I have my own opinions about these long sales letters. Personally, I just dont spend time to read them, rather I shrug and hang my head and scroll way down to see how long the sales letter is. So many of them are getting insanely long. I am not sure what the theory is with such long and massive amounts of information that would take an HOUR or more to read. Nobody is going to read it all. Why write so much? Are people really reading the entire thing?
Research has shown that long copy advertising out pulls shorter ads, brand building ads, and business card type ads by 30-35% consistantly over many years and across many media.
Also, media is expensive… why would you want to waste ‘white space’, when you can use it to present your prospect information to help them purchase? If you had a sales person working for you, it wouldn’t make sense to tell them they can only talk for 2 minutes and then shut up.
Do people read the entire thing? YES! But only if they are the target audience AND if the copy is well written.
Does everyone read the whole thing who makes a purchase? No. Some people are skimmers, and that is why there should always be a ‘secondary readership path’ (credit Dan Kennedy).
The problem is, since Internet Marketing has exploded, there are a lot of copycats who imitate sales copy known to work for one market, without really understanding why it works. Sort of like someone trying to do an age regression session, when they have no formal training, but watched a video on it once.
This kind of sales copy comes off as used car salesmen instead of providing a compelling argument to help the prospect make an informed decision.
One more thing, this does not mean use long copy all the time. There is a time and a place for shorter copy too.
You have to understand where you customer is in the buying cycle. If someone is doing research (Example: Does hypnossis work for phobias?) they will read as much as they can find to reach a decision. This is where providing a Free Report can be a great sales tool to develop a relationship with a prospect early in the buying cycle.
If someone is ready to buy, they just need to know enough to be convinced this is the right product. (Example: Which Audio CD should I buy to help me with my phobia of spiders?) This is where a well written Google ad can make a huge difference.
Long copy is most successful as part of a 2-step lead generation system, to educate people about items that are:
- Are in an industry where there is a lot of FEAR or MISTRUST
Long copy is not so useful for commodity items such as soap. That said, one of the most successful beer ads in history was long copy (Schlitz beer ad, written by Claude Hopkins in the 1920’s and took Schlitz from the #5 beer to the #1 beer)
There are other great direct-response strategies for commodities, such as sampling & couponing (also invented by Claude Hopkins), and positioning (high quality vs bargain brand).
(I HIGHLY recommend anyone in business read Claude Hopkins landmark book called Scientific Advertising. You can get it on Amazon for less than $10. See my post 7 Essential Direct Marketing Books for more ‘must read’ classics.)
Personally I think people are hypnotized to ignore these long letters. Yes they are getting some results for those that use them, but I BET you there is something much more clever and effective.
There are non-stop efforts to replace or improve the long copy format. Good Direct Marketing means always testing to get a better ROI. (Return On Investment)
So far, for items that meet the above criteria, long copy still outpulls them all.
By the way, an infomercial is the TV equivalent of long copy, as is QVC, and Home Shopping Network.
There is one new trend online that shows promise. It’s combining a short video with a moderate length copy sales letter. Note that the video is a human saying what would have been in the copy. Initial testing is showing it gets about a 30% higher response than long copy by itself. This is a strategy to watch and test.