The long vs. short copy debate has been going on for a long time in marketing and copywriting circles. Short copy adherents maintain that we’re in the digital age where people’s attention span is very short, so the shorter you make your copy, the higher your chances of getting their attention.
On the other hand, supporters of long copy believe that prospective customers who have a genuine interest in your product (or service) will always want more information (not less) about it to help them make an informed decision. Therefore, the longer your copy is, the more product information you’ll be able to provide to persuade them to buy.
These two schools of thought are both right, but they’re based on general assumptions. That’s because both copies offer unique benefits, and each of them is applicable in different situations. So, the one that works for you at any given time is the best one.
Let’s discuss long and short copies in detail, so you can understand their benefits, examples, when to use them, and how to write each style effectively:
A long copy (also known as long-form copy) is any written copy that contains 2000 words or more.
This type of content provides detailed information about a product, which comes in handy, especially during online purchases where prospects can’t touch or test-drive the products they’re interested in or even speak to a sales representative face-to-face.
Different concerns and objections often pop up in the heads of people when they’re considering a new offer. For instance, a potential customer may not:
- Understand why a product is very expensive.
- Understand how a product works or benefits them.
- Trust products from a company they’ve never heard of before.
It’s your responsibility as a copywriter to identify these objections, address them in your copy, clear any doubts they may have, and persuade them to buy your product.
Benefits of a Long Copy
Allows You to Include More Product Details
One of the benefits of writing a long copy is that it allows you to include lots of information about your product. The more details you provide, the more questions and concerns you’ll be able to answer from prospects. This greatly helps to neutralize their anxieties and fears and puts them in the buying mode.
Generally, expensive products require more words to fully explain their selling points and persuade potential customers to buy than low-priced products that everyone can afford.
Allows You to Tell a Story
Another key benefit of a lengthy copy is that it gives you all the space you need to tell a story that your readers can relate to before offering a solution to their problem.
If you’ve read different types of long copies, you’ve probably noticed that they all begin with an emotionally charged story that leaves you nodding in agreement as you read on. Such personal stories help to trigger an emotional response from readers and help to make your content more engaging and interesting.
Allows You to Include Lots of Customer Testimonials
Long copy also allows you to include lots of testimonials from satisfied and happy customers, which is very important for neutralizing the concerns of prospects and persuading them to buy.
Many potential customers want to know how the product they want to buy worked for somebody else before they commit their hard-earned money to it. And long copy is the powerful tool you need to bring prospects who are sitting on the fence closer to making a purchase.
To increase the credibility of your customer testimonials, make sure they clearly explain a customer’s problems and how your product helped solve them. Also, if you can get past customers to send you their names, geographical locations, photos, and job titles, it will go a long way in backing up their written words.
Alternatively, you can ask them to record videos speaking honestly about their problems and how your product helped change their lives for their better, and send them to you to include in your copy.
Long Copy Examples
Here are different examples of long copy content to help you understand what they are:
- Detailed blog posts
- Sales pages
- Case studies
- White papers
- How-to guides
- Interviews with industry experts
- Direct mail letters
So, when is it right to use a long copy?
When to Use a Long Copy
Here are the different scenarios where a long copy performs best:
Because people tend to have more concerns and questions when they’re buying a new product, it’s advisable to use a long copy when introducing it in the market. That way, you’ll be able to provide prospects with detailed information about your product to help them understand it better.
Highly Priced Products
Products with a high price tag like new cars or houses also sell more when they’re accompanied by a long copy.
Because of the large amount of money involved, you need to explain in detail the important features of your product and how they’ll make the life of a prospective client better. Doing so helps them to justify the high price tag and persuades them to buy.
Unusual or Unique Products
A product that’s unique or unusual also requires a lengthy copy to help potential customers familiarize themselves with it. The more information you provide about your product, the more familiar it becomes to prospects, and the higher your chances of making a sale.
You’ve probably seen extensive brochures or long infomercials on TV being used to advertise unusual products. Their main purpose is to help prospects to get to know those products better.
Specialty or niche products also need to be accompanied by a lengthy copy that explains their features and benefits in detail to the specific target audience.
Lastly, if you’re selling a product with tons of special features, you need a longer copy to explain how all those features benefit a potential customer.
Let’s now look at tips for creating a long-form copy that converts highly.
8 Tips for Writing a Compelling Long Copy
1. Educate the Reader
If you want to keep the interest of your readers from the beginning to the end, you have to sure that your long copy is well written, educational, engaging, and interesting. If not, they’ll stop reading instantly.
2. Make Your Copy Easy to Scan
Also, consider breaking down your copy into smaller sections to enable the readers to scan through it easily. You can do so with subheadings, short paragraphs, bold texts, bullets, lists, images, videos, etc.
3. Highlight Pain Points and Benefits in Your Headline
Also, ensure that your headline highlights the problems of your target audience and how your product will help solve those problems.
4. Write in a Conversational Tone
Another important tip to remember is to keep the tone of your copy conversational throughout. Talk to your readers the same way you’d talk to your friends or family members i.e., by using the word “you” and not “they” to address them.
This is mainly because many online users lose focus and interest quickly when reading articles that are too formal or written in a highly technical language that they don’t understand.
5. Go Long
It’s also better to publish your long copy on a single page as opposed to spreading it on several hidden pages. Your readers are willing to scroll down the page to read your content as long as it’s well researched, well written, easy to read, valuable, and interesting.
