How Long Should Your Pages Be?

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you know that, in the first email, I ask you to send me your #1 copywriting problem…

The two most common copywriting challenges I hear are:

  1. “How can I write copy faster?”
  2. “How long should my copy be?” (Or, should I always use long copy?)

I ignore the first question every time…

(After all, would you rush the only salesperson you’ve got? Would you shortcut learning about your visitors just to give yourself more time to, like, watch cat videos? If so, I don’t think I can help you.)

But the second question – the one about long pages vs short pages – is a fantastic question. It’s one I haven’t directly addressed in any post or ebook, so I’m doing it today. Settle in – this may take a while but, hey, we already established that smart startups don’t rush this stuff…

For Starters, You’re Not “Writing Long Pages” –
You’re Shaping an Argument

Copywriting has very little in common with the ways of writing we all learned in school – like writing essays and short stories and stuff…

But, for a second, let’s refer back to our high school English classes. Remember the 4 types of essays we learned? Maybe you don’t, but here they are:

  1. Expository
  2. Descriptive
  3. Narrative
  4. Argumentative

The first 3 are generally the easiest to write. They tend to require little more than sitting down, opening a document and starting to write your thoughts out…

Typically, when writing a page, people defer to the Expository style of writing: we think we should simply explain what our solution is or what we’re offering as opt-in bait on a landing page. We’re like, “Unknown visitor, let me tell you about XYZ Product”. We may sprinkle in a few accepted persuasion tactics – like using testimonials (social proof) to flesh out our story – but largely we’re just doing a lot of showing and telling. There’s safety in merely explaining. You’re not putting yourself out there – and risking rejection – when you simply talk about your offering without trying to convince people of its merit.

When we write to explain, we’re not thinking about the fact that people don’t come to our site simply to learn…

…and even those who do come to learn could learn while being convinced of what you’re saying.

When we write in an expository manner, we’re not thinking about the fact that our business goal is not to get people to ‘learn’. (Or, at least, that’s very rarely the goal.)

Our goal is to get people to do something. And, by and large, that means convincing them that they need to complete X goal. So when we’re writing copy, we’re in fact trying to convince people that:

  • We understand their situation, needs and pain
  • We have the solution to their pain
  • We are better than other would-be solutions to their pain
  • They should take the next step toward choosing our solution today

How long your page is depends, in large part, on how much arguing you need to do to win your audience (i.e., the specific traffic to X page) to your side at this exact moment.

How much do you need to say to convince people? Not to explain your solution. But to convince prospects of the need for and ultimate value of your solution.

The answer to that question will factor into how long your page needs to be…

You Need to Argue, Not “Explain” –
So Here’s How to Argue in Your Web Copy…
Even If You Were Kicked Out of Debate Club

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about arguing passionately, the way you may do when you get together for family dinner, open a bottle of wine (or five), and someone brings up Stephen Harper

I’m talking about arguing a case in such a way that visitors who may not know you are led down a path, sans friction, to the final point of Being Convinced.

You don’t have to be as slick as a southern lawyer at arguing your point. You can start with a good ol’ fashioned ITTT (if this then that) argument:

If you run an agency then you want to grow profits

If you want to grow profits then you take on clients

If you take on clients then you have billable hours & project fees

If you have billable hours & project fees then your team needs to use its time wisely (so you get paid)

If you do not manage your time wisely then you waste time you can’t bill for

If you waste time you can’t bill for then you do not grow profits

All of that leads up to the pitch for time-tracking software or project-management software. Which would then lead up to a pitch for your time-tracking software or project-management software.

Okay, so how do you argue on a standard landing page (i.e., not a long-form sales page)?

And how do you even know where to start an argument? How do you open an argument? And what’s the statement you’re really backing?

To get us closer to answering those questions, we first need to answer this one…:

What Is Your Prospect’s State of Awareness?

Convincing is selling.

A common cliche you hear about selling is, You could sell snow to an Eskimo

The thing about selling snow to an Eskimo is that – if your Eskimo needed snow (due to, say, global warming) – it would take far less time to convince her to buy snow than it would take to convince, say, a Jamaican. That’s because your Eskimo a) has a problem and b) is hyper-aware of snow and its many benefits. The Jamaican has never even touched snow.

A huge gap separates a Jamaican from snow. Even if a Jamaican wants to get cold fast – a problem snow could solve – you’d have to introduce him to the idea of snow.

