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Short Copy vs. Long Copy: Getting More Response from Your Copywriting

Short Copy vs. Long Copy

Okay, I can’t even write a short title, let alone a short blog post or short sales letter.

So I researched this post on whether short copy or long copy gets better interest (measured by click-through results) with two conflicting thoughts in mind:

1. I hope long copy wins because I’m not great at short copy. I’m a long copy kind of gal.

2. I hope short copy wins because then I can write shorter posts without researching and writing about every nuance of my topic.

The good news is that some of the wonderfully dweeby internet marketers I follow test these things and write about their metrics. So all I had to do was to comb through the latest research and report back to you what I found.

Short Copy or Long Copy: That is the Question

And the answer is, “it depends.” For a good long drink on the topic, see this vintage Copyblogger post, The Long and Short of Copywriting.

Here are my conclusions.

1. In some cases long copy wins.

Yay for me. I like research. I like explanations. I like to go into full detail so nothing gets missed. And my very strong feeling, stemming from extensive personal experience, is that there are far too many writers out there who skim across the surface of a topic just enough to make you think “Yeah, I’d like to know about that.”

And that’s right where they drop you.

I hate that. So I always try to provide the “Full Monty” details on a topic. But that’s not always a good thing, especially if you’re just trying to share quality content and build trust. If everything you write drones on, you won’t build trust. People will naturally set your stuff aside for “when I have time.”

Sales letters, according the referenced Copyblogger post and other online reports, convert well when they are longer. People who are about to part with their hard earned dollars want you to go into plenty of detail about what they’re about to purchase. So, in that case, go long.

2. In some cases, short copy wins.

There’s some new research from Andy Jenkins which I will share with you momentarily, in case you haven’t seen it, that says short copy converts better in certain circumstances.

Overall, people like short copy. They don’t want to drink from the fire hose. They’re thinking, “just give me the deets.” Blog posts are a good example. Unless you are a super compelling writer and people hang on your every word, or you have a major breaking story to report, you should keep them short.

And definitely use plenty of paragraph breaks, sub-heads and bullets.

Scanable short copy is good.

Here’s what Andy Jenkins learned in his in-depth split test:

  • The difference between opens in short copy vs. long copy is not great.
  • But the percentage of click-throughs on short copy links is significantly higher.

Check out his test results and see for yourself: Andy Jenkins, Long vs. Short Copy Split Testing Results.

The irony, of course, is that to share his results on how short copy converts better, he had to write it all out as long copy. Hmm. Kind of a nice illustration, really, that sometimes you want to go short and sometimes you want to go long.

What’s your experience? Have you done your own split testing? Please share what works for you in the comment section below.

And if you found this post interesting or helpful, please pass it on! Until next time,

Jayna

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4 Comments
  1. I’m in the “it depends” group! Longer sales pages do tend to have higher conversions but blog posts? I’m not seeing much difference. I guess this is a topic that will be tested over and over! Btw, connecting with you from our clout group on FB! Welcome!

    • Thanks for coming by, Martha! I’ve had people love short blog posts and long blog posts equally, as far as I can tell. The topic of the blog post, of course, dictates the sensible length. Some posts just take more explaining. But I think that’s where breaking things up with headings, bullets and so on makes a big difference.

      Great getting to know you through the Klout group!

      Jayna

  2. Jayna,

    I agree – it depends! It depends on a bunch of factors; that’s why testing is so important! It’s “different horses for different courses,” as the saying goes. As you know, this is an age-old argument and there is no right answer. In my experience and observation, the headline has by far the biggest impact. If you don’t pique the reader’s interest with the headline, it doesn’t matter how long the post or ad copy is. Once you get past that hurdle, then it all depends on the subject matter, the media, the mindset of the reader, etc. Test, test, test.

    Excellent post on an important subject. Thanks.

    Paul

    • Hi Paul, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, it depends upon a lot, doesn’t it? Your goals, your topic, the type of content. I love Twitter because it forces me to keep it brief! But then of course you can link to longer content for those who want it. I totally agree with you about headlines. I’m always trying to master that one, especially when also focusing on optimization.

      Jayna

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