Email Marketing: What's the Ideal Length for a Sales Email?

A new client recently asked a question about the best length for a marketing email.

I think many of us assume that emails should be brief. It’s probably a carry-over from the early days online when connection speeds were so slow. Longer messages took forever to retrieve so we avoided them.

Yet, there’s no rule that says an email MUST be brief. So far as I know, there hasn’t been much research done to validate an ideal length one way or the other.

I did a little informal checking in my own mail archives and discovered some surprising results. I found in a recent month that email lengths fell in the following ranges:

16% ----- Under 300 words
43% ----- 301 – 1000 words
25% ----- 1001 – 2000 words
11% ----- 2001 – 4000 words
05% ----- Over 4000 words

I was surprised the most by the upper and lower range size. I thought the biggest percentage of email would be under 300 words. You can see that wasn’t the case.

And I was shocked to see how many mails were monsters! As a group, mails selling financial information products and services were the largest. Those folks send out full blown sales letters just like you receive in street mail with trend graphs, candlestick charts and all.

Newsletters fell mostly in the group starting at 1001 words but often ran over 2000. E-Courses also hovered in this range.

Even the short emails under 300 words didn’t really reflect total message length. Many encouraged the reader to click through one or more links to landing pages on the sender’s website. And these landing pages were often several-thousand-word sales letters.

Although there were still some purely text based emails, there was also no shortage of elaborate graphics. Many of the emails look like web pages these days, especially newsletters.

The point I took away from the exercise is a simple one. These days there no longer exist any practical constraints on length or graphic content of emails. We’ve reached the point where the technology supports whatever it takes to get our message across.

And like Martha says, that’s a good thing. We’re free to do the best possible job of communicating without having to worry about fitting the message to a certain predetermined length or format.

All we really need to do now is just make sure what we write is worth reading…

Ronald A Murphy is a Copywriter and Graphic Designer specializing in Direct Response, Internet and Multichannel Marketing. Murphy writes and designs sales letters, direct mail packages, inserts, web sales pages, direct email, newsletters for marketing, Internet articles, white papers, and other sales focused materials. He provides expertise to clients serving financial, business, technology, health, opportunity and fundraising markets.

For more information on copywriting and marketing, visit his site at There you can subscribe to his newsletter, R A Murphy's Copywriting and Design Tips. You can also read Murphy's Blog on Copywriting and Design for Internet and Direct marketing at

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