Limit Email To 140 Characters

Wouldn’t THAT be a novel idea?!

Think about the time you or your virtual assistant could save tackling the big mound of mail in your inbox every day.

Heck, the amount of time spent on rifling through email could easily be cut in half if the messages you received were limited to 140 characters.

Consider the benefit to your productivity!

Reading your email could actually turn into an enjoyable task that’s quick and easy. Who knows?  You might even start looking forward to checking your mail.

Are you grinning just thinking about the notion?

I am.

Those of us already using Twitter have become very adept at 140-character communications, right?  We’ve mastered all the Twitter shorthand skills and we can sometimes convey our thoughts in LESS than the maximum number of characters allowed!

Creating Tweets is really no formidable challenge at all.

So why not transfer that talent over to crafting email autoresponders?

Your list would love you!

I know what you’re thinking.  You like to tell your subscribers a little lead-in story or send them a list of benefits about a product or program you’re promoting.  Maybe you like to include audios or inspirational quotes with your autoresponders.  Or the majority of your autoresponders are set up as e-courses.

I get it.

But wouldn’t it be interesting to do, let’s say, a 30-day experiment and send your list 140-character messages to see how they’re received?

There’s always the possibility your subscribers would respond by saying, “Give me those longer messages back!  I want to spend more time reading email!”

But, then again, you may give them cause for celebration.

  • How much time do you spend every day checking and responding to email?
  • Is your inbox stuffed on a daily basis or does it resemble Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard?
  • Would you be willing to craft 140-character autoresponders as an experiment?

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33 thoughts on “Limit Email To 140 Characters

  1. Good Morning Mel and Max and Easter greetings from the UK.

    It’s not just email…
    thought I’d share this little gem from “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, a book I read at least once a year.

    “Verbal camouflge reached new heights during General Alexander Haig’s tenure as President Reagan’s secretary of state.

    Before Haig nobody had thought of saying “at this juncture of maturization” to mean “now.”

    He told the American people that terrorism could be fought with “meaningful sanctionary teeth” and that intermediate nuclear missiles were “at the vortex of cruciality.”

    As for any worries that the public might harbor, his message was “leave it to Al,” though what he actually said was: “We must push this to a lower decibel of public fixation. I don’t think there’s much of a learning curve to be achieved in this area of content.””

    What does it all mean Mel, what does it all mean?

    Emails, posts, speeches, think two words… simplify, simplify.

    Happy Easter
    Keith Davis recently posted..Keep it short- keep it sharp

    • Hope the Easter Bunny is really good to you, Keith — you’re a good egg! :)

      That’s definitely a “gem” you’ve shared. I’ve got to get my hands on Zinsser’s book.

      I keep beating the same drum and I don’t intend to change my tune.

      When you’re delivering a speech, I think it’s great to include some flowery jargon — dress it up and spice it up all you want. Lean a bit on innuendo, incorporate some humor, toss out a few metaphors, and be the best storyteller you can be.

      But online …

      “Simplify. Simplify.”

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Mel

  2. Hey Melanie,

    Love the idea. My inbox is a time wasting haven that I’m still negotiating.
    I do have to increase characters depending where it’s going. But, for the rest 140 is good!

    • Nice to see you here, Rob!

      I think I saw you over at Theresa Bradley-Banta’s blog. Big Fish Top Dogs is one of my favorite stops on my blog route. :)

      I’d like to share your Twitter bio with my readers — love it!

      “I believe in positive doing. Taking action today is of the utmost importance in goal accomplishment. Today has power, but only if you want it to.”

      Back to email …

      As Marcia Hoeck was saying earlier in the conversation, email is a “messy situation”. I used to be able to stay on top of it but those days are long gone! Sounds like you’re spending more time on it than you’d like, too.

      Get on board with us and shorten up communications to your list. I believe we’ll start a new trend that I’m hoping will catch on!

      Thanks again for knocking on my door today.

    • Good to know you’ve got my back on this one, Marcus!

      For most of us, email is simply getting out of hand and sifting and sorting through it is taking away from valuable business-building and blogging time.

