Long or short sales letters?

36 replies
Greetings fellow warriors

I have a question I need sorted. Is the long sales letter dead? The ones selling e-books with white background in times roman with red headlines that you have to scroll a long way down to see all of?

The opinion of most online mentors I have seen is that it is live and kicking. That a sales copy "can't be too long, but too boring".

However the feedback I get from PPC experts, SEO companies and copywriters is that long copy is long dead in most instances. Exceptions being complicated products like Kindles, and internet marketing.

They argue predominantly that the message has to be conveyed fast, short and to the point not to loose the customer. And the site has to look modern, with different emphasis on content and how it is presented.

Is that true?
#letters #long #sales #short
  • Profile picture of the author Fredrik Aurdal
    If you were to sell your house, would you describe to the buyer how awesome it is with just 100-200 words. Don't think so.

    The reason for writing a sales letter is to get your point across, without boring the reader. The only answer on how long your sales letter should be, is how long it has to be.

    A great resource for writing sales letters 12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Formula | Small Business Marketing Ideas, Best Practices and Expert Advice
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  • Profile picture of the author JoeDRL
    Then again it depends on your market.
    On the warrior forum, it seems like the best performing sales pages are rather short ones and it is understandable when you consider the price point of WSOs (5$ to 17$ on average).

    Who wants to read a sales letter even longer than the product itself?

    Not me...
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  • Profile picture of the author Prashant_W
    There's no such thing as long copy. There's only boring copy.
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  • Profile picture of the author scottgallagher
    Frederik says it. The answer I've learned over the years from others and to be true, it needs to be as long as it needs to be.

    Answer the questions, over come the objectives, describe the benefits.

    The 'short' sales letter you describe is accomplished by formatting.

    Use headlines to create the story while skimming.
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  • Profile picture of the author brunom
    It's all about the message. If your message is short, don't make it long.

    Always prefer impact, straight to the point sales letters. If you're filling it the reader will quickly notice how you're repeating yourself.
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  • Profile picture of the author superowid
    As long as no repeat, it will still be considered as short.
    By the way people loves video more today!
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  • Profile picture of the author Danielsk7
    As long as it's not boring or too long then yes you can get away with it. To be honest I think people are leaning more toward video these days. I mean if you were to have the same exact website side by side one with a video and one with an article I would choose the video. Given that I have the option skip through it a little. Not that I do that all the time but it nice to have it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    One of the greatest copywriters alive doesn't think that
    long sales letters are dead. Look at the length of this one:

    Bencivenga 100 Seminar

    -Ray Edwards
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  • I think ideally the overall message is conveyed quickly at the top of the page, so the potential customer doesn't need to read all through the page trying to discern what your product or service is really all about. If you grab the reader's attention right from the start most people will not be averse to reading further for more details. I know that is certainly true from my own perspective when I am acting as a customer and not a seller.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil AM
    Originally Posted by Bjarne Viken View Post

    ...
    However the feedback I get from PPC experts, SEO companies and copywriters is that long copy is rubbish in most instances.
    ...
    Fixed your post.

    Copy needs to engage. As soon as you've lost that engagement, you've lost the sale. A good 300-word letter will sell better than a 3000-word bad one, but a good 3000-word letter will out-pull it almost every time. It's not how many words you use - it's what you're using them to say.

    The moral: Write until you've made every argument. Then stop.

    That said, it doesn't have to LOOK like an IM sales letter. Success Chef is a good example of what you can do with the format.
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  • Profile picture of the author wenzel777
    I think Mr. Kennedy said that sales copy should be "as long as it needs to be"...errr..or something like that. I'm a big fan of longer sales copy, but then again, I'm a copywriter, and I do appreciate the nostalgia of some of those great, long-copy sales pages. I see more and more marketers using video and recording software to create a long, 20-minute salespage through video. Perhaps, it's not about how big it is, but how it is delivered. I think the online culture has changed. Most readers are browsing. Few are willing to dig deep into something long, (but then again, that's not true for me). I think delivery is more important than length. Have you targeted/identified your market? Have you touched any of those emotional hot buttons? How are your testimonials? Guarantee? And above all else, don't worry about making your sales page too long or too short...that's what testing is for : ) Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Raybould
    Copy should be exactly as long as it
    takes to make the sale. Not a word
    longer.

