Long Copy Sucks

longcopy.jpgThe Story: There's a raging debate about whether long copy still works on the web, but the answer is surprisingly no different than it was 100 years ago.

The Point: Long copy sucks (the money right off the table!). The reason long copy works is the same as ever. You must answer every possible objection in order to make the sale.

The Resource: The Death of the Salesletter

3 Ways To Use Long Copy To Rake In More Sales:

1. Tell more (and better) stories.
2. Pile up a Preponderance of Proof
3. Explain your key points and propositions in a simple, step-by-step manner.

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • Cheryl Antier

    Hey Ray,

    Man, I think you must have tapped my business partner’s telephone – you covered every single point of a debate that she and I just had. Here’s the story: I’m in the process of writing a sales letter for our latest training product, and we got on the phone a few days ago for a brainstorming session. She opened the file – and then, without reading the sales copy – she started telling me that “it’s too long” “They’ve been listening to our webinars so they already know this stuff” and “do we really need that many testimonials?”

    Although I gave her some of the same answers that you did on your podcast, you also came up with some solid points that I didn’t think of… Especially what you said about the mistake copywriters make when it comes to giving your reader the facts. My partner happens to be one of those people with the Jack Webb mindset – you know, the “Just the fact, Ma’am” kind of people.

    So rather than trying to convince her to change her mind, I’m just going to send her the link to your podcast. Thanks for having my back on this one!

  • The debate rages on!

    (And Cheryl is kicking my butt!)

    I have elected to avoid the long copy VS short copy debate henceforth.

    The reason?

    The only people who want to argue the point with me are people who hate long copy.

    The “logic” behind their argument?

    “Well, I never read long copy.”


    My standard response, up to this point, has always been:

    Copy should be as long as it needs to be to get the sale. Not a word shorter, or longer.

    If that means two paragraphs… great!

    If that means twelve pages… also great!

    As long as the sale comes at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

    And to everyone who “knows” that short copy pulls better than long copy, I have this to say:

    You probably suck at writing long copy! Or you’ve never actually tested it to find out which sells better.


    Learn marketing strategy before you ever apply the tactics at http://www.MakeMyMarketingWork.com

  • Ed Erickson

    Interesting comments Paul. In the short time I’ve really been exposed to a lot of sales copy and have begun paying attention to the science of it, I believe you’re spot on. Seems like — since people have short attention spans — that you have to be able to really hook them right off the bat.. as if you’re just writing short copy, in order to begin pulling them in.

    Then just keep it going, breaking it up so that it’s not all just text. THAT is the part that I think can lose people. However, if you use just as much text but break it up really well with images, audio testimonials, video testimonials, power bullets, etc.–that is powerful. Alex Mandossian’s pages are great in this way. Good use of javascript too, in dropping open written tesimonial areas. This again brings me to Usablity in eCommerce. Just accomplish getting them to the next point and give them enough info to act upon.

    Really enjoy your copy casts Ray. Good use of multimedia to make for a more powerful blog post. You’ve got a good voice for that as well. I was just telling my wife last night that I enjoy your voice… not just being nice. You do have a strength there.

    I was first exposed to thinking about the importance of writing good copy during your webinar with Steve Beck. Have just really appreciated your mind on this since then.

    On the power of testimonials v. an overabundance of facts, people buy emotionally. Stories connect to people’s emotions. Especially in today’s postmodern age. We are returning much more to stories and images–we are less linear due to shortened attention spans. Marshall McLuhan saw the beginnings of this… the Medium is the Message. The testimonial story, esp the audio or video one, simply sells.

    Again, great stuff Ray. Be blessed.

  • This topic is one I revisit every time I have to write a new promo for one of my products. And although I have read and pondered most of the “expert” opinions out there, I still come back to the view that it’s what will best move my target market to take the action I want them to take.

    In some cases that means it’s super short (as in one or two sentences!)

    In other cases I have to build a case (and usually tell a great story — hopefully with some humor in it too) for why they MUST take the action. And that might take be 22 pages or more.

    So I am always thinking. And that’s a good thing. because you know what this all boils down to?


    That’s what it’s all about.

    And anyone who tells you different doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    If you don’t believe me, ask Ray. I believe he does know.

  • I hate long copy on items less then $50. But, as the value of the product increases the length of the copy should increase.A customer of a 4 or 5 digit product will not buy from just a short copy page.

  • It depends on the subject.

    It’s easy to say people won’t read long copy but, give them something they’re interested in, and it won;t seem so long.

    It all boils down to the target market.

    Of course, if you have no interest in the product, then any length copy will seem too long.

  • I’ve been running some long copy vs. short copy split-tests. In one specific case, the short copy is outpulling the long copy by over 200%. It’s wild.

    Every word you write can sell your prospect. But once your prospect is sold, every word you write after that can unsell your prospect. It’s a hard balance to strike.