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Email Marketing: The Long and Short of It


As B Direct goes into its 15th year, there's always something new to learn. But, there are also questions we hear from clients over and over (and over and over). One of these is: How long should an email be?

Here's the obvious (and slightly obnoxious) answer: As long as it needs to be.

Of course, we know that people are busy, lazy, easily distracted. Consequently, shorter is better. Usually. But, sometimes longer messages work better. We once ran a test for a client, a leading technology consulting firm. Despite all our predictions, the longer email pulled significantly better than the short one.

We've had success with what we call "email postcards:" great big picture, great little copy. We've also had success with emails so long, they were more like mini white papers in the prospect's in-box. Like all effective direct marketing, the length of the actual message is less important than the basics:

Are you sending the email to the right person?
Are you selling something that is relevant?
Are you making an offer that resonates, that motivates them to take action ... now?

Don't neglect the subject line. For those of us who grew up in direct mail, the subject line is your electronic outer envelope. It's arguably the most important part of your campaign. Because, if it doesn't encourage the recipient to open the email, it doesn't matter how fabulous the copy, art or layout is.

If your product or service requires a good deal of information, make sure that your email is scannable. Design for different browsing styles. Make it very clear what you want the reader to do and — even more important — what's in it for them.

Effective email marketing isn't easy. In fact, it's getting harder, simply because of volume. Each day, 196 billion emails are sent including everything from job offers to love letters to retail promotions, business correspondence, invoices and phishing scams. Your job is to keep your head above this particular marketing flood. Get noticed, get opened, get read and get results. That's exactly what we help clients do. Because it's worth it ...

91% of web users check email at least once a day
77% of consumers say they prefer email solicitations
70% of users open emails from brands they know
44% have bought something because of a promotional email

Email is 300% more effective than social media marketing and the average order resulting from email is 17% larger than from social.

Bottom line: email can be good for your bottom line. If you follow the same tried-and-true direct marketing principles. Target your message. Focus on benefits. Make an offer they can't refuse. Give them a good reason (or two or twelve) not to hit "Delete."

Postcards: More than Pretty Pictures
The Unsinkable Iceberg Theory

For creative marketing that really works, it’s time for B Direct.

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