Bill pushed his lunch plate to one side, looked across the table and
asked, “Are my web pages too long?”
My reply, a little smart aleck, was, “Compared to what?”
“The other guys that do what I do,” he replied.
“Good answer,” Gail, our resident writer jumped in, “Especially since
people who don’t understand how to figure this out are always doing that.”
She pulled her pad computer out, fired it up and said, “Let’s see what we
can find in the way of a list of successful folks in your business…
Ah, here we go, this list is the top15 in the area. Does this one have
shorter or longer copy than your web site pages?”
Bill looked and allowed as how, “It’s about the same. Try this one. It’s
a bigger firm.”
She did. They looked. The copy was longer still. On the third try, the
copy was shorter.
I interrupted saying, “In my experience, there is no one right answer.
The appropriate length boils down to the fact that people will read as much as
they are comfortable with as long as it provides information they want.”
Gail commented, “I agree completely but there are five times that well-written
long copy performs better:
- When you’re selling
something of high value
- When you’re selling an information product and you
have to tell ’em all the benefits
- When you have to build trust
- When you’re selling something new and you have to
convince the buyer the features are really something they want or need
- When you are selling on line and they can’t get any
sensory data about it except for some visuals.”
I added, “On
the web if copy is too short it really limits ROI. When copy is too short it
leads to lower response rates, increased cancellations at checkout and leads to
more returns due to unmet expectations all because you didn’t tell them enough.
At a minimum, it takes about 250 words per page to keep the search engines and
the customer happy.
But if you need to go ‘below the fold’ to be persuasive, you
should go ahead. There’s a study by User Interface Engineering (UEI) that
says users are perfectly willing to scroll and In the trade-off between hiding
content below the fold or spreading it across several pages, readership increases
when the content is on a single page.”
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