Short answer? Your copy should be as long or short as it needs to be. No fluffs. No thinning out.
Read on to find the long answer.
The question about how long your copy should be has sparked a lot of debate in the copywriting community. Many copywriters are of the notion that all your copy should reach a certain amount of words. Others argue that you should never stretch out your copy, no matter what.
For the sake of this article, I’ll be defining copy here as any word that you write with the intent of engaging your audience and making them take a buying decision.
If you asked me, I’ll say that the length of your copy depends on two things – what you are trying to sell, and the platform the copy is on.
Let us look at how the purpose of the copy and the platform it appears on determines its length.
What are you trying to sell with your copy?
There is no question about it. You write copy because you want to sell a certain product or service.
When trying to sell a product, should you use long or short copy? Would Ben who is trying to sell a $40 course write the same length of copy as Sam who is trying to sell a $4000 course?
Of course, Sam would write a longer copy than Ben. Why? Because Sam’s course is more expensive, that’s why.
You cannot whip up a 300-word sales page for a $4000 course and expect people to buy. It does not work that way. Sam’s customers are making a considerable investment, therefore they would need as much information as he can give them.
He would need to grab their attention, reel them in, and counter objections before they finally are sold. And you cannot do all of this with a 300-word sales page.
Ben on the other hand would so just fine with short copy.
Sometimes, it is not always about the price of the product. The transformation that your products or services provide also determines how long your copy should be. That is why weight loss sales copy is usually longer than most.
An exception here is that the brand behind the copy can determine how long, or short the copy is. Brands like WordPress, Apple, and Samsung do not need to write long-form of copy even when they are selling expensive products and services.
What platform would the copy appear on?
Have you ever tried cramming a 1000-word copy on a billboard? How did that work out for ya?
You see, where your copy appears determines how long it should be.
Thanks to the internet, you can now write copy on more places than brochures, billboards, and newspapers. Today, there is Google, social media, and all other forms of digital media. These changes mean that you need to adapt your copy to suit each platform.
Writing copy on Google
Does your copy on Google need to meet certain word count requirements?
Seeing that you cannot compete with these guys you go on to hire an intern and assign him to publish one 500-word blog post every day. You insist that he fills the articles with keywords multiple times. Or worse, you don’t hire an intern, instead, you decide to pay pennies to writers on content mills in return for “premium” copy.
Here is the thing about Google. Google is always looking to improve their search engine results. They want people to find what they are looking for in a single search. For this reason, they make constant changes to their algorithm to meet this want.
When these algorithm changes come, they clear out content that does not offer value to users from their search engine results.
Does this now mean that short copy does not work on Google? No. There is a fine line between a short copy and a thin copy. Short copy can work on Google, but a thin copy? Never.
You can explain many topics on the internet in less than 500 words. Short copy works for these kinds of topics.
Writing copy for Social Media
Short copy works perfectly on social media. This is because of the character constraints on social media. Unlike with Google, or blogging, there is a limit to how many words you can write on social media.
For example, Twitter only allows you to use 280 characters. This forces you to use clever, and short copy.
Instagram is more flexible. You can write longer captions and copy on there.
While Instagram allows you to write longer captions on your photos or videos, you should remember that a platform like Instagram favors visual content like pictures and videos over text.
Of course, you might have an Instagram audience that loves to read long captions or copy. If that is the case, by all means, use the captions to the character limits.
Writing copy for Emails
Email newsletters are more personal than social media and writing for Google.
The length of your copy for emails depends on the message you are trying to pass across. Of course, you do not want to frequently send out a lengthy newsletter, as this would bore your subscribers.
You can always carry out A/B testing to see which form of copy produces the best result. When you find the one that works, stick to it.
How long should your copy be? Your copy should be as long or short as it needs to be, depending on the platform, and purpose of the copy.
You do not want to bore your customers with an unnecessary, and long copy when there is no need to. Neither should you offer them a thin copy.
What do you think?