How long should a sales letter be? Good question. While there’s no “ideal” length for a sales letter, there are a few guidelines–some of which may seem contradictory. The only absolute rule is: make the letter exactly as long as it needs to be to sell the product or service. Say what you need to say, and when you’re finished, stop.
Here are seven general guidelines:
1. Long copy pulls better than short copy–traditionally.
2. Sales letters are getting shorter. Michel Fortin, a copywriter who wrote a 50-plus-page sales letter that made a million dollars in one day, is leading the trend toward shorter sales letters.
3. The more expensive the item, the longer the copy should be. People need more information before they’re ready to commit to, say, a vacation timeshare than to a book club.
4. Some audiences like to read more than others. If you’re selling a book club membership, for example, obviously your prospects are people who like to read. Depending on what you’re selling, your audience may not be as willing to read a long sales letter.
5. Long copy is more acceptable offline than online. The printed page is easier to read than a computer screen; people get tired of scrolling and clicking to get to the next part of the letter.
6. How long can you hold your reader’s attention? In addition to the product or service being offered, and the audience it’s being offered to, this may also depend on the skill of the copywriter.
7. If you’re not sure–test. Ask your copywriter to create a short letter and a long letter, and do a split test.
One more thing you should know about letter length: don’t make the mistake of thinking a short letter is easier to write than a long one, and that you’ll save money by asking your copywriter for a short letter. That’s not necessarily so; many copywriters will agree that short copy is actually harder to write because you have to choose your words more carefully.
So please let your copywriter use his or her experience and judgment regarding the perfect length for your sales letter–and don’t forget to test!