Did you know that the average email open rate in 2020 was 18%? This means that a whopping 82% of emails you send are never opened. And the average click rate was 2.6%. There goes a lot into what makes people open and click a marketing email. There are tons of factors that impact the click through rate of a promotional email. Email length is one among them. And if you are curious how long should a marketing email be so it is read and clicked, this is the article you should read.
How Long Should a Marketing Email Be
So why is the length of an email important? Why care about words when writing an email?
It is important for email marketers to have a high response rate for their email marketing campaigns. What’s the point of sending emails when nobody is reading and taking action? And this quest to boost open rate and CTR keeps marketers in the testing mode. They’re always looking for the optimal email words.
Research and data show that people respond to emails differently based on the length. A study found that emails having 75-100 words have a 51% response rate (which is highest based on the word count):
However, email copy isn’t the only variable that needs to be considered when it comes to identifying the length of an email. You need to have a perfect subject, copy, and CTA. It is a complete package and the right length for an email should consider all these variables.
1. The Ideal Length of a Subject Line
The email subject lines are the key to the email open rate. It is the first thing that the subscriber sees. It has a direct impact on whether someone seeing your email will open it or not. A catchy and interesting email subject isn’t just enough but it must have the right word count.
Research shows that the optimal email subject length is 36-50 characters:
Ideally, the email subject lines must be meaningful and descriptive. It must tell the subscriber what this email is about. And this is the reason why longer subject lines perform better than short ones:
Here is an example of a short subject line:
The subject “Work friends” doesn’t tell you anything about the email content. And this negatively impacts the email open rate. If you read this subject, you are least likely to open it or you’ll leave it and come back later when you have time.
Now here is an email subject that’s longer and descriptive:
The email subject line is descriptive and it tells you what this email is about. Only those who are interested in becoming a content master will click this email. This means it won’t just have a high open rate but a high CTR.
- The ideal length of an email subject line is between 36-50 characters
- The subject line needs to be descriptive.
2. The Perfect Length of Email Copy
Email copy refers to the email body, the content people see when they open your email. The ideal number of words in the email body varies but generally, shorter emails tend to perform better.
Because these are easy to read.
Imagine you receive a whopping 1,000 words email from your favorite celebrity on a fine Monday morning. I’m sure you won’t get the time to read it word for word. People skim or scan content on the web and emails are no different.
Visitors only read 20-28% of words on an average web page and the same is true for emails since emails are also viewed on a desktop or a mobile device:
A study found that 53% of emails are read for at least 8 seconds on both desktop and mobile devices. Around 22% of emails are skimmed where users spend 2-7 seconds reading the email, and 26% of emails are glanced with less than 2 seconds:
When an average person spends a maximum of 8 seconds on an email, you can’t expect word-by-word reading. You need to facilitate your subscribers by making it easier for them to scan and skim emails.
So, keeping the email body short is the best way to boost email engagement on mobile devices and desktops. How short?
Here is what the data says:
- Emails having 20 lines of text have the highest click through rates. This is approximately 200 words. (Constant Contact)
- The ideal length of a marketing email needs to be 50-150 words for the highest response rate (above 50%). (Boomerang)
The email body should have anywhere between 50-200 words. In other words, it needs to be short.
3. The Ideal Length of Email CTA
Finally, a call to action is a crucial part of any email. A CTA tells the readers what action they have to take once they’re done reading the email. It needs to be clear and persuasive.
The ideal length of email CTA is 3-5 words. CTA buttons perform better than text CTAs. So, you need to keep it short (under 5 words) and try using a button.
The length of email CTA should be between 3-5 words.
The Optimal Email Length
So, what’s the ideal length of a marketing email so it performs better?
The optimal length based on the subject lines, email body, and CTA should be somewhere in the range of 50-210 words. If you want your emails to have high open and click through rates, keep them short.
Marketing emails are, after all, emails used for marketing purposes. Don’t expect people to spend time reading your promotional emails. You need to get to the point quickly. If your email can be read in about 8 seconds, you are good to go.
