October 14, 2014

Copywriting Research Chart: What do customers want from your copy?


How long should copy be?

It’s a question we are often asked at MarketingSherpa.

In this week’s chart, we're going to take a look at what customers want most from your company’s communications.

by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

When this chart came across my desk, I knew it would be valuable to many MarketingSherpa readers — both on the agency and brand sides.

Stratton Craig, a copywriting agency based in London, surveyed 690 consumers about what they do and do not enjoy online. The survey asked:

Q. What’s most important to you in a company’s communications?

View Chart Online


Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Customers don’t care about copy length; they care about answers

As Polonius once said in Shakespeare's "Hamlet", "Brevity is the soul of wit." However, according to this data, brevity is not what customers are looking for in a landing page or online store.

Among all age groups surveyed, the most popular response for the most important aspect of communication was "Clarity — I understand what it means." The second most popular response was "Being able to reply and interact with them."

This indicates to me that customers want answers to their questions, help overcoming their challenges and ways to meet their goals and fulfill their wants and needs.

They want your Web pages to be clear enough that they are able to find these answers (preferable) and the ability to interact with you if the information provided does not address all of their concerns.

"Clarity trumps persuasion"

These findings correlate with discoveries from behavioral experimentation conducted by MarketingSherpa’s parent company, MECLABS. The results of these experiments can best be summed up in the well-known maxim from MECLABS CEO Flint McGlaughlin — "Clarity trumps persuasion."

How long should content, marketing and advertising be?

As long as it needs to be.

This answer may be wholly unfulfilling for copywriters and marketers who were hoping for an answer like "300 to 500 words" or "keep the key info above the fold."

The real answer is this:

Your content, advertising and marketing should not be built around an artificial imperative to be brief, clever or slick-looking for its own sake. It is only effective if it helps clarify the value of your offerings to customers to help them arrive at the best possible decision (which, if your offer truly serves customers, is to convert).

The most effective way to arrive at your ideal length and messaging is to test what is most effective with your unique audience instead of relying on any best practices or what works well for your competitors.

By using A/B and multivariate testing to discover what customers want through their actions, you will ultimately learn how to better serve them and improve your company’s marketing performance.

Related resources

The big bad world of copywriting, made good (via Stratton Craig)

Copywriting: How long (or short) should your copy be?

Only 2 out of 712 people enjoy online shopping … and other surprising stats (via Stratton Craig)

Clarity Trumps Persuasion: How changing the first seven seconds of user experience drove a 201% gain

Case Study: Creativity vs. clarity in email subject lines

Landing Page Optimization: Minimizing bounce rate with clarity

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