How long should your email be?

I could not resist writing a second post on this one. I received and email from the nice people at

Email Marketing in India

As far as  long emails go I think this one definitely breaks the record. How long do you think this email is? 5319 words. Yes. I copy pasted the text into a word file just to check how long it might be. With Arial 10 point font and no special spacing, the email is 14 pages long. The image obviously is just the beginning part of the email.

Try reading it. It might just be fun.


How long should your email be?

How long should an email beA simple answer is 600 pixels wide and 600 words long, but you know that the real answer is “it depends”.

The first question I ask is what is the email supposed to do? It is supposed to generate a click through to  your landing page, right? You can tinker around with your design, subject line,  call to action buttons all you want and even  optimise your landing page.  Nothing is going to help you if  the content you have on your site  and therefore the email is not what the reader is looking for.

The question is not how long should the email be. The real question is, is the email relevant at all?

To give you an example,  I subscribe to  Ajit Dayal’s “The Honest  Truth” newsletter.   This is an email that has no special HTML design and is a very long one indeed almost 1500 words long. Yet, this will not be considered long by most of his readers.

Another example is of CNBC India Business update that I get daily in my inbox. I have now begun to quickly scan the email and click on only the most interesting story.  This too is not really a bad thing so long as I can quickly scan the stories of the day.

So the real answer is your email could be long or a short one, it really needs to be relevant.

Creating Good Email Landing Pages

I received an interesting email from Motilal Oswal a few days ago. It was about a seminar that Motilal Oswal was organizing in 3 different cities. The subject line was interesting and I opened the email. The content had one big image embedded in the email.  This meant that even though I had not enabled images in my Gmail account I could still see the ones that came attached with the email. Now if you want to track your emails, email service providers usually include a 1×1 pixel image in the HTML. When image display is enabled the reader’s browser requests this tiny image from the senders’s server. This is how the sender tracks if the email was opened. The only other way to track email opens is when the reader clicks on a link in the email.

With the image embedded in the above email (sorta like sending an attachment) I could view the contents very well. I did not feel the need to enable the display images function and if the email had any tiny 1×1 pixel image it would have never got loaded. This is why as an email best practice one should not embed images in the HTML.

The email is about an investment seminar. The subject line and the content gel very well. The contents are clear, there is good call to action, and there is information about the SMS and the number to call. I am interested in this seminar. I have high regard for Motilal Oswal and like to read their sector and industry reports  (BTW a side note: Motilal Oswal has received the Rashtriya Samman Patra awarded by the Government of India for being amongst the highest income tax payers in the country for a period of 5 years from FY95–FY99). You can read their blog, follow them on twitter, see their latest CNBC video on YouTube etc from their website.

When I click the link I land on this page.

What information does this page give me about the seminar? None.  To understand what this is like, imagine that I call up the number in the email to register for this seminar.  In all probability I will reach a customer service representative who will take my call. I expect I will ask a few questions on how long is the seminar, what topics it will cover, who will present it, will I get a white paper or other questions like will there be a question and answer session later etc. I expect the customer service representative handling the phone call will answer some if not all my queries. A landing page without this information is like having a telephone answering machine talking to me instead of a customer representative.  The answering machine could be telling me “If you want to visit the seminar press 1 and then press your phone number. We will get in touch with you.”  If you have a process of handling calls, why treat landing pages differently?

I am sure a lot of planning and effort has gone into this seminar.  A great many more people would have been reached and converted with the right landing page.  This is opportunity lost. If the fund managers were to create a half baked report  with half baked industry knowledge how would it be received? Very badly no doubt.  So then why should shabby Email Marketing be pardoned?

Businesses spend a lot of time on their core jobs, but it’s a pity they do not attach importance to the communication with their customers. We as digital marketers need to see communication with consumers our core job and do some serious improvements.