for highlighting them, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking about design.

5. Get to the Point!

Keeping your emails straight and to the point means being economical with your copy.

It also means using simple language that isn’t going to overwhelm your readers.

For example, keep these points in mind to “stress test” your copy:

  1. Could a fifth-grader read through your email and understand it?
  2. If you were on-the-go and saw your email pop up in your mobile inbox, would you be able to scan it?

To ensure that your messages aren’t too lofty, tools such as the Hemingway App can help you eliminate wordy sentences and complicated phrases to help simplify your emails. The tool also acts as a word counter for your messages!

Hemingway App - Email Length - Sendlane

For headers, subject headers and subject lines, you can also try out tools such as CoSchedule’s headline analyzer. This tool analyzes single headlines for readability and “power words” that pack a punch to readers.

Coschedule - Email Length - Sendlane

Eliminating fluff in your emails is a must-do but can be difficult if you feel that you have a lot to say. With the help of these tools, you can objectively figure out whether you’re being too wordy or not.

And with that, we wrap up our checklist!

Are You Embracing a “Less is More” Email Length Strategy?

Although every email is different, these are the rules of thumb to stick to in order to keep your copy tight.

The simpler and more concise you keep your messages, the more likely readers are to get through your messages and take action!

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Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

Brand Marketing ManagerSendlane
A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. Primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels while maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. Host of The Marketing Automation Hustle Podcast and Sendlane Youtube Training Channel. Works closely with the marketing team to manage creative projects and develop creative assets/solutions to enhance the brand. Collaborates at the intersection of marketing, product, content, and sales to develop powerful and memorable stories and interactive experiences that bring the Sendlane vision to life.
Caitlin Hutchinson