The Return of Long Form Copy
So… everyone just LOOOVES to complain about long copy, right?
“Nobody, I mean NOBODY has the time to read it”
“Nobody cares to stop for that long during their busy day”
“I’d fall asleep half way through if I tried, ha ha…”
- When you’re actually interested in the subject matter.
- When you’re pulled in by a powerfully intriguing story that keeps you glued to your seat.
- When you see a clear self-interest in consuming every bit of that long piece.
That’s when you dive in and read every single word, even in the middle of the night. Just admit it. 🙂
But okay, sure, it’s 2017.
Age of social media, micro messaging and whatnot.
140 characters, max. Right?
Well, let’s take a couple of steps back, I promise you it’ll be worth it.
Long form sales letters came from the mail order business – pages and pages, mailed at the same cost to maximize the effect of the mailing. It worked, and continues to work.
Then the same format was adapted to the internet, let’s say at the turn of the millenium, reaching its peak between 2005-2010. Long form sales letters everywhere online, and the whole direct response metaphor transferred online wholesale.
But then, social media came along. And ubiquitous video.
And everything changed. Right?
Well, not so fast!
The long form sales letter format has stood the test of time. It’s the ONE way to take a mildly interested person from a near-standstill, through various phases of interest, to whipping out their credit card and jumping at your offer. In one sitting.
Sure, these days this format may be chopped to pieces for consumption.
Say, four pieces of well-crafted video in the context of a product launch.
Or a 7/14/21 piece email sequence, carefully timed to interval easy to digest.
Or even a very complicated funnel made up of segmenting, upsells, prospect buckets and whatnot.
Through all of that, it’s the sales letter structure that powersthe whole thing (or disempowers, if you haven’t got one)!
It’s true what my esteemed colleague Ray Edwards likes to say:
“Every business needs a sales letter”.
I very much agree.
When you have a fully decked out sales letter made for your business, for your product, you have a wonderful resource to draw from.
You can run it outright, online or offline, and see how much direct sales you can get.
You can put it out piecemeal in different channels, if you know how to direct attention the right way.
You can pull snippets out of it to drive your advertising.
It’s a gift that never stops giving!
(In fact, some of my copy clients have their digital agencies requesting a sneak peek into my copy so they can re-use it in the PPC ads they run. Which, of course, I wholeheartedly approve of. One wave to lift all boats, etc.)
So what are some of the ways you can use long form copy in your marketing today?
- Landing pages always require high-impact copy – so why not test a true long form one for a change? Have you noticed how many of the REAL gurus out there do this right now…
- E-commerce – drive more traffic to more elaborate product pages, so you’ll get
- Videos / VSL’s – quite simply: the more you script, the more you sell (and conversely, if you just slap something together, video alone gets you no favors today)
- Facebook newsfeed ads – try boosting a long-format native article, they can perform astonishingly well (plus not that many are doing it – yet!)
- Instagram stories – The longer the story, the stickier – and better converting – the following. I mean stories also in the form of long form descriptions below the pictures/videos you post and use as ads – use the opportunity to link the visuals to what you’re selling, bridging it via a persuasive story!
- LinkedIn articles – people there CRAVE for good tips they can use in their jobs and increase their value in the marketplace. I know consultants killing it on LinkedIn, and even out of those very few do long form content yet (but the ones who do… use your imagination)
And that’s not the end of it, not by a mile.
But it should open your eyes to the opportunity that’s there, RIGHT NOW.
Yes, the Agoras of the world are pushing out long form copy by the metric tonne, and succeeding like crazy. And the direct response business will continue to thrive, through thick and thin.
But that’s not the only game in town.
You can – and should – use every bit of the same timeless marketing wisdom and use it in every promotion. Every campaign. Every ad. Every social media update.
Not that I do 100%, admittedly. 🙂
But do a test. And then another. Then measure.
I’ll bet you’ll find long copy very often wins. Without testing this, AppSumo would look very different, too, for example. A lot of things in marketing is just plain weird – you don’t know until you test. But other things… are just down to human nature, and playing to that always works. Work with what you know, and the unknowns will work themselves out.