How Long Should a Cold Email Be? [A Quick Study]

How Long Should a Cold Email Be? [A Quick Study]

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To answer how long should a cold email be, you need a look at the data. 

Consensus in the B2B sales world holds the average response rate for cold emails anywhere from 1%-5%.

This number, however, can vary depending on your target audience and industry.

When looking at open rate, a Gartner study on sales development technology reveals a rate for sales emails that barely reaches 24%.

It stands that eliciting a response from prospects continues to be a battle for their precious attention.

In this article, we’ll explore strategies on how to win that battle and how to keep their attention by addressing the following:

Ideal Email Length

When we talk about email length, we’re talking about word count.

Although there are other ways of sizing up the length of your email – and we’ll get to these soon enough – generally speaking, we count the words it takes to bring value to a prospect’s inbox.

So, how many words make up the ideal cold email length?

Again, it depends.

But for the sake of giving you a strict answer: anywhere from 50-125 is ideal.

Why?

Let’s hear what the experts and frequently cited studies have to say.

Studies on email length

Probably the most cited study on the topic of sales email length is the one conducted by Boomerang in 2016. While much has changed since then, many of the insights from the study are still relevant.

The minds behind Boomrang’s email productivity tool used their resources to discover what goes into an email that generates responses.

As you’d expect, there were multiple factors that affected the response rate. They found the right reading level, sentiment, and opinions all contributed to getting a response.

Best of all though, they were the first to suggest keeping an email between 50-125 words for the best shot at a response rate above 50%.

That number may seem at odds with the paltry response rates quoted before. The Boomerang study doesn’t specify what kinds of emails they studied, so take their results with a grain of salt.

Regardless, it’s still a good look at general response rates, especially considering the millions of Boomerang customers and the sheer volume of emails they send.

For an in-depth look at sales emails specifically, we’ll turn to email aficionado and LinkedIn influencer, Will Allred.

Email experts

Co-founder of the AI email assistant Lavender, Will has quickly become a leading voice in cold email strategy and etiquette on LinkedIn.

He’s analyzed millions of emails to find the perfect combination of personalization, smart copywriting, and of course word count to get responses.

Regarding word count, Will’s findings support the Boomerang study: shorter is better.

In fact, Will goes a step further claiming cold emails with only 25-50 words generate 65% more replies than those with 125. Using Twitter’s 280-character limit for a tweet as an example, he maintains that strict limits on word count keep the email to only the bare essentials.

Why you may ask?

As we said before, cold email is a race for a prospect’s attention. It’s a race against time.

According to Statista, the average time it took to read an email in 2021 was 10 seconds.

Only concise writing will make an impression in a busy inbox.

And only concise writing suits mobile.

Optimizing for Mobile

Optimizing emails for mobile is so important it deserved its own section.

For official stats on the state of mobile email in 2022, we turn to none other than Hubspot.

Your prospect is more likely to view an email on their phone, according to these Hubspot marketing statistics which conclude a majority (41%) of emails are viewed on mobile.

An even more recent study by Statista shows that over half of all website traffic is mobile. It continues by saying that one of the most popular mobile internet activities is email usage.

So, yeah, mobile is pretty important.

Thankfully, optimizing your cold email for responses follows the same principles as optimizing your email for mobile.

Email Length Best Practices

Your process for writing an effective cold email should be like the cold email itself: uncomplicated.

Let’s take a quick look at some best practices for email length.

Keep it short

If there’s one thing you take away from this post, it’s to keep your emails short.

As we’ve reviewed, the data and experts support shorter emails, especially when you factor mobile into the equation.

Ultimately, your buyer persona will determine exactly how long your email needs to be, but based on our own experience, we recommend no more than 125 words per email.

Decision makers are busy people who use their inbox as a to-do list.

It’s highly unlikely they’ll buy from your first email, and even less so if you’re giving them too much work to do.

Your goal is to get a reply in the most frictionless way possible.

But not too short

However, a shorter email doesn’t mean less work.

Lengthy emails may be an eye sore, but an email that’s too short just looks lazy.

The opening email should still be about the prospect and contain enough info to demonstrate you’re really interested in resolving their pain point.

To nail the copy in a cold email you need to aim for that sweet spot that fits what you need to say in as few words as possible without being too simple.

Imagine a diamond crafted from equal parts personalization and value proposition and forged by the power of your hard work.

Following some of Will Allred’s advice and a few of our own experiments, we recommend no less than 25 words.

Be mindful of space

When you’ve finished writing your email, ask yourself: is this something I’d want to read?

Apart from the length, how does it look?

People tend to scan much of the digital media they consume; this is the same for emails.

The CEO taking a second glance at your email is only doing so because it’s easy to read.

Help your prospects out by incorporating plenty of white space between the lines of text. This will make the email more palatable on desktop and mobile.

As a general framework to build off of we recommend a 3×3 rule: no more than 3 paragraphs with 3 lines each.


We hope this answers any lingering questions about the ideal email length. If you’re having trouble getting emails to a prospect’s inbox, check out our post on cold email deliverability.

But remember, you have less time than ever to make a first impression.

Make it count by keeping the email short and for your prospect.