The Difference Between Short and Long Copy

When it comes to writing copy, people often wonder whether they should write long or short copy. There are arguments on each side. Some copywriters and marketers write mostly long copy and others write mostly short copy. Sometimes, it’s a matter of preference.

Most of the time, it’s a matter of doing what’s best for the promotion of a product. In cases where the product is low in price and doesn’t need a lot of explanation, short copy will often suffice. When a product is higher in price or has more complicated benefits and features (or requires a longer period of time to win the reader over) long copy can do well.

I recommend you take your promotions on a case-by-case basis. Do what’s best for your product. Don’t be afraid to test long vs. short copy on the same promotion to determine which will convert best for you.

Writing Long Copy

I recommend you write long copy when you’re promoting a product that simply calls for it. Is it complicated emotionally? Are people particularly passionate? Is the product higher in price? Will the customer have more objections to buying this product than they would for the typical product?

These are all questions you can and should ask yourself.

By the way—there’s no exact definition of what constitutes long vs. short copy. Short copy might be a page or two. Long copy might be 4-20 pages or so.

The difference between the two is really in how it’s presented to the reader and potential customer.

Consider what others selling similar products have done—are they using long copy? If so, and you have a reasonable feeling that their copy is converting well, that’s what you might want to do also.

Some people might shy away from writing long copy because the process intimidates them or they’re just not sure how it’s done. Please don’t let that scare you off—not when the product will be better served with long copy. Writing long copy is just a matter of writing a “letter” to your audience.

You’ll pour your heart out, hit on emotional hot points, and really sell and get excited about your product. If you can write a letter to a friend and you thoroughly understand their emotions and the most powerful benefits to your product, you can absolutely write long copy.

Give it a try. You can even write “long” copy in a day if you’re organized well and follow a laid-out structure.

Writing Short Copy

Short copy is appealing because it’s… short. People typically choose the easier option when they have the choice. Just make sure that it’s actually going to serve your product well.

And actually, sometimes writing short copy is more difficult than writing long copy. You don’t have as much space to connect with the reader emotionally. You don’t have as much space to really sell them on buying the product.

Sometimes, that’s okay. Sometimes the words get in the way of selling the product. You’ll “lose” the reader before you really had them.

So, if the product you’re promoting will truly benefit more from short copy, then write short copy.

Are similar products being sold successfully with short copy?

When you write short, make sure you really know what the true benefits of your product are because you’ll want to focus on them. Depending on how much space you have, you may want to focus on just one benefit.

Short copy is great because it can be easier to tweak. You can try different things more easily and get closer to your best conversions.

Really, short copy will have many (even most) of the same elements long copy has—just condensed. You’ll still need an effective headline, a way to latch onto the reader (a hook), a way to connect with them emotionally, and a clear demonstration that the benefits of buying the product are so compelling that the reader should and will absolutely click on that “buy button” … and fast.

Also, remember that the offer is the most important thing that will determine how well your sales letter will convert. The purpose of the other parts of the sales letter are overcoming objections, helping the reader determine if the product is something that solves a problem for them, and that leads them down the page until the offer is presented.

So sometimes, if the offer is particularly excellent, you might want shorter copy so that it doesn’t get in the way or delay getting to the offer itself.

Testing Long vs. Short Copy

If you’re not sure which to choose, just go with whatever your research and your gut tells you to go with.

A simplistic (and not fail-proof) method is to consider the price. A $5 product will probably be fine with short copy while a $500 product will probably require long sales copy or a video sales letter or something with more meat to it.

And, you’re never stuck with whatever it is you choose. You can always try a long sales letter later if you’ve chosen short copy for now. You can also cut the copy down if it’s too long and its words aren’t doing it justice.

Test what works and what doesn’t work. You might be surprised at the results you find.

When to Weave In More Emotion

If you do write short copy and you’re not getting the results you expected to get, consider whether you’re really paying attention to emotion. Some people mistake writing “short” for an excuse to just list the features of a product, slap a buy button there, and be done with it. That’s not going to sell.

Whenever you’re struggling with sales and conversions, whether it’s short or long copy, weave in more emotion. Consider what your readers and potential buyers are desperate for or passionate about. Connect with people on a human level and make sure it’s clear that your product is the answer to what they need. Focus on emotions and benefits.

When to Weave In More Benefits and Features

Sometimes, your sales copy might not make the features and benefits of your product clear enough. If people aren’t clear on what you’re selling or what the benefit is to them (or what the product “does”) then they won’t buy.

Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean you’ve done a good job of spelling that out for your audience. If your conversions are low, whether with long or short copy, consider whether you need to be clearer about the benefits or features or both.

Making the Choice That’s Right for Your Product

The bottom line is that you need to make the choice that’s right for your product. There’s no right answer. Just do your research, understand your product, understand your audience, test and track, make changes if necessary, and whip your conversions into the stratosphere.