Of course, your Eskimo doesn’t need snow. (That’s a problem with product-market fit.)

Let’s pretend an Eskimo is vacationing in Jamaica. The Eskimo wants to get cold fast, and so does the Jamaican dude sitting poolside by her.

You come by with your Fresh Snow Cart.

The varying levels of awareness about snow that the Eskimo and the Jamaican possess will dramatically impact a) the argument you shape and b) the length of that argument.

In Breakthrough Advertising, my favorite copywriter Eugene/Gene Schwartz described the 5 primary stages, or states, or awareness that your visitors or prospects may have. Brian Clark explained those stages nicely here, and I quote:

  1. Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”

  2. Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.

  3. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.

  4. Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.

  5. Completely Unaware: No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.

The Eskimo is Most Aware…

The Jamaican is Solution Aware…

Your argument when convincing the Eskimo would be nice and short, like so:

If you are hot then you need snow

I have snow, and no one else at the pool does

It is $2 for a handful or $5 for a whole bucket, and there’s no waiting involved – it’s right here in my cart, so close you can feel its icy mist

Your argument when convincing the Jamaican would be longer, like so:

If you are hot then you need to find a way to cool down

If you need a way to cool down then you may be considering shaved ice

If you are considering shaved ice then you should also consider snow

Snow is like shaved ice – but it’s much softer, as it falls gently from the sky. It’s the naturally occurring way to stay cool, and it’s beloved by people in such foreign lands as Norway, Iceland, Finland and Canada. (Did you know that all 4 of those countries are among the top-rated countries in the world for quality of life, education and healthcare?) If you’ve got an eye for design, you shouldn’t even consider shaved ice – just look at these beautiful snowflakes, no two of which are alike. Did I mention that, unlike that bleachy pool over there, snow is completely chemical-free and organic?

I have snow, and no one else at this pool does

It is $2 for a handful or $5 for a whole bucket, and there’s no waiting involved – it’s right here in my cart, so close you can feel its icy mist

My argument there isn’t the point. 🙂 The length of it is…

I talked about the concept of state of awareness recently on Brecht Palombo’s Bootstrapped with Kids. And, in the recently launched second edition of this ebook, I used this basic visual to describe how state of awareness can impact what you write (and how much you write):

How long does your page need to be?

(In case it’s not clear: visitors on the Low Awareness end of the spectrum need to be brought up to High Awareness, whether on that page or in a series of pages / emails. So if someone is Problem Aware, you need to reflect their pain early on the page. Then move them along to Solution Aware by telling them a solution exists. Then move them along to Product Aware by telling them your solution is the best for them. Then move them to Most Aware by giving them what they need to act now.)

So it’s not a matter of long copy vs short copy

There’s no point in saying “long copy always beats short copy”… or “long copy doesn’t work on me”… or “web users will only tolerate short copy”…

Rather, your page needs to be as long as is necessary to make the argument that will address the prospect in their state of awareness. If you don’t know how aware they are, you need to find out in order to shape your argument…

How Can You Find Out What State of
Awareness Visitors to Your Pages Are In?

Keep in mind: your goal is not to speak to all of your visitors. Writing to convert is about writing copy that is likely to convince your ideal market or market segment. If you’ve got multiple landing pages intended for multiple segments, then you’re writing for the best prospects within those segments.

Disco awareness for long questions
Ask visitors to tell you how aware they are

Here’s what I do to find out how aware visitors to X page are:

On landing pages in general

  • Use a pop-up survey – like Qualaroo or Disco – to ask a question like:
    • How did you hear about us?
    • Before today, had you heard of us?
    • What 1 question would you like us to answer for you today?
  • Refer to your analytics to see what percentage of visitors are returning visitors vs new (with new likely having lower awareness than returning)
  • Refer to your chat transcripts for the page to see if the questions visitors are asking suggest they know your brand, know exactly what their problem is, etc

On landing pages for PPC ads

  • The keyword phrase can obviously be very indicative of your visitors’ awareness levels, with branded keywords indicating that your visitor is The Most Aware

On landing pages for retargeting ads

  • If you’re retargeting, your visitor is likely Product Aware or The Most Aware, both of which may require a shorter argument – with perhaps more incentives – to get them to try your solution

On landing pages for emails

  • Rather than learning about who’s going to your page, write a wider array of targeted landing pages based on what you know about your subscribers’ activity (i.e., thanks to your email platform’s reporting)

Like with email landing pages, Facebook ad landing pages are less about learning who your visitors are and more about sending the right visitors to the right landing pages. Because you can control so much about the types of people clicking on your Facebook ad, you can adjust your argument quite easily.

