Early in my career, I wrote a brochure on a technical product. The client’s graphic designer randomly — or so it seemed to me — crossed out 90 percent of my copy, saying the layout needed lots of white space.
“Nobody reads the copy, anyway,” he said to me in an attempt to impart what he thought was his marketing wisdom.
“If that’s the case,” I said brightly, “why not just print a brochure with blank pages?”
Obviously, the notion that no one reads copy is an extremely wrong one.
But there has long been a debate about the optimal length of marketing text.
Long Vs. Short
In consumer direct response, long copy in some product categories — examples include dietary supplements, investment newsletters, mail order merchandise and business opportunities — more often than not generates higher conversions and greater sales than short copy.
But what about B-to-B?
Many B-to-B marketing experts said a year or so ago that, thanks in part to the Internet, today’s B-to-B prospects consume information in smaller and smaller chunks.
But recently I’ve read and seen evidence to the contrary, particularly in content marketing — where longer, more in-depth pieces seem to generate greater interest, readership and response than snippets, blurbs, factoids, and short articles and posts.
According to research by Web design firm Orbit Media, the optimal length for a blog post, as far as SEO goes, is 1,500 words.
The same research showed that the average podcast runs 22 minutes. At a speaking rate of 100 words a minute, that’s 2,200 words — equal in length to an article in a trade journal of around three full pages. It’s also longer than most TED Talks, which run 12 to 15 minutes.
Another study, by SEOmoz, found that blog posts with between 1,800 and 3,000 words attract over 15 times more inbound links from other websites than posts with less than 600 words. In addition, HubSpot reports that blog posts of 2,500 words or longer get the most shares on social media.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.