Long-form Vs. Short-form copy (which one should I use?)
Far across the land of copywriting and online business a raging battle ensues.
Chaos combs over the entrepreneurial world, the virtual cries of war echo through Facebook Lives and Instagram captions written in all caps.
What is this war being fought over you might ask?
Whether long form copy or short form copy is effective.
And this is what we’ll be discussing in this post.
Pst! This post contains affiliate links! That means I get a commission from any purchases you make (at no extra cost to you). I’ll only recommend dope stuff that i’ve tested and truly find valuable. Scouts honor.
Now, ignoring my somewhat dramatic intro, it is an issue of debate about whether copy needs to be a scrolling collection of testimonials and module descriptions or if a quick “here’s what you need help with, here’s what I got” break down will suffice.
Some experts insist that you need to keep things short and sweet, others insist that you risk losing sales when by not giving the reader enough information.
So who’s correct?
Neither of them.
What is correct? Your analytics.
If you’re watching your conversion rates, listening closely to your audience, and understanding their behavior (like where they drop off in your funnel, what content they interact with more, and what CTA’s catch their attention) then you’ll be able to see if your audience prefers short copy or long copy.
However, once I shortened my Home page copy and Services page copy, I saw an increase in activity (as in more link clicks).
But, you won’t really be able to get an accurate idea about what’s an idea length for your copy if your page isn’t converting at all .
When you’re reading through your copy it should easily answer these questions.
Do I have a compelling, headline that clearly let’s them know the purpose of the page (what problem are you solving and who you’re helping)
Have I addressed their challenge and given them a solution?
Does it speak to them emotionally?
Have I clearly pointed out their next steps? (to buy, to sign up, to check out certain links)
Is it absolutely clear about who I’m helping, what I’m helping with, and how I’m helping them?
If you can confidently check those off then you can start playing with the small details like the copy length.
“Alright, I got that, but really. Can you just tell me if I should make my sales page long or short?”
Okay! Okay! Sheesh.
Understandable, it helps to at least have an idea about when you should start off with long-form copy or short-form. So here are some considerations when deciding.
The famous copywriter Bob Bly describes 3 factors that will (help) determine the length of your copy.
The first one: the purpose.
Looking at the end action you want the reader to take. Some actions are “easy yes’s” and don’t require a lot of text if the offer makes sense to them.
For example, a landing page for a free opt in like this one, won’t need more than a few lines. Webinar or challenge opt in’s might need some more text, but generally you won’t need full out sales page.
If you’re trying to convince someone to give you more than an email address however? You might find yourself investing some time in long-form copy. So for some sales pages and your services page.
Copy and content like emails, web content, and blog articles can really vary depending on your audience.
The second: the audience.
It always seems to come back to knowing your audience, doesn’t it?
If they’re not very familiar with your brand then you’ll probably send up writing longer copy, for example, when a new lead opt in’s for your freebie, the emails in your welcome series might run a bit longer because you’re getting to know each other and establishing trust.
If you were selling something to your course alumni’s or if you had a quick popup offer for your “warm leads” (people who’ve already interacted with your content and business and shown interest) then your copy might not need to be so long.
Will they also have a lot of objections about your offer? Your copy may need to be longer to address those.
Do they already know the basic value of your offer? For example, if you’re a graphic designer targeting 6+ figure business owners who want their website redesigned, they probably already understand the importance of investing in professional services. Your copy won’t need to focus on educating, rather just letting them know why they’d want to work with you specifically.
The third: the offer.
And now we’ve come around to the actual offer itself.
Now, of course price makes a difference but it’s not the only criteria.
Looking back at your audience, you could very well have a premium priced offer but not need a long sales page.
A scenario where this might happen: you have an offer specifically for an audience who’s already worked with you like members who’ve completed your course and want to go to the next level with a group coaching program. You might choose to only send an email and send them directly to a check out page.
That being said, when sending leads to premium priced offers (I’m talking $300+) I’d really plan on having to write long-form copy to make sure you’re really covering the offer’s value, benefits, and addressing objections.
Also, if your offer requires extra steps beyond just purchasing something from you (like an event where they need to separately purchase plane tickets, a subscription that requires monthly payments like a membership, or software that might have a learning curve to it) then your copy might run a little longer then too.
So! Hopefully that helps you get an idea about how long the text should be. Using “copy formula’s” and templates can be extremely helpful with helping you outline the main points of your copy as well.
If you’re staring at your webpage or sales page and just can’t seem to erase the feeling that it’s just too long or wordy, then don’t be afraid to trim it down.
Look for repetitive words, phrases or descriptions.
Remove anything that’s not relevant to the current offer (like side notes about other services you offer).
Do you have an objective or end goal for the page? If not, you might find that your copy is leading all over the place, resulting in it feeling too long or wordy.
Is it formatted for online reading? It might not be the actual text, but more about the layout.
With that said, does your audience prefer long-form, or short-form copy?