Ask The E-mail Diva: Long Copy and E-mail Math

Dear E-mail Diva,

You have written: "In test after test, we see that copy-heavy e-mails deliver more sales than the short and sweet."

Are you suggesting that e-mails should be long and full of paragraph after paragraph of copy? In all my testing (and every other bit of research I've seen) the most successful e-mails are short and sweet. A quick hit of incisive copy and a strong call to action. No? If so, maybe political advocacy, nonprofit fundraising, and higher education marketing (my three areas of experience) are more fundamentally different from retail than we had previously realized.

Kari Chisholm, president, Mandate Media

Dear Kari,

I am not suggesting that e-mails be long for the sake of being long, nor should they be short for the sake of being short. Use as much copy as needed to give readers all the information they need without a preconceived notion of what the "right" amount is. In some cases, you will get fewer clicks but more conversions (sales, donations, leads) from more copy-intensive e-mails, as they deliver more pre-qualified buyers. If a lot of copy is required to tell your story, make sure that you break it up visually with bold print, one-sentence paragraphs, bullets and other text devices, as well as graphic elements that guide the eye to the key copy points.



And while we're on the subject, copy-intensive does not mean dense. Don't try to impress people with your eloquence--and be vigilant about industry jargon that may be confusing to your audience. In the words of that famous copywriter, Winston Churchill, "Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all."

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Dear E-mail Diva,

I read your recent column comparing personalization e-mails to generic e-mails. There was a chart attached with a section on "lift." Could you please explain what this means.

Leigh Bigelow,

Dear Leigh,

By "lift" I mean the percent increase of the winner over the loser. Direct marketers and the mathematically inclined should stop reading here, but The E-mail Diva has found that many brand marketers are not familiar with the math that communicates lift correctly.

If you consider an increase from 40 percent to 45 percent the same as an increase from 10 percent to 15 percent, this is for you.

To find the percent increase or decrease, we must answer this question: The difference is what percent of the original?

Since our numbers are already in percentages, it is tempting to subtract and say the percent increase in both examples above is 5 percent. But percent increase or decrease is solved by dividing the difference by the original:

Difference ÷ Original

In the example above:

5% ÷ 40% = 12.5% increase

5% ÷ 10% = 50% increase

So if you told the CEO that you increased conversions by 5 percent when you really improved by 12 percent or 50 percent, you can see the value of this correct calculation. For more information, go to .

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Send your questions or submit your e-mail for critique to Melinda Krueger, the E-mail Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld

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