Just last month, I started feeling extremely overwhelmed by all of the emails I was getting in my inbox daily from companies that I’ve either done business with in the past or currently do business with. In fact, it was getting to the point that, every morning when I opened my email, I felt kind of anxious and stressed when I saw all of the unopened communication I had received since I last checked my account the night before. And apparently I’m not the only one.
According to research conducted by The Radicati Group, more than 205 billion emails are being sent and received daily. Of these, more than half are business related. With that many pieces of communication being exchanged every 24 hours, it’s extremely important that yours don’t have the same effect on your recipients as mine were having on me.
One of the ways to achieve this goal is to send emails that are long enough to say what you need to say without being so long that it either puts your receiver to sleep or, worse yet, gets deleted without ever being read at all. How long is that? Let’s see what some of the experts say…
What Some Experts Say About Email Length
Constant Contact contributor and Boot Camp teacher David Snow tells his students to “keep their emails as short as possible while still remaining effective because the vast majority of people reading emails today are starved for time.” His idea of short is one page or less, urging a quick reminder that lots of people are reading them on their mobile devices, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when writing yours.
Business Email Etiquette agrees, but actually recommends that emails be even shorter yet, suggesting that a couple paragraphs is usually long enough. When your main goal is to “communicate clearly and succinctly,” they state that limiting yourself to 2-3 paragraphs is often sufficient to keep your reader’s attention, which means that you want to eliminate any wording that doesn’t help you reinforce your message or that makes the email less clear.
Fast Company writer Drake Baer is also a believer in short business emails, stating that shorter is better yet, and “five sentences is the just-right length.” Why? Baer says that if you go any longer than that, you risk it not being read, but if you go shorter, you’ll come off as hasty and rushed.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re nodding your head yes while reading these recommendations that emails be short and sweet. When thinking about your own packed schedule and how you usually only have short windows of opportunity to actually sit down and read whatever correspondence is sent to you via email, it only makes sense, right?
Well, not everyone agrees that a short email is always the best. For example, What Counts compares reading emails to eating a five course meal. In other words, they say “If your email marketing is truly great – if you’re serving five-star value – then people will set aside time for you.”
To be effective according to their philosophy then, this requires that your content be relevant, timely, and written in a manner so as to interest the recipient enough to take the time to read whatever it is you have to say. It also means coming up with topics that they care about and covering them in a way that resonates with the reader so they continue to take in your lengthier content time and time again.
So, how long should your email be? If you put all of this advice together, the answer is short and to the point…that is, unless you have something compelling to say, then a little longer is apparently just fine.
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!