The 2013 Comeback Of The Long Email


You know those moments where you shake your head and think, “Am I the only one seeing this?” Where tablets and email are concerned, I’m having one now.

The small business person looks at marketing through a different lens than most professional digital marketers. Inside the marketing industry, I see many who live and breathe the latest trends and tools that enhance the marketing efforts of a business, from an e-commerce site to a local business. They are dazzled by big data and stratified content geared to multiple niches and the varying degrees of a consumer’s position in their funnel.

As a small business owner, I’m assuming you’re a bit of a lone wolf. Not someone leading a division with a full-on PR department, advertising department, marketing department and sales department. If you yourself are all of those departments rolled into your charming, rocking’ awesome, one-man or one-woman “department,” then let’s talk about you! (Me, too; I’m the same kind of animal.)

If you can’t make it work right now, just you and few others on your team, then you can’t really use it. I’m kind of obsessed with trying to show clients (and prove to myself) which major marketing trends are actually do-able this month for the small biz marketer.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Christmas was epic in terms of mobile. 17.4 million mobile devices activated on a single day means the mobile revolution is underway. Everyone is talking about what that means for their business, their marketing, their PR, etc. how to make use of apps, harness the power of social media, and just generally ensure you’re where your customer is… on their phone or tablet or e-reader.

Which brings us to the topic sizzling off the top of every email designer’s, service’s or copywriter’s website: “optimizing email for mobile.”

The general consensus concerning email copywriting length seems to be: Keep it short.

The theory behind that advice, I guess, is that since people are on the move, that must mean they are quickly checking email, and deciding at an even faster rate than when they’re on their desktops, whether to read, save or delete.

But where is it written that they won’t give a long email the time of day — if it’s good.

Yeah, if your email is boring, crappy, useless, or ALWAYS selling something… they’re going to delete it. But probably no faster than if they see your crappy, boring, useless sales-y email on their desktops.

Junk mail is junk mail. It makes no difference where you encounter it.

But to advise keeping email short? I don’t think so!

Now I might concede that smart phones are tedious for reading long emails for a number of reasons. Let’s just agree that smart phones are great for a million things (the app explosion comes to mind) but reading long text is not one of them.

Here’s the little detail that stops me in my tracks: Of those 17.4 million devices, over half were tablets.

And if smart phones are torture for reading long content… tablets are divine.

What’s better than cozying in with a good read? If your email is fun to read, well then, write away, my friend! That’s what most folks use them for, you know. According to Pew Researcher Center’s Excellence in Journalism (and they should know) at least 66% say checking their email is their #1 activity.

Just because they’re reading email on the go doesn’t mean they’re pressed for time. Yes, you have to get to the point, your copy must be consistently riveting, but short emails are not necessarily what people are craving. They’re craving good content.

Be wary of anyone who says “Do this and not that” in any marketing channel.

Test things yourself. If you have something to say, then say it. Don’t count your words all the time. Put your heart into it and trust your reader to decide.

As more and more people carry around tablets (in their homes, their cars and their offices) they may find your copy exactly what they want to read. If you need 3 minutes and 1600 words to make your point, then be bold. Dare to hold their attention for that long. Their screen is perfect for it!

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