Have you ever received an email that reads like a story? The author’s whole idea – start to finish – all inside one lengthy email of many paragraphs and lots of words? I’m betting you have. I get at least one a day that looks like this – what I call “massive missives” – delivered straight to my inbox.

Or – let’s be frank here – have you written emails like that?

I’ve talked to people who can’t handle the idea of writing a blog post, but they’ll send out an 800 word email sharing an entire story or thought process with no qualms at all.

But guess what? Emails like that are not a good marketing practice. In fact, doing this could actually hurt your marketing efforts.

When you spend valuable time crafting a meaningful, value-laden piece of content, it’s basically wasted when you send all of that content inside an email.

Here’s why long emails don’t help you.

Emails are not on the web.

Content in an email can’t be indexed by the internet search engines (Google, Bing) – so your valuable content won’t ever be found by people, even if they are looking for EXACTLY what you said. Your content is sitting in inboxes – not on the web. It’s not find-able. So ONLY the people on your email list get to benefit from it – if they even read it.

Long emails don’t get read.

Frankly, long emails often don’t get read. Maybe they are skimmed through. If something is of interest, perhaps the recipient will make a mental note to return and read it later. Then 100 other emails arrive, and your valuable email drops out of sight – and out of mind.

And the more people DON’T read your emails, the more likely they are to migrate out of the inbox and into the spam folder. Check your spam folder right now. Are there emails in there that are NOT spam? Every time I check mine, I find goodies that I have missed – all because I don’t usually open those emails.

No clicks mean no good data

When you put an entire story into an email, why would a recipient click through your email? If you’re depending on “set an appointment” – a classic bottom-of-the-funnel tactic, you might get a couple of clicks if you have recipients who are ready to take the next step. But you WON’T get the click you really want – so you will know the recipients who are actually interested in the topic you’ve discussed in the email.

No data means no targeting

Without that click to read the rest of the content, you cannot track the interests of your leads. Without tracking interests, you cannot segment your list effectively. And without segmentation, you’re stuck in the land of sending the same email to everyone all the time – hoping for a result you can measure (an appointment or a purchase). Yikes! I cannot say this enough: the money is in the click.

Open rates are not meaningful

Open rates are not any measure of engagement. Just because someone opened your email does not mean they actually read your email. It ONLY means that they opened the email and their email system downloaded the pictures in the email. While open rate is a metric to watch, it is not a meaningful metric in terms of gauging interest in your topic. (Which means that tracking open rates of long emails won’t give you any meaningful insights into the actual interests of the people on your list.)

Here’s what to do instead

Blog it

When you create a blog post on your website, it gets indexed by the search engines. Depending on the topic, it could become very popular – or not. Either way, set up a keyword or key phrase for the post, and make sure your snippet (I’m using Yoast SEO terms here) gives the general idea of your topic (and uses your keyword or key phrase).

When you write a blog post, it is find-able by the search engines. You can re-use it. You can refer back to it in other blog posts. You can use it to drive engagement. Don’t like the idea of writing a blog? Grit your teeth and do it anyway. Use your blog posts in your social media – engaging with your followers AND attracting new people into your list.

If you’ve got a pile of long emails sitting in your email marketing system that you have sent in the past, pull them out and make them into blog posts. That’s an easy way to start.

Keep your emails short – with a click

Emails that can be read quickly are more likely to actually BE read. Try keeping your emails to around 150 words. Talk about your blog post and give the reader a clickable link to read the entire post. If someone clicks a link, you know they read the email and that they are interested in the topic. You are now collecting good data about each person on your list.

Track the clicks to segment your list

If you’ve written a blog post about… say, sustainable gardening, and someone clicks the link in your email to read the post, what have you learned? BING-BING-BING – you’ve learned that that particular reader is interested in the topic of sustainable gardening. What can you do with that knowledge?

Let’s say your next blog post is about tomato varietals (because gardening). When people click on the link in the email, you learn that they’re interested in tomato planting. Interesting, right? And the cool part is that the tomato-clickers might not be the same people as the sustainable-gardening-clickers.

You are segmenting your list, right there. Do you sell a composting system? The people interested in sustainable gardening might be interested in that. Do you sell heirloom tomato seeds? The people interested in tomato varietals might like to know that.

When you provide valuable content – AND you can track the clicks and what people deliberately choose to read – you get ideas for MORE content – and ideas for what products or services to offer to whom.

And you get to be RELEVANT to your leads’ interests – which will keep your (shorter, clickable) emails in the inbox, driving engagement for you and your brand.

More of that “forever funnel” we keep talking about. 🙂