Longer vs. Shorter Copy. How long your landing page should be?
How long should my Landing Page be? Is a longer copy better than a shorter copy? That’s a question people ask me all the time, and the truth of the matter is… It depends. Yes and no.
The longer vs shorter copy debate has been going on since advertising masters wrote copy about things we never thought we needed.
There is a copywriting motto out there saying: “The more you tell, the more you sell.”
The problem is that lovely rhyme doesn’t apply in every case. Each copywriting style (short or long copy) offers compelling benefits, and each has to be used within different situations. So the best one is the one that works.
OK, I know it’s a Goldilocks answer…
But check that Landing Page below…
Copywriters are divided between long or short copy.
Copywriters following the short copy gospel say that people don’t take their time to read. That’s true in the modern age. So, they say, there’s no reason to write long copy. They believe that people will ignore long sales letters and landing pages and will never read them. Instead, they say it’s a better use of space with pictures and graphics to get customers’ attention.
On the other hand, the long copy disciples believe that copy is the secret to any sales success. To them, more copy just means you can better pinpoint the pain points, explain the product, fend objections all of that leading more sales.
The problem with those 2 points of view is they just are generalizations, and generalization don’t work.
Short copy is original promotional content that creates the most impact using the least number of words to a targeted audience.
So who’s right?
To help you with the length of your copy, I wrote this article to take you through the principles of long vs short copy and why there are reasons seasoned wordsmiths choose one over the other.
But before we start comparing shorter vs longer copy, let’s remember that we have cold, warm and hot audiences. We also have inexpensive and expensive products.
Whether you need to write a long or short copy depends on the price of your product and the temperature of your audience.
Let me explain
Degree of awareness
There is a concept created in 1966 by Eugene M. Schwartz n in his book “Breakthrough Advertising.” It’s a classic that has been out of print for the past 30 years, so the few copies that available are selling upwards of $250.
Eugene Schwartz discovered that any customer is going through 5 steps of awareness:
1. Completely Unaware:
Your prospect has no knowledge or opinion of the product you are trying to sell.
Your prospect senses he has a problem but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
5. Most Aware:
Your prospect knows your product, & only needs to know “the deal.”
When writing copy, most marketers & copywriters don’t take into account the prospect’s state of awareness about the service or product being offered.
Why do we need this information in order to measure the length of our copy?
Well, imagine that you are selling a new product. Say a new watch with a larger screen, a highly accurate ECG-capable heart-rate sensor, GPS, a bright display that’s visible even under direct sunlight and optional cellular connectivity (meaning you can take a break from your Smart-Phone when needed) among its key features.
Imagine that nobody knows anything about connected watches. They are in the awareness step of “Completely Unaware” Eugene M. Schwartz.
If you want to sell that watch, you have to explain what is a connected watch, what it is doing, in great details, and why and how its features will help your customer.
In that case, you will need a lot of words and space for your copy and you will need to use a much longer landing page.
Now imagine that you are selling a black phone case that fits any smartphone. Of course, you will still need to explain why your phone case is better than your competition, but you will not need to explain the utility of your phone case as absolutely everybody who has a phone is buying a case to protect it.
In that case, you will only need the minimum, maybe only what makes you different from your competition in order to explain what your product is.
So, the length of the landing page is a function of the degree of awareness of your customer.
The more your customer knows about your product, the less you have to explain.
Correlation between scrutiny & landing page length
Scrutiny is when you look at something really closely. A good example would be to proofread a copy… Scrutiny is checking something with an intense look, like when someone is assessing you to tell if you might be lying.
In that sense, the amount of information needed to get the conversion target is proportional to the level of scrutiny related to performing the conversion.
In other words: The higher the scrutiny level – the more information is needed to get the conversion, and the longer the landing page should be.
Long Copy vs Short Copy. Which sells more?
Low-scrutiny offers where there are little commitment and low perceived risk related to the conversion goal should be done with short landing pages.
An example would be buying a computer vs buying a mouse… A mouse typically costs between $5-$20 and requires few technical details. You don’t need a lot of arguments to sell a mouse because there is a very low risk that your buyer will make a purchasing mistake. If people are on your landing page, that’s probably because they need a mouse now, and if you have convincing arguments, you just made the sale.
Scrutiny is a significant factor to take into account when determining the size of your landing page.
On the other hand, a computer costs between $300 to $700 and requires a lot of technical information, like the screen size, the resolution, the processor type, the graphics processor, the wireless type, the RAM, and hard drive memory.Not only your customers will most likely read all the information available and compare that to your competition. But they will also thoroughly scrub your copy to find enough details to convince them that your computer is really better than your competitor.
There is a high risk of error, and both for YOUR protection and the buyer protection, you should be extensively precise in your copy.
You don’t want the buyer to return the laptop because he discovered something after the purchase that was NOT in your product details.
So, high-scrutiny offers like laptops, where there is a higher level of commitment and perceived risk related to the conversion goal, should be done with long landing pages.
The length of your copy depends on the price.
The length of your copy is also a function of the price.
