The Secret to Effective Long Copy

April 12th 2012       Sally Ormond       effective long copy, long copy, writing long copy

Is long copy really better than short?Effective long copy

That is a question that is asked continually and will probably be asked for many years to come.

The simple answer is that it depends on what you’re trying to achieve, so its length is determined by:

  • Your product
  • Your audience
  • Your context

The main gripe against long copy is that people don’t have the time, inclination or patience to read great swathes of text. But results show that long copy usually out-performs short (only if written well and your product and market demand it).

When is long copy required?

Long copy is ideal for luxury items that are expensive. The buying decision here isn’t going to be instant; it will take a lot of thought and persuasion to get your market to put their hands in their pockets. Therefore, your copy will have to carry a lot of benefits and persuasive, emotive language to convince your market your product is the best one for them.

It’s also ideal for information products. You’ve probably come across sites selling the latest get rich quick scheme. Well, there are so many cowboys about who fill their letters and landing pages with bright, bold text that promises the earth but delivers nothing, your long copy has to:

  • Instill confidence
  • Promote trust
  • Deliver cast iron benefits

You can’t do that in a few lines of text. Your long copy really has to speak to your reader, show them you’re product will work, throw in testimonials etc.

The other situation that requires long copy is selling a product with numerous features. As you already know, it is the benefits of your product that will grab the sale, therefore your long copy has to highlight the benefits of each feature. You could be selling a new generation of computers or the latest techy gadget. The more complex the product, the more copy you’ll need to convince your reader  they must have it.

Making your long copy work

As with most forms of copy, if you want it to work, you have to know and understand your audience.

Your presentation has to match the product you’re selling. The get-rich-quick brigade usually opt for colourful, bold text to generate hype. But of you’re trying to sell the latest in luxury home-wares, that type of format will have your audience running for the hills.

Why?

Simply because it doesn’t match the product you’re selling. Your product is luxury, therefore high-end, your audience expect well crafted, informative text that tells them that because they enjoy the finer things in life etc., this is the must-have product for them. It will make them the envy of their friends; people will look up to them and gawp at their social superiority.

OK, that last comment was a bit tongue in cheek, but you get the idea.

So the trick is to adopt a writing style that will be familiar to your audience and that will instill confidence.

The same goes for any visuals and graphics you use. Going back to our luxury retailer, customers will expect to see high quality imagery, glossy brochures and stylish graphics. So make sure the whole package reflects the desires and needs of your market.

The last word

One thing you must remember is, even though you’ve spent hours crafting your copy, your reader is unlikely to read it all word for word.

They’ll skim read, picking out the bits relevant to them. So make sure you use heaings and sub headings as well as bulleted lists to highlight important benefits and to direct their reading.

But above all, as with other marketing materials, the only way you can find a formula that works for you is to test your copy and continually refine it.

Whether you’re copy is being written for the web or for print marketing, make sure you:

  • Identify your audience and their needs
  • Understand your product
  • Tailor your approach to match the expectations of your audience

 

 

Tags: effective long copy, long copy, writing long copy
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