I received an e-mail after my last post.

“Can you make your emails shorter and easier to scan?”

That’s right. Make it shorter. Simplify. Dumb it down. Cut out explanations. Remove the metaphors. Ask people for less in the bewildering hope of getting more.

I could also use a how to headline and add bullet points.

It’s true, the longer the the posts, the higher the unsubscribes.

That last one was 0.6% – a new record!

Do you know what else is higher? Sales, useful feedback, behavior change…

Don’t worry about unsubscribes, they’re not the people you want to work with.

The short, snappy, posts get more visible engagement from the people you don’t want. They’re thrill-seekers with low attention spans.

Deeper Engagement Posts

The 1,000 – 10,000 word posts, that cover a small topic in a lot of depth, attract clients.

Every single one of our clients has come from doing valuable engagement work.

This means getting the referrals, hosting events, and creating detailed posts that others don’t have the knowledge, resources, or (more likely) the patience to create. This is the engagement work that attracts the people that do deep engagement work – the very people we love to work with.

The Cool Visible Engagement Crowd

There’s a cool crowd out there that want you to chase visible engagement deep into the noisy marketplace.

They want you to be in the entertainment business. They want you to spend your time doing silly, frivolous, stuff to drive engagement.

Please don’t play that game.

Go the other way. Go to the place your competitors can’t or won’t go. Go deeper than they can, write longer articles than they will, do more research than they can be motivated to undertake.


Notice we put the link to advanced engagement methods at the bottom.

We would get many more clicks if we put it at the top.

So why at the bottom?

Because we don’t want people that click the first link they see. We don’t want curiousity seekers. It’s the people that get to the bottom we want to hear from.


  1. Michel Vandermeulen says:

    Hello Richard,
    I get your idea, but I think you go a bit too straightforward. A long mail message does not guarantee involvement, It is it’s content and it’s appeal to the interest of the reader that does it. The right style and words and a relevant meaning does it. So a concise formulated message about one precise item can suffice to trigger the attention and the positive participation of the right person, that otherwise would not react when the message is for no reason at all unnessarly long . And of course it would not be wise to use a short message when you need to convince your public to react on something important (i.e. a change of attitude of perception, input about community life and bonding, choices, etc…). I believe it is a question about balancing.

  2. Bo McGuffee says:

    I hear what you’re saying here, @Michelvdm. And it could be argued that one reason for shorter is that people don’t have a lot of time to read longer pieces. And I would agree that a longer piece doesn’t necessarily guarantee engagement. Yet, I still think that @richard_millington is on to something here.

    I think longer pieces effectively start to weed out those who aren’t really all that interested in what is being said in the first place. So I don’t think the point here (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) is to drive engagement, but rather to trigger engagement with the right people. If this is part of the goal, then sometimes an e-mail should be “necessarily long.”

    Then again, I admit to a personal pet peeve that colors my view here. I don’t know how many blog articles and e-mails I’ve come across over the years that fit the mold of short and sensationalized, but fall short of being able to say anything of significance. Usually, when I step away from them I’m left with the thought that they may not be saying much of anything because the authors don’t really have anything significant to say to me. So, when I come across longer, thoughtful pieces that prove to me that they have depth, those are the ones I pay attention to because those are the ones worth my attention.

  3. Steven Hermans says:

    Totally agree with you, @irreverance. If there is nothing to say, then don’t say it, instead of putting something out simply because it is that time of the week again. Wait another week, and write something that actually benefits people in a meaningful way, and you will see people finding their way to you automatically.

    At least, that’s my approach. Patience is a virtue with this idea, though!

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