3 Times When Long Copy Is Best for Marketing

Manipulated image of a very long (comically long) Dachshund dog against a red background, with the words "Looooong copy" just above the length of the dog.
Think long copy is dead? Not so fast. (Photo illustration: Eric Isselee)

If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard people say stuff like: “Long copy is dead” or “Nobody reads long copy anymore.”

But long-form content is still an important part of business.

Sure, there are plenty of situations where shorter content is best, such as social media, blog posts, and emails. For other types of content, it’s the exact opposite.

White papers are one good example. They go into much more detail, which can’t be covered in a mere few hundred words. That’s why most white papers are five to 10 pages. Case studies, sales letters, and similar projects also tend to work well as long-form content.

If your product or service is new, expensive, or complex, you’ll probably want to use longer copy.

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1. Your Product/Service Is New

Short copy works well for simple products and services that consumers are already very familiar with—soft drinks, cellphones, haircuts, etc.

Just think of how many purchases you make automatically. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend three hours in the grocery store carefully weighing every single purchase. Instead, you’re already familiar with the foods and brands you like, so it’s easy to go on autopilot.

When a product or service is innovative, though, people aren’t really sure why it’s useful, how it works, and whether or not it’s worth the price. If you’re selling something that’s new, you’ll have to spend more time educating and persuading consumers. Long copy is a huge asset in these situations.

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2. Your Product/Service Is Expensive

Many consumers are afraid of making a bad decision. After all, maybe they won’t like the product or service as much as they thought, or maybe they’ll like it but just not use it. Either way, this can lead to buyer’s remorse.

Of course, this risk depends on how much they’ll lose by making a bad decision.

For example, nobody is going to feel much regret if they buy a pack of new chewing gum, try it, and realize they don’t like the taste. The cost of the bad decision was probably a couple of dollars or less. That’s why nobody reads a five-page sales letter before buying a pack of new chewing gum.

But it’s different when someone is making a big purchase such as a car or house.

One area where many products and services are typically expensive is business-to-business (B2B). Making a bad purchasing decision in B2B can be extremely risky because it can cause the company to lose money. And, as a result, the people who made the bad decision might even get fired.

B2B buying decisions usually involve a team of people discussing the product or service, weighing the pros and cons, and researching other options. That’s why long copy is essential in B2B.

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Image of a quote that says, "It's a myth that nobody reads long copy anymore. There are plenty of situations where long-form content is best."

3. Your Product/Service Is Complex

Some products and services are self-explanatory, so buyers don’t need a lot of copy to understand them. Most items in a grocery or clothing store fall into this category.

Simple products can basically sell themselves, but with complicated products and services the consumer needs to be educated and sometimes persuaded. When personal computers first came out, they seemed very complex to the average consumer. People needed to be educated about how these machines worked and what they could do with them.

Similarly, feature-rich products need more explaining because you’ll have to cover all the main features as well as their benefits.

If you’re working on a long-copy project, contact Super Copy Editors for a free quote for copy editing or proofreading. We’re happy to give your text a professional polish at a fair price.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

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