…Back to Your Argument…

This is the basic 3-part structure I follow when writing a page:

  1. Start with your value proposition in your hero section. This is the statement you will, essentially, be supporting throughout the page.
  2. Based on the state of awareness of your visitors to the page you’re writing, outline the logical flow to bring them from what they know to what you know to choosing you. (This entire section becomes the bulk of your page.)
    1. You’ll want to know the pros and cons of using your solution; you should know which cons are most important, which pros counter which cons, and which pros stand alone. If there’s a con you cannot directly address, be prepared to minimize it or distract the prospect from it.
    2. As this is the core of your argument, you’ll also want to follow the rules of shaping a concise, persuasive argument
      1. Have strong awareness of who your prospect is, what they want most and what’s going on in their world (and minds) right now
      2. Offer evidence to support each layer in your argument
      3. Use powerful language to make your argument more enticing
      4. Be clear and focused – don’t go off on tangents, and don’t talk about anything your prospect doesn’t care about
  3. Close.

Importantly, transition between points in your argument. Your transitions will help people keep up with your argument…

In short copy, transitions are virtually impossible because readers’ eyes are allowed to bounce all over the page. In long pages and hybrid sales pages, transitions often come in the form of crossheads (which are the centered ‘subheads’ that run down the page).

Transitions pull together the narrative flow of your argument. And THAT’S one of the key reasons long-form sales pages – and hybrid sales pages – are so powerful. Check out this transition between sections on the new one-pager /hybrid sales page I wrote:

Long pages - how long should they go?
Transitioning to avoid interrupting the argument on

What’s happening there? Metalab (makers of Flow) are simply using arrows to connect the sections, and the copy follows the logical flow of the argument we’re trying to make. The word “so” at the beginning of the header “So how exactly does Flow save you hours each month?” is an important cue for readers – like all conjunctions, it signals a connection and transition…

Unfortunately, a transition is one of the powerful elements of long copy that far too many designers inadvertently remove when designing pages. So it’s important to work directly with your UI designer to ensure narrative flow isn’t interrupted – even if you’re not writing a long-form sales page.

Good News for Non-Debaters:
Your Argument Can Tap Into Logical Fallacies

Git yer logical fallacies here
Get this logical fallacies poster by clicking the image

Notice that crazy thing I said to the Jamaican about Finland and Norway? That’s a logical fallacy called False Cause, which wouldn’t fly at your high-school Model UN. I wouldn’t recommend using False Cause in your arguments, but here are some logical fallacies that are oh-so common in marketing arguments:

  • Black or White – In marketing, we often set up our solution as the only alternative to the pain our prospects are experiencing, even though there may be dozens of solutions. Our job is not to talk about the dozens of options you have – that’s what blog posts are for. Our job is rather to convince people that our option is the best for solving their pain – even if we have to get all Black or White about it.
  • False Cause – OMG, if I had a dollar for every time I saw copy that draws what may be an untested connection between a product and an outcome.
  • Bandwagon – We call it “social proof”.
  • Appeal to AuthorityCialdini taught us that this is actually quite persuasive.
  • Appeal to Nature – Half the health-food and weightloss industry uses this one like a crutch.
  • Anecdotal – They’re called testimonials.
  • The Texas Sharpshooter – It’s called marketing… 😉

The point here is not to talk about logical fallacies and how fun it is to shape our marketing arguments based on fallacies. It’s just to point out, to you academics, that your argument doesn’t have to win you a Certificate of Merit from your local debate club. In fact, your argument may be heightened, for your visitors,  by using those fallacies…

Write As Much As You Need to Convince…
And Then Edit

The rule is that you should write only as much as you need to in order to convince someone…

But if you go into the process of writing your page with the thought “I need to make this as short as I can”, you’re going to do yourself – and your visitors – a huge disservice.

Start by writing with your argument and your visitor’s state of awareness in mind. Start there. Write freely. Write as much as you need to in order to make the case for your solution…

…and then edit it.