Alternatively, there are also other arguments to help you decide in favor of short or long copy…
Bob Bly, a professional copywriter, speaker, & marketing consultant with over 3 decades of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, & direct response marketing says that the length of your copy will depend on 3 elements:
- The Product: the more benefits & features a product bears, the longer the copy.
- The Audience: Certain prospects want as much information as they can get before making a purchase. This is true of people browsing on the Internet, & especially true with information products.
- The Purpose: What’s the goal? Generating a lead for a service business requires less detail, but an ad that aims to make a sale must overcome every objection the potential buyer may have.
Grade your performance as a copywriter on sales generated by your copy, not on originality.
Robert W. Bly
On the other hand, Joe Sugarman says 2 main factors increase the need for more copy:
- Price point: The higher the price, the more copy required to justify or create the need.
- Unusual Item: The more unusual the product, the more you need to relate that product to the user by clearly demonstrating the benefits.
Read more about Sugerman here…
Michel Fortin sets forth 4 categories of products, with each successive category requiring longer copy:
- Convenience products: Fills an immediate need, low price, low thought, short copy.
- Shopping products: A little higher priced, more thought and opportunity to “shop around,” a little longer copy.
- Specialty products: With exotic goods, luxury cars, expensive jewelry, art, etcetera, longer copy is definitely needed.
- Unsought products: When people have never realized that their lives were incomplete without your product, get ready to write some lengthy copy.
Let’s talk about long copy
Does anyone read those long sales letters that go on and on?
Yes, they do, and for many products, long copy outsells short copy by a large margin. The basic rule of copy length is the same as headlines – as long as necessary, but no longer.
Have you ever seen those really long full-page sales letters from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s & 90’s? You still see them sometimes as magazine advertorials (advertising parading as articles) or direct mail selling. Nowadays, the same long copy is more commonly seen on online sales landing pages that are thousands and thousands of words long.
One of the most important benefits of long copy is that it allows you to answer more objections which eventually can lead to more sales.
Long copy usually opens with a story and specific challenges that make you go, “Hey, that’s me!”
The story is emotionally charged as our pain points are agitated like hell.The solution presented has lists of inclusions, special bonus offers and lots of testimonials showing you how much other people have benefited.
Long copy lets you include more detail about your product (or service) so it really suits unique products & customers who like to have a lot of information before they make a decision.
Long copy lets you tell more of story, which can help you overcome any objections in an engaging way while triggering an emotional response from the reader.
Long copy lets you pack in lots of testimonials to show off the proof of other happy customers. This is especially important if your price is quite high.
If your target audience is really connecting with your message, they will read every word.
Want to see some long copy pages in action?
Click Here, Here & Here
Important tips if you are using long copy:
- Include lots of subheadings so your readers can skim through if they want, jumping in and out of sections without having to read every single word.
- Use lists and different formatting to break the copywriting up and make it more interesting for the eyes.
- Repeat your call to action so your reader doesn’t have to scroll up and down looking for where they can take the next step.
- Use the Dual-Path technique
Now let’s talk about when to use short copy
Don’t be intimidated by the copywriters who tell you that “long copy outperforms short copy every time”. They are stuck in the past, man. Nowadays, consumers don’t have time to go through a long copy if the product is not worth it.
Short copy is best used when the barrier to entry is low (say below $20) or when you’re not asking for payment (it’s free). You’re not asking your reader to sell her soul by handing over all of her personal details. You’re only asking for something simple, such as an email address.
If your campaign is not meant not to stimulate big purchases but to generate leads, then the shorter copy is better. People’s attention span (especially online) is short. Unless you’re asking for significant amounts of time or money, stick with a more concise copy.
https://myadgency.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/tablet-real-estate-landing-page-whats-your-home-worth.jpgIn this landing page for a real estate agency, the customer just wanted to capture prospective buyers’ email address in order to send them more information. I designed a very short above the fold landing page with 2 lines and one field email capture.
This landing page is attracting hundreds of new leads every week…
If you make your copywriting engaging and exciting, people will read it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the same goals with fewer words. The first principle of copywriting is to make your text as short as possible. Only if you can’t do it, then, opt for a longer copy.
Short copy is great for lower priced items that require less persuasion to sell: think convenience products or even things that consumers will shop around for.
Short copy works when you want your customers to join your sales funnel. This is where having shorter stories and more of them can be useful so people don’t have to wade through the entire backstory.
Short copy is great for image-heavy marketing. The words are important but if it’s the images that will really sell your product or service, then a short copy should simply back them up.
Some tips if you’re writing short copy:
- Spend time distilling those messages so you focus on the elements that will connect, engage and motivate.
- Resist the urge to write more.
- Infuse as much personality as possible!
Short copywriting example: method
I want to go back to something I said at the start of this post: “The best one is the one that works.”
Whichever length you choose, make every word count and don’t write a single word more than you need to.
Keep the reader in mind and spend time thinking about how much they need to know to move them forward and achieve the objectives of the piece.
So now it’s over to you. Do you have any strong feelings about long copy or short copy? Save on therapy bills and air them here.
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My name is Xavier Lannes and I have been working as an Internet Marketer for the past 20 years.
I am the CEO of MyAdGency.Com and several other ecommerce websites.
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