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Conversion Optimization: Long Copy vs. Short Copy

Landing pages don’t convert well unless they’re designed with the target audience in mind. So how do you know when your audience needs more or less information? Read on to find out.

Every site owner struggles with the task of conveying the right message. Depending on the page, it may take a different approach to get the point across, not to mention, encourage conversion. From the tone of the copy to its placement, the text on your landing pages can have a huge effect on your conversion optimization efforts – but did you know that length can play just as much of a role in your site’s success?

It’s true. Some landing pages are meant to have longer copy while others do well with shorter snippets of text. So, as a site owner and a business, how do you know what’s right to, well, write?!

Here’s a quick and easy guide to long copy versus short copy for conversion optimization.

When to Use Long Copy

If you’re looking to communicate something to an analytical thinker, or you want to sell something that has a higher price tag, it often takes longer bits of text to convey your point and build a persuasive argument.  Same thing goes for anything that’s complicated to purchase or may take more thought than your average item. After all, you need to introduce yourself, say what your product or service can do for your reader, make a connection with that reader, and then, ask for the action. It can take quite a bit of copy to do this, usually several paragraphs worth.

Most sales pages are done in this format and it’s proven to work quite well, provided you keep in mind some of these best practices:

Make a strong entrance

An attention-grabbing headline can make or break a landing page, so you want to really go for something that gets the reader interested. Appealing to their emotions or a trouble spot that they can relate to is often a good bet, but there are countless other techniques for writing a great headline. Keep it simple, memorable, and to the point.

Include subheads and bullet points to break things up

Internet readers tend to skim so using bullet points can make a huge difference in readability – and can improve your time on site when you look at your landing page stats. Include subheadings to identify shifts in topic or thought, or to keep the conversation moving. Alternately, you can use these to call attention to different value propositions or sections of your landing page. Use bullet points to give rapid fire information or key stats that can be easily read and referenced.

Do mix in testimonials

Testimonials can be the human element you need to seal the deal on your landing page, so do mix them into your copy to add to the persuasive argument that you’re making.

Add media to break up text and add dimension

Images, graphics, or video can make your landing page look great – and they can also help boost the power of your copy. Break things up and make your landing page feel more complete by using media. Remember to choose only media that supports the message of your landing page – don’t distract from the argument that you’re making.

Define the problem and propose a solution

This is what most people forget to do. They forget to build the momentum and start out too strong by saying, “Hey! Here’s my solution!” You have to create anticipation. Start out by defining the problem in a relatable way, using emotionally appealing language (e.g. describe how something feels). Pinpoint the problem. Use phrases that draw you in and make you feel connected to the subject. Then, offer a glimpse of hope for solving that problem and introduce your product or service. Explain why it’s going to solve the problem and how. Give the reader reason to continue. Include social proof or testimonials to build trust and add to credibility. Call the reader to action. Boom – you’ve got a landing page.

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When done well, landing pages featuring long form copy can be quite successful. The key is to draw the reader in with a strong headline, build a persuasive argument by appealing to their sense of reason as well as their emotions through language, and then, give a clear call to action.

When to Use Short Copy

Short copy is best used for short, quick, and easy to understand messaging. If this is something that you could convey in a few seconds in a conversation, or explain with a tweet or another short update, then that’s the kind of copy to use. The benefit to keeping things short and sweet is that people can absorb the information and take action quickly.

Short copy is great for most easy purchases. Product descriptions are a typical example of this type of copy. If your transaction is straightforward or has a lower price point (e.g. consumer packaged goods, clothing, etc.), or if you want to appeal to a more impulsive buyer (e.g. upsells to current products or services), you may want to try short copy so that the reader digests the text upon landing on the page and then can be compelled to take action. Plus, this is a great technique for pitching freebies!

The key to using short copy effectively is to follow a relatively simple formula:

  1. Have a clear headline
  2. Include short copy with graphic or image
  3. Give a call to action

This simple process makes it easy for the user to get your messaging and then take action. Just remember to do each of these elements well to make the biggest impact. Just because you don’t have to spend a lot of time on word count doesn’t meant that you shouldn’t spend the time on crafting a masterful message.

via dribbble

Short copy is also great for brands with well-established credibility and reputation. For example, when you look at the websites for most major brands, they often have short snippets of copy because users trust what they’re selling – or they come shopping knowing exactly what they are looking for. If you have a robust presence already, you may want to consider short form copy as your audience may already know and trust you – and they just want to be able to make their purchase as they’re already convinced.

In your experience, what type of copy works best for YOUR site? Do you notice a difference? What insights have you gained by experimenting with different types of text on your landing pages? Leave a comment – we’d love to get your take.