Direct Response Copywriter asks, "Long or Short Copy?"

Should direct response copy be long or short? To begin to answer this question, it's vital to understand skepticism...especially Internet skepticism.

If you’ve seen the work of the excellent Herschell Gordon Lewis, a direct response copywriter, then you’ve read something along the lines of “we live in the age of skepticism.”

He’s right, of course.

But potential buyers have always been skeptical. It’s always “the age of skepticism.” And with the pullulation of information, readers, somewhat ironically, have become more skeptical: they have more information and more access to more information but they're still skeptical.

According to the official Google blog, there are more than 1 trillion unique URLs but even the engineers at Google are stumped when it comes to estimating the total number of pages. From the blog...


So how many unique pages does the web really contain? We don't know; we don't have time to look at them all! :-) Strictly speaking, the number of pages out there is infinite…


Marketers are partly to blame for the information avalanche. Sadly, many of these Internet marketers tell blatant lies. Once a reader falls prey to an Internet scammer they are less likely to buy a product that’s sold online. It’s understandable and the lies fuel the fire of skepticism.

Due to this skepticism, it’s even more important to provide potential buyers with plenty of information backed by solid proof. In other words, you’d better have long copy versus short copy and the copy must include all the proven elements of long form direct response copy.

(You can use my handy direct response checklist to make sure you have all the elements).

Direct response marketing has never died and it never will but it’s enjoying a renaissance—or a ‘trendification’ if you prefer.

The most successful twenty-something online marketers, the mega-geeks, are more interested in the technology than the tactics. At their core, these kids who grew up spending hours gaming are video-tanned mathematicians who correctly base all their marketing decisions on raw data—as translated by tools like Google Website Optimizer.

For a direct response copywriter, it’s exciting to see these quiet millionaires discover the beauty of direct response marketing. Now they’ve found it and got over the “that must be tacky” hurdle their appetite for direct response knowledge is voracious.

Well guess what? The data is pushing them toward the foundational veracities of direct response marketing.

  • Copy is really, really important.
  • You’d better have a direct response copywriter on your team.
  • There’s no way to measure the impact of branding but you can measure the impact of a new headline...or offer...or price.
  • Black type on a white background converts better than black type on white copy.
  • Always be testing.
  • Feed the testing beast with fresh copy.
  • Long form copy sells more than short form copy.

And so on…

A veteran of direct response marketing could have told the online marketers all this but people in their 20s rarely listen to the sagacity of the now graying direct marketers who relied primarily on mail, radio, and TV to sell what they sold. That’s changing as the geeks download the work of Lewis, Schwartz, Hatch, Ogilvy, and other direct marketers onto their Kindles.

"Guess what?" they say to each other. "This direct marketing stuff KICKS ASS!"

A company called Conversion Rate Experts recently helped a client, Crazy Egg, improve revenue by a staggering 510%.

The tactic? A long form sales page.

Here’s the case study.

Here’s the copy.

The challenger increased revenue by 510%. 


Yes—long form is more expensive and yes, it takes a little longer to develop and create but the numbers tell the truth: 510% increase in revenue. The ROI must have been jaw-dropping.

If you’re selling an expensive product or if you’re selling something that’s innovative or new or if the product’s value proposition isn’t instantly obvious, then long form copy is mandatory. How long is long enough? The copy needs to be long enough to sell what’s being sold.

As David Ogilvy said:

The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.


In the age of a trillion website pages, one direct response truth ironically remains rock-solid: when someone is genuinely interested in what you provide, you cannot provide them with enough information...and proof…and bullets…and attention grabbing headlines…and Johnson boxes…and embedded video…and irresistible offers…and every direct response tactic in the book.

With so much information available so quickly, it’s tempting to believe that readers don’t have the capacity to concentrate.


If the copy is enticing, salient, and relevant, the reader will read—then buy. If you’re skeptical about this, the data proves it.

Long form copy, written by a competent and experiened direct response copywriter, sells more than short form copy.

If you’re skeptical about this, the data proves it. 


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing content and copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that just plain persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.