    No, copy is not dead. No, copy will
    never die. Not until the base desires
    and wants of the human animal fade
    away or fundamentally alter.

    Until then, it's business as usual.

    As technology has evolved, we're seeing
    more long-form salesletters delivered as
    videos... but that's all it is. A salesletter
    as a video.

    Lesson: Don't listen to PPC companies
    or SEO "experts" about things that are
    outside of their own area.

    And seriously, if a copywriter told you
    that long copy is dead, run a mile from
    the guy and be sure to never ever work
    with him.

    Ever.

    -David Raybould
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    • Profile picture of the author Bjarne Viken
      Thanks for your feedback guys. It is always humbling to see people take the time to share their insights.

      Maybe I should have clarified my question, but at least in my mind it is about two different styles as much as it is about length. I know that Amazon has long sales copy to sell their Kindle, and it works because you quite frankly need that much information to buy it. (At least I needed it.)

      So I guess my question could be rephrased into the traditional style with white background and red headlines where you focus on bonuses, guarantee's and three PS's or a more modern look? (Thanks Neil for that successchef link, an interesting blend of long and modern.)

      The sense I get is that we, the internet marketers, now, more than 10 years ago, have to change the way we address sellers, by coming across more professional not only in the content that we present but also how it comes across.

      David made some nice points about not listening to people that are talking out of a different set of skills. The problem is however that I am advised by a copywriter of going short, when it really does not benefit her business. She argues based on what she has tested and measured, the only exception being internet marketing products.

      With PPC I was adviced by someone that offered to be payed based on net profit. They argued short. Another PPC company I spoke to were more vague, but said that the shorter more professional looking sites outperformed the traditional looking ones.

      To make this a little bit more difficult. I get the impression that many of you agree the copy should be as long as it needs to be to make the sale. When we make that assessment are we thinking logically or emotionally? Personally I agree with it, but at the same time is not a buying decision a highly emotional one?

      If it is, and people are changing to wanting things fast, it might be better to split the sales message over several pages.

      Does anyone have any personal split-testing experience with this?
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  • Profile picture of the author casablancas
    Anytime I'm directed to a sales page I'm put off instantly. Video is best IMO.
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  • Profile picture of the author ajrocks
    Short is best, work and rework your content to get your complete message out in as little screen space as possible. People have been trained to skim read when they surf the net. You need to capture their attention, tell them what you do and give them a value proposition, tell them what to do in a glance.
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  • Profile picture of the author Joan Altz
    The CORRECT answer to your question is that YOU need to TEST and FIND OUT for YOURSELF.....duh.

    Testing is everything my friend and will help you to dispel all false claims and myths.


    Originally Posted by Bjarne Viken View Post

    Greetings fellow warriors

    I have a question I need sorted. Is the long sales letter dead? The ones selling e-books with white background in times roman with red headlines that you have to scroll a long way down to see all of?

    The opinion of most online mentors I have seen is that it is live and kicking. That a sales copy "can't be too long, but too boring".

    However the feedback I get from PPC experts, SEO companies and copywriters is that long copy is long dead in most instances. Exceptions being complicated products like Kindles, and internet marketing.

    They argue predominantly that the message has to be conveyed fast, short and to the point not to loose the customer. And the site has to look modern, with different emphasis on content and how it is presented.

    Is that true?
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    ima gunna keep this short!

    The more you TELL, the more you SELL.

    Simple really.
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    • Profile picture of the author Neil AM
      Michel Fortin's the guy behind Success Chef, and this is what he had to say about the copy format he's using:

      What’s Going On and What’s Going to Change | Michel Fortin on Copywriting, Marketing, Business, and Life

      It's buried in the post about halfway down. He calls it 'compartmentalised copy' - kind of a hybrid between the short, easily-scannable copy and getting everything you want to say on the page.

      I don't have personal split-testing experience of this, but Michel's one of the best copywriters around at the moment, so I'd trust him to know what he's talking about.

      The style's definitely very popular for tech companies at the moment, and I'd love to try testing one to see how it performs in comparison to more old-school letters. Need to find a client who's willing to be a test case first, though

      In the meantime, here's some data from 37 Signals. I don't think all of it's significant, but it's a start:

      Behind the scenes: A/B testing part 3: Finalé - (37signals)
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarafantrys
    Long or short sales letters?
    Interesting subject. I guess length is not everything, and success is strongly depending on design and presentaion. I tend to skip long sections and read only bold text, but I do pay attention to quality of design.
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  • Profile picture of the author Britt Malka
    Should a bridge be long or short?

