What’s the ideal length of copy?

by Stratton Craig

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We don’t need to tell you that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all copy length for all mediums and purposes. So how do you determine the ideal word count before you write your next piece?
What’s the medium/channel?
Your audience will respond differently depending on the medium or channel you are communicating through, so make this your first thought. When it comes to digital content for PC, tablets and smartphones, less is generally more as attention spans are limited. A print article, however, usually takes on a longer form of copy as the reader is willing to commit more time to learning about a product or service.
Who’s the audience?
Next, consider who the reader is, and in particular the knowledge they already have on the subject. If they’re specialists you may have success with succinct but benefit-heavy copy that quickly informs them why your product/service is of value to them. If they need to be taught about a subject, it may pay to up the word count so they understand what you’re selling and are therefore more likely to take action.
What does the reader want or need?
To complement the above questions, think about the wants and needs of the reader relative to the medium/channel and their profile. They may need to save time, want to increase their knowledge, get fitter, or whatever else your product/service can help them with. Knowing this and the limitations of the medium/channel can help you to determine how much detail is needed and how to structure the piece.
What outcome do I want?
You should also always write with a preferred outcome in mind as this influences the tone you use, how sales-focused the copy is and how much of it is needed. If you want to push the reader to enquire and find out more, a short but absorbing piece that teases their interest could be ideal. If the preferred outcome is to establish a brand as a thought leader, a detailed feature that educates and informs but doesn’t sell is more effective.
How do you determine the length of a piece of copywriting? Let us know in the comment box below or by tweeting us @strattoncraig.

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