Product Launch Advice, Part 3: How Long Does My Sales Page Need To Be?

(Late to the party? Take a look at part one and part two.)

Sales pages are one of those things that everyone’s got an opinion on. And that’s fine. At the same time, it’s helpful when that opinion is based on actual customer data rather than just “what feels like it won’t offend anyone” or “what I hate.”

We get this a lot with clients during consults, and when Dave’s writing sales pages for some of them. Emotion enters into the picture, and there’s a lot of worry and fear and “but I can’t do that!” going on, whether we’re advising a particular page go longer – or shorter. It doesn’t matter. There’s always a worry point that people are going to think X or Y or Z about any particular decision.

So let us dispense with the advice, and maybe get a little clearer on how to decide how long your sales page should be.

How long your sales page should be is up to the buyer, not you.

We’re going to assume you’re not writing your sales page with a very specific branding objective in mind (i.e., “I want to be known for my insanely short sales pages” or “I want to make a very long page to finally show I’m releasing my Very Big Thing and changing brand direction”). If you are, you don’t care about taking a hit on conversion for that. You can sell zero copies, but you’re happy, because this was a strategic, long-term move. (These are often called “Decoy Launches,” which we’ll cover in our BIG LAUNCH class.)

We’re going to assume you DO care about conversion.

If that’s the case, then your opinion on length should never enter into the decision process at all. This is not a work of art you’re putting up in the family room. This is not a magnum opus that’s going to be displayed on a screen when Liam Neeson reads your eulogy.

Your sales page is a tool that helps potential buyers decide if they’re going to become actual buyers. So you need to consider what kind of tool will do the job effectively. That’s all you really need to think about.

It helps to think of the readers of your sales page as falling into four categories.

Category #1 – I would definitely buy this. These are the people who are pretty much pre-sold, and they don’t care how long the sales page is. I can’t tell you how many people don’t read our sales pages, scroll to the bottom after a few paragraphs, and buy. Dave once spent $2500 on a program after reading for less than sixty seconds. (That’s what good launch content and opening copy will do for you.) So you can ignore these people, because they’re going to buy regardless. They like you or they want the product outright.

Category #2 – I would theoretically buy this if I had the details. These are the people who may or may not buy from you after evaluating if your product is right for them at this time. You keep these people reading by being informative – as long as it takes – and not being boring. There’s an old quote that I’ll likely misquote here:

Sales copy should be like a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the important parts but short enough to stay interesting.

Interested people will read as long as it takes for them to decide if they want to a) scroll down and buy, b) read to the end and buy, or c) click away because they don’t want the product. So presuming you’re treating your copy like that skirt, you’ll get a) and b).

If people choose option C, click away, it has nothing to do with how long your sales page is. It’s either that they didn’t want the product or your copy was boring and they assumed the product wouldn’t be any better.

Category #3 – I hate sales pages. And I hate you, too, now that I think about it. Ahh, the world of the jaded. You can’t do anything about these people, because they will be unhappy whether your page is long or short, boring or interesting. They also have no intention of buying your product. Forget they exist, and go back to writing for Category #2.

Category #4 – I would likely click on a funny cat video if – OMG ITS JINGLE CATS I HEART THEM!!!! These people may or may not buy from you – they’re basically Category #2 except you have to consider their attention span.

Generally, that attention span is short. But that’s generally, and that’s something you can influence.

The word on the street says that people have short attention spans. No. That’s lazy thinking. People have short attention spans for things that are boring. The same people who won’t watch a 30-second ad that’s not relevant to their interests will watch a ten-minute video about something that is. The same people that will click away from a video in 30 seconds will sit in front of their favorite sitcom for 30 minutes.

It all comes down to holding their interest. And when people can’t do that, they blame attention spans because it’s easier.

Some basic rules of thumb that affect the appropriate length for your sales page.

Remember that the person who actually cares how long your sales page ends up being is the buyer, specifically Category #2.

Imagine them reading your text and thinking “That’s good to know.” Then imagine them reading your text and thinking “Why is that even on this page?” You’ll probably fix your sales page length issues with that alone.

That said, here are a few things to consider before you write your sales page:

Think about how well readers know you. If you’re writing to cold traffic who doesn’t know you, then you’re probably going to have to spend some time building credibility. But if you’re launching to your own warm list who remembers your name, you can generally skip the “Who I and and why should you listen to me” part. The last sales page I wrote – or, let’s be honest, Dave wrote – started with “Hi, Naomi here.” A warm list or warm traffic means that you can get away with going shorter.

Think about how likely you are to hit your numbers. If you know you’re going to fill a class or sell all of your product, then you have a lot more leeway in going shorter, because demand is high. You can also shorten your sales page if you don’t want to sell as much. If you’re selling twenty seats to a class and you don’t want 100 people frustrated that they can’t get in, then having less informative copy and shorter means you get fewer buyers, which in that case is what you want.

Think about how much education or how many details they need. If there’s any complexity in your product – like a live class that runs at a specific time, or covers very specific parts of a typically generalized topic, then you’re probably going to need to go longer here. You may need to mention certain things multiple times to prevent people who aren’t reading that closely from missing important information.

Also, if you’re selling something people don’t know they need yet, because they haven’t considered the impact of the problem that you’re solving, then you’re going to need to devote more copy to educating them.

Think about how high your price is compared to customer expectation. In general, higher price means longer copy. If you want to charge me $20,000 to go to your retreat in Mexico, I’m probably going to need a lot of information before I do that. If you’re selling a $17 ebook, you can probably go pretty short on your copy.

You also have to consider relative price. If you’re selling a $17 ebook to people who self-identify as chronically broke, then you’re actually going to need longer copy there, because you’ve got education and persuasion to think about. But if you’re selling a $99 wireless speaker to people who routinely spend thousands of dollars a year on their home theater gear, you might be able to do better with short copy, because $99 doesn’t hurt that much.

Some basic advice before we close up today.

The length of your sales page depends on context. The context the buyer cares about. Think about what they need, and that will guide you as you’re deciding how long your sales page should be.

Basically, for every section of your sales page – the opening, the close, the product details, everything – look at any individual section and ask these two questions:

  • In what scenarios would my buyers have a good reason to want this section to be longer?
  • In what scenarios would my buyers have a good reason to want this section to be shorter?

And that’s all you need to know about that. We have a lot more to say about sales pages, but we’ll cover that in the class that opens up in the last week of December.

We hope you’ll join us.

This is part three of our launch advice series. Stay tuned for part four.

Tomorrow we’re going to answer the question “How close together can my launches be?” Keep an eye on the blog or sign up for The Letter and we’ll email you when new posts are out.

Naomi writes more things like this in The Letter. Get it for free today. (It also comes with free marketing courses. You can’t move for free here.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.