Short or long copy?

by wartest 23 replies
Hi, I've been led to believe that attention spans for emails, landing pages, etc. are about 8 seconds so shorter is better. But, I've recently received a number of pitches from various markets (particularly fitness, supplements and copywriting) that seem to go on forever. Long emails, long videos, long landing pages--I know I can't get through them.

So, which do you see working? Long or short copy?
#copywriting #copy #long #short
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  • Profile picture of the author mrdeedreid
    IMO, it depends.

    You have to catch people's attention in 8 seconds no matter the length of copy.

    - Landing/squeeze page: use short copy to generate leads
    - Email: use longer copy because...

    ...by over delivering content to your leads you'll:
    1. weed out the tire kickers
    2. retain those who are more serious about finding a solution to their problem
    3. subsequently, they'll be more likely buy your stuff and...
    4. you'll stand out from other email marketers who are all sending out shorter, potentially less informative and valuable content

    So...
    - capture pages - short.
    - emails, videos (content) - long

    Reid
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  • Profile picture of the author TrueStory
    In all honesty, it really depends on your authority and relationship with the reader. I love reading Jon Morrow (and his long posts) because he's an authoritative figure for me. At one point I bought his course. So my relationship is strong with his company.

    Also, depends on your market and what you write about. What is your topic?
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  • Profile picture of the author outscrape
    One way to get started would be to check your competition - do they use long or short posts? Long or short emails? What parts of the funnel use detailed, long-form sales pages ?

    Talent imitates, genius steals.
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  • Profile picture of the author darkclaw3000
    I've stopped asking this question after learning how writing good copy works.

    Like what mrdeedreid said above, you'll throw out the tirekickers plus others

    When you're writing copy you gotta be clear on who you're targeting. If your target is clear, write your message JUST for that target. He will resonate and relate, and wanna know more about how you can solve his problem.. and he WILL read.

    Just because you've "spoken" to him on a personal level on the headline.

    For eg, if you're writing to someone who wanna lose weight, but always busy, and sometimes lazy.. wants an easy way out, maybe your headline copy will be: "2-Step Method To Eliminate 50lbs of Excess Weight In 7 Days - Without ANY Exercise or Diet Program!"

    (I'm just exaggerating) That someone who wanna lose weight WILL wanna know more. Because it's exactly what they wanted. Now the copy just have to tell them more about it.

    Joe Sugarman said this: "The purpose of the headline does nothing else other than to get the reader to read the next line. The 2nd line does nothing else than to get the reader to read the next line."

    Ok not exactly those words but that's what he said. Lol.

    I've read a lot of copy and usually the BEST copy, the one that really made me whip my card out and spend hundreds on things, are the long ones.

    It's really not about the length, but what you're writing on the copy.

    Cheers
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    You can see what the best minds in copywriting have said about this question in the sidebar on this page:

    http://www.yudkin.com/long-copy.htm

    There's lots more in the main article... but it's kind of long.

    Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author salmonjames21
    As far as I think there's no such thing short and long as long as it is captive, engaging and right on the dart. For instance people will watch movie for 2 hours even and they will simply scroll down to a video in the facebook too. So in order to win the audience, you need to be creative and you need to come out of the shell.

    Landing page, as you are mentioning one thing. It's imperative that you should be brief and to the point and that's all.
    Whereas in an email marketing you need to tell so you need to be vigilant.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    I was always taught to think of sales copy like a marriage proposal from or to a partner you've never met.

    If you were going to marry someone and the only thing you had to go on was the copy from their letters you would want those letters to be pretty responsive and very long and descriptive.

    Would you marry someone who is shallow or deep?

    Best regards,

    Ozi
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    • Profile picture of the author markhimeb
      Ozi, the problem is this: Long copies are always repeating themselves. In a long copy you always find parts that appear multiple times, plus they also appear in other copies almost identical.

      So, to use your metaphor, would you marry someone who would make you a marriage proposal and repeat himself/herself 3 or 4 times or would you think he is --at least-- insane?

