Size Matters – Part II
How long should your emails, blog posts, and sales pages be?
Last week I wrote a blog post about how important the size of your font, line lengths, and paragraphs are when you’re writing for an online audience.
This week I’d like to extend that topic further and talk about how long your emails, blog posts, and sales pages should be in order to get the best possible results.
Here’s my answer – though I’m not sure you’re not going to like it…
Your content should be as long as it needs to be to get your message across – and not a word longer.
UGH, don’t you hate such vague, “well, it depends” answers?
Me too. But the point is, the length of your content really DOES depend on what you’re trying to say.
Some popular online marketers are famous for writing extremely short emails and blog posts. (Seth Godin, I’m looking at you.)
I’m sure they all get good results with their specific approach (these are hardcore marketers and you can bet your sweet patootie they test their emails & blog posts and tweak according to what gets the best results).
But the approach that YOU should take depends on what YOU want to share with your readers – and how you want to say it.
That said, there are some general guidelines you can follow to encourage a higher level of engagement with your content. Here they are:
IN GENERAL, when it comes to sending emails to your list, less is almost always more. Studies show that the average reader spends a maximum of 15-20 seconds on an email – so you have a very short time to catch their attention and encourage them to take action.
That’s why it’s a good idea to front-load your email with the good stuff and include a “hook” that piques your reader’s interest right away.
If you want them to go to your website to read a blog post, check out a sales page, or sign up for a webinar or some other freebie, it’s also a good idea to get your call to action and link up near the top of the email.
This way, they have the opportunity to take that action right away, as opposed to scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the email first.
Personally, I try to keep my emails as short as possible and give them a compelling reason to click on the link to go to my blog and read the full article there. Once people have committed to taking a certain action (such as clicking on a link) they’re automatically more invested in your content and more likely to read it.
Entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki believes that the perfect email length is five sentences, and should answer the following five questions and no more:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you want?
3. Why are you asking me?
4. Why should I do what you’re asking?
5. What is the next step?
“Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness,” Kawasaki says. “Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time.”
I like the way he thinks!
2. Blog posts
How long should your blog posts ideally be?
I’m trying so hard to not say “that depends” here, but… you know…
In general, there are three basic lengths that work for different reasons:
Studies show that super short posts of 75-300 words are best for prompting discussion in the form of comments.
Medium-length posts of 300-750 words or so are good for generating a decent number of comments and shares on social media.
If you kick them up to 1000-1500 words you’ll find you get a lot more social media shares (but fewer comments).
If you go REALLY big and write in-depth pieces of 2,000-2,450 words, you’ll find that your content is placed higher in the search engine rankings (because Google just looooooves that rich content).
So your length really depends on what you’re writing about, and what you hope to accomplish.
Just remember that the MOST important consideration you should be thinking about is QUALITY.
When it comes right down to it, the length of your posts doesn’t matter nearly as much as how valuable and interesting the information is.
If you write great stuff, people are going to want to read it, no matter how long it is. But if your content is boring and unoriginal, people are going to click away and forget about it – no matter how succinct you happen to be.
3. Sales pages
A sales page should answer the top questions on your potential buyer’s mind:
- What is it?
- How is it going to make my life better?
- What makes it different from everything else out there?
- Who’s selling it?
- Why are they the best ones to be selling it?
- What do other people think about it?
- How safe is it for me to buy this thing (e.g., is there a guarantee? Can I get my money back if I don’t like it?)
A low-price point item requires a lot less copy than a high-price point item. People who are being asked to shell out a whole lot of money are going to want a lot more information to convince them they’re doing the right thing than someone who’s ordering some new ink for their printer, you know?
I have written sales pages for items less than $20 that require maybe five-ten sentences to get the full value of the product across.
I’ve also written 50-page salesletters for events that cost people $15,000 to attend – and every word on those pages was put to good use.
They answered every single question that was on the potential buyer’s mind, and gave enough information to make it easy for people to clearly visualize themselves attending that event and understand the positive impact it would have on their life and business.
(Of course, there was a lot of clever formatting on the sales page to make that copy as easy to scan as possible. If you asked the customers who visited that page how many words were on it, I’m sure they would have guessed maybe 10 pages max. Yay for good formatting!)
Generally speaking, I would say that most businesses err on the side of providing too little information as opposed to too much on their sales pages.
All too often, when I’m on a product page or sales page, I’m left with unanswered questions about the product and don’t feel that the company has done a good enough job of convincing me that spending the money is worth it.
So if your sales pages aren’t generating as many sales as you’d like, ask yourself: am I providing ALL the information people need to make a buying decision?
If the answer is no, consider fleshing out your copy more.
Long or short – the important thing is to use every word WISELY
It doesn’t matter how long or short your email, blog post, or sales page is – the secret to writing great content is to make sure that every word you include is integral to the whole.
To ensure that your content includes no wasted words, follow these steps:
- Write everything you *think* should be included
- Go back and take out at least 10% of the words. Be ruthless in your edits and remove everything that is not absolutely critical to getting your point across.
- Go back and take out another 10% of the words. (I guarantee you’ll find ways to shorten it still further!)
- If necessary, go back and do it again
By eliminating all of the words that aren’t 100% necessary, you will make your writing stronger and more enjoyable to read and ensure that more people will read to the end – no matter how long your piece is.
Happy writing – and editing!
(And in case you’re curious, this piece is 1340 words long. Did it feel like you just read that much text?)