True or False: Millennials Don’t Read Long Sales Copy

A little while back I mentioned a proven landing by Gary Bencivenga that he wrote for his fresh pressed olive oil club.

One enterprising subscriber named Lea got curious and Googled the ad.

She writes:

~~~

That landing page is so long and so old school.

I went to check it out and immediately lost interest because it was so long.

What's the school of thought on landing pages for demographics? I'm 28 and I just could not focus long enough to even read the first whole paragraph.

Do you see this happen more and more, or do I just need Adderall? hahaha.

~~~

This long copy vs. short copy debate has been going on in marketing for more than 100 years, and it's taken on new urgency with the rise of social media and YouTube cat videos.

Every few weeks I'll see a new study pop up that says something like, “The average person's attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.”

And it's true that the web does tend to exacerbate any ADHD tendencies you might have.

But based on what I see in my experiments, I have a different take on this whole attention span issue.

The big change is not that our attention spans are getting shorter, it's that we're forced to make more and more snap judgments about whether we're interested in something or not.

Here's the thing—people's attention spans have ALWAYS been short for information that seems irrelevant or boring.

When I was working in print journalism, editors used to stress that you had just 5-10 seconds to really snag a reader's attention.

And 50-100 years ago, advertisers noticed that just changing the headline of a newspaper ad could sometimes improve the results by 500% or more.

What's happened with the Internet is, that 5-10 seconds gets compressed to 1-2.

There's so much information flying at us all day from all directions that our our filters have to get more and more sophisticated—it's a survival mechanism.

However, once you get past that point and the reader decides they're interested, their attention span shoots WAY up.

And if they're really really interested (i.e. likely to become a customer), they'll soak up all the information they can get their hands on.

In every test I've seen, longer copy beats shorter copy—assuming that the long copy is interesting to the target market.

This generally holds true across markets and demographics.

The primary market I sell into is programmers between the ages of 25-35.

The sales pages for our two main products are around 6,000 words and 11,000 words (!). Both pages are converting quite well.

In Lea's case, the real reason the olive oil sales letter seemed too long is because she glanced at the page and her brain said, “Gourmet olive oils? Meh.”

At that point 300 words would have seemed too long.

But… If she'd was an olive oil aficionado who'd once gotten a taste of sweet, golden heaven on a trip to Italy, and ever since she'd been longing to have olive oil that flavorful in her own kitchen…

Well, she'd probably have read every word on that page twice.

The two questions to ask when it comes to copy length is:

Will my ideal customer find this interesting?

And have I told her everything she needs to know to make a decision about whether this product is right for her?

Let those questions—and your sales—be your guide.

Because people DO read what they find interesting.

P.S. Another note on this: the long copy sales page or sales letter isn't right for every market.

Sometimes you're better off with a catalog-style page, or breaking your copy up across your site.

The long-form sales page is a versatile format that works in a lot of situations, so it's usually a good idea to test it first.