      Would you marry someone who would urge you to reply in 48 hours?
      Would you say yes if he was referring to Testimonials from his previous marriages?

      I want to say that, although your ideas is really tempting, in many ways a copy is --and should be-- different from marriage proposals.

      If the copy contains 10 times the same thing ("Order now") or is full of arrogant statements ("the best product", "the one you really need to make money", "all you need to get fit"), then it better be short. To reply the initial question, a good copy should be as long as needed to show the prospect that the product promoted contains what he needs to fulfill one of his needs. If this could be done shortly, then there is no reason to make it long.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisBa
    I think it depends on the audience. I do agree with you - I get bored of the long ones.

    IMO always split test and see what works best for you and your campaign.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    I know of a mother who's forever complaining that her 10-year old daughter has no focus... The kids gets easily distracted when it's time to do homework, chores and such stuff. Really easy. She can stand still and completely forget about the world when she's reading some novel with cats as characters, when she plays she can do it for hours, forgetting to eat, etc.

    Prospects are the same: they are easily distracted from reading things that don't interest them; can read Moby Dick, War and Peace and such in one sitting.

    So, instead of asking how long your copy should be, ask: Who are my prospects, what keeps them up at night, and talk to them about how your product/service gets them more and better sleep. If, in order to tell them that completely, you need 142 words, use only 142 words; if you need 14,362 words, use 14,362 words, not one more, not one less.

    Originally Posted by wartest View Post

    Hi, I've been led to believe that attention spans for emails, landing pages, etc. are about 8 seconds so shorter is better. But, I've recently received a number of pitches from various markets (particularly fitness, supplements and copywriting) that seem to go on forever. Long emails, long videos, long landing pages--I know I can't get through them.

    So, which do you see working? Long or short copy?
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  • I've noticed that certain markets love really short copy...and some longer.

    my click through rates skyrocket on some short mails compared to longer ones.

    but it's more about the appeal...than the length.

    when you strike the right appeal...they read and they click.

    EVERY TIME.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alain Schärer
    Good copy is like a woman's dress. Long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep it interesting.
    It really depends on how much YOUR CUSTOMER knows about your product. The more he knows, the shorter the copy.
    Also called "Customer Awarness" (Derek Halpern)
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    • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
      Originally Posted by Alain Schärer View Post

      Also called "Customer Awarness" (Derek Halpern)
      While I'm sure Mr. Halpern wouldn't mind people believing he came up with a decades old principle of direct response, the person who deserves credit for both the concept and the levels of awareness is Eugene Schwartz.
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      Andrew Gould

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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by Alain Schärer View Post

      Good copy is like a woman's dress. Long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep it interesting.
      It really depends on how much YOUR CUSTOMER knows about your product. The more he knows, the shorter the copy.
      Also called "Customer Awarness" (Derek Halpern)
      What about those of us who are completely uninterested with the length of a woman's dress?

      That's the problem with sexist tropes - kinda disregards multiple markets and assume only one is worth speaking to.
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  • This is one of those questions that's not really a question.

    You asked "which do you see working? Long or short copy?"

    It's not even a valid question. There are different types of copy, so it doesn't make any sense to ask, "which is better, short or long copy?" What works for one type of copy doesn't work for another.

    The craft called 'copywriting' encompasses everything from PPC advertisements to sales pitches for $5000 products. There is no way to generalize about a field that diverse. When you're writing a sidebar Facebook ad, then obviously, short copy is better: if you write anything beyond the word count limit, then the ad won't even run. If you're writing a sales letter for a $2000 coaching program, then long copy is generally better: anybody who is interested enough to invest $2000 in training, is probably going to want to know a little about what you're offering. The fact that 'most people won't read the letter' doesn't matter in this case, because the people who don't care enough to read a few pages aren't potential customers anyway.

