March 7, 2017

Why the long copy vs short copy debate is pointless

I mentioned last week that the long copy vs short copy debate bores me to tears. One subscriber wanted to know why.

In short, I think it’s an irrelevant conversation that encourages people to think about input rather than output.

At one extreme, we have the ‘short copy people’. These people seem to consume all their information from Twitter, in tiny soundbites, and assume that everyone else in the world is just like them.

“I’d never read all that,” they announce defiantly when presented with seven lines of text.

“Well, that’s nice,” I’ll respond. “But unless you’re going to personally buy all the products your business sells for the next four months, your opinion actually doesn’t matter much…”

(I don’t normally work with clients like that for long).

At the other end of the spectrum we have the long copy people, who think that anything less than 1000 words simply isn’t worth publishing. The trouble is, very few people can write long copy without damaging the impact of the writing. Increased length is only justified when it increases emotional impact or persuasiveness.

When it comes to email, I think copy frequency is a better question to be asking than copy length. I don’t have numbers to back this up, but my gut feeling is that sending five shorter emails per week is more effective than sending one email that is five times as long. It’s the same number of words, but delivered in more digestible chunks.

When you write a marketing email, you’re not really ‘writing an email’. The email itself is just the mechanics of delivery. What you’re really doing is delivering an idea. If you feel it necessary to write a super-long email, it’s possible your idea isn’t refined enough.

Sharpening your ideas is more important than adjusting the length of your emails.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.

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