Does the Perfect Length of Marketing Emails Even Exist?

Vladislav Podolyako
Apr 19, 2022
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Email length is mechanics. In sales, only outcome matters. You can scribble two lines and get an amazing response rate because you got the knack for email marketing personalization. Or you can write a ‘perfect’ email following marketing rules and get no response because you failed to target the audience correctly. In fact, it all depends on the industry you work in, an email marketing strategy your sales team has chosen, and many other factors. In this article, we want to examine what you should consider while writing marketing emails.

Ideal email length in today’s email marketing

When discussing email length these days, the point is whether to stick to 50-150 words or you can stretch your message to as many as 200-300 words. Long texts are out of the question. No one reads long messages from strangers anymore.

Obviously, if you have established a rapport with a client and you have an issue to discuss, you can go at length about the product and whatnot. But as for cold emails, the general rule of thumb is that the shorter, the better.

Long sales emails are all too often ignored or deleted by prospects, who are wary of such messages and thus tend to treat them as spam. Instead of writing long messages, focus on building a rapport with your customers by keeping your emails brief and personalized.

Generally speaking, cold emails should be concise. As a long-time aficionado of short emails, Becc Holland argues that three sentences are enough to explain yourself in a personalized way and catch a prospect’s interest. 

Open with a personalized tidbit, such as I’ve just read your LinkedIn post about recent difficulties with email deliverability, and I know you’ve just bought new spam-filtering software.

Next, you say who you are and what you offer, thus mapping out the company’s value proposition. We at Folderly solve spam issues, offering deliverability solutions with terrific response rates.

Finally, you wrap up your message with a neat CTA. Let me unpack our [value prop] during a quick call.

These three sentences can open a prospect up to you if you did your homework and uncovered enough information to personalize your outreach.

When you follow up with useful links and engaging files, your emails can be even shorter as you just want to remind them about yourself. However, when doing a drip campaign, you can do more than 200 words if you are confident that the issue you’re elaborating on is of interest to the prospect.

As for other factors affecting email marketing rules, here’s what you should consider.

Types of B2B emails

Marketing emails include many email types, from welcome emails and abandoned cart reminders to newsletters. Email type determines the length of a message, but, obviously, we don’t talk about ideal email length. These are just general recommendations.

A welcome email is an initial contact from a company to a new client or customer in business. Generally, it appears in the inbox soon after an order has been made. When writing welcome emails to new subscribers, make them brief but captivating. It is the first email a new customer will receive from your company. You want to create a strong interest in your product without sounding too salesy.  

When sending abandoned cart recovery emails, don't be too long-winded. You've already lost these customers, so they probably won't be interested in reading a lengthy message from you. Focus on reattracting them as quickly as possible and closing the sale. Don't sound desperate.

Order follow-ups can be brief and still be effective; customers love to know the status of their order.

Newsletters containing announcements, updates, or new product information typically use more words than your average personal email since recipients expect them to be informative.

Product or industry

Depending on the type of products you’re selling and the nature of your business, the length of your marketing emails may vary. For example, when introducing a new product, you may need to create a longer message explaining how it works compared to an email designed to promote something that customers are already familiar with.

In eCommerce, email marketers often don’t expect prospects to read their emails carefully. You probably know that people read in circles. When you open an email, you quickly scan it clockwise, including images and call-to-actions (CTAs). If what you see at first sight is relevant to your needs, you get back to the beginning of the message and look through it more thoroughly. So, a fashion brand announcing a new t-shirt collection can make their B2C email longer, whereas a SaaS startup looking for fresh B2B leads probably better not.

Target audience

Email marketers should always tailor their message to the audience they target. By modeling your email copy on the company’s ICP, you reach out to prospects with a message they want to hear rather than offers you want them to want.

Personalize your emails to the right contacts by segmenting your list. Readers will be more engaged with your brand if you send them the most relevant messages, so it’s important to create separate lists based on shopping behavior.

Again, new prospects and cold leads are not familiar with your company, so you’ll want to keep marketing emails to this segment shorter. However, when you want to upsell a new product to your loyal audience who know your brand pretty well, they probably won’t mind a long read as they can scroll down for new discounts or tidbits of useful product information.

Email length best practices

Discussing ideal email length remains an exercise in email marketing theory if you fail to use proven recommendations on writing valuable content and sending it at the right time. Let’s discuss some tips for crafting outstanding emails, which will increase the number of times you are able to reach your intended readers.

The subject line should work for you

Did you know that your subject line is the key element of your email outreach? An unengaging subject line won’t get your email open. A spammy subject line will get your email sent to the spam folder.

Subject lines don’t sell. Their goal is to get an email open. So make your subject lines work for you. As for the length, an average subject line can range from 5 to 9 words to be effective.

But, as always, it’s hardly a rule in email marketing. That’s a general recommendation that can easily be broken if you know why and have run A/B testing. Some get terrific results with shorties like Let’s do it, Is that you?, or I’ll be quick. Others can pull off the Let’s Meet subject line, such as Let’s talk on Wednesday? Following up on my call, Do you have 2 minutes?

However, the rule of thumb is to avoid the bait-and-switch trick. If you get your prospects to open your messages, you must deliver on your promise in the subject line.

