We hate to say it, but there really is no ideal length for a newsletter.
But, don’t be disheartened! With their overall ability to track email marketing in a way no other type of content can, newsletters are always worth exploring as part of your content marketing strategy. Whether you want to write about your company updates, blogs, or events, newsletters can offer you the perfect platform, while also allowing you to try out A/B testing and optimization. But in today’s world, companies only have so much space to deliver their message; emails will go unread if they’re too long.
And while there’s no generally recommended length for a newsletter, here are some best practices you can use to experiment with the best length of newsletter for your company’s needs.
Understand Your Audience
We understand that “it depends” is the default answer when it comes to the word length for any type of email. As unclear as this may be, it’s true for many reasons. Most of all, “it depends” on your audience.
Let’s look at two companies: a Mexican restaurant and an independent bookstore. Both companies have different audiences and should, therefore, approach their newsletters in different ways. The Mexican restaurant may have an audience that prefers visuals of featured recipes. The bookstore may have an audience that wants detailed explanations of upcoming readings and events.
Take the time to understand what works best with your audience. If you’ve been sending out newsletters for a while, look back to see which ones received the most opens. If you’re new to newsletters, look at those from other companies in your industry to get some ideas.
Get to the Point
Ask yourself why you’re sending your newsletter and what you want your readers to take away from it. Whether it’s a recap of past events, noteworthy company news, or recently published content, the challenge is to highlight the importance of your message without going overboard on detail.
Again, getting to the point will be different for every company. If you want to highlight products that are on sale as part of a seasonal promotion, an image and the discounted new price will suffice. If you want to entice readers with a behind-the-scenes feature of how your products are made, a paragraph or more may be needed.
Remember that it can be easy to overdo the detail. Four sentences on the features of a sneaker are unnecessary, especially if you include a photo. An entire column dedicated to your feature may defeat the purpose of people clicking to your site to read the full story. As HubSpot puts it: “be clear, concise, and compelling.”
Newsletter Best Practices
- Excerpts: One way to manage your newsletter’s length is to include excerpts from the topics you want to cover. This could be a teaser sentence or two for a recent blog post, or a quote from an interview. Think of your newsletter as a sample platter, allowing users to ‘taste’ everything you have to offer.
- Newsletter Design: Use the design of your newsletter to your advantage. Sally McGraw suggests using information subheadings for important messaging. This way, readers who are simply skimming your newsletter will still get the gist. Other options include bullet points and hard breaks.
- “Above the Scroll” Rule: Though this applies to email in general, the idea is to keep your email’s contents in the initial open view. This means the user doesn’t have to scroll down to continue reading. It can be challenging to keep your newsletter messaging succinct, while still achieving your goal of getting your readers to click on the embedded links.
Adapting to Your Audience
As with any aspect of content marketing, testing what works best with your audience is key. If you notice fewer link clicks after a few newsletters, try shorter excerpts or play with the design. If your open rate drops, try a shorter subject line. A/B Testing is a great tool to use when trying to increase performance of your email newsletter – if you’re looking to increase your open rates, try A/B testing different subject lines. You can change the length, tone, or even whether the subject line is asking a question or making a statement. If you want to increase your click through rate you can A/B test your calls to action inside your email – do your readers respond better to a button or a link? What color should the button be? Well executed testing can let you know a lot about your audience and even help you to segment and send emails to the right audiences.
We like to see email marketing as an opportunity for businesses to connect with customers in their own unique way. Keep our suggestions in mind and you’ll be able to seize the opportunity to better connect with your customers through email. Having trouble setting up or fine tuning your email marketing? Get in touch with us today.
For more information on how to build an Email Marketing list the right way, check out our ebook!