Is this Email Too Long? (A Quick Marketing Lesson on Readers and Persuasion)

05 Oct, 2020 BY angel

How long should my content be?

Well, that all depends.

The tongue-in-cheek answer would be:

It needs to be as long as it needs to be.

See, it all depends on the context and the objective of your content.

In the example below, let’s talk about email.

We’ve written before about the shortest, most effective email you could ever write (it’s called a micro-email and we include templates in this post).

However, a micro-email has a reason for being so short. You can read about it here.

Recently, we provided our Snappy Kraken members with a timely email all about election worries.

It’s over 500 words long, which is about 50x longer than a micro-email.

It needed to be informative.

It needed to be engaging.

It needed to elaborate and offer a calm, rational perspective that would help worried prospects and clients.

The context and the objective called for a longer email.

Though there isn’t a magic number for longer emails or content, there are 2 important concepts that will help you understand that longer content serves a purpose:

  1. The 3 types of readers
  2. The “LISH” persuasion principle

The 3 Types of Readers

Your audience isn’t homogenous.

People have different reading styles.

Our Product Team ensures Snappy Kraken member emails get the highest response possible by satisfying the needs of 3 types of readers.

Word Processors: these readers will read every single word on the page, top to bottom.

Scanners & Skimmers: these readers will dip in and out, mostly looking at headings, images, or bold text. Getting the gist is enough for them.

And finally, you have…

Cut-to-the-Chasers: These readers may scroll all the way to the bottom to check out your P.S. or the last sentence of your email. They might click directly on a link at the bottom with no additional explanation needed.

They just want to get right to it!

Do you recognize your own style in any of the categories above?

Regardless of reading style, readers also look at clues within the content to come to a conclusion about whether or not it’s valuable.

This is where an important persuasion principle kick in.

The “LISH” Persuasion Principle

LISH stands for “length implies strength heuristic.”

I’ll quote from this essay on different models of persuasion:

“The message length heuristic suggests that longer messages, which seem to contain a lot of arguments, are more convincing because people infer that the length of the message implies it is strong or correct (i.e., length implies strength).”

Some marketers keep this a secret…it’s why you might run into sales pages that teeter on 5,000 to 10,000 words. (Also see “costly signaling theory”.)

Sure, 100% of people don’t read it all (remember our 3 types of readers?), but the format and length and effort implies something about the VALUE of the message.

Isn’t there a place for short, 1 or 2 sentence emails?

You bet. And we have a few campaigns that leverage this.

See, marketing isn’t about blindly sticking to a tactic or technique.

It’s about the strategy you’re using in the service of creating meaningful connections.

When you’re clear on your marketing objective and the context, you get to look at all of the tactics in front of you as tools.

The tactics serve you. Not the other way around.

Want to see more marketing insights and trends?

We pulled data from the actual performance of 38,607 active digital marketing campaigns run by individual financial advisers and firms throughout the United States during 2020. Watch the full presentation and download your free 35-page PDF report here.

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