When you think of myths, you might think of ancient Greece and sacred beliefs about Titans, Olympians and lesser gods. Copywriting, although less ancient or sacred, has its own set of myths about copy length and word choice. In the interests of better copy for everyone, let’s dispel some of the most pervasive copywriting myths.
Myth #1: Short Copy is Better Than Long Copy (or Vice Versa)
Copywriters who write short copy like to disparage long copy and (surprise!) copywriters who write long copy like to disparage short. Truth is, it’s not how much you have but what you do with it that counts.
As a general rule, people don’t read on the Web, they scan. So shorter and concise is often better. It’s also true most people don’t like to scroll, so it’s best to keep your copy short so it will display “above the fold” or on tiny mobile screens.
Having said that, there are some exceptions. There are times, even on the Web, when longer copy is still needed:
- When the product is new or complex and consumers need more detailed information about features and benefits
- When the consumer is in the information gathering stage of the purchasing process
- When the sales process doesn’t involve sales people who can answer questions
- When the purpose of the copy is to generate a sale (as opposed to a lead)
- When the product retails at a high price and consumers want more information before spending a bundle
- When the product is an unsought good (where consumers don’t know they need the product until they learn more about it).
When any of these conditions apply, you might need longer copy. As with most things in copywriting, answers to questions about long or short is: it depends.
Myth #2: The Goal of all Copy is to Sell
Not true. The objective of copy varies with marketing strategies, purchasing processes and types of products or services. Indeed, different pages on a business website often have different objectives. For example, the objective of a newsletter subscription page is probably to increase newsletter subscriptions. The objective of a blog post might be to increase customer engagement. The objective of an online customer survey might be to discover unmet needs, new product uses, or untapped markets.
Although copywriting is often associated with selling, copy can have many other objectives.
Myth #3: There Are Magic Words Guaranteed to Get Results
Unfortunately, there’s no fairy dust in copywriting. Google power copywriting words and you’ll see lists upon lists of magic words, often with little duplication between lists!
Of course, it’s okay to use these words in your copy, but in and of themselves they’re not going to do much. It’s much more important to understand your target audience, your objective and the media you’re writing for. No power word or phrase will get you there on its own.
Myth #4: Write For Search Engines First, Then People
In the competition between web spiders and web users, web users win every time. Sure, you can pay your nephew’s friend to do keyword research and stuff the results into your copy. People may discover your website that way (if it doesn’t get you blacklisted first), but if the copy doesn’t compel people to take action, then what’s the point?
At Webcopyplus, we write for people first, then spiders. Our goal is to optimize copy for spiders without jeopardizing a company’s brand, user experience or Google’s benevolence.
Myth #5: Once the Copy is Done, it’s Done
Many businesses think once their website is launched, the job is done. While quality content helps provide a sound foundation for your online marketing hub, today’s users expect websites to have dynamic content.
Naturally, you don’t want to rewrite your content every few months, but you should tweak existing content as needed and add new content to keep your website fresh and current.
Also, as you monitor and analyze your website statistics (such as number of hits, bounce rates, and click-through rates), you can play with your copy to see what’s working and what isn’t. This helps you improve the performance of your copy and website, and get the most out of your investment.
Copywriting ‘Truth’ or ‘Myth’?
The myths of copywriting are hardly as entertaining as those of ancient Greece, but some copywriting myths are as pervasive as the stories of Zeus, Athena and Poseidon. The next time your colleague tells you a copywriting truth, consider whether it is, in fact, a copywriting myth. Then smite him with your trident.