      Now that I’ve gotten some rock solid feedback, I’m going to take action and put this idea in motion during the month of May and see how it flies.

      If you send out some 140-character emails, please let me know how they were received, okay? I’d be very interested to know what kinds of reactions you get from your list.

      Thanks for joining in the conversation, Marcus!

  3. […] next item on my spring cleaning list is inspired by Melanie Kissell.  Her post Limit Email to 140 Characters brought up the point about how much time we spend going through our […]

  4. Good points, Lynn!

    Videos, inspirational or motivational quotes, links to freebies, etc., could easily fit into 140 characters.

    So glad you’re going to give this a whirl!

    I think it’s exciting to try a new idea on for size and shove “status quo” aside once in a while. :)

    You’ve definitely wrapped your brain around my main point. Many of us are getting overloaded and overwhelmed with email and it’s becoming impossible to sift through it every day. I believe cutting WAY down on the time we spend reading all this stuff will make a positive difference.

    Really appreciate the visit — thanks!

  5. What a wonderful idea Melanie. I am certainly going to give it a try with my client list and see what they think. Especially when you just want to share a video, link or quote — sharing shorter messages and getting to the point makes sense in this hurry up, busy time we are in.

    Of course there are going to be times you want to elaborate on a topic, but this can help to even keep those messages shorter and to the point. I know that ‘internet marketing’ tells us differently —- that we should structure our autoresponders and sales pages a certain way – but what the heck, break out of the mould like Roberta wrote about in her post this week!
    Lynn Brown recently posted..Top 5 Reasons A Blog Will Bring Success To Your Online Business

  6. I am notorious for letting my e-mails pile up. The last time I cleaned them out, I had over 4000! I don’t know if shorter e-mails would make me open them quicker, but I did do a huge “unsubscribe” and that made me feel better.

    On the 140 character e-mails to my list. I don’t know about that and here’s why: On my stats, it never fails that I get more click-throughs with the longer e-mails. I think you just have to see what your list likes. I also subscribe the the “power of three” rule and like to put three links in the e-mail. That would be sorta hard with 140 characters! LOL

    But, I WOULD be interested to know if this works for you! Good luck :)

    • Hey Martha!

      Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to give it a try, that’s for sure. But I think it’s an idea that’s worth putting to the test and see what happens.

      Thanks for mentioning you get better click-throughs with longer emails and that could be true for the majority of people who use email marketing campaigns.

      I’m banking on two things …

      First off, my subscribers are already used to getting fairly short messages from me and they’re also accustomed to reading pigeonhole posts here on my blog. So I have to assume they’re folks who appreciate ‘short and sweet’.

      I’ll keep you posted and thanks so much for your comment!

  7. I’m with Hajra with this one, Melanie. Thankfully, my Inbox isn’t typically inundated with emails. I also try to keep super organized, using different stars and labels for the different emails I receive.

    Nevertheless, I’m all for being more concise! I know I need to kick the habit of overwriting. I think that I tend to write more lengthy emails because it’s my unconscious way of naturally showing the other person that the email is personalized and heartfelt. At the same time, being concise can show respect for another, namely respect for the person’s time. I’m on the fence about this one, but am willing to be more aware about this!

    Thanks for having me think about this, Melanie. =)
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted..Apartment Gossip

    • If you’ve got your “thinking cap” on right now, Samantha …

      That’s a good sign! :)

      And you’re right. You can look in at this issue from two very different windows. Cultivating and nurturing relationships online requires good communication with a fair measure of your personality attached. Otherwise, how will people really get to know you, right?

      By the same token, most of us have mailboxes that are over-stuffed and not nearly enough time in a day to read a mountain of emails. So “briefer” messages would be appreciated and, I believe, respected.

      Thanks for sharing your insights!

