The internet has established itself as a dominant marketing and business medium where businesses can profit tremendously through online sales.  The key to successful online sales is the marketing copy that convinces a visitor to transform into a paying customer. 

Although the final purchase is made at a “checkout” page, most of the “selling” is conducted at the page where visitors first land, also known as the landing page.  A landing page is typically reached from a search engine result, a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisement or a link from another website. 

However it is found, a landing page acts as the selling point for a potential customer through the sales copy – which brings up the question of whether you should use long or short copy versions to convince a visitor to become a customer. 

There are two distinct camps that debate between long and short copy, both of which promote one version over the other.  Here are the typical advantages listed by each camp.

Short Copy Camp

Succinctness Sells – Short copy proponents are those who say that sales copy should be succinct, cutting right to the point.  This party believes that long copy tends to ramble, providing much more extraneous detail than is necessary to deliver sales points.  In contrast, a short copy lowers the risk of losing a potential customer’s interest.

Minimize Scrolling – Visitors do not like to scroll through long text on web pages.  Long text tends to distract and deter most visitors.  If a visitor wishes for more information, a short copy landing page can provide additional links that will lead them to the answers they seek. 

Less Hype – Short pages have less chance of appearing as “hype,” thus reducing the likelihood that the visitor will click away. 

The Lower the Value, the Shorter the Copy – Typically, the lower the value of the final sale, the fewer sales copy is needed to help convince a prospective customer of opening his pocketbook.  If you are trying to convince someone to buy an online product for $9.99, you don’t need pages and pages of virtual text to do the job.

Long Copy Camp

Details Sell – Long marketing sales copy provides more details about the product or service.  The longer the copy, the more questions can be answered by a prospective customer.

Qualify Customers – Longer copy can better qualify customers and reduce the amount of customer service required to answer questions.

Improved Search Results – Longer, keyword-rich copy has a better chance of getting search engine attention.

The Power of Testimonials – Long copy usually includes previous customer testimonials that help convince a potential customer about the benefits of a product or service.

Higher Value, Longer Copy – The higher the value of a product or service you are selling, the more likely you will need longer sales copy to convince and answer questions from prospective customers.

Marketing Experiments’ Results

Since there is much debate ranging between the short vs. long camps, the internet-based research lab, Marketing Experiments, performed a study to determine whether long or short copy landing pages would be more profitable. 

The company devised a series of test landing pages with a research partner to sell a health-related product.  Each landing page had either a short sales copy or long sales copy, and the visitors were reached through PPC ads.  The tests were modified twice, still using short and long copy to ascertain if results would change.

What were the results?  In the three different head-to-head tests, the long sales copy came out ahead with more profitability than the short copy page.  Though the experiment’s landing page content did not describe the actual product or the price, the study found that visitors who searched for certain keywords and found these landing pages bought more frequently from the long sales copy than the shorter version.   

Short vs. Long Copy Guidelines You Should Consider

Even though actual testing results showed that longer sales copy on landing pages outperformed shorter versions, you should always consider the following to determine which works best for your online business:

Perform Split-Testing – Testing short and long copy side by side can provide you with actual hard data to determine which works best for your particular product and industry.  When you have a clear winner, capitalize on the results. 

Control Your Variables – When you perform side-by-side testing, you should always control other variables when changing your copy, such as layout, graphics, and overall page design.

Quality Writing – Ultimately it’s the quality of the sales copywriting that will win customers, not the length.  Whether developing short or long copy, always devote the best possible quality to your sales writing.

Higher Price – Testing and sales results have consistently shown that the higher the price of a service or product, the longer the sales pitch should be to help customers commit to purchasing.

Complicated Products – If you sell a product or service that requires a great deal of information to be given to a customer, a long sales copy landing page is more likely to be the choice.

The debate on short and long copy for landing pages will doubtlessly continue.  However, you can use the results from other online businesses to guide your choice, as well as perform your own testing to determine which works best for you.  Regardless of length, however, remember that it’s always the best sales writing that will win a customer. 

Creating a good conversion experience is key to good marketing. Just because you have a great ad that captures the reader’s attention, it does not mean you have accomplished your conversion goal. Capturing the visitor’s attention is only one of the goals; the other two should be to maintain the visitor’s attention and to focus their attention.

This is where the landing page becomes extremely important, and the home page less important!

Why is the Landing Page so Much More Important than the Home Page?

Consider this, you place an ad campaign out there for 60% off your web design packages, and with a great campaign in place, you are receiving tons of clicks, so where do you send them?

