Long Copy vs Short Copy. Which sells more?

There always comes a point in the copywriting process when you ask yourself, have I written enough?

Writing copy that persuades and converts in as few words as possible is the goal of every copywriter but does that mean short copy is more effective than long copy?

How long should your copywriting be before it turns into waffle? This is an ongoing debate in the copywriting and marketing world and many people have strong opinions.

When it comes to long copy vs short copy, the truth of the matter is… neither. And both.

There is a copywriting mantra: “The more you tell, the more you sell.” But it doesn’t apply for every product.

So the best length is the one that works.

This post will take you through long copy and short copy and why you might choose one over the other.

When long copy sells

Do you remember the days of getting really long sales letters that went on for pages and pages? I actually don’t remember the last time I got that kind of marketing but you still see long form copywriting on online sales landing pages.

Long copy usually opens with an emotionally charged story packed with specific challenges, designed to make you go, “Hey, me too!”

Then you see the solution with bullet lists of value-oriented inclusions, special bonus offers and lots of testimonials showing you how much other people have benefited.

Long copy lets you include more detail about your product (or service) so it suits expensive or unusual products and services because customers need more information (read: persuasion) before they make a decision.

Long copy lets you tell more of a story, which can help you overcome any objections in an engaging way while triggering an emotional response from the reader.

Long copy lets you pack in lots of testimonials to show off the proof of other happy customers. This is especially important if your price is quite high.

If you’ve correctly identified the challenges your target audience faces, you’re selling something that will meet those challenges and you make sure they know that, they will read every word.

Some tips for writing long copy:

Include a me-too story. Spell out the messy side of the challenges you have faced in a way that has your audience saying, “me too!” The PAS copywriting formula is great for this.

Use subheadings to paint the big picture. Your readers should be able to skim your copywriting without missing the key messages.

Use bullet points and images to break your copywriting up and make it more appealing to eyeballs. Captions under images are often the most read copy on a page so use them wisely.

Repeat your call to action so your reader doesn’t have to scroll up and down looking for where they can take the next step. (A general guide is a call to action for every page of copy.)

Long copy is perfect for products and services that have a more involved decision-making process. But remember, deciding to communicate a lot of information means you have to stay on point.

When short copy sells

Don’t be discouraged by the copywriters who tell you that “long copy outperforms short copy every time”. They are stuck in the past, man.  Consumers are more sophisticated and savvier about marketing, not to mention being time-poor.

It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and who is going to read it.

Short copy is great for lower price items that involve less persuasion to sell: think convenience products. They could be impulse buys or even items that customers will (only briefly) shop around for.

Short copy works when your customers could join your sales pipeline at any point. This is when shorter stories and more of them are useful as people don’t want to invest as much emotionally.

Short copy is great for image-heavy marketing. The words are important but if it’s the images that will really sell your product or service, short copy should simply back them up.

Some tips for writing short copy:

Spend time distilling those messages so you’re focusing on the elements that will connect, engage and motivate.

Resist the urge to write more.Copywriters are still arguing about Long copy vs Short copy


The debate goes on!

Regardless of which side of the long copy vs short copy debate you favour, don’t write a single word more than you need to. Keep your readers in mind (what are their big challenges?) and the objectives of the piece (what do you want them to do?) and choose the right length for both.

Do you have strong feelings about this? Get them off your chest in the comments!

The Copy Detective

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