  8. You ALWAYS come up with things that make me think Melanie! I have noticed that ever since I’ve been using Twitter that e-mails have gotten shorter and just in conversation I get right to the point. I guess the fact that we can get our message across in 140 characters is amazing. Great post!
    Kristen Robinson recently posted..Top 10 Tuesday- Blogging Resources

    • Hey Kristen — thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      If I’ve given you a little something to think about, that’s a really good thing. :)

      You know me pretty well by now. At least you’re familiar with my writing style. There’s nothing I strive harder for than to “get right to the point”. And I’m happy to hear you’re following that same philosophy.

      Three cheers for us!

  9. Melanie,

    This does sound like a good experiment. But right now I am testing a whole new idea that Glen Allsopp has been teaching and this is email blogging. You actually teach something in your emails. Right now my open rate is up so I will forging on with some long emails…at least for now.
    Sheila Atwood recently posted..2 WordPress Plugins That Draw The Click

    • Go for it, Sheila!

      Glen has some killer ideas of his own and “email blogging” sounds like it’s working for you.

      Maybe you could just make your “lessons” short ones? :)

      Thanks for swinging by — always great to see you here!

  10. Your posts always make me smile!! You have the best ideas! Have you tried it? This could lead to a whole lotta ideas for peeps!

    • Just came up with this idea a few days ago, Jen.

      Thought I’d toss it out to my loyal readership and social media friends and get some feedback.

      Love your spunk and I’m glad this info gave you a smile. :)

    • Let’s do it, Leanne!

      Who knows? We just might start a trend. :)

      It’s going to take some creative thinking, but I believe we’re up for the challenge.

      If this catches on, we’ll all benefit by saving time reading and crafting emails and, it turn, we’ll be adding time to our day to work on our business. Win-Win.

      Let me know if you give it a shot. :)

  11. Melanie:

    What a concept! That is a great point that you made about having 140 characters for email responders. We are so inundated with emails to begin with and I do not have time to go through eacha and everyone. Life would be easier if the message came in 140 words or less. I am going for it.
    Thanks

    Jane
    Jane recently posted..How to Download Kindle eBooks without a Kindle

    • Kudos to you, Jane!

      I think it’s worth a try. If we all become more mindful of the overload of email everyone is receiving, we can all work together to come up with do-able and sensible solutions.

      If you do the experiment, let me know how your list reacts, okay? And I’ll do the same.

      So nice to see you here today! :)

  12. Hi Melanie – This is truly a fun idea. You know me, I like to delete half of what I write anyway – so that I end up cutting to chase. We do tend to ramble and often love the sound of our own voices, don’t we?

    Will you allow me to play devil’s advocate? I was just discussing something along these lines with my husband. We have a property manager who has fallen in love with half sentence email messages. Cryptic messages that can often lead to misinterpretation. Or, dare I say it, messages that come off sounding really snarky. So much so that I’m going to recommend we go to a more formal voice when communicating with each other.

    On the other hand…

    I’ll confess. I write super short responses to email. Les IS more. And email can leave a paper trail that is impossible to erase. Your idea may save some butts. My husband is a criminal defense attorney (among other things) and he has had to represent clients who got themselves in super hot water over the things they’ve written via electronic messages.

    I can see two sides to this idea. Ultimately my vote goes for the short email. Now as to the autoresponders… this is an experiment worth trying. I’m ALL for testing how we do our business.

    Very thought provoking post Melanie. I’m looking forward to reading the comments on this topic!

    ~Theresa
    Theresa Bradley-Banta recently posted..You Can Be Anything You Want

    • Dear Ms. Devil’s Advocate,

      So glad you’ve arrived! :)

      There’s definitely a double-edged sword principle in play here, Theresa. And you’ve explained it beautifully.

      Emails that are chopped up fragments can be cryptic and misinterpreted and emails that go on forever can shut your brain down and cause you to tune out and miss the message entirely. Two sides to every coin, right?

      I’m giving some serious thought to experimenting for a couple of weeks with my autoresponders to see what kind of reaction I get from my list. I’m really curious. And you’re right — “testing” is a big part of building a business.

      Your hubby must have some fine lines to cross with his clients who get themselves in trouble online. Some people just don’t “get” that anything you throw out there may come back to bite you in the butt. I imagine a lot of folks think it’s just “innocent” and acceptable behavior. WRONG.