It’s when you edit that you can pull out the unnecessary words. The extra lines. The repetition. It’s also during editing that you can refine the structure and layout of your page to better highlight key parts of your argument…

Examples of Pages That Are Structured to Convince

The ITTT structure described above doesn’t actually make it onto the page, in most cases. It’s just a starting point for figuring out what your argument is and how long it may go. Then comes visitor-facing copywriting is styled like a hybrid sales page and written to convince. The first big point Groove makes is this:

Growing teams manage support better with our simple help desk software because it keeps your whole team on the same page and it’s a more personal experience for your customers…

In fact, they simply break that one statement into 3 statements, turn those into crossheads (in the long-form sales page tradition) and then support each point with great evidence (copy, screenshots, influencer testimonials). Check it out:

GrooveHQ great logical flow

Another example is, of course, Flow, which I mentioned above. Here you’ll see how Flow positions the 3 key supporting points for the argument Flow is the best task management software you’ll ever use.

As a bit of background, I knew, going into writing this page, that prospects to the Flow home page are split between Problem Aware and Solution Aware (i.e., they’re using a competing task management solution), with Solution Aware hypothesized as more likely to try and use the software and, thus, a better prospect. So we opened the page with an argument for those who are Solution Aware. And then, for Problem Aware people, we discussed the merits of task management solutions in general before getting into the power of Flow as a product. Here are the sections of interest:

Flow long copy argument

Rather than simply using a traditional 3-column layout for the 3 supporting points under Why is Flow the best, we a) stack them to encourage reading in a narrative style, b) take our time with the copy for each point (as a good argument shouldn’t be too rushed), and c) use large, easy-to-read screenshots as evidence.

Now let’s look at a shorter home page…

You may remember the hybrid-style Crazy Egg home page, which I wrote the copy for and discussed in this post. Well, Mr. Hiten Shah has now updated it like so:

The new Crazy Egg home page

That’s the whole page…

…and it’s a far cry from where they were 4 years ago.

Why might Crazy Egg be super-smart to go from a long-form sales page to a short-copy page with a single headline, a call to action, a statement making them an authority (i.e., “The Original Heatmapping Technology”) and some social proof?

If you said because the awareness of their visitors is higher, I’d agree! Crazy Egg is now the go-to brand for heatmaps – and heatmapping as a research technique is ubiquitous among Crazy Egg’s best prospects – which means that, on the Awareness Spectrum, Crazy Egg’s prospects may be Most Aware. (Perhaps 100% of their visitors are not Most Aware, but their best prospects are likely to be.) How much do you have to say to Most Aware prospects? As Brian Clark taught us, they only need to know “the deal”. So Crazy Egg tells them the deal in its headline: you can get a free heatmap.

If this page doesn’t convert better than the one it’s replaced (or being tested against), it would not mean that short copy doesn’t work…

And if it converts way better than the one it’s replaced, it doesn’t mean that long copy doesn’t work…

So How Long Should Your Pages Be?

Like everything, the length of your page depends on your visitors and prospects. It’s not about picking one length or style of page out of a hat and simply shoving your messages into that. And it’s not about copying Crazy Egg, Flow, Groove, Dropbox, Uber or any other sites out there!

It’s about how much your visitors to the landing page in question know – about their pains, solutions and your solution – and giving them as much as they need (and not a word more) to choose you.

Learn about your visitors. Study them.

The rule remains the same: research, research, research. There is no shortcut.


About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • Katie Szabo

    This is an incredible article! I showed the awareness diagram to my boss and it really helped us get on the same page with blog positioning. Thank you so much Joanna.

  • Joe

    I stopped reading halfway through this article becasue it is too long.

  • This is a great and detailed guide. Can you tell some changes that you learn in 4 years?

  • David

    Hi. Being an old post, I don’t expect a response, but here goes.

    Can an ad move the person to the next stage?

    We have a course on job interviewing. The site is brand new, no email list, no traffic, and the course hasn’t launched yet. We want to have a handful of people take the course, free, to provide feedback and a testimonial we can later use on the sales page.

    It will be open to a handful of people, so we want them to answer a survey (something more friendly to call that?) to find the right audience, as well as glean some messaging we might use for the sales page.

    Our idea is to use paid search to target informational queries (e.g. “interview tips”, “answering greatest weekness question”, etc). Because they are searching for someone to solve their problem, they would be considered solution aware, right?

    Can the ad introduce the “free course” and now we are at product aware by the time they hit the landing page? Or do I still need to take them from solution to product?

