Do Just One Thing in Writing Your Emails

Midwest Journal Press
Mar 13 · 3 min read

Do Just One Thing

That’s another recent lesson to share with you. It took my email coach mentioning it two years ago before I could get it into practice this year.

It was just hard work changing that engrained habit. Because I’m used to writing in long blog posts, and long book chapters (about 2K words). My non-fiction blog posts have multiple links in them. (This tracked back to some interesting advice that “Google and search engines like long-form posts with links because they could understand your site better [and get better rankings]”. News is: looking up what Google ranks my site for — is the free downloads they have access to. Huh. Another set of conventional wisdom gone awry. Big surprise.)

Yes, on average, people do like chapters about 2000–2500 words long. But any writer knows that a chapter (or scene, or book) is only as long as it needs to be. Padding out a book to make it a thicker hardback is another oddball concept from the dinosaur traditional publishing traditions.

(My email coach later mentioned that she had to go through that same progress herself. She used to spend an entire day in crafting a single 1,500 -2,000 word essay as an email. Now her 500-word email will take her an hour or less.)

People only really think about one thing at a time. It’s always been that way, always will. (“Multi-tasking” was a temporary fad that only wrecked production and efficiency.)

So your emails need to be about one core point, and need to have one link you repeat several times (especially in the PS.)

Just too simple. I’m told that since more people are reading emails on their smartphones, they look/scan through only two screenfuls and prefer a larger type size for smaller screens. The latest trends from (Although I’ve had no problem reading the default ones, some people do — and if you want them to take action on an email, to avoid unnecessary unsubscribes, you need to respect their habits. Keep it short. Keep it to one link.)

The key point is to just talk about one subject in your posts and your emails and have one (repeated) link in your emails.

Then write that next post and that next email for the next thing you want to tell them. Again, just one link.

This is all for short emails, obviously. Snackable. (And I’m starting a study of Earl Nightingale’s essays and recorded radio broadcasts to get this style of writing as a new engrained habit.)

Now, that doesn’t mean you should only write short emails. I recently wrote an email full of analysis — a year’s worth of subscriber data. (As a blog post, it ended up at 2333 words.) And I had over 10 percent of those readers send me a personal (and sometimes lengthy) reply. The usual response to emails is less than 1%.

If you need to write long, do so. Just not out of habit.

[Sidebar: Of note is recent studies by Litmus seem to a point that people tend to open email on mobile — trash or unsubscribe what they don’t want — and then deal with the rest on their desktop. Like triage. That’s why your “clicks” show up with a high percentage of desktop clients. Oh, and they also mentioned the fact that a high percentage of people use Gmail, and Google lumps all their mobile opens into it, instead of separating out the two platforms. (Makes sense for them…)]

Keep it simple, scholar. One subject. One link.


PS. Sharing is caring — send this on to someone you know that could use it.


Originally published at Living Sensical.

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