Nobody reads long copy, right?
I confess that I don’t read all of the copy in sales material. Like most people I read until I get a feel for what it’s all about. If I like the product or service I scroll to the bottom for the price and then either buy — or not.
But when I see a short message inviting me to sign up for a free trial without much explanation I feel like I’m being hoodwinked.
So for your landing page, do you need long copy or short?
The short answer? Your content has to match the reader’s level of awareness; otherwise you’ll bore your prospects (and they’ll stop reading) or confuse them (and they’ll give up).
Either way, no sale.
So here’s a rule of thumb. The lower the prospect’s awareness, the more information they need. The higher their awareness, the less information they need. Common sense, right?
Now, how about your situation? Let’s walk through the potential awareness of your prospects — in reverse order starting with the highest level of awareness.
Level 5: Aware of your offer
Maybe your ideal prospects are already aware of the problem you solve, your solution, and your offer. If this is who you’re selling to, you’ve got it made. Keep your message short, so you don’t get in the way of hot buyers.
Level 4: Aware of your category of solutions
People you’re selling to are aware of the problem and the solution but not your offer. You’ve got some work to do. Your prospects know that they want the solution. Now you need to persuade them to buy it FROM YOU.
Level 3: Aware that solutions exist
People at this level know solutions exist but are unaware of your solution or offer. Now it’s getting serious. You have to FIRST sell prospects on the solution and THEN sell them on the value of your unique offer.
Level 2: Aware of the problem
Here, your prospects know they’ve got a problem. Your job is to give them hope for a solution and then help them climb the awareness ladder. Catching on? You have to meet prospects at their current level of awareness and lead them through higher levels before asking for the sale.
Level 1: Unaware of the problem
Whew! Tough sale. If you to tackle these prospects (you may decide not to) you’ll need to create a compelling process of education, inspiration, and persuasion — not easy.
Grabbing hot buyers
You might decide to advertise only to hot buyers, those Level 5 people who are most likely to buy.
But you face two problems.
- Your competitors want those same hot buyers. The competition drives up the cost per click and drives down profits. And if your advertising isn’t break-even or better, you won’t be able to sustain your campaign long enough to grow your business.
- If you (and your competitors) do a good job, you’ll sell to all the hot prospects fast and run out of leads. And to scale your business you need a steady supply of leads.
Advertising to a broad target
One alternative is to advertise to prospects with lower levels of awareness. They are often cheaper to reach. And you have a larger pool of prospects so you don’t run out of people to market to.
The problem emerges when you try to close the sale.If you haven’t led your prospects from their low level of awareness all the way to level 5, the sale won’t close.
And if your sales argument is built for people with a low level of awareness, you risk positioning yourself as the lowest common denominator — a generic solution that supposedly “works for everybody.”
Today’s picky consumers don’t want generic solutions. They want to be catered to. So Level 5 prospects will tend to shy away and lower-level prospects are naturally slow to close. So conversions suffer and sales lag.
Also sounding familiar?
Setting up alternate paths based on awareness
The old way was to waltz everybody through your entire message and let them hop over the boring parts.
The solution that works best these days is to segment the traffic from advertising and design separate paths for each segment. With segmentation, you can give each prospect only what they need — and skip the boring parts.
No matter which level your path targets, you must include elements of persuasion: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. (Yes, I had to dig out Cialdini to remember them all.) And for each level, provide content layers to fulfill their need for information.
So… long copy or short? Here’s the harsh truth. Your preference is irrelevant. It’s all about what your prospects need.
Still with me? And I thought you said nobody reads long copy.