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How long should be your message?

Consider this - in a recent review of 100 randomly selected e-mail messages received over the course of a week, 87 percent had very short messages. Many were so short the entire message fit in the preview window. What does it mean for your business? It means that if you are keeps sending out long messages you may be loosing out to your competitors. But don't hurry to brief your messages. Consider another study - In many cases long e-mail copy has outperformed short in terms of both CTRs and Web-based conversions. So should you keep it long or short. And what is the magic formula that lets you calculate "the right length." Of course, there is none. But try to use your common sense. In general, try to keep your message short. But copy should be as long as it needs to be to get your message across. Not a word less. Not a word more. The length of the message is a constant debate, even though controlled testing almost always proved long copy worked better than short. Ultimately, direct marketers always came back to the same simple rule:

If copy is interesting, compelling, and meaningful, people will read it no matter how long it is.

Conversely, if it's not interesting, compelling, and meaningful, people won't read it no matter how short it is. There are though some tips that e-mail marketing gurus advise you follow, when writing your message.

  • Avoid using long words, such as "information." Opt for short words, such as "facts."
  • Avoid being cryptic. Write value propositions in a straightforward way.
  • Strive to write short, punchy sentences, not long-winded run-on diatribes.
  • State the facts, benefits, and features in full. Never compromise this goal or risk letting short copy reduce the effectiveness of what you're trying to say.
  • Write in a style the target audience will best understand.
  • Always write in first person singular.
  • Agonize over the headline or lead. The stronger the headline, the longer the body copy can be. Like fishing, once they're on the hook, you can reel them in.

Next week: How smart is your e-mail marketing campaign?
Prev week: What questions you should ask a list owner, when renting a mailing list


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