    Another thing about long copy: it's not really there with the intent that everybody is going to read every word. The idea is that they will read some of it, and then when they're interested enough, they'll scroll down to the bottom to see what it costs. Different people need different amounts of information to decide to buy something. The people who are sold after 200 words will usually scroll down the page to click the buy button. The people who need 5000 words to convince them, will not be buying at all if you only have 200 words on the page. So longer copy lets you get both types of customers.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Originally Posted by Andy The Copywriter View Post

      This is one of those questions that's not really a question.

      You asked "which do you see working? Long or short copy?"

      It's not even a valid question. There are different types of copy, so it doesn't make any sense to ask, "which is better, short or long copy?" What works for one type of copy doesn't work for another.


      Exactly!

      As If everyone is selling the same product/service to the same traffic/demographic.
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  • Frankly now with everyone using smartphones I can't see many people reading shitload of a long copy.
    I'd say if it's a written sales letter short ones are more smartphone friendly.
    I mean if you make it long, it has to be very very good for somebody to read it on their smartphone.
    I sometimes have pages that have only one scroll down when using desktop, but people telling me it looks very long on smartphones.
    With videos its a bit different cause its more suitable for smartphones.
    So if its a good VSL people do watch it.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      How many bad short ones do you think people read?

      Originally Posted by Alex Leizerovich View Post

      Frankly now with everyone using smartphones I can't see many people reading shitload of a long copy.
      I'd say if it's a written sales letter short ones are more smartphone friendly.
      I mean if you make it long, it has to be very very good for somebody to read it on their smartphone.
      I sometimes have pages that have only one scroll down when using desktop, but people telling me it looks very long on smartphones.
      With videos its a bit different cause its more suitable for smartphones.
      So if its a good VSL people do watch it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Originally Posted by Alex Leizerovich View Post

      Frankly now with everyone using smartphones I can't see many people reading shitload of a long copy.
      Then you'd conclude you should drop paper mail and go digital only.

      Well local businesses still invest more into direct mail
      than any other form of advertising.

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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    The debate shouldn't be about short copy vs. long copy, at all.
    It should be about interesting copy vs. boring copy.

    If I'm interested in what you're saying, I'll read 10 pages... If I'm bored with what you're saying, I won't read 10 sentences.
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    • Profile picture of the author Diana S
      Originally Posted by SARubin View Post

      The debate shouldn't be about short copy vs. long copy, at all.
      It should be about interesting copy vs. boring copy.

      If I'm interested in what you're saying, I'll read 10 pages... If I'm bored with what you're saying, I won't read 10 sentences.
      I'd like to expand on this a little: Have anyone ever heard of the inverted pyramid style of writing? The most important information should be at the top, which may or may not entice a user to keep reading. However, the purpose of continuing past that point and creating long copy is to provide the most complete set of information for the interested user.

      For example, if I'm searching for a guide on teeth whitening on my dentist's website, I don't just need to know why I can benefit from it and why I should trust my dentist to do it. I also need to know the costs, risks, etc., so that the subsequent consultation can skip straight to the personalized details.

      I learned this useful tip (and others) in this article: Must-Have Checklist to Creating Valuable Content
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    Have anyone ever heard of the inverted pyramid style of writing?
    Of course. The inverted pyramid is the traditional format for newspaper news writing. It's what you learn in News Writing 101.

    This style evolved so that editors would be able to snip the story at any point after the first paragraph and the essential facts (who, what, when, where and why) would remain intact.

    I have never heard of any good reasons to use this format in copywriting (as opposed to news writing or other article writing).

    Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author uitechsol
    Well it depends on the type of Goods,Mostly People like to read the short copies and ignore the long ones because of the time consuming and boring element.But in both the cases the copy can be made persuasive by using pictures and graphs etc.
    However,useless material should be discarded and the most important message should be given first.

    longer copies can be made persuasive by making its Main line more interesting,to the point and catchy.Its just that most of the readers decide it from the headline weather the rest of the content is worth reading or not
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