You’ve heard the old cliché, “A picture is worth a 1,000 words.”
If this saying were true in marketing, every landing page would comprise blocks and blocks of photos with very little copy.
Oh wait! That’s Pinterest, not a landing page.
You’ve probably noticed, the overwhelming majority of web pages don’t look like Pinterest. They include copy. And for good reason: Words sell products.
Yes, photos help but, ultimately, a landing page with only copy will beat a landing page with photos and very few words.
The question now becomes,
“How much copy?”
As a direct response copywriter, I’m biased, perhaps, but my experience selling a wide range of products shows that long-form copy outperforms short copy for most products and services.
Here’s why you should consider including ample copy.
- You’re selling an expensive product or service. Well-respected copywriter Gary Bencivenga sells DVD recordings of his copywriting seminar. The DVDs sell for $5,000. Try to sell these DVDs with short copy and you will likely fail. So the sales page provides 29,892 words of powerful copy. It’s dense copy (as you can see below) and there’s ONE photo.
Even if the potential customer decides not to read all the copy, the abundance of copy gives the product a sense of importance. The reader thinks, “There’s a lot here about the product so there must be something to this…”
- You satisfy the potential customer who wants plenty of information. There are three types of readers. One: the person who will glance at photos and captions and read a little. Two: the person who will read a few subheads, a few paragraphs, a bit of body copy, and photo captions. Three: the person who reads everything.
If you believe in short copy, you ignore at least a third of your readers. Or, to be more positive, when you include ample copy, you satiate the one-third of readers who want a ton of information before saying “yes” to your offer. If someone is truly serious about your product or service and it’s expensive, you CANNOT provide them with enough information.
- You’re selling health and nutrition products. If you’re asking someone to take a pill, or have a voluntary procedure, or change their health habits, you have to persuade the reader the product or procedure works PLUS you have to give them a sense you can be trusted. I recently worked for a company that sells nutritional supplements. Long-form copy ALWAYS beat short copy.
- You’re in a market where there’s stiff competition. If a client or customer is choosing between you and another product or service, there’s a strong chance you’ll nudge ahead of the competition…because you took the time to provide more copy and more information.
- You’re selling a children’s product or service. Parents are always concerned about the welfare of their children. If you’re selling a product in the children’s market, you’ll need copy that earns the trust of the parent…and this can take several thousand words.
- Your product is related to money and investing. Fear and greed are the two major motivators in this market. Plus there’s a hefty dose of skepticism. Readers are going to need plenty of copy if you’re asking them to make decisions that will directly affect their financial future.
- You can overcome objections. When your readers are on your landing page, they have objections. They might not like the price. They might distrust everyone in your category. They might need a solid guarantee. They might be worried about the quality of the product or service. When you have more copy, you can overcome the classic objections and this will increase conversion.
- YOU control the flow of information. A couple of years ago, I wanted to buy a new VW. So I went to the Volkswagen website. Buying a new car is a massive financial transaction. While I like the VW website, it’s a bit short on copy. Here’s the page for the car I eventually purchased.
Not much in the way of information for a product that costs $24,000. So to get information, I visited a message board which is the informational equivalent of the Wild Wild West.
Even on the better message boards, you’ll find plenty of information but much of it will be just plain wrong. When you have plenty of copy, YOU control the information.
- An SEO advantage. The search engines robots feast on content. Generally, more content, provided it’s optimized, gives you an SEO advantage.
Long-Form Copy Must Be Well Organized
If you’re thinking, “I’m going to plop down a whopping amount of copy and that will solve everything” then think again.
It’s easy to organize short copy. But there’s a challenge with longer copy: pages upon pages of dense copy in unreadable fonts will send your potential customer to another site.
People who believe in shorter copy vs. longer copy and say they have the data to back up their beliefs often compare their short copy to poorly organized long copy. However, in my experience, well-organized long copy produces higher conversion with many products and services.
Here are the keys to organizing that longer copy.
- An attention-grabbing headline.
- A logical argument with a logical flow to the copy.
- Bullets and lists to break up the copy.
- Subheads spaced every 150-250 words.
- An easy-to-read conversational style that’s enthusiastic without hyperventilating.
- Clear, readable fonts with plenty of white space. On the web, use sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica.
- Carefully chosen images with captions.
- Crystal clear call to action buttons.
This long-form landing page generated over 13,500 sales. Note how the copy and the layout meet the criteria above.
It’s not a super-expensive product, but I’m confident a shorter version would not have produced the same super-solid result.
Test like crazy!
Part of me loves writing long-form copy. Sometimes, it’s easier and more profitable for me to write short-form copy. (The latter is a lot less work.)
The key, as always, is testing.
Split test between shorter copy and longer copy to determine which type of copy earns you the highest ROI. But make sure your long-form copy emulates what’s worked for others.