It may seem counterintuitive, but when it comes to copy, more is better.
Long copy almost always out-pulls short copy in terms of response.
Short, cute copy may look good on an ad….but it won’t immediately win you leads or customers.
Here are 19 surprising facts about copy length—and how you can create copy that will dramatically boost sales and double or triple your profits.
1. Long copy generates a significantly higher response than short copy.
A long letter in a direct mail piece, a long email or text-heavy landing page will usually generate a higher response from your prospective customers.
Take a look at the 5-way test below to see how different direct mail packages compare:
Notice that a brochure in an envelope got a 0.5% response, while a brief brochure paired with a long letter in an envelope got a 7.3% response. Prospects were far more likely to respond to this piece when the unique benefits of the product were explained to them in a traditional direct mail sales letter.
Long direct mail letters – some as long as 16 pages – work best for certain market segments, such as selling investment or alternative health information.
Obama, Mercedes and more have used 12-page sales letters successfully.
I just finished a 16-page sales letter for an investment opportunity.
And an 8-page letter for a lead generation campaign.
And a 4-page letter for an equity crowdfunding campaign.
2. Get to the point.
Even when writing longer copy, get to the point quickly. Don’t describe your product or service at length before explaining to your prospect how it will benefit them.
3. The more expensive or complicated your product or service is, the longer your copy needs to be.
If you’re selling a product or service by postal mail, email, a landing page or digital marketing that can’t be summed up in a short sentence, your copy needs to be even longer.
4. Your copy should be long, but never boring.
Only write copy that is as long as it needs to be. If your prospect gets bored reading your copy, then you’ve written one paragraph too many.
There’s no such thing as copy that is too long, but there is such thing as copy that is too boring.
5. Readership falls off at 300 words, but does not drop off again until 3,000 words.
If a prospect outside of your target audience begins to read your copy, they will most likely stop at 300 words. Prospects who are intrigued by your offer will continue reading for pages.
6. Keep the attention of “skimmers.”
A skimmer is a reader that will scan your copy by reading only what stands out to them.
Many – if not the majority – of your readers may be skimmers. That’s why it’s critical that you use strategies to catch the attention of even the most hesitant skimmer, and help motivate them to respond to your sale.
Your headline is especially critical for provoking the curiosity of a skimmer, as it might be one of the only pieces of copy he or she reads. Try using sub-headlines and bulleted lists, which help to break up information, and infographics to deliver information quickly. Skimmers will also almost always read a pull quote or caption, so use those to further communicate your offer.
For more keys to pulling skimmers, read my article, 12 Strategic Keys to Generating Leads or Sales from Skimmers.
7. Stick to the sale.
Your copy must always stick to the sale, whether you are creating copy for a sales letter, landing page, email or Facebook ad. Don’t stray into long tangents, or distract the prospects with irrelevant information.
Stay clear and focused, and you’ll drive your prospect to a sale.
8. Keep your paragraphs short.
You may be writing long copy, but your paragraphs should be short—2-3 sentences at most. This keeps the reader’s attention and helps them understand information quickly.
9. Use bullet points to make a statement.
Everyone loves to read a list. Create bulleted lists with short, powerful phrases to present information clearly and keep your prospects interested.
10. Direct response sales copy outsells short, cute copy.
For short, cute copy to work, you’ll need a massive advertising budget and a lot of patience. On the other hand, direct response copy is an accountable, scientific approach to copy that produces results.
Direct response copy sells your product or service by:
- Highlighting benefits, not features of a product or service
- Focusing on the sales prospect with “you” oriented copy
- Presenting the unique selling proposition (USP) to make an offer the prospect can’t resist
- Using a clear call-to-action (CTA) to ask the reader to make a response
11. Write at a ninth-grade reading level.
You may create long copy, but don’t use long, complicated sentences or big words to try to impress your prospects.
Keep your copy simple, easy to understand and memorable.
12. Remember, copy is sales in print.
Your copy is basically a sales presentation in print. With that in mind, remember to present the unique benefits of your product or service to the prospect.
And always “close the deal” with a call-to-action. Direct response copy asks the reader to take action and make a purchase.
13. You are not your own customer.
When creating effective sales copy, it’s critical that you know who you’re writing to. In most cases, we are not our own customers. Take into account the demographics of your audience, such as age, gender and lifestyle.
If your message isn’t crafted to your target market, it will fall flat—no matter how persuasive it is.
14. Consider a magalog or newsalog.
If you have a product or service that requires more complicated copy, I recommend that you use a magalog or newsalog to explain your offer.
A magalog is basically a sales piece that looks and feels like a magazine, but is actually a sales piece—a newsalog appears to be a newspaper, but is also a sales piece.
I’ve created magalogs that are anywhere from 16-32 pages—the best results have come from the longest pieces.
Watch a video here about magalogs [if video doesn’t display, try refreshing the page]:
15. You may be too close to your product or service to create effective copy.
Often, business owners and entrepreneurs are too close to their own product or service to create effective copy. That’s because they don’t have an outsider’s perspective that allows them to see the unique benefits of their own product.
A direct response copywriter will be able to identify and describe the unique selling proposition (USP) of your product or service that you may be too close to see.
16. You may need to create different sales pieces for different audiences.
If you have more than one target audience for your product or service, consider creating different letters or sales pieces for each audience by using slightly different language or format.
As I said, knowing your audience is absolutely critical to the success of your copy.
17. Prospects buy on emotion.
The goal of creating effective sales copy is to create an emotional response in your prospect. Prospects buy on emotion first, and then justify their decision with logic.
For example, when describing a weight loss product, you’ll want to appeal to a prospect’s desire to look more attractive and feel more confident. Present an emotionally-charged picture of greater happiness, and the prospect will buy based on that image—not on the ingredients that are in the product.
18. Testing is key.
Test your copy to see which produces better results. You may receive a much higher response by tweaking the language, the length or even the font size.
Testing is critical to creating marketing materials that produces high response and great results.
19. Results, result, results.
Focus on results. Whether a prospect likes copy is much less important than whether or not he or she responds to the copy.
For example, copy that is emotionally charged may sound “hypey,” but if it creates results, then it’s doing its job.
If you would like a free critique of the copy you use for marketing materials, I’d be happy to take a look. Give me a call at (310) 212-5727, or email Caleb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the rest of this week’s articles:
- 7 Benefits to Multichannel, Integrated Marketing
- Direct Response Copy Tip of the Week: Creating Authoritative Copy
- Testing Corner: Surprising Results When Testing Gender Response