How long should your email newsletter article copy be if you are trying to get readers to click to your site for the whole thing? The answer is: probably longer than you think.
I used to think I could just send out an enticing headline and folks would click. Then I tested the same headline plus one terse line of explanation. Then a reader emailed me saying, "Anne could you give me more details so I know if a particular story is worth my clicking to?" So I started to write longer and longer. Now some summaries in our weekly summaries letter (SherpaWeekly) are up to three short paragraphs long.
The other thing I learned over time is NOT to do the old first-hundred-words-of-the-article routine with an elipsis (...) as the summary. Yes, it's easier than writing an all-new summary, but it's not nearly as effective. You need to tell you reader exactly what they'll get when they click through, and why it's important to them. Here's a live example:
Version #1. First words of actual story using ellipsis tactic:
When Singapore Airlines decided to invest in a major advertising campaign to celebrate its new route from Singapore to Chicago last summer, the airline bought a multi-channel media package from AOL/Time Warner including TV ads on CNN, print ads in Fortune, Time's Asian edition, and other related offline media...
Version #2. Summary of story written explicitly for newsletter clicks:
This Case Study is a must-read for all business-to-consumer marketers trying to build an opt-in email database. Interactive ad agency execs, who are trying to convince clients to invest online, will also thoroughly appreciate how an online campaign, that was a "little add-on" to a big traditional media buy, ended up making a giant impact on the client-side.
Our favorite bit is when the agency involved predicted how successful the campaign would be. They were waaay off
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