  • This was absolutely amazing. Took 3 pages of notes and about to implement all of it. Thanks a bunch Jo

  • Netta

    Thanks for the great, easy to understand explanations and examples! Super helpful!

  • Laura Neidig

    Very thorough piece. Thanks for explaining things so well!

  • I love your fleshed out examples of what Eugene’s awareness categories. Very enlightening for both the student and the potential client. 🙂

    One thing I’ve become aware and started to give consideration to when seeking to create compelling arguments is…

    The 4 Learning Styles

    There are 4 different ways people learn and 4 different ways people teach and when we use all 4 of these, we dramatically decrease the possibility of misunderstanding and dramatically increase the chance that the other person fully gets what we’re trying to communicate to them.

    The easiest way to understand these 4 learning style is to think of them as asking a question. Here they are…

    1. Why?

    Why do I need to learn this? You need to get them excited to learn. Tell them what’s in it for them if they learn what you’re about to teach. You also need to tell them what they’re going to avoid if they learn it.

    You need to use both pain AND pleasure.

    Example: If you use what I’m about to teach you, you will lose weight. If you don’t use what I’m about to teach you, you will not lose weight and if fact you will probably gain more.

    For the why learning style, they can’t hear you until you’ve connected up what you’re about to teach them with the benefit or the result that they want. So always explain, the outcome, the result, the benefit that the person about to embark on this journey will get.

    And also explain the pain and the frustration, the fear that they’re going to avoid if they learn what you’re teaching them.

    Now by teaching in your piece, you can do Frank Kern does and begin referring to your sales material as a TUTORIAL. This is an easy way to lower the barrier to entry for the person who isn’t already level 11 pre-sold on what you have to offer.

    2. What?

    These are the theoretical types. They want to know what they’re going to learn. They want the concept and the theory.

    This type of learner loves to know the history, the science behind what you’re teaching. If you can talk about a study that was done about the topic you’re discussing, they’ll love it.

    You can also explain the history of how you figured out exactly how the system works. If you can, show them a map of how all the pieces fit together. You want to zoom out and give them a conceptual view.

    The example for a weight loss product would be explaining how the body puts fat on and how it sheds fat; the science behind it.

    3. How?

    And they need a recipe. They want specific action steps in order to learn.

    Each of the action step involved… 1, 2, 3…

    4. What If?

    What if I go out and do it? What will happen? This one is where they see themselves using it and the result that comes from using it and that’s how they learn. And ultimately come to understand once they’ve used it in the real world.

    Everyone needs to do this.

    So at the end of your tutorial/salesletter you would summarize and say, “Here’s what to go and do, right now to get started! As you’re taking action, here’s what to watch for to determine if it’s working, here’s what to watch for that tells you it’s not working.”

    And what’s cool is that addressing all of the learning styles isn’t that hard because nothing deviates from the core fundamentals of writing a solid sales message.

    Thank you Joanna for reminding me of these important lessons that I can’t be reminded of too often. 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thank YOU for reminding me – and all of us. Actually, I can’t say you’ve reminded me. I didn’t know in the first place. There is so much in the realm of pedagogy that we can and should use when thinking of how to persuade people; after all, teachers are huge persuasion artists – they have to convince distracted people every single day to stick with it and pay attention. (Some are better than others, of course, but that’s the case with everything.)

      • PieSync

        Another one to keep in mind is how people remember things. I’ll use rough numbers now to make my point, but it’s the order that counts, really.

        People only remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what hear *and* see, 70% of what they discuss with others, 80% of what they evaluate and discuss and 90% of what they explain to others.

        I always like to keep this in mind to make sure we get as far down the line as we can. Copy and videos on your website, free trials and conversation after a trial make perfect sense 🙂

        Thanks for sharing this great post, Joanna!

  • Cathy Goodwin

    This is brilliant – love the contrast between Jamaicans and Eskimos (having lived in Alaska myself). I also like the reason Crazy Egg gets by with shorter copy. It’s why so many people tear themselves apart trying to promote with a short video like the marketing gurus … who have an audience that knows them already.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Totally, right, Cathy?! There’s a time for short copy – long isn’t always the way to go. But when it IS the way to go, best make sure yer gettin’ it right.

