Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Sales copy length
The debate on using long copy versus short copy never seems to end. Usually it is a newcomer to copywriting who seems to think that long copy is boring and, well…long. “I would never read that much copy,” they say.
The fact of the matter is that all things being equal, long copy will outperform short copy every time. And when I say long copy, I don’t mean long and boring, or long and untargeted.
The person who says he would never read all that copy is making a big mistaking in copywriting: he is going with his gut reaction instead of relying on test results. He is thinking that he himself is the prospect. He’s not. We’re never our own prospects.
There have been many studies and split tests conducted on the long copy versus short copy debate. And the clear winner is always long copy. But that’s targeted relevant long copy as opposed to untargeted boring long copy.
Some significant research has found that readership tends to fall off dramatically at around 300 words, but does not drop off again until around 3,000 words.
If I’m selling an expensive set of golf clubs and send my long copy to a person who’s plays golf occasionally, or always wanted to try golf, I am sending my sales pitch to the wrong prospect. It is not targeted effectively. And so if a person who receives my long copy doesn’t read past the 300th word, they weren’t qualified for my offer in the first place.
It wouldn’t have mattered whether they read up to the 100th word or 10,000th word. They still wouldn’t have made a purchase.
However, if I sent my long copy to an avid die-hard golfer, who just recently purchased other expensive golf products through the mail, painting an irresistible offer, telling him how my clubs will knock 10 strokes off his game, he’ll likely read every word. And if I’ve targeted my message correctly, he will buy.
Remember, if your prospect is 3000 miles away, it’s not easy for him to ask you a question. You must anticipate and answer all of his questions and overcome all objections in your copy if you are to be successful.
And make sure you don’t throw everything you can think of under the sun in there. You only need to include as much information as you need to make the sale…and not one word more.
If it takes a 10-page sales letter, so be it. If it takes a 16-page magalog, fine. But if the 10-page sales letter tests better than the 16-page magalog, then by all means go with the winner.
Does that mean every prospect must read every word of your copy before he will order your product? Of course not.
Some will read every word and then go back and reread it again. Some will read the headline and lead, then skim much of the body and land on the close. Some will scan the entire body, then go back and read it. All of those prospects may end up purchasing the offer, but they also all may have different styles of reading and skimming.
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