Why use 50 words when 5 will do! 

There’s a running debate among marketers, and it’s ‘What’s better, long or short content?’ My answer is ‘it depends’. Ok, that’s a wishy-washy answer, but we can’t say for definite what works the best; we can only make suggestions. For instance, if you’re trying to build brand authority, it could be that longer content (1000 + words) works better than short articles. 

Another thing to consider is that your audience may not want to read a lot of text. Or, the platform you’re trying to build engagement and a following on doesn’t support long-form content. In cases like this, using short and snappy content is the way forward. 

Here are my tips on how to nail short text and examples of where it’s best to use short and snappy content : 

5 tips for keeping text short

Here are my five tips for keeping your text short and snappy: 

1. Strip out words that aren’t needed

When writing content for an article or a landing page, you can use storytelling techniques to build a narrative into your writing. This isn’t possible when writing short and snappy content. Each word needs to add to the meaning of the sentence, so before using it, ask yourself, ‘is this word necessary? 

2. Keep sentences short

Sentences that contain 20 words or less are easier to read. The easiest way to see where a break is in a sentence is to read aloud. Where a natural pause appears, reflect it with either a comma or full stop. 

3. Write for your audience not SEO

Writing for search engine algorithms is important if you’re using content to drive SEO. But this shouldn’t dominate your writing. After all, you’re writing for humans and not robots. So, don’t pack your writing with unnaturally sounding sentences just to get a keyword in. 

4. Write in a conversational tone

Writing in a conversational tone doesn’t mean your content should sound like you’re having a chat with your neighbour. Conversational writing means using words in your writing that your customers are used to, keeping the message simple and making your writing personal by using words like you, I, or we. 

5. Use descriptive words 

Descriptive words or phrases add punch to your writing. They’re the power words that bring your message to life and help the reader feel they need your brand. Examples of great descriptive words are you, exciting, exclusive, limited, proven, easy and simple. 

Where short text work best

The internet has revolutionised our lives, information can be accessed within seconds, but this has also meant we have less patience. I know if I can’t find the information I want immediately on a webpage or if the message of a social media post doesn’t instantly grab my attention, 9 times out of 10, I’ll scroll on. And, I think this is true of most of us.

Here are some areas I feel short and snappy content works best at keeping your audience engaged:

Newsletters

When approached with a strategic mindset, newsletters can be one of the most successful content marketing tactics. For instance, for every $1 spent, email marketing can generate $44 in return (Campaign Monitor). Email marketing works because it feels personal. Nearly everyone has a smartphone that they can check their email on at a time convenient for them. 

Email also doesn’t feel alien to people like social media can. Email has been with us for what feels like forever, so taking a few moments to check our inbox has become part of our daily routine. 

But, with other media (social media, TV, radio, podcasts, etc.) enticing people, you’ve got to get the tone and messaging of your email newsletter spot on, or people won’t read it, and worse, they could unsubscribe. These actions also depend on other factors like the industry you operate in, what your audience is interested in, whether you sell products or offer a service, etc. But, a proven way to get people to read your newsletter and to want to continue to receive it is using strong headlines and short and snappy story introductions or summary paragraphs. A great brand that nails this is Littlebird. 

Littlebird newsletter header

Newsletter Header with short and snappy content
Source: Littlebird newsletter

The simplicity of the five words ‘Luna Cinema 10% off Tickets’ immediately lets you know exactly what’s on offer. If this catches your eye, then this descriptive paragraph may persuade you to buy tickets: 

Newsletter paragraph with short and snappy content
Source: Littlebird newsletter

Instead of talking about the features of the event, Littlebird has used the power of storytelling to make you imagine what it’d be like to be there with your friends or family with you enjoying an unforgettable event together. Tapping into people’s emotions is a powerful selling technique – reading this makes me want to book some tickets. What about you? 

Social ads

The purpose of social ads is to get people who mirror your target audience’s profile to interact with your brand. Among other things, this could be getting people to sign up for a free trial, download your app or make a purchase from your website or ecommerce store. 

Now there’s no one-strategy-fits-all approach to running social ads – each platform has its own requirements, so it’s important that you at least know the basics of the platform you’re going to advertise on. For this article, I will look at Facebook ads as this is the platform with the best click-through rates for paid ads. 

If you want to get the most eyes on your ad, then a Facebook feed ad is what you use. These ads appear among posts on your feed. But this also means that competition is fierce as this is where brands want their ads to appear. And, you don’t have a lot of space to get your message across: 25 characters for the headline and 125 characters for the text. 

Source: FFS Beauty ad on Facebook

Here’s an example of a great social ad by FFS Beauty. The ad is packed with detail, but it uses few words. The ad sticks to the most important information and stars are used to highlight the key selling points. Text overlayed on the image is for additional information. 

Call to action

Call to action are the gentle nudges that encourage people to take the next step with you. This could be signing up to your newsletter, subscribing to receive new blog posts, entering their contact details to receive a discount code, etc. 

The most effective calls to action are clear and very specific. My advice is don’t try to use funny wordplay or string out the action you want your reader to take. Just spell it out. Here’s an excellent example of a clear call to action: 

Not On The High Street

CTA wusing short and snappy content
Source: Not On The High Street website

I’ve chosen this as one of my examples as there’s no guessing what you get in return for giving away your email. As it clearly states, subscribers will hear news sent to them about discounts and sales before anyone else. 

Cleverly, Not On The High Street is tapping into people’s FOMO (fear of missing out); people love to feel like they’re the first to hear about things first, and by parting with their contact email, they’ll get exclusive access to discounted products before everyone else. 

That’s not all…

Mastering writing short and snappy content takes practice, but it becomes much easier once you get into the flow. For other fantastic copywriting tips, download my free eBook Kick Your Content Into Shape

About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for writing and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong sustainable, social and ethical mindset.