  • Jonathan DeVore

    You’ve been on fire lately with your blog posts. So much good stuff coming from your beautiful noggin.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      My beautifulk noggin thanks you. 🙂

  • Integraphix

    Each page should be a hefty length! Great post, Joanna! Even as a Chicago graphic designer , I try to make plenty of blog posts long enough to be appealing to searches yet short enough to be appealing to readers.

  • Joanna Wiebe

    hahaha! Where’ve you been all my life, Erin? 😉

    • I’m so not kidding 🙂 I’d love to work with you and have copy writing needs.

  • goatsocial

    Amazing post! This has answered so many questions for me. Especially after CTA Conf…

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yay! That’s awesome to hear. 🙂

  • Linda Joseph

    This post is awesome….Great work

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Linda!

  • Robin Geuens

    I don’t always leave comments on blogs, but when I do it’s to say that the post is pretty damn good.

    Seriously though, you made something click in my mind. Thank you for that.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yay! That’s awesome, Robin. Thanks. 🙂 Glad to hear it.

  • I had an A-ha! moment reading this about what was wrong with a landing page I wrote recently – I was targeting product aware people by bleating on about their problem. Thanks so much for your clarity Jo:)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yay! Glad to help, Fiona. 🙂

  • Awesome post, Joanna, thanks a lot! I always keep Schwartz’ states of awareness in mind when writing, and love the way you broke it down here.
    Btw. you might want to fix the not-working link to the logical fallacies poster 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Urgh – it’s not working? Thanks, Ramin – I’ll check wassup.

  • Susan Guinto

    I love this post. This ends the debate about which makes more sense, a longer post or a shorter post. We shouldn’t really start with the question about
    whether we should create longer or shorter articles, but whether we really have
    something important to say which will bring value to our target readers and which will compel them to take action ASAP. Thanks for this Joanna!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad you liked it, Susan! It’s cool that you’re thinking of how to apply this to blog posts and articles, too.

  • Alex Ramsay

    This is great!

    I’m on the hunt for more engaging content and comms for
    employees rather than customers, within online recognition solutions. I recon what you’ve covered here can be translated into that application, where we so often have a one size fits all home page that becomes stale over time. We tend to segment by business area but by not by previous use and demonstrated knowledge of the recognition tools…

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yeah, it seems like the one-size-fits-all home pages we were seeing years ago are being replaced by more tailored, target hybrid sales pages (or less aggressive one-pagers). I totally get the desire to segment by business area – and you still should – but within those segments, how aware are your visitors, right? (I’m agreeing with you. 🙂 )

      For example, QuickBooks might segment their home page by size of business and by accountants — then send, say, newbie biz owners off to a long landing page meant for Problem Aware Businesses… and send a larger biz owner or finance person off to a shorter page meant for Product Aware Businesses… and send accountants off to another short-ish page (or series of pages) meant for Product Aware Accountants.

  • Aaron Orendorff

    Freakin’ outstanding! That “basic 3-part structure” was killer, esp. the emphasis on VP and the whole “outline the logical flow to bring them from what they know to what you know to choosing you.”

    I actually just finished Schwartz. Thankfully I got the PDF online for free. Not that I mind paying for quality ebooks. *wink* I’m putting together a piece on the “5 or 10 word” secret to “breakthrough” copywriting that includes the 5 “states of awareness.” Demian from CopyBlogger is helping me with it. (shameless name drop)

    Anyway, super helpful post… and timely. 😉

    How long does it take you to put something like that
    together? Everything’s so thorough, esp. all the supporting examples!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      The Schwartz is out of print, so no one can complain about the free-ness of the PDF. 🙂 How cool you’re working with Demian — he’s super-nice and awesome. Let me know when your piece is out!

      This post took me about 20 hours, methinks.

      • Aaron Orendorff

        Will do. Should be out this week.

        Oh, and the 20 hours thing makes me feel better. 😉

  • Again, the short copy vs. long copy duel has been resolved by conversion copywriter! No need to argue now. Hopefully it applicable to other niches other than tech start-up and SaaS. Would you mind sharing the result of A/B testing for the new Flow homepage copy against the control version?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Ha! If only we’d resolved it. 🙂 And don’t worry — when we’ve got test results to share, we always do!

  • Oh so YOU did the new Flow website! Can’t say I’m surprised, it’s pretty damn awesome. Been a huge fan of the Groove home page too.