Space your thoughts

Even if your cold email includes just 3 to 5 sentences, breaking up each thought into a new paragraph makes sense. However, if your marketing emails are longer, you better break them into sections to make the reading experience easier for your prospects.

If you get used to sending HTML emails, remember to combine text and visuals so that prospects can skim your texts easily. Highlight important information with color and make it more visible with font size.

The shorter, the better

For many business-to-business emails, it’s totally fine to look brief and even sparse. A few lines, and your message is delivered. That’s just what you need. If that’s your case and your niche demands short emails, but you feel your emails look skimpy, you can always add graphics and images to make your email visually more appealing.

Again, you are recommended to test each of these tips. Because some brands can make use of HTML-rich emails and have tremendous click-through rates while others are better off with brief plain texts.

If you add images, make sure there’s text too. It’s quite common for some prospects to not have enough band-width to render all images in an email. Furthermore, include alt-text and make images clickable.

Don’t worry about word count

Does it really mean that 50 to 125 words is the best length for your email? An effective sales email is not about a certain word count. It’s a good idea to be aware of your email word count, but don’t obsess over it. Just like you wouldn’t spend time counting words in a personal email, you shouldn’t worry about it in promotional emails either.

Be judicious in your writing; sometimes, you only need a few sentences to make a point.

When writing to inform rather than entertain, you may need to provide more detail and information. For example, it isn’t appropriate to send an email to your parents you haven’t seen for a while with the opening line “I got married” and no other text.

If your business changes its policies or relocates, you need to give full details for readers to understand the effects. When you send an informative newsletter, you'll typically include 20 lines of text or more to convey your message.

At the same time, we all received many emails from people who clearly haven’t defined their purpose or given much thought to why they’re emailing me. Make sure you get to the point within the first few lines of text.

Let your brand personality shine through

Your marketing emails are the mirror of your brand. They reflect your mission, philosophy, and the overall feel prospects have when they interact with you. Humor in email marketing remains a contested subject. While some wholeheartedly embrace their funny side, others prefer to show only their serious side. The final decision is up to you, but personal elements are not limited to humor only. The mere realization that there’s a human on the other end of online communication is the best humanizing touch in email marketing. Be playful, quirky, reticent, or chill, just what you are IRL.

Improve UX

Email service providers usually track which devices their customers prefer to use. To meet your audience where they are, optimize your emails, so they display well on every device. If you want your email to have the best chance at being read, make sure your email looks great, whether it’s a desktop computer or a mobile phone. Create (or use) email templates that are responsive and helpful for brand affinity. A positive customer experience is more useful than hitting a particular word count.

To help you determine the best content strategy for your audience, you should use data points about your prospects' email habits. Create more effective communications by tailoring your email content to fit those preferences. For example, if most of your readers access the content on mobile devices, consider writing shorter emails and using clear images that will look great on a phone screen. In particular, do the following:

  • Use CTA buttons in large, readable type instead of miniature hyperlinks
  • Add attention-grabbing headers with a large font size
  • Include the most important information “above the fold,” so that readers can see them without scrolling
  • Reject multiple-column templates in favor of a single-column one with a fluid width will automatically adjust to the size of the viewing device
  • Do pre-testing before sending emails and send test emails to yourself as well as check them on multiple devices

Test any change in email copy and design

Here’s the thing: it can be hard to find time for A/B testing. But you’ve got nothing to lose—and every reason to try it, as it can provide you with valuable data points about your marketing efforts that will help you improve your success level. When you A/B test your email marketing campaigns, you're able to measure how effective each version of the message is and confidently choose the one that is most likely to resonate with your audience.

Pitting different versions of an email against each other will help you discover which kinds of messages perform best with your audience. For example, you want to test the length and send two versions of an email message to different audiences, one long and one short. Then measure which one performs better, and embrace that as your standard going forward.

Find a fresh pair of eyes

Even though this best practice can be filed under the A/B testing category, we discuss it separately because you can A/B test subject lines, body copy, and CTAs, but forget about typos, invalid email addresses, and other seemingly small actions which sum up into a significant impact.

When you write marketing emails, it's crucial to ensure they're functional. That means they should be delivering your message effectively and leading people to the landing pages where they can learn more about your product or service. Have someone on your team check the look and functionality of your newsletter on a mobile device before you send it. 

When sending out a newsletter, it is important to have contact information for your subscribers. It is helpful to double-check the information before you send the message. That way, you will avoid sending unwanted messages to addresses that no longer exist.

What are the rules for marketing emails?

It’s impossible to conceptualize a marketing strategy for a B2B company without well-performing email campaigns. Writing emails to strangers is no cakewalk. There are many rules to follow and mechanics to use if you want them to be open and clicked through by many respondents. When personalizing a cold email and setting up a cold outreach campaign, email marketers take care of many aspects and definitely follow some marketing rules. They clean up their email lists, avoid spammy language, and send messages only from warmed-up mailboxes. However, seasoned email marketers hardly ever think much about how long their emails should be. There’s no minimum or maximum email length requirement because it all pivots on your purpose, industry, and customer journey.

If you struggle with having good response rates and click-through rates, MailChimp, Constant Contact, SendinBlue, and other email marketing services offer tips for composing an effective marketing email.

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

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