Ideal character lengths for SMS, email, and social media

Headline sweet spots: ideal lengths for SMS, MMS and other online content
Ideal character lengths for SMS, email, and social media

There’s nothing worse than a cutoff…

See—it’s like delivering half a joke, without the punchline. Bigger isn’t always better. A poorly displayed header can confuse your readers, leaving them underwhelmed and unwilling to click.

Knowing the ideal headline length for each marketing platform is an easy way to improve engagement. Use our headlines and openers guide to encourage more clicks, opens, and higher conversion rates across your SMS marketing, MMS marketing, website, emails, and socials.

The Bursty guide to headlines and openers

Like the human attention span, character limits across various platforms are limited. Creating ‘tell me more’ communication within these limits requires considerable crafting.

Given our 8-second attention span (that’s less than a goldfish), many web users decide whether to read more based solely on a headline. The truth is – most of us are headline scanners, so using keywords and emotional words packs even more of a punch.

Headers, openers, and other search engine optimisation measures play a hefty role in whether your audience finds you on the web. While Google recognises keywords and other technical elements, it also searches content and user intent. Don’t stuff your headers with keywords; to rank well, they need to make sense and reflect user experience.

SEO

Social media

  • Tweet length: while a tweet can reach 280 characters, the optimal length is between 71 and 100 characters. This ensures higher reply and retweet rates.
  • Facebook post: super short 40-character posts get 86% higher engagement. Posts with 80 characters or less get 66% higher engagement.
  • LinkedIn link headline: While there’s no optimal amount, the max limit for this text is 120 characters. LinkedIn tracks how many characters you use as you write.
  • Pinterest title: standard and video pins have a 100 character title length. If you don’t fill in this field, it defaults to the first 100 characters of your description.
  • Instagram captions: with a whopping 2,200 characters to play with, use between 138-150 characters for superior engagement. The average Instagram caption will be 405 characters by 2021 as influencers use it a microblog.
  • Instagram bio: use up to 150 characters in an Instagram bio, but keep in mind, some emojis equal more than 1 character.

Email

  • Subject line: Buffer suggests the perfect headline is 6 words long. Mailchimp advises no more than 9 words or 60 characters is the sweet spot.
  • Subject preview: browser size, email app and subject line all impact how much preview text shows in the inbox. iOS Mail displays about 90 characters, while Windows Phone shows around 40.
  • Push notifications: Android phones allow around 13 lines or 660 characters, while iOS is limited to 4 lines or 178 characters. This changes if you use a hero image. These alerts appear on your phone lock screen, as a banner or pop-up, and in your notification centre.

SMS Marketing and MMS Marketing

  • SMS: aim to send a single SMS, limited to 160 characters. This takes only 2-3 seconds to read. If you need a longer message, send bulk SMS marketing campaigns up to 612 characters, through a process of concatenation, but the campaign will be more expensive.
  • MMS subject line: an MMS marketing service allows you to send images and animated GIFs with a subject line limit of 20 characters.
  • MMS body copy: a big difference between MMS and SMS is the 1000 character limit in the body of the MMS message. Be attention span savvy – keep your MMS messages under 320 characters.

Final Thoughts

Learn the limits, then play around to see how your audience responds. Check your insights regularly to get a solid understanding of their preferences. Save time: bookmark this page so you can refer to it when producing marketing materials.

Save even more time by trying our simple and easy-to-use online SMS service with this 14 day free trial. You could be sending your first SMS marketing campaign in less than 8 minutes. No obligations and no credit card required.