A recent blog post from the folks over at HubSpot offers some interesting data about various aspects of e-mail, including just how critical it is to ensure that e-mails are well written. As staunch promoters of the importance of content quality in all of its forms — e-mail included — our ears immediately perked up when we heard about it.
In the post, HubSpot cites a study from the Radicati Group, explaining that nearly 140 billion business e-mails are sent each and every day. That’s a lot of e-mail and, as anyone whose inbox fills up at a rate greater than a trickle can attest, people just don’t have time for messages that aren’t clear, that are too long, or that are full of mistakes.
To prove the point, HubSpot surveyed over 1,200 people between the ages of 18 and 64 to find out how they use e-mail as well as how gender, age, and level of education impacted their preferences and behaviors. The results led to two findings that are particularly interesting to us.
The first won’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s that people prefer concise e-mails to longer, more verbose ones. While it’s long been known that shorter subject lines lead to better open rates (they drop from 24 percent to 17 percent on average when subject lines exceed 35 characters according to HubSpot’s study), the length of the body of your e-mails matters too. In fact, 60 percent of respondents viewed concise e-mails favorably while less than 30 percent preferred longer versions.
In our view, part of good writing is being concise. HubSpot’s findings validate just how important this is in everyday life when it comes to e-mail.
The second and even more interesting finding from our perspective is just how much the quality of your writing matters to people. It turns out that errors in spelling and grammar are among the most “objectionable trends” that are likely to turn e-mail recipients off. In fact, according to HubSpot’s research, nearly 80 percent of respondents find spelling and grammatical errors unacceptable. Interestingly, 70 percent agree that excessive punctuation should also be avoided.
FAIL MAIL – 80 percent of respondents find spelling and grammatical errors unacceptable.
While this research is limited to e-mail, we believe it’s just another proof point that speaks to a universal truth: the quality of your content matters and will play a huge role in how well it’s received. Importantly, your content’s overall quality is the sum of numerous parts — things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation are just a few of the most basic components. If you go a step beyond them, you get to things like tone of voice, style, and readability, all of which have a role to play in determining how effective your content is at engaging your audience.
The takeaway from all of this simple. When it comes to your content you’ve got to be vigilant or you risk being ineffective or, worse yet, degrading your brand.
While controlling this on an individual basis can be challenging enough, doing so at scale is virtually impossible unless you’ve got the right technology in place.
For more in-depth research on the topic of content quality, check out our Content Impact Index in which we analyzed over 200 million words of content from top brands around the world.
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