    I don't remember where I read that question in comparison with copywriting, but the answer is the same.

    The bridge has to be long enough to stretch from one site of the shore to the other, and the sales letter has to be long enough to convey its message and close the sale.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigGameHunter
      Originally Posted by Britt Malka View Post

      Should a bridge be long or short?

      I don't remember where I read that question in comparison with copywriting, but the answer is the same.

      The bridge has to be long enough to stretch from one site of the shore to the other, and the sales letter has to be long enough to convey its message and close the sale.
      This is the perfect answer to the question. We think to much like marketers and not enough like consumers.

      I was researching a particular rifle the other day for my son and was doing some comparisons. My research came down to something as simple as not all rifles would shoot all ammunition even though it was the same caliber.

      The ammunition page I found was over 20 pages long. My son spent over $200 buying ammunition that fit his gun, to do what he wanted it to do and for reloading supplies.

      The page didn't look like a sales page. It offered answers to a question and happened to have products for sale on the page.

      Build the page to answer the question!
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  • Profile picture of the author BlueXephos
    Banned
    To write an effective sales letter keep in mind to create a short and interesting headline and try to demonstrate how your products will improve the customer's life.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    This is a hard one because you can never know which strategy can increase your sales.

    I know of people who have their own product online. They do well with just video and audio. Others have small sales letters and many others have long ones and still do well.

    What I would suggest you do is to test all 3 out and see which one brings you the most money and sales. Just because one strategy works for one person, it may not work out for yourself. So test, test, and test.
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  • Profile picture of the author carlpicot
    The only real way to test is to make the sales letter as long as you feel comfortable with and just split test - as some warriors have stated.

    As long as you format it properly so the sub headings draw the reader in so they can skim read and put all the p.s's in etc you should be ok.

    I feel the really old sales letters are amongst the best on the web - but the modern ones look good as well.

    Personally I would opt for the video sales page any day - but that's just my opinion.

    Just do it and test would be my best advice !

    cheers

    xxxxcarlxxxx
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  • Profile picture of the author tess47
    I suppose I am in the minority here - I absolutely HATE long sales pages, regardless of whether they're boring I like information delivered in a way that gets directly to the point without fluff and filler! Oh well, it's good to be different
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  • Profile picture of the author carl preza
    If you can engage the reader, it does not matter how long it is. You can split test to determine the highest epc.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    Long or short sales letters?
    As long as they need to be.

    As long as they need to be to direct the reader into a direct call to action.

    Obviously, if you're offering a $1 info product you won't need 20 pages to justify the purchase price.

    On the other hand, if you have an information product or a marketing course priced at $2,000 - you'll need a lot more sales copy to justify the asking price.

    The copy in both instances needs to be long enough to overcome every objection to making the sale.

    Warmest regards,


    Mark Andrews...
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  • Profile picture of the author larry1113
    You got the answer already man =)

    It can't be too long it can only be too boring. In fact, sometimes it needs to be long to be able to properly convey the message.

    Think about sales videos and the sales scripts that come with them. For a low ticket item, a typical sales video is like 20-30 minutes. For high ticket items, sales videos can last 45 minutes and more.

    What's important is that each line of the sales letter makes you want to read further.
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  • Profile picture of the author WinstonTian
    Long, condensed copy always beats short,
    condensed copy. However, if you talking
    about long as in "for the sake of being
    long and rambling on", then it's not going
    to do better than short condensed copy.

    Long copy is essentially a series of short
    condensed copy as extensions to make the
    proposition more justifiable.

    So the qns doesn't make sense.

    Copy should be long enough to persuade,
    short enough to cut the crap, useless parts
    and "self-talk"...

    Winston Tian

    Winston Tian
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  • Profile picture of the author mlord10
    The most important thing is that the content is engaging, & easy on the eyes. Personally, I prefer shorter sales letters, and in many cases video is even better.

    I know of several high converting affiliate products that have a video sales letter, where 90% of the content is delivered through video, accompanied with a few paragraphs & a buy it now button
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  • Profile picture of the author atlantarobin
    I don't know where anyone ever got the idea that LONG was better. Short. Short. Short.

    Short is better.

    Short.
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