Some people have the habit of spreading their content on several hidden pages, which forces readers to click on the next page to continue reading. But doing this often leads to readers exiting the website altogether because they have no time, energy, or patience to continue clicking.
6. Include Keywords for SEO Purposes
Don’t forget to optimize your copy for search engines by including the right keywords and related keyword phrases. This is essential for improving your SEO rankings and helping potential customers find your piece easily on search engines.
Generally, lengthy copies tend to rank higher on search engines than short ones because they establish you as an expert in a particular subject matter.
7. Include Several Call-To-Action Buttons
Also, consider having several call-to-action buttons throughout your text to make it easier for readers who feel ready to take action to do so at any point during their reading. It eliminates the need to scroll up and down the page looking for a call-to-action button to tell them what to do.
8. Edit Ruthlessly
Lastly, you should edit your copy thoroughly before publishing. Take as much time as you need to correct typos and grammatical errors, and remove all unnecessary words that may undermine the quality of your piece.
A short copy is defined as any written copy that has 1000 words or less. Unlike a long copy that discusses a topic in great detail, a short copy provides a summary of the subject matter due to its brief nature. It’s concise, memorable and usually focuses on a single idea that is meant to:
- Provide information about a product or service
- Compel readers to take a particular action (i.e., buy a product, attend an event, subscribe to an email list, etc.)
- Communicate a message from the company (i.e., thank you, greetings, invite, etc.)
Many businesses are opting for a short copy to convey their marketing message because of the short attention span of online users.
Most people don’t have the patience to read long articles to get the information they’re looking for. They prefer to scan through articles to get answers to their queries as fast as possible.
This group of readers responds better to short copy for several reasons. Let’s look at them below.
Advantages of Short Copy
Quick Consumption of Message
Because of the length of short copy, it allows businesses to convey their marketing message to the targeted audience quickly and effectively.
Readers spend the least amount of time reading and consuming the message being conveyed to them, which greatly helps to persuade them to take the particular action they’re being asked to do.
With so much traffic coming from mobile devices, making your content mobile friendly is crucial. Short copy can be read easily on mobile devices, which is very important because it helps businesses to reach more viewers with their content.
On the other hand, readers tend to avoid scrolling to read long copies through small screens because it requires more time and energy, which many of them don’t have.
Requires Less Time to Create
Short copy also requires less time and resources to write than long copy. This leaves you with more time in your hands to focus on other important aspects of your business or producing short content in bulk.
Short Copy Examples
Here are different examples of short copy content:
- Short-form blog posts
- News articles
- Greeting cards
- Social media posts
- Taglines (campaign, product, or brand slogans)
- Ads (PPC, banner, or magazine ads)
- Brand and product names
- Short landing pages
When to Use Short Copy
A shorter copy performs better in the following scenarios:
Familiar Business and Products/Services
If readers are already familiar with your brand from a previous engagement, and they trust your product, there’s no point in using too many words to explain what it is and how it works because they already know.
You need a shorter copy, which should focus on how the product will benefit them and why it’s the best in the market.
Inexpensive items also require less copy to sell because the financial commitment involved in purchasing them is low.
Think about those candy vending machines you’ve seen at the grocery store – there’s isn’t a lot of copy accompanying them because it’s not necessary. Just a picture and a short copy on the product are enough to get people to buy them.
Products in High Demand
Items that are in high demand such as fashionable items or heavily discounted once-in-a-lifetime purchases also require less advertising copy to sell.
Customers rushing to buy these products before the stocks run out will follow their gut instinct and not the information provided. Because of that, an image and a call-to-action are enough to convince them to buy.
Products such as designer handbags, shoes, and clothes often require high-quality images to market them to the target audience. It’s the images that do the persuasion and selling and not your copy, so you should use as few words as possible.
Customers who are Ready to Buy
Lastly, short copy works best with customers who are ready to buy your product or service. Because their minds are already made up, they need less convincing to get them to make the purchase.
4 Tips for Writing a Compelling Short Copy
The following tips will come in handy when writing your short copy:
1. Determine the Main Purpose of Your Content
The limited length of a short copy means that you don’t have a lot of room to explain things in detail. So, you should focus on the single most important message you want to pass on to your readers and write it persuasively and engagingly.
For instance, if you’re promoting an eBook to readers through an email, the main purpose of your email should be to get them to download the eBook. Make sure the purpose of your copy is very clear to readers within the first 200-300 words.
2. Accompany Your Copy with an Engaging Image
A well-selected, engaging picture works wonders when it comes to drawing attention to your short copy and helping pass your message across to the readers more effectively.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to include high-quality images in your social media ads, postcards, and other short copies that allow the use of images. This helps greatly to increase readability.
3. Resist the Temptation to Write More than You Need
It’s equally important to cut out all the fluff in your short copy to make your marketing message as concise as possible.
4. Test Your Copy
Lastly, you should A/B test your copy regularly to know which version your readers like most. Making simple changes like changing your font, can improve your conversation rates significantly in the long run.
To conclude, the length of copy you choose at any given time will depend on what you’re using it for. A long copy is best for marketing new, expensive, or specialty products, while a short copy is best for familiar, low-priced, and highly demanded products.
Always choose the length of copy that works best for you and make every word count.