For decades, many direct marketing and advertising greats, such as David Ogilvy, Jay Abraham, Victor Schwab, and Claude Hopkins, just to name a few, have used a technique called “long copy” to achieve incredible results for their clients.
Website sales copy was originally thought to work best if it was broken up into chunks and presented using individual screens or pages on a website. In theory this makes the copy easier to understand, and avoids burying the customer in information. This is known as “short copy”.
This has since proved to be a big mistake though!
Because every time visitors clicked the ‘link’ to the new ‘screen’ to get that information, a percentage of them were “lost” due to the ‘flow’ of the sales process being interrupted. They lost interest, focus… CLICK! ... they were gone.
In order to make a buying decision, we need information… and lots of it! Would you limit your salesperson to the number of words that he or she could use when talking to a potential customer about your product or service? Not in a million years! You would want every member of your sales team to be as comprehensive as possible when it comes to providing your potential customers with all the information required for them to make an informed buying decision.
Your website should be representative of the best salesperson in your business, providing all your customers with the same quality, consistent message every time, no matter what.
The way you do this on a website is with 'long copy'. You try to put all the information your customer needs in order to make a decision onto just one page. You use large headings to summarise the structure so that people can scan through this page to find what they need. This page will often then be long – sometimes exceptionally long!
If you just look at it from a distance this page will probably look like information overload. It will look like a jumble: if you come from a design background you may even think it looks quite ugly!
But long copy is what your customer wants. They don't want to have to scour your website to find out the information about your products. They want it all on one page so they can read that one page and make their decision.
For the reader, having large amounts of text to read is only a problem if the information is useless or uninteresting. If it tells you exactly what you want to know and it is presented in a persuasive way, then you really do want it to all together! For you the vendor, putting the real guts of the information all on one page gives you the ability to present your sales pitch in the most persuasive order possible.
Many people are incredibly surprised to find out that long copy outsells short copy. Often people daren’t believe that it is true and they resist writing long copy or putting long copy on their website, to the great detriment of their results.
Long copy outsells short copy. If you are still not convinced, then I highly recommend that you test it!
However, on most websites there are a few pages where you should use short copy instead of long copy.