Email insight: getting to the point, fast

Long emails tend to give the reader a sense of TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read): ‘wasting’ valuable time reading stuff they maybe even don’t want to read. Even though you think and believe your content is important and valuable, that thought might not be shared by the reader. How to get someone then to still read the email and grasp its all-important message? By getting to the point fast, actually.
When your email contains 19 articles and an average of 50 words per article, you’re up at nearly a 1000 words in one email. Even for fast readers it would take a few minutes to get through all that, while the average email read time is 15 to 20 seconds according to the Be Relevant! blog. On top of that, that post is from six years ago and attention spans might have gotten shorter with all the info thrown at us these days.
Devising content in small bits helps, notes Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports: he has made a great visual representation of what works with paragraph sizes here. Next to that, it helps including only the bits you really want to share with your audience: bringing up other content just to fill your email newsletter won’t help in getting it read better.
When testing an email don’t forget to test your reading time. Is it over 2 minutes? Then it might be too long. Make the content more dense and to the point, and/or skip a few of the articles. This is also a great opportunity very often missed by email marketers for A/B testing: send out one long version of a message with reading time of 2+ minutes, and a message with basically the same content but which has a reading time of 1 minute max. Find out what works better for your audience and see how patient (or impatient) they are.
I’m also referring to a post I did just over two months ago: Less is more. There are some tips there too to keep your messages from going down the bloated path, hopefully you’ll find them useful.
The ideal email marketing message would take up the least amount of time to read, still get the message across and make you money. Everybody happy!
Extra tip: Jeff Wright from iContact wrote a blog post this month on short attention spans and how to get your message ready for those.

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