    And that’s why… you both earn a spot in my soon to be hugely famous Pinboard: 🙂

    (suggestions for additions welcome)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool, David — watch for the new hybrid sales page, too (which I wrote). Coming soon…

  • Your posts have a common element which is missing in many blogs, including many well known blogs that are linked heavily for “copy blogging” 😉
    That element is the skill to bring your work (argument) to a conclusion.
    Really it’s rare, and it’s bloody refreshingly Canadian of you!

    Leaving the reader with the desire and clear path to take action is a ways away from telling us how to take action but leaving the reader needing more info.

    All the best for the best.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      That’s nice of you to say, Vince. We try to tie up loose ends and answer questions that we’d want answers to — although, admittedly, we sometimes fill in enough gaps that we take away the chance for discussion in comments. *shrug*

  • Neil Wesley Flinchbaugh

    Hey Joanna, I love this post. Great job of tying together state of awareness with length of copy. I, for one, am tired of reading the same old statements that “long copy works better” or “short copy works better,” so it’s refreshing to read a more nuanced & accurate take. The crazyegg home page is a perfect example of a site evolving its messaging to match visitors’ awareness level.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Right? It’d be very nice to put the long copy vs short copy discussion to bed, though I’m sure that’s never actually going to happen. We can dream, right, Neil? 🙂

      • Neil Wesley Flinchbaugh

        Yeah, that’ll be the day! So is it fairly accurate to say that the more aware a prospect is, the fewer objections they’ll likely have (e.g., the eskimo already knows that snow is cold)?

      • Joanna Wiebe

        Largely, yeah – but I wouldn’t say always. We still have to consider whether:

        – Our best prospects are satisficers (make quicker decisions with less info) or maximizers (research like mofos);

        – There are others involved in the purchasing decisions (e.g., mom has to confirm with dad that the fam should spend money on a parenting course she knows well);

        – Their product awareness is outdated (e.g., is McDonalds still what it was in Supersize Me? is Apple still making products in Chinese work camps?);

        – And other such things that can generate objections to and anxieties about any product, even one we know well.

        For example, most of us know all about “the gym”. We’re leaning toward Most Aware that The Gym is the best non-surgical solution to our weight and health problems. But we can come up with 100s of objections to actually going to The Gym or investing in its offerings, like a personal trainer or spin class. (Maybe that makes us poor prospects for The Gym. But it seems that most gyms are trying to sell to consumers in general, so.)


      • Neil Wesley Flinchbaugh

        Totes agree. Definitely a powerful tool when combined with the proper segmentation, allowing you to write different pages targeted to each of your traffic sources’ awareness levels!

  • My brain loves your brain. Seriously loved how you broke this down on the conscious level, because I think I’ve understood this subconsciously but you made it really clear for me.

    It’s amazing what outside perspective can do from a seasoned pro like yourself! 🙂 You rock!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      That’s funny… ‘cuz my brain loves YOUR brain. (Dig your blog, NL.) For the longest time, this was just, like, a sort of ‘gut’ thing for me, too. Then I found Mr. Schwartz. And started testing out this assumption. And started to see that, indeed, there’s something to it. 🙂 Hopefully it helps you, too.

  • awesome post Joanna, funny I found this as I’m building an application for product creators & their affiliates to not just have the Affiliate target the traffic to the sales page but the other way around target the sales (or landings) page to the traffic by letting affiliates edit certain parts of the page (such as headlines) for their traffic segments.

    Related to this I’ve been doing quite a bit of research in the states of awareness, so this post is very useful for me on HOW to talk to leads in these different states of awareness. Will use this knowledge to pass it on to Affiliates using our tool (when ready) and of course our own sales page!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Very cool, Steven! Your app sounds awesome by the way — best of luck with it. 🙂

  • Marlon Douglas

    Great post, thanks for writing! I have a question. How do a great research?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Start with the tips I outlined above, Marlon! Then read the rest of the blog for more research ideas. 🙂

  • This is such a helpful post. The way you tied awareness to length makes total sense!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Heidi! Glad to hear you dig it. 🙂

  • Peter Konc

    Great post and very nice examples 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Peter!

  • Stephen Moore

    Excellent post, thanks for sharing! I haven’t seen state of awareness and length of copy tied together before. Also, you made the political staffer in me smile more than a bit. Cheers!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool, Stephen. 🙂 For so long I couldn’t pinpoint why a page ‘needed’ to be long or short — but when I read Breakthrough Advertising (a million years ago), it was… wait for it… a breakthrough. 🙂

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