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How Long is a Piece of String? Key Factors That Determine Copy Length

You want to write punchy and short copy, but the client wants more. Or the client wants direct and to-the-point, but you know you’ll need more space and words to explain the product clearly. Or even the client has given you free rein to write as much as you need to. Determining the length of copy can be a tricky business, especially if you need to justify the length to clients. Therefore, here are several ideas to consider:

How to decide the length of copy?

Deciding whether to write long copy or short copy depends on several factors, such as the type of product or service being offered, the target audience, and the communication goal of the copy. Key factors to consider in depth are:

Know your audience: Understanding the audience is crucial in determining the length of the copy. Some audiences may respond better to shorter, punchier copy, while others may require more detailed information.

Communication goals: Consider the communication goals of the copy. Is the goal to inform, persuade, or sell? Different communication goals may require different lengths of copy.

Complexity of the product or service: If the product or service is complex and requires detailed explanation, longer copy may be necessary to effectively communicate its benefits and features.

Medium of communication: The medium of communication can also influence the length of the copy. Social media posts may require shorter copy to capture attention quickly, while a print advertisement may allow for longer copy.

When to adopt longer copy?

Research has shown that longer copy can be effective in certain situations, such as when the product or service being advertised is complex or requires a lot of information to convince the reader to take action. Here are some examples:

High-consideration purchases: For products or services that require a significant financial or time investment, such as a car or a vacation package, long copy can be necessary to provide all the information needed for the consumer to make an informed decision.

Niche or technical products: Products or services that require specialized knowledge, such as software or medical equipment, often require detailed explanations and long-form copy to communicate their benefits and features.

Emotional appeals: Sometimes, the goal of advertising is to create an emotional connection with the reader or to inspire action. In these cases, long copy can help build a narrative and tell a story that resonates with the reader.

Educational content: For brands that position themselves as thought leaders or educators in their industry, long-form content can be a valuable tool for providing in-depth information and establishing authority.

Complex value propositions: If a product or service has a unique or complex value proposition, long copy can be used to break it down and explain it in detail to the reader.

When to write short copy?

Shorter copy can also be effective, especially when the audience is time-pressed or the product/service is straightforward. Short copy can be better in the following situations:

On social media: Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, have character limits, which means that short copy is necessary. Short and punchy captions can be more effective in capturing the audience's attention and driving engagement.

Mobile devices: With the rise of mobile devices, people tend to skim through content quickly. Short copy can be more effective in grabbing the audience's attention and delivering the message quickly.

Simple products: For products that are easy to understand and require little explanation, short copy can be more effective. For example, a product like a t-shirt doesn't need a lot of explanation, and a short copy can get the message across.

Urgent call-to-actions: Short copy can be effective for urgent call-to-actions, such as a limited-time offer or a flash sale. Short copy can create a sense of urgency and prompt immediate action.

Advertising and posters: With limited space and time for people to read, short copy is necessary for billboards and posters. Short and impactful messages can be more effective in capturing the audience's attention and delivering the message quickly.

Concluding thoughts

It's important to note that the decision to use long or short copy should always be based on the target audience and the message that needs to be conveyed. Ultimately, the copy should be clear, concise, and effective in communicating the message to the intended audience.


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