If you send the visitors to your home page, chances are they are going to be faced with a variety of other products, services, and links. The home page is a central location for everything, not just what you are marketing. So, even if you do have a small section on the home page that repeats the great deal you are offering, there are still several other components on the page competing for the visitor’s attention. Now, if a typical home page contains on average, 40 links, the attention ratio would be 40:1, and that is just not worth paying for the ad campaign that sends visitors to that busy homepage.

People do not have great attention spans, to begin with, and when putting them in front of a computer, that already small attention span becomes smaller. That is not to say that people are incapable of focusing, it just means they rarely do, at least without something they feel is worth focusing on.

If you send visitors to a landing page, one that is a campaign dedicated to the ad placed, and most likely paid for through some sort of advertising campaign, the visitors are faced with only one interactive element, creating an attention ratio of 1:1, now that’s worth paying for!

So, what should you take away from the information above?

Make GREAT landing pages for all your marketing campaigns. Yes, keep your homepage, it serves a great purpose, just not for your click-through traffic, and call-to-action campaigns. Why would you send a potential customer to a site where there is so much competition, even if the competition is you? It makes much better sense to keep the attention ratio as low as possible, after all, you are spending the advertising dollars on the click-through campaigns for a particular service, right? 

How to Create Great Landing Pages

Not everyone is born a marketing genius, so for those who did not pop into the world with the knowledge of how to market a great campaign, there is the Internet, and all the information ever needed to become a successful, smart, marketing genius. So, let us get to it.

Your Starting Point

When creating the landing page, make sure the headline of your landing page matches the copy of your ad, and that the design matches from the ad to the landing page as well. The reason for this, is to reduce confusion, yes, your visitors can become confused…just because you understand what you are trying to say, it does not mean everyone else will so be EXTREMELY clear!

Not only will it help visitors stay focused on what your ad's intentions were, but it will also help Google match you for potential visitors during a keyword search.

The main goal is to try to keep that attention ratio to 1:1, so why confuse matters with more distractions? The closer your landing page matches your ad, the more confident that visitors will feel they made the right choice to click through, and the more closely your headline on the landing page matches your ad copy, the better search results you will receive.

If you place a bone in front of a dog, the dog will focus only on the bone. If you place a bone, a ball, and a cat in front of the dog, the dog will try to focus on all three, lose sight of a real target, and most times, lose focus on everything. So, if you are advertising a bone, ONLY place a bone in front of the dog. 

Keep Up Momentum

Keeping up momentum is simple; do not leave a break in communication. For example, if you create an ad campaign inviting the visitor to learn something valuable from your site when they get there, do not act like you do not know why! Invite them in with the ad, then welcome them with the landing page. Something as simple as, “Thank you for showing interest in what we have to offer” can be a great way to keep up the conversion momentum.

Stay away from generic text that only seems to display your need to create business. The idea behind the momentum is to keep the visitor interested but also meant to make them feel as though you have just what they have been looking for. So, tell them how you will help them, what you can do for them (be specific), and walk them through the call to action, do not just push it in their faces. Start a conversation with the ad campaign, and then continue that conversation on the landing page.

Call-To-Actions (CTAs)

A Call-to-action should always be part of your landing page, whether it be to sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product or click-thru to another part of your page, the CTA is the main purpose of the ad campaign, and the landing page…so make it count!

Make sure the CTA is clear, not only visible clear, but context clear as well. Keep it where it can be seen, and make sure the message is clear as to what the visitor is clicking, and where they will be sent. In order to keep the attention ratio at 1:1, a landing page needs to have only one CTA theme, with that being said, more than one CTA can be on the page, they just should all be 100% matched to the headline and ad campaign.

So, What Have You Learned?

  • Conversion rates go up when attention ratios go down
  • Matching ad campaign design and text to landing page design and headlines keep visitors focused
  • Keep up the momentum by creating a conversation that flows throughout your message, in ad, and on-page

The Unfortunate Truth

Sadly, many marketers never use landing pages, and only consider traffic to their homepage as important. The fact that so many distractions are on the homepage, and the message is rarely clear from the ad campaign, most visitors leave the page before ever reaching the CTA.
If you place an ad campaign for shoes in your clothing line, and you send visitors to your homepage from that ad, they are faced with links to all your items, instead of just the shoes. Now, you may be saying “Hey, well that’s a good thing!”, and you might also be saying ‘Hey, why is my conversion rate so low?”

You have to consider, the visitors wanted shoes, and when dropped on your homepage, they got everything pushed on them, so instead of a 1:1 attention ratio, you are getting what, 102:1 attention ratio by the time you add all the links, drop-down menus, and other ads on the homepage?

Keep it simple, keep it real, and keep those conversion rates up!

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