Bullet points or paragraphs?

by CopyAcolyte 24 replies
If you had a limited amount of space, which is more effective?

Assuming both are benefit-rich, bullet points or paragraphs?

I suppose bullet points captures the scanners while paragraph copy suck people into a story.

Or is there more to it?

That said, I'd appreciate your opinions or test results on this.
#copywriting #bullet #paragraphs #points
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    • Odd numbers of bullet points
    • 7 is good
    • Benefit driven
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  • Profile picture of the author ronywilliam
    I'd suggest bullet points as they are easy to read and attract more attention of a visitor..
    Paragraph on the other side looks like a story and people tend to skip that part..
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  • Profile picture of the author uswah
    bullet points should be used asdeviate attention towards the text
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  • Profile picture of the author KarimPPC
    when in doubt always bulletpoints
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    You'll almost always accomplish more with bullets regardless of space restriction. Think of it like this, each powerful bullet could be the topic for a paragraph unto itself. You can cover as many broad points with bullets as the number of bullets you write. In other words, each bullet can represent a completely different idea where a proper paragraph follows a single train of thought.
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  • Profile picture of the author tobyR
    numbers ie bullet points work well, thats what I'd use
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  • Profile picture of the author CopyAcolyte
    I see.

    But what about Ogilvy's angle, in that your real target market will respond to your compelling headline and read whatever it is you have to say about the offer.

    So the ones that are actually qualified leads and will respond are ones that will eat up the copy that you write, in paragraph form or not.

    I suppose you'll get more scanners that glance over your bullet points, but the ones that get sucked into your little paragraphs with benefit stories are more likely to respond.

    At least that's how the reasoning goes in my head.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    Halbert (of course) had a great newsletter about this.

    It really depends on a lot of factors. Primarily, can you make your bullet points compelling? If so, you really can't have too many.

    Here's Gary's take on it.

    The Gary Halbert Letter

    Pretty neat how he shows you what the book actually said and how he spun the info into compelling "gotta know what he's talking about" bullets.

    Personally, I always use a combination of paragraphs and bullets. Some products rely on bullets/curiosity more than others.

    Anytime someone talks about bullets and the current generation of copywriters, Ben Settle comes to mind.

    This ad is almost completely made up of bullet points.

    The Copywriting Grab Bag

    If you pay attention, even a lot of his paragraphs have that zippy, curiosity inducing feel to them.

    Like...

    How to make "technical" facts about your product sound fun and fascinating... 4 things every copywriter MUST know about design... A secret "back door" way to break into the direct mail industry... When you should NOT write in a smooth, "conversational" tone (and instead use stilted, boring "corporate speak")... and even...
    And then boom, subhead, a call to action and then right back into the bullets without missing a step.

    That being said, it really does depend on what you're selling, your appeal, your personal style, etc.

    Hope that helps.

    -Scott
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    Over $30 Million In Marketing Data And A Decade Of Consistently Generating Breakthrough Results - Ask How My Unique Approach To Copy Typically Outsells Traditional Ads By Up To 29x Or More...

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  • Profile picture of the author CopyAcolyte
    Good thoughts so far, but no one addressed this point:

    "But what about Ogilvy's angle, in that your real target market will respond to your compelling headline and read whatever it is you have to say about the offer.

    So the ones that are actually qualified leads and will respond are ones that will eat up the copy that you write, in paragraph form or not."

    Am I wrong in thinking this?
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  • Profile picture of the author cur
    I believe that bullet points are better because they will force your readers' eye to see the sales points broken down in fast, easy to read language. You can simplify long sentences. Eliminate extraneous verbiage. They are more forceful, like commands.



    I believe that bullet points are better
    • they will force your readers' eye to see the sales points broken down in fast, easy to read language.
    • You can simplify long sentences.
    • Eliminate extraneous verbiage.
    • They are more forceful, like commands.

    What do you think?
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    • Profile picture of the author CopyAcolyte
      Originally Posted by cur View Post

      I believe that bullet points are better because they will force your readers' eye to see the sales points broken down in fast, easy to read language. You can simplify long sentences. Eliminate extraneous verbiage. They are more forceful, like commands.



      I believe that bullet points are better
      • they will force your readers' eye to see the sales points broken down in fast, easy to read language.
      • You can simplify long sentences.
      • Eliminate extraneous verbiage.
      • They are more forceful, like commands.

      What do you think?
      I think bullet points can be easier to spot and read, but I still believe that the people that are really interested in what you have to offer (by way of your headline) will read paragraphs that explain benefit through story.
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  • Profile picture of the author rainmaker4u
    I think it depends on the product, the target market, whether you're writing for the Web or direct mail and maybe how good you are at writing...
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  • Profile picture of the author DougHughes
    I'm going to say it depends. Media-to-market message - bullets don't always work everywhere.

