But (most) websites arenât linear because hyperlinks break linearity (aka subvert hierarchy).
People donât read (most) Websites one full page at a time in a numbered order; they read/scan/move from one link that interests them to the next link that interests them, often entering or starting on something other than page #1 (what bad web designers notionally understand as the home page).
This means âLong copyâ and âshort copyâ only apply to Websites metaphorically at best, roughly translating to âcontent rich & substantiatedâ and âminimalist / pared down,â respectively.
The upside is that hyperlinks make it possible to get the best of both (offline) worlds. Visitors who want more substantiation and richer content can drill down on the links that interest them, and visitors who only want a quick, bottom-line summary and an express path to converting can get that too – all on the same site.
That said, long copy equivalents still tend to out-convert âshort copyâ alternatives.Â Hereâs why.
Two recent studies, one involving complex B2B sales/Websites and one on e-commerce sites, show that well over 50% of potential leads/customers fail to convert because the Websites studied failed to answer prospects’ questions and provide needed information.
Iâve experienced it myself: if I need to know a wireless card or piece of software will work on my Mac, Iâm simply not buying until I get that answered. Similar dynamics exists with concerns rather than absolute requirements, and, yes, this is especially critical for services, complex sales, and lead generation.
Content rich sites typically out-convert minimalist designs because they more completely answer the prospectsâ questions.
And as Iâve previously written, question-answering content isnât just copy. High quality pictures answer questions and concerns. User reviews answer questions and concerns. So do videos, blogs, forums, etc. And, of course, thereâs persuasive copy.
Suppose youâre genuinely interested in buying something, talking to a salesman about it, and in the process of asking how much it costs. How many times can that sales guy dodge or ignore your question before he destroys your trust?
Once? Twice, maybe.
With online copy, visitors ask questions by scanning the page and clicking on links. If your web copy doesnât facilitate scanning and skimming, and if you donât provide hyperlinks and content to answer visitorsâ questions, your Website will become that used car salesman who wonât give a straight answer to a direct question.
At Future Now, weâre big on Personas simply because weâre big on making sure Websites answer the questions and concerns of their visitors.Â We find it essential to model and facilitate the flow of visitor-website sales conversations in order to avoid the âused car salesmanâ syndrome.
So rather than having any old interaction or conversation with visitors, personas allow one to reverse engineer conversations that lead to conversions. To do this, simply:
Going through this process allows Website designers and copywriters to persona-lize the Website. They can plan messaging and links custom tailored for each buying behavior/motivation.Â The visitor can then self-determine just how many rabbit-holes of information/assurance/question-answering she needs to in order to feel comfortable buying, thereby getting the exact “length” of copy that’s right for her.
Fast decision makers and late stage buyers that just need a quick and easy way to buy, get it. And those visitors needing a lot of information, insight, and assurance can get that too.
Think of it as an adult and sales-oriented choose-your-own-adventure novel. Or just think of it as a really sincere sales conversation performed by your best salesman who just happens to be available to talk to (and convert) customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What more could you ask from either long or short copy?
P.S. For a different (but congruent) take on the advantages of Long Copy (and it’s online equivalents), check out Sonia Simone’s excellent article over at CopyBlogger.