Why Length Has Never Been More Crucial

When it comes to emails best practices, what performed better - long emails or shorter ones? Time has come to settle this issue

Victor Ijidola
March 13 2018

Some professionals believe that long emails are more effective, while others argue shorter content performs better. If you get $39.40 return on every $1 spent on email marketing, you want to get this right. But here’s the thing: there’s really no one-size-fits-all answer to the long or short email newsletter. It all depends on your industry, your brand, and most importantly, your customers.

Ann Handley of MarketingProfs puts it this way: “I think the critical thing is to barf up that first email, and then go back and swap places with your recipient in a sense, and figure out, “what is it I’m really trying to convey here? …Do I really need to include all this background or can I just get right to the point.” We’ll discuss what length works well in four major industries: retail, marketing, real estate and travel, so you can get the most out of your email marketing. Without further ado…


According to Constant Contact, emails containing around 15 images earn the highest CTRs for restaurants and spas. Yes, 15. Retail customers are mostly driven by what they see. For retail, “more is more,” at least when it comes to images. Not every retail brand use 15 images in their emails, but many of them like Rip Curl understand the impact of long emails filled with images.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Rip Curl’s Global Creative Director James Taylor said, “Beautiful emails have turned our Bombshell wetsuit into a global phenomenon”. Consumers expect to see a list of available products (according to the Constant Contact study: the more the better) in retail newsletters, but don’t pour your entire focus into graphic design and sacrifice usability. The Nielsen Norman Group found that “Newsletter recipients expect high-quality images, but excessive focus on graphic design can result in emails that are illegible, unusable, and can’t deliver on business goals”.


No one has the time (or patience) to read a novel sent to their inbox, and people mostly skim emails anyway to get the gist in a shorter amount of time. With an average unsubscribe rate of 4.89%, the  marketing field has the highest unsubscribe rates of all other industries. Marketers are quite picky; they have several sources for marketing information that they’re subscribed to, and it’s easy for them to unsubscribe from the ones that don’t meet their expectations. If you’re in marketing, you want to keep your email newsletters short and sweet– especially when you’re making announcements like blog post updates, etc. Neil Patel’s newsletter, for example, is one of the shortest in the industry:

Neil uses short emails to announce his blog post updates. Of course, there’s a place for longer . Longer emails in the marketing industry are often about post round-ups, products, or events — things you can’t really explain in a few lines. This newsletter from Social Media Examiner is a good example of an event-related:

To convince people to attend an event, a short email won’t cut it; they need details — cost (if any), keynote speakers, and venue. The same goes for product launch email . What you need to know is when to go with short and sweet formats and when to opt for long thorough; shorter emails work best for blog posts (and other announcements), and longer messages for sales, event invites, or other more momentous announcements.

Real estate

Real estate subscribers expect newsletters about trending news in their environment, home prices and sales, or incentives for client referrals. Constant Contact found that retail newsletter readers prefer about twenty lines of text. And anything below twenty text lines results in low CTRs.

Why so many lines of text? Subscribers need real estate companies to provide various interesting options about their offers, and be as descriptive as possible about those offers. When people are considering moving to a new location or buying a new house, they often have several questions they need realtors to answer in these emails.


As old and established as many travel brands are, email marketing has changed (and is still changing) the game for them — in a drastic way. They too have to figure what types emails their customers want to see and find the optimum length. Travel companies are a lot like real estate companies in that they have to anticipate questions and offer enticing descriptions.

When deciding where to travel to, most people don’t want one option or two or even six. They are in the mood to go down a number of rabbit holes. They want to think about their options, sleep on them, check reviews online, and even ask others about their experience. That’s why you see people asking questions on Yelp and Quora all the time about travel businesses:

Email newsletters for real estate subscribers should be long enough to capture their imagination and help your readers make the most informed decisions about their trip.

Ready to assess your emails?

The average person receives 88 emails every day; you don’t want to mess with their inbox and add to the existing clutter. Worse than ignoring you, they may unsubscribe from your list.

To get the most out of your email marketing, here are a few points to consider:

  • Retail newsletters require longer emails filled with images (remember: consumers want to see what you’re selling)
  • In the marketing industry, short and sweet is great for blog post or ebook updates, but you want lengthier emails for event invitations and product launches
  • For real estate, readers expect you to be very descriptive about your offers
  • Your best bet with travel marketing emails is including clear, enticing descriptions that’ll generate excitement for their upcoming adventure

What are your best email marketing tips? Let us know in the comments below!


Victor Ijidola

Victor Ijidola is a conversion-driven content marketer and copywriter. Contact him at Premium Content Shop.

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