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    How long should a newsletter be?

    Guide
    by Iain Thomson Head of Projects

    If you’ve ever tried to get a newsletter up and running, you’ve no doubt fretted over the length of each email. Too short, you reason, and the newsletter might not get all your points across. Too long, and nobody will read to the end, or take they’ll one look at the length and not even bother starting it.

    It’s probably why there’s a standard Goldilocks zone that’s frequently mentioned by those in the know: 200 words, or 20 lines. To give you an idea about what that looks like, this post is 560 words long, and you’ll have reached 200 words by the end of the third paragraph. But the real answer to the question is: it depends.

    What’s the purpose of your newsletter?

    The first question you should ask yourself is what the newsletter is for. If it’s a self-contained piece rather than a channel to get people onto your product pages, it can be any length. I subscribe to a newsletter on a subject unrelated to work, and every Saturday it lands in my inbox and I read it from start to finish. It’s often 1000+ words long, but I’m interested in the subject, and the author knows he’s got a captive audience.

    [That was 200 words: could you tell your story in that much space?]

    On the other hand, I might also get newsletters that are a few sentences long, whose job is to merely get me to click or tap the link to see a company’s newest blog posts, special offers or products. There isn’t a chance I would ever read anywhere near 200 words, because life’s too short and there are a dozen others in my inbox. If I see something interesting, I’ll follow it.

    This hopefully leads you to the conclusion that there’s no right answer to the question of how long a newsletter email should be. It’s entirely dependent on its purpose and who its typical readers are.

    Do your analysis

    Ultimately, you’re going to settle on a sweet spot after you’ve had your newsletter for a few months. If you put tracking tools in your messages (all bulk email services do this automatically), you’ll get a very clear picture of which messages are being read, followed and ignored, and which ones lead to unsubscriptions. The makeup of your readership will determine that.

    A quicker way to get there is to do split testing. That’s where you send out two different emails to two halves of your list, and compare the results. It’s best to have one major difference so you can easily identify which factor is causing the success and failure. Experimenting with word count can help you land at a happy place for your particular readership profile.

    Length is just one factor

    While length certainly influences readership, if you’ve got a willing audience, it’s probably not as important as you might think. Concentrate more on making a compelling message, experimenting with the time of day that you send your emails out, and having a design that works on various email systems.

    With that latter point, Gooey can give you a helping hand. We’re experts at creating HTML newsletter templates that perform perfectly on browser-based and client-based email services. Simply upload them to your emailing solution and you’ll get emails that look amazing and increase engagement – whatever the word count.