The Copywriting Conundrum: How Much To Write?

Copywriting Conundrum

A common question I get from clients is “should my web pages have lots of text on them, or should my pages be short and snappy?” (Or words to that effect.)

Now this is a really common question, and the common assumption is that “People don’t read web pages.”.

In fact, a few years ago an American marketer boldly announced he’d “analysed all successful product web pages and discovered the best length for web page copy is equivalent to one and a half pages of A4 text.”

I think such rigid rules are absolutely ridiculous.

The length of copy on a sales web page needs to be ‘as long as it needs to be’ to effectively explain the specific features and benefits — and reasons why — the product (or service) being offered is superior to the alternatives.

The age old marketing maxim is “the more you tell the more you sell”.

If you’ve got a simple product that solves a single problem for a customer, then you obviously won’t need to write as much as you would to explain a complex product, that has a myriad of different uses and potential benefits.

For example a web site that sells USB flash drives probably doesn’t warrant as much copy as a web site that sells wind turbines costing a million pounds.

If in doubt, my advice is to go with long copy, that explains the product or service in detail.

As long as it’s not boring, it should generate more sales and enquiries than a web page featuring less explanation.

If you don’t explain the product or service in enough detail then you may not give the reader enough information to make a buying decision, or at least to get them to make an enquiry.

An Exception to the Rule…

This brings me onto the question of whether you need long or short copy on your lead pages.

If you’ve studied Internet Marketing for any length of time, then I’m sure you’ve heard about lead pages — the special kind of web pages you use to generate sales leads.

Well, with standard lead pages (because there are variations) all you want your visitors to do is enter their name and email address in return for an incentive like a free report.

So my answer to the question of how much copy needs to be on them is “It depends on where you’re driving traffic from.”

If you’re driving traffic from a full page advert or magazine insert, then I use fairly short copy lead pages.

That’s because the advert or insert will (or should have) already explained the offer in detail. So the only reason someone visits the lead page is because they’ve already decided to accept your free offer.

Or, if you’re driving traffic from Google Ads or anywhere the prospect only sees or reads a small amount of text prior to arriving on the lead page, then you’ll probably need a much longer lead page to explain the offer in more detail.

Any time you want to improve the performance of your web pages, ask yourself who will be looking at this page?

What they need to know in order to respond to the ‘call to action’ on the page should determine what content you put on the page.

The ‘long copy versus short copy’ debate will continue raging probably for as long as companies run adverts and promote their wares on or offline.

But I can tell you, this simple question based approach to deciding how much copy to put on your web pages can significantly boost your conversion rates, and the number of enquiries and sales your web pages generate for your business.

TAKE ACTION

Revisit your website’s most visited pages—Google Analytics will tell you which those are— and ask the question — “Is there enough information on this page in order for the prospect to decide to respond?”

Or is there too much ‘fluff, padding and waffle’ which could be putting people off?

Make the changes, then monitor the response. If the page was seriously under (or over) written you should see a significant lift on conversion rates.

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author

Ed Rivis