    In tests for consumer products, I've found that men typically respond better to bullets than women. I respond better to bullets. In fact I'll buy things sometimes just to get the information in one or two bullets.

    But, in my experience, and it could be different than yours women seem to have more patience and read paragraphs. I can't account for this. Maybe they are seeking more in depth information they hope will be revealed buried in a paragraph. I don't know but after testing several hard sell bullets that work great on men against different strategies with women that outpulled these are my conclusions.
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    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Dean
      Originally Posted by DougHughes View Post

      In tests for consumer products, I've found that men typically respond better to bullets than women. I respond better to bullets. In fact I'll buy things sometimes just to get the information in one or two bullets.

      But, in my experience, and it could be different than yours women seem to have more patience and read paragraphs.
      This would match my intuition, although I've never tested it. And it also matches my experience, my girlfriend is a very thorough shopper.

      That said it can be good to give women talking points to discuss with friends, so you should find a way to highlight strong sales arguments in a sound-byte form.

      Cheers!
      Stephen
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  • Profile picture of the author LemonSqueezy
    Why can't you use both, usually you repeat important attributes of a product. Use bullet points to state what benefits are and then write a longer description in paragraph form below it. You capture attention with bullet points and then suck them in with a paragraph for time investment.
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  • Profile picture of the author lemonarian
    I'm with Squeezy.

    It isn't a question of either or. Of course it depends on a lot of things and varies from ad to ad, but typically a paragraphed "story" section accomplishes an entirely different goal than the bullet section.
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  • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
    Great thread!

    Nowhere does this come up more frequently than in the world of catalog copywriting, where every single word and piece of punctuation MUST pay for its placement. So in light of that, here's the formula I found usually delivered the most profit per square inch:
    • Grab your prospect by the eyeballs with a short, powerful headline.
    • Use an eyebrow (a line of copy above the headline) or mustache (a line of copy below the headline) to lead into or expand upon your headline.
    • Write a brief paragraph lead paragraph that expands on and supports your headline.
    • Follow that with a brief series of powerful, benefit-oriented bullets.
    • Next, use a powerful subhead to introduce a final brief paragraph that emphasizes a strong call to action.
    If space is so tight you absolutely MUST choose between the bullets or paragraphs, there's one sure-fire way to make the call. And frankly, it's the only way you're going to know for certain what works best for your product, niche, prospect, etc. Which is why it's Direct Response Marketing Rule #1.

    TEST THEM BOTH.

    Hope this helps!

    Len
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    Len Bailey
    Copywriter/Consultant
    Feel free to connect on LinkedIn or Twitter

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  • Profile picture of the author CopyAcolyte
    Here is an article that underscores the effectiveness of any length of copy that is interesting and relevant:

    Long copy vs. short copy. Who is right?
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Given the choice compelling copy will win every time - I did say compelling.
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  • Profile picture of the author JerrickYeoh
    Make use of it in correct situation.
    Bullet point is good but do not use it all of the time. Paragraph may use sub headline to categorise it.
    If your writing style always the same, i believe people will getting bored with is as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author phoenikz
    Make a variation of it regarding the point and the layout.
    Just make it comfortable to the reader/ user
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    • Profile picture of the author ASCW
      If you want to become a bullet master (or want to at least know what the hell you are doing)

      I suggest you start here...

      The Gary Halbert Letter

      Read that issue and do the homework.

      Because for me it was the turning point - When things started falling into place and I began to really "get it".

      Copying Carlton's bullets - and then tracking down 500 more and copying those was one of the biggest copywriting "level-ups" of my career.

      Not only will you get a "million-dollar imprint" but that imprint will go beyond just writing bullets and leak into the rest of your copywriting (in a very good way).

      Also an extra added bonus -in addition to being able to write powerful copy - you will also get a swipe file of strong bullets. Because you will have 560 top-notch bullets you get to keep forever.
      Personally, after I finished them all, I put stars on the index cards with the strongest bullets. I keep those in a separate pile.

      I use them to this day to kick-start my noggin and inspire strong bullets (and sometimes headlines).

      !Andy!
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      Site being revamped.

      If you want help with copy stuff, pm me.

      Cool.

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  • Profile picture of the author MelJames
    Since you've mentioned limited space, bullet points are best! Bullet points with strong, captivating words, than is!

    Originally Posted by ronywilliam View Post

    I'd suggest bullet points as they are easy to read and attract more attention of a visitor..
    Paragraph on the other side looks like a story and people tend to skip that part..
    Originally Posted by CopyAcolyte View Post

    If you had a limited amount of space, which is more effective?

    Assuming both are benefit-rich, bullet points or paragraphs?

    I suppose bullet points captures the scanners while paragraph copy suck people into a story.

    Or is there more to it?

    That said, I'd appreciate your opinions or test results on this.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4073998].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author naomishalom
    Obviously Bullet points i think or gues...
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