Even when you stick with the optimal length, you have to follow a few rules to make your emails reader-friendly and easy to scan:
- Understand the difference between a short and very short email. When the word count goes below 50 words, the response rate declines significantly. Keep emails short – not too short
- Make email body scannable by highlighting text, using bold and italics, writing short paragraphs and sentences, using bullets, and using lots of white space
- Write the most crucial or key message of your email at the top. This is to ensure that even if someone doesn’t read the email, they’ll still get the gist of it from the first line
- Add a short CTA button in your email. The ideal length of email CTA is 3-5 words. Make sure your emails always have one CTA
- Use simple English when writing an email. Research shows that emails written at the 3rd grade level have the highest response rate (53%). Readers don’t have to use the dictionary to understand your email.
How to Craft Perfect Length Email Marketing Campaigns
Creating a perfect length email marketing campaign isn’t a straightforward process. You can’t pick a specific word count for an email and then expect results.
It isn’t how it works, unfortunately.
You need to test several variations of emails with different word counts and lengths before you can identify the perfect email marketing campaign.
Here are the key steps to getting started:
1. Set Goals
When your focus is on creating the perfect length email campaign, you need to set a goal that you can achieve with a short email.
The goal and the email copy length should be aligned.
For example, you can’t create a short email for an email course on a specific topic that your subscribers have opted in for. Here is an example of an email course:
In this case, your emails will be much longer, rather in-depth and detailed.
However, if you are planning to promote a newly published blog post to your list, this is a more suitable goal as you can create short emails that stick to the goal. Here is an example:
Setting clear goals for your campaign is essential. Align the goal with the email copy and ask yourself: Can you achieve the goal with a short email?
If you can’t, create a new goal.
If you can, go ahead.
And convert your goal into a SMART goal. Here is what a SMART goal is:
The goal needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. If you have ever created a marketing campaign, you’ll know how to create SMART goals. Read this and this article for details.
2. Create Email Sequence
The next step is creating your email sequence or an automation workflow. The email sequence consists of emails that subscribers receive based on their engagement.
Here is how an email sequence looks like:
You can create this email sequence easily with your email marketing app. It isn’t an issue.
When creating a sequence, there are two key things you need to consider:
- Length of each email you’ll be sending
Follow-ups are an important part of any campaign. There is a 13% chance to receive a reply on the 4th follow up email and a 27% chance of receiving a response on the 6th follow up:
This is why you must create an email sequence.
A single email (no matter what length it is) is least likely to get you a response. Create a sequence with several follow-ups to make your campaign work.
3. A/B Test Different Length Emails
Time to craft emails.
This is where you’ll decide the length of your marketing emails and follow-up emails. All the leading marketing software lets you test different variations of emails simultaneously. Create two versions of your email with different word counts.
For example, one email copy can have 100 words while the other can have 150 words. Run the A/B test and see what works better in terms of email performance and clicks:
Once you find a winner, repeat the A/B test by creating another version.
You can’t tell how short your email should be to deliver the best results. The only way to find the perfect length is by regular A/B testing. It lets you find the perfect word count that works best for your email list.
Email Length FAQs
Do you still have questions about optimal email word count? Here are the top FAQs about email length that marketers and businesses ask over and over again:
Is 300 Words Too Long for an Email?
If you are sending a promotional email, it needs to be short (between 50-200 words). However, if you are creating an email course, emails in this case will be much longer (well over 300 words).
You need to weigh all the factors and then decide on the optimal email length.
Generally speaking, shorter emails work best.
Do I Have to Follow All the Marketing Email Length Best Practices?
There aren’t, however, many best practices when it comes to email size. Here is what you need to do:
- Keep the email short (50-200 words)
- The email subject lines need to be 36-50 characters
- Add a powerful button CTA in the email body that must be 3-5 words long
- Make your email easy to read and scan
- Test different email body variations based on word counts.
Sticking with these best practices will result in a high response rate. Remember there is no particular word count for an email that will always work best. You have to find yours.
What Should Be in a Marketing Email?
You can write anything in a promotional email. You can promote products, you can upsell and cross-sells, or you can just say hello.
There aren’t any restrictions when it comes to what you can and cannot add in an email.
Email Marketing is Easy
Finding the perfect length for your email is only possible with testing. The ideal email words depend on several factors such as your target audience, industry, past interactions, etc. So, you need to test different length marketing emails.
Email marketing is indeed easy. All you have to do is set the rules and boundaries for your email campaigns.
Featured Image: Pexels