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Dude, I caught your wife cheating last night at…

Are You There?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Renneville

Imagine you’re talking with a prospect or client on the phone and right before the critical word or phrase that almost always closes the deal, you suddenly hang up.

You’d never do that, right? Would make it kinda hard to close the sale, don’t you think?

Thing is, your email, social media and website might be hanging up on prospects, albeit in a slightly different way.

Let’s talk about paying attention to some details you might not be watching. They’re details that might completely change the message you’re trying to get across to a client or prospect.

I’m talking about the repercussions of being just a tad too wordy.

Isn’t that funny? Yeah, I know I have zero room to talk on that. It’s an effort I have to stay focused on, so today I’ll show you why it’s important.

Twitter Cutoff

In Twitter,  your message can be 140 characters long.

BUT…if the message is more than 120 characters long and someone retweets it (sends it to their followers, which is very desirable for you), the characters past 120 are cut off as shown below.

See the … after “Jonathan Bu”? You’ve been snipped. Cut off.

Twitter text clipped off

If there’s part of a URL or some other important info at the end of your message, bummer.

If there’s anything there that’s critical to your message, you’re not a happy camper.

Outlook Cutoff

Outlook’s notification window shows approximately 30 characters of the title of your email. The number varies slightly because a proportional font is used in that window, meaning that some letters and numbers are wider than others.

I had my friend, mountain photographer and graphic artist Leroy Schulz send me 2 emails with totally different subjects. As you can see below, they look the same in the notification box.

Outlook subject cutoff

Identical notifications, yet their messages are totally different: One says “Mark, Are you voting for Obama? You’d be crazy not to”, while the other says “Mark, Are you voting for Obama? I wouldn’t dream of it”.

How’d you like to make that mistake?

Sure, some people do it on purpose to provoke you to open the email, but are those the folks who gain your trust? I doubt it.

Likewise, at the default width, Outlook’s inbox shows you only a part of the email’s subject (see below).

Outlook cutoff

As you can see above, having the subject cut off might cause a big problem, especially if someone doesn’t bother to read the email (like that ever happened).

The actual subject of the email above is “Dude, I caught your wife cheating last night at our weekly poker game.”

In fact, the cut off subject might just keep your email from getting read – and that’s what this is really about.

If your prospects and clients use some other email program, it’s bound to have similar limitations.

Google Cutoff

In Google results, page titles longer than 70 characters get cut off with a “…”.

This is the place where I get bit, because my blog post titles are occasionally too long.

Here’s an example:
Google Search result

In the example above, the title tag is too long (thus the … after “smart business moves”).

If the word after “moves” is important to finding your site, your prospect will never see it. For example, it might say “moves wisely to accept competitors’ cards” (which is what they did).

Sure, if the word is important, it should occur before that point if at all possible, but sometimes it isn’t.

Eliminating the … is the goal because you want the words in your title to be optimized for a) Google and b) those humans you want to see the title and be motivated to click on the link.

In each of these 3 cases, you typically want the truncated info to help answer the question that’s on their mind at that moment or provoke them to take an action.

Needless to say, “…” doesn’t even begin to do that.

Where are you getting cut off?