Are Long Emails Bad? You Have Been Mislead.

In recent years people in the email industry have led you to believe that you should stop writing long emails because email subscribers don’t read long emails anymore. Email marketing strategists and thought leaders have subsequently encouraged you to write shorter emails (50 to 125 words – 200 words) or image-heavy with little copy and bullet points because subscribers “scan.”

The industry has said that no one likes to scroll on emails unless you have valuable content, and only then should you have your most valuable content at the top to grab their attention. Captain Obvious called on the former and asked that I tell you “HOGWASH” on the latter.

Email Too Long? Making The Case

If done correctly with quality email copywriting, you can make reasonably long emails that invite the user to scroll. Subscribers often triage their email on mobile and come back to it on a desktop to investigate further. If you’re not already doing so, one metric to track is that of ToR (total open rate). ToR looks at the gross amount of opens on a particular email and can help provide insight if your subscriber returns to the email to engage. If you want to take it a step further, calculate your TcTOR (total click to open rate) over a 6-12 month period, which will show you how well all of the content performs over time. 

The good news is that you can go back to your metrics historically and calculate these and determine if they met your KPI’s minimal thresholds. If so, then it’s time to set up some tests which will push the boundaries of length.

Design Emails For Mobile Devices Scroll

If you are looking to test length, you will need to consider a layout type that would work best. A single-column layout is recommended to make it easier for a subscriber to scroll on mobile and desktop. While simplistic, it will integrate nicely into our second recommendation below.

Assuming that you have chosen the single-column layout, one way to organize your images and copy inside the email is using the “criss-cross” method. The “criss-cross” method is when a content grouping is laid out with an image on the right and the copy on the left, followed by the next content group of the image on the left and the copy on the right. Figure 1 below, is a great visual example of the “criss-cross” method.

iPost - Lengthy Email

Using the “criss-cross” layout allows for a simple flow of images to text and makes the email easier to read on any screen in any place they read it. When selecting the images to display in your email, it’s best to experiment with vertical lines while teasing only a part of an image to create some intrigue and curiosity for the subscriber. This, of course, should be tested, and mileage will vary.

Lastly, it might be a good idea to reward those who scroll to your email’s bottom with highly valuable content in your arsenal. The goal would be to train the subscriber that it’s worth the scroll. One suggestion would be to tease that content via the pre-header or subject line.

Long Emails Work, Watch The Clicks

The primary KPI to see if your longer emails are performing for your program is clicks. You can choose to look at total or unique clicks, but no matter which one, always consult a heatmap to see where the clicks are happening to draw insight if your email is bordering on being too long. If you see clicks tapering off considerably towards the bottom of your email over time, then you should reconsider testing a shorter email.

Longer emails can work and provide a way for your brand to push out quite a bit of content, but testing is key.