How Long Should A Cold Email Be?

How Long Should A Cold Email Be?

Onur Genes

Updated At 21 Sep 2022

When you think about emails in general, you don't care about the length of the email. You want to explain something or send a report or talk about some important topic.

In cold emailing, it is different. When you try to reach out to someone, who don't know you yet, you do not have time to explain yourself fully. You have to tell everything in less than 8.25 seconds. But why in 8.25 seconds?

Let me explain why and how you can solve this.

How long should a cold email be, really?

There's no hard rule when it comes to the length of a cold email, but generally speaking, the shorter the better.

The goal is to get the recipient to respond, not to give them a novel to read. Back in the day, when I started sending cold emails to potential customers, I was trying to explain everything in a single cold email. But that didn't work. I was not getting a response and it was confusing.

They already had all information and I knew they need my services!

After few months I have realized I was wrong about sales emails in general.

People don't have time to read my emails and if my email length is too long, I was losing their interest.

We want to be able to show your point across without overwhelming the recipient with too much information.

That being said, you also don't want to be so brief that your email comes across as impersonal or insincere. This might be a sales email but it is not about you. It is about your prospect.

Striking a balance by keeping your email focused and to the point, while still being friendly and helpful is the key. In most cases, a few short paragraphs will do the trick.

And you might be thinking, what would be the ideal word count? Well... It is still not %100 certain but if it is more than 200 words, you will lose the attention of the recipient.

In other words ideal length of a cold email is less than 200 words.

Optimal email length, according to my own email statistics, is around 150 words.

When should I keep it short?

Quick answer: ALWAYS.

General rule of effectively communicate is making your message condensed.

Not convinced yet? Here is why:

Attention Span of an Adult in 2022

Data suggests, According to Wyzowl attention span of a human is lower than a Goldfish  in 2015. In 2022, I don't think we are even close to that. This sounds ridiculous but I have no doubts that it's true.

When you think about yourself you will realize, it is hard to read a long article, a book or email if it doesn't excite you.

For reading an email more than 8 seconds, you need to be convinced that it will worth your time.

Instead of reading a long boring email, you can check Twitter (if you do this don't forget to follow me ), watch a cat video on Youtube and many things that is exciting.

But we are here to increase your response rates, so keep reading!

How to measure the time to read a cold email?

You can copy paste your whole email body to this website  and see how much would it take to read your email.

That would be a great start for analyzing what you can do for making your cold emails short.

Let's start analyzing:

  • How fast an adult can read? ~180 words per minute

  • How much time it will take to read 200 word email? ~1 minute and 20 seconds (They will stop and try to understand why did you email)

  • Attention span of an adult? 8.25 seconds

  • When will the recipient lose interest? After 23 words

By looking at the numbers above, if your email is not exciting enough or your message is too long, you lost their interest after second sentence.

This seems so bad isn't it? How can you solve this?

Best practices for making your cold emails exciting

Write catchy subject lines

Cold email subject lines, or sales emails in general, are much different than your regular emails.

Instead of just focusing on cold email length, you should also care about writing a catchy subject line.

After you ensure you got the lead's interest, you can focus on your email length. Backing up your short message with a good subject line always wins.

If you need inspiration for catchy subject lines, you can check our article.

Personalized cold email to the rescue

I want you to stop and think for a second. Why most of the emails you receive, especially from people not on your daily circle, feels so boring and generic?

Answer is simple: They are not personalized emails. They are some random words sent to millions of other people and SO BORING!

When you start sending cold emails you will quickly realize, you need to be original, short and precise. There are hundreds of other companies trying to find clients/customers, like you do, and everybody tries their own tricks.

But sad part is, your prospects time is limited and they won't read your cheap cold outreach emails.

Easiest way to stand out from the crowd is using hyper personalized cold emails. This seems like a hype word but this is the truth, you should always get your prospect's attention.

If you are not writing cold emails to specific person, your message receiver won't read your cold emails.

For my own emails, when I use Nureply, my reply rates increases by ~2.4x. Because reader sees something about them in the first sentence and it feels exciting to them!

Using GIFs and Images

I don't recommend doing this in the first email but it is much easier to get attention of someone with visuals than long boring text.

It is always better to see a cat running around than boring work related email. Like this one:

Note: This can reduce your email deliverability scores and use it with caution.

What is the best structure for short cold emails

It is so easy actually. Let's go with our analysis and create a template:

  • Short message in your subject line. "Love your work at 'company name' " does the trick in general. This will be your first impression.

  • We want to say hi first. This is like an unwritten rule of email. Entry point is "Hi Onur,"

  • We know, we have to make them read first sentence to keep attention. First sentence is personalization: "I saw your work at Nureply and I must say, your tool will help a lot of marketers!". But please be more original or use Nureply's AI

  • We have around ~120 to ~150 characters to pitch our product or service. Something about their pain points must be included. This is the reason of your cold emailing, right?

  • Include your call to action, without being too pushy about it.

  • Tell them good wishes depending on your buyer persona.

  • Add your email signature without any links.

  • That's it!


Cold email marketing is not magic. There is a science, behind writing engaging and personalized cold emails.

I wanted to analyze how long should a cold email be for myself before everyone else.

If you follow above guidelines, your response rates will increase.

I am using same principles for my own cold outreach emails, in all of my cold email campaigns.

When you look at the statistics above, you will quickly realize there is a science behind keeping your emails short.

Thanks for reading!

In this post I have tried to answer one of the most common question about cold email strategies.

I hope this post was helpful in understanding how long a cold email should be.

Let me know what you think and how is your experience with short and long cold emails.

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