There’s an eternal debate amongst copywriters whether long copy or short copy is better, and the truth is that there’s no absolutely correct answer – the length of your copy depends on how much persuading your prospects need. Here’s the simple guide as to what factors influence how much copy you need.
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Factors influencing the choice of long copy vs short copy:
- Price: The more expensive a product, the more persuasion is necessary, and thus the longer the copy. Enterprise software needs longer copy than my free email or RSS subscriptions.
- Safety: What are the risks (other than financial) posed by the product? The fewer worries people have about safety, the less copy you need. For instance, you typically need a long copy to sell travel to a dangerous or remote area requires copy assuaging fears of all the potential dangers, be it from the environment (dirty water), animals (think anacondas on Amazon treks) or people (war, crime).
- Familiarity / Complexity: The better known you are or the product is, the shorter your copy can be. Notice how there’s no copy explaining the benefits of bubble gum at the checkout counter, and there’s just a price sticker?
- Privacy: Short copy is just fine for those times where you’re requesting very little information. For instance, dating sites typically have a free signup form with under 5 fields on a page with a title and a few bullet points.
- Non-textual means of persuasion: Does your product have some kind of sample or demo available? Ice cream and cars sell at very different price points and have drastically different levels of complexity… but you can sample both, with a taster spoon or test drive. Steve Jobs did a great job demonstrating Apple products and tantalizing crowds. Video demonstrations and pictures portraying benefits are also often helpful. Letting someone’s senses persuade them is often more effective than talking yourself.
- Immediacy: If you have to get someone to take action now, you’ll need more copies. This typically applies with limited quantity availabilities.
Note: High price is a trump card that almost always requires a long copy. The exception is for existing customers and especially reorders.