      Let’s raise our glasses and drink a toast (ginger ale, of course) to “Less is More”! :)

      Appreciate your insights, Theresa — Thanks!

  13. Melanie, I do love your slant on life and business.
    Only tonight I was unsubscribing from lots of business lists because I have decided I dont want to take the time to wade through the long long emails to get to the point!
    If I feel like that, then I’m certainly going to consider thinking of others when I write emails. I’ll be keeping them succinct and might even throw in a few 140 autoresponders.
    I love your graphics that accompany your posts. They are just right!

    • You’ve been indulging in my favorite activity as of late, Maureen — “unsubscribing”!

      Good for you. It’s gotten to the point where getting off people’s lists is really the only answer. The amount of email I receive is staggering and unmanageable.

      So it’s time for us to get very very very selective in our choices. I used to be tempted a whole lot more by all the wonderful freebie offers out there. Now when I see an opt in box on someone’s site, I think more than twice about putting my name and email address in the windows. I can honestly say 9 times out of 10 I can resist.

      Yay for us!

      Glad you enjoy the graphics. :)

  14. Though it is a pretty clever idea, I have no trouble with my emails…maybe that’s because I am not as famous as you guys (you guys are entrepreneurs… thats like wow!), or maybe that I am so easy to get in touch with over the phone that people hardly bother to send me an email, or maybe that I respond so promptly that they think..”Oh what the heck..stay away from the crazy email girl”

    I think I just might have this obsessive disorder to sort out my email real quick :(
    Lol..lovely post!
    Hajra recently posted..How About Winning 500 for Blogging

    • You’re one of the lucky ones, Hajra.

      And I hope your inbox stays, perpetually, uncluttered. It’s not an ‘obsessive disorder” to keep yourself organized — it’s smart!

      Calling people on the telephone almost seems like a lost art. I’m hoping it becomes en vogue again. :)

      Thanks for the visit!

  15. Hi Melanie, it’s funny you should bring this up because I am a teacher and yesterday I was teaching Italian executives how to write short and sweet emails! They have a tendency to write paragraphs in their emails and I challenged them to write emails in under 10 minutes and between 40-50 words. I shared that people are so busy today they don’t have time to read your book hahaha. Their reaction was but that’s too simple. My replied, simple is good!!

    I don’t have a list yet but that would be an interesting experiment. Short and sweet emails. I am not sure about 140 characters…it feels limiting but again that’s just an underlying belief :)
    Diana Simon recently posted..Blogging for Beginners- Friday Favs

    • Isn’t that uncanny, Diana?

      I’m happy to hear you’ve been teaching executives to compose shorter email messages! My blog post and your classroom lesson have a definite overlap. Maybe our brain waves have been communicating with each other. :)

      I don’t know what your inbox looks like on any given day, but mine is flooded. I can honestly say I don’t have time to read everything. So if everyone would make the effort to be a little less “wordy” in their emails, I think it’s a step in the right direction.

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  16. Hi Melanie,

    I love this idea! Email is such a messy problem. I just had this very challenge asked of me during a Q&A session today on a teleclass — and after answering, vowed to write shorter emails myself. And also to allow myself to not respond to everything (my mother told me I have to be polite).

    Your post has clinched the deal! What a creative idea, you clever girl!

    (I can’t promise 140 character PowerSmarts mailings, tho, or even that I’ll set up autoresponders.) But hey, it’s a start!

    M
    Marcia Hoeck recently posted..How to Sell or Save Your Soul on the Internet- What it Really Means to “Market” Online

    • Hooray!

      I’m so pleased you like this idea, Marcia. I have a feeling most people are going to find it unrealistic or downright silly.

      But I think it’s worth a shot in the dark. Sounds like you’ve got an excess of email coming your way and so do I. You said it best — it’s a “messy problem”.

      Thanks for the compliment and I want you to make a quick stop here and see if you recognize a certain someone: http://www.melaniekissell.com/melanie-recommends/

      I’ll be on the lookout for ‘shorter’ emails from you. :)

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