How long should your email be? (Email experts weigh in)

As we write our email content, the inevitable question of “how long should my email be?” may pop in your head.

Personally, I tend to get a little wordy with my emails, it’s just the way I communicate.

So the team at AWeber wanted to learn once and for all – how long should your email be?

To get that answer we analyzed 1,000s of emails from 100 of today’s top email marketers. Our goal? Gather email marketing statistics that will answer how long an email should be.

The 100 experts we analyzed are the best of the best. Their email strategies engage thousands and drive millions in revenue. Many of them see unheard of results (like 80% open rates and 30% click-through rates).

The average email length

Of the 1,000 emails we analyzed, we found that emails have 434.48 words on average. 434 words takes approximately 3.3 minutes to read.

Words in an email graph

So that’s it, your email length should be exactly 434.48 words long. Not exactly.

Truth is, it really depends on your audience and what you’re trying to communicate.

Why shorter emails

More than 50% of the emails we analyzed contained 300 words or less (a 2.3 minute read time). With people receiving more emails than ever before, it makes sense these email experts are sending shorter emails. One might argue that to stand out to captivate your readers, shorter emails might be a good strategy for doing so.

Henneke Duistermaat is the founder of Enchanting Marketing and one of the 100 top marketers whose emails we analyzed. She often sends emails with less than 300 words.

Henneke Duistermaat headshot

“Have you ever heard someone complaining they’re not getting enough email? Everyone’s inbox is overflowing. We’re all time-starved. So, we love succinct messages that help us make a quick decision: whether to reply or not, whether to click through or not”

Henneke Duistermaat is the founder of Enchanting Marketing

Why long-form emails

Yet, 24.1% of the emails we analyzed contained 601 words or more. And 11.4% of them had more than 901 words, a read time of approximately 6.9 minutes.

These experts stand out by sending long emails packed with valuable content, like Ann Handley. Handley is the Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, a marketing education company, and another one of the top 100 marketers we included in our research. 

She sends her newsletter TotalAnnarchy via AWeber. On average, her newsletters contain 1,838.5 words, which takes roughly 14 minutes to read.

Ann Handley headshot

“It’s not that long-form emails are effective. Rather, what’s effective is emails that have value for the people on your list. I don’t set out every other Sunday with a goal of writing the longest email I possibly can. But I do have a goal of writing an authentic, valuable, fun letter to each and every subscriber on my list. I put my heart and soul into it, and that’s why people respond.”

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs

Matt Kepnes, author and founder of travel blog Nomadic Matt, is also on our list of top marketers. He sends long-form emails as well. On average, they contain 802 words. Instead of linking off to posts on his blog, he includes entire articles within his emails. These messages see high open and click-through rates.

Matt Kepnes headshot

“People will read longer emails if the topic is important enough.”

Matt Kepnes, author and founder of travel blog Nomadic Matt

How to choose your email length

So how do you decide whether to send short or long emails? 

It depends on your unique business goals, according to Andy Crestodina, a top email marketer and the founder of website consulting company Orbit Media.

Andy Crestodina headshot

“If your goal is simply awareness, long or short is less important. If subscribers see it, like it, smile, you met the goal! If your goal is traffic, then give the recipient the minimum amount of information needed to decide to click. The CTR (click-through rate) is everything and more text just means more noise in their inbox.”

Andy Crestodina

Here are a few ways you can learn what email length your audience wants to receive from you.

1 – A/B split test

Our recommendation is to test. Your email length strategy should be based on data. So perform an A/B split test to see what length email performs best with your subscribers. 

2 – Ask your audience

Every Thursday, we send a weekly newsletter and in each email we have a sentiment widget where we ask our audience “what did you think of this email”.

Sentiment widget in AWeber newsletter

We get incredibly valuable feedback. Not just on the content, but on the length. Check out what this reader of our newsletter had to say:

It’s not that the email is bad for the content, but it’s just too long. If I’m being honest I see these emails every week and just open and delete because I see the amount to read and my brain shuts off. 

This constructive criticism helps us make sure we’re being as concise and to the point as possible.

Email length guidelines

So where do you start? The one common theme we got from all our marketing experts is your email needs to provide value to your readers. If you can say the same thing with less words, then do so.

You shouldn’t be too concerned about making sure your emails fall within a certain word count. Bottom line is if your emails contain valuable content or offers, your subscribers are going to want to read your email despite the length.

You may also find the length of your email varies by the type of emails you’re sending. Here are three types of emails and some guidelines you can follow:

Email newsletter

Your email newsletter length could end up being your longest. Why? Because you have a lot of content to share. But don’t overshare, your goal with a newsletter should be driving traffic to your website or landing page.  

The key to a good newsletter length is to keep each section brief. Check out this example from Search Engine Journal. Overall the email is long, but each section only has 1 – 2 sentences. To read more of the content, you need to click to their website.

Search Engine Journal newsletter example

Promotional email

I would recommend keeping your promotional email’s short. Use images and a strong headline to help communicate your offer. Get to your offer quickly.

Here’s a great example from Grubhub. This email only contains 3 sentences. They’re trying to drive an action based on the image, exclusive offer, and call to action.

Promotional email from Grubhub

Welcome email

Your welcome email could be short or long format, it really depends on how much information you want to share with your new subscribers.

Here are two examples that show both a shorter version and longer version, that both work.

Welcome email from Twitch
Courtesy of ReallyGoodEmails
Welcome email from Zapier
Courtesy of ReallyGoodEmails

Start creating your emails today

Here’s some additional information that can inspire you to write amazing emails:

Ready to start using this information to send better emails? Get started with AWeber Free today.