Copywriting: Don’t Be Afraid to Go Long
Where have our attention spans gone, dear marketers? That above quote is a common refrain I hear when speaking to an audience of marketers and I pull up a slide with a landing page that has long copy.
Traditional direct response marketers knew that long copy performed well. The multi-page direct mail letter. The advertorial print ad that takes up an entire spread with copy.
But in the digital age, marketers and writers are afraid of going long. Let me help alleviate those fears.
An Experiment: Long-copy Landing Page Versus Short-copy Landing Page
“When we started HealthSpire, the assumption was, or hypothesis was, that we want to have something that's short and not confusing. What we were afraid of was that more information will create more confusion, resulting in a negative outcome,” Denis Mrkva, General Manager, at Aetna’s HealthSpire startup told me in a recent interview:
But when the team experimented, HealthSpire generated 638 percent more leads for its call center with a longer landing page.
If they wanted customers to pick up the phone and call, they needed to make a connection with the customer first. They needed to show the value of the phone call. “And that connection that's being done on the digital landing page on the longer version is showing results. It's working,” Mkrva said.
You can get a quick look at the control and treatments in this SlideShare:
And that’s just one experiment. An addiction treatment center increased conversions 220 percent with a longer landing page. A “long, ugly” page generated 274 percent more revenue for a political nonprofit.
It’s not just long offline direct mail and print ads that work, long online marketing can be effective as well.
But Remember: Customers Want Value, Not Length
When we shared the HealthSpire case study last week with the MarketingSherpa audience, a savvy reader replied, “Interesting that your email headline and conclusion was ‘longer is better.’ There were a number of variables there were different between the two…”
So let me be clear, I’m certainly not saying to create filibuster landing pages that are long for the sake of being long. They should be long because they are helping the customer better perceive the value of the offer product, and a number of variables can help with that.
And I’m not saying that longer is always better, full stop. No way. Shorter can outperform as well, like this property disaster recovery business that increased conversion 37 percent by reducing copy.
I just want marketers and copywriters to challenge their paradigm for a moment and not be afraid to test long copy.
Because customers don’t care about length. Not really.
They have hopes and dreams. They have fears and pains and concerns. And when you address these core elements to their being, when you show value by solving their problems and helping them meet their goals, they care. Deeply.
And that’s the real reason the marketers in my audience weren’t interested in reading the long landing pages I showed them. They didn’t feel the pain. They didn’t yearn for the rewards. They weren’t in the target audience for that product.
So, as with all things marketing, let the customer be the guide. Not imaginary marketing rules about copy length.
Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS — digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.