Are there any long copy advocates left online?
Last week, I awoke from a lengthy marketing slumber and scanned a few dozen online promotions from the direct response giants: Phillips, Boardroom, KCI, Forbes, Rodale, etc.
They all seem to share the same approach for marketing to a new prospect — short, punchy, space-ad-like web pages, focusing on lead generation or making irresistible trial offers. I could only find a few promos remotely close in length to their mailbox advertising.
Here’s a random example of a “space ad web page” in the options trading market. It has a headline, a couple of bullets and an offer. You can scroll from top to bottom in two moves.
Of course, once the new prospect wends his way into the funnel, he’ll receive the thirty page magalogs cherished by us marketers.
But as a best practice, long copy offers aren’t being put in front of cold prospects. Seemingly with good reason.
Here’s an interesting test any online marketer can take.
If you have any long sales letter websites (yes, the ones sporting garish red headlines) with Google Analytics installed in them, do a comparison between the average time spent by new visitors on your site last year verses now.
For most, the difference is startling
Web analytics show most first time visitors clicking away in droves from sales letter sites today.
And that’s because most people aren’t reading anymore.
The blue line is YouTube’s growth in 2007. Amazon and eBay are flatliners by comparison.
Now, take that floundering sales letter site and insert a short YouTube video and voilà…visitors are spending two and three times longer on the site…and conversions to sale are magically following suit.
This is happening in many markets.
Combine this with formatting your top level web page to look like a space ad instead of an online sales letter and the results become additive.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still worship at the long copy temple and relish clever, futurist, financial promos like this. But increasingly, the “online space ad” seems to be gaining prominence.
I think 2008 will see the resurgence of the venerable space ad for several reasons.
- Space ads are a natural response to the contempt many visitors feel when they land on a sales letter site
- Space ads online are ideal for inserting concise videos. Competently done videos fuel the sales process.
- Space ads are the purest and oldest advertising medium. Successful ones not only have to compete against other ads but against the magazine and newspaper content the reader has paid for.
- Space ads are like sprinting. If you’re in decent shape, you can train yourself to “look good” for short distances. Writing direct mail packages and magalogs are like running an ultra-marathon. Bencivenga and Makepeace may look as good at mile 30 as they do at mile 3 but the rest of us will be seen coughing up our lunch.