One of the biggest questions in copywriting and advertising is whether a long or short sales copy is the way to go. In order to give a reliable response, I started a test with 3682 copies and over 20 industries. The results of this recent study tells us whether a long or short sales copy works generally better but also shows that length alone doesn’t cut it.
Long or Short Sales Copy
In general, it seems to be the quality of the content that wins, not the length of the pitch but if you are looking for a direct answer whether a long or short copy is the way to go, my answer would be long.
To clarify: anything that requires no scrolling or little scrolling (let’s say two to three paragraphs below the fold) is considered short.
Have a look at the following results:
- High quality short sales copy vs. low quality long sales copy: short wins.
- Low quality short vs. low quality long: long wins.
- Low quality short vs. high quality long: long wins.
- High quality short vs. high quality long: long wins.
Longer sales copies seem to be the best choice since they outperformed shorted sales copies over 80% of the time. Now you may ask what is meant with low quality and high quality.
Low & High Quality
Low quality stands for anything that is not assisting the sale such as fillers, repetitive text, no relevant information above the fold (the fold is what you see without scrolling), descriptions talking about things that do not influence the purchasing decision.
High quality stands for testimonials, social proof, and descriptions that mention points that influence the purchasing decision. An example would be the size of the picture frame you are selling, the storage capacity and camera quality of a smartphone and so on.
Long or Short Sales Copy: DOs and DON’Ts
– Do not use fillers. If you do not have much to write about remember that relevant content is better than useless content (high quality short sales copy beats low quality long sales copy).
– If there is a specific point that potential customers value in particular, put it above the fold. Anything important that doesn’t fit without making the page look cramped should go right below the fold and have its own paragraph.
– Many companies add a number of points that really do not say much about a product or service. You are better off using testimonials and social proof. No need to make it long just for the sake of getting length. Testimonials with photos and job title or comments from Facebook pages take up space already and are much more effective.
– Think like a customer and keep it entertaining. If you are bored by too much text, change it up. If you wouldn’t click that buy or submit button, your customers won’t either. Test, test, test! Whether it’s the line spacing, images, the order or paragraphs or other things, test several variations of every sales copy. Then optimize based on bounce rate, average time on site, conversion rates, engagement, or other metrics that are relevant to you.
– Short sales copies do work, just not all the time. If you believe that people don’t want to read read a lot but they would rather prefer to get only the necessary information and a short sales copy, focus your testing on videos and images. Images typically perform best on the left side for landing pages in languages that are read from left to right and can influence the conversion rate. Short sales copies are great if customers are quick decision makers and typically go through a short sales funnel right away.
– Longer sales copies are ideal for technical products and high value merchandise that requires a detailed explanation. Longer copy is required so customers can better understand the merchandise and learn why they do need it. The Longer copy is useful to present more reasons why consumers pay a premium price for a product.
Everything needs to be tested. That said, one of the many reasons to try a long sales copy first (especially if you don’t have a video) is that it might allow you to address more potential concerns and therefore prevents higher drop-off rates. In the end, the job of the sales copy is to convince the customer to buy or submit information which includes overcoming potential objections. Even if you have a high quality video that does the same job, our test has shown that long pages with video perform better than short pages with video (provided that the information is useful).
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