Home > Email content > TL;DR: When good emails go bad.

TL;DR: When good emails go bad.

We’ve all done it. Once in a while we get a little carried away and write an email that’s just too long. If the recipient is as dedicated to your message as you are then she or he may actually read every word. If not, then you might get this as a response: “tldr”. Translation: “too long; didn’t read.” Ouch.

Your customers are busy people and so are their inboxes. When they receive an email from you most will do a quick scan of the content to assess if it’s worth a thorough read.

Nielsen Norman Group’s research found that the average time allocated to a newsletter after opening it is only 51 seconds. 35% of the time, recipients only skim a small part of the newsletter or glance at the content.

E-newsletters should be written so that readers can get the gist of your message with a quick scan. In most cases, shorter is better. Here are five ways to get your email read:

  1. Send more newsletters. If you can’t keep your newsletter short, consider changing its frequency. It’s more effective to send a short newsletter every week than to send one long one every month.
  2. Outline. If your newsletter contains several articles, provide a hyperlinked table of contents at the beginning.
  3. Summarize. Abbreviate the articles and link them to your company website or blog for the full story.
  4. Lists. Use bulleted lists where appropriate.
  5. A picture is worth 1,000 words. Images help convey your message quickly. Use them as visual cues to your newsletter’s content.

Here’s a rule of thumb: The physical length of your newsletter shouldn’t exceed an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper. You can test its length by printing it out.

What length works best for your newsletter? Do you find that your click-through rate increases when your emails are shorter?

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Categories: Email content
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