In a favorite scene in a favorite movie, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II found Mozart’s Figaro had “too many notes.”
Mozart: I don’t understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required, neither more nor less.
Joseph II: Well, my dear fellow, there are, in fact, only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening.
Mozart: This is absurd.
Joseph II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious! It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.
Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
Too many words?
A client asked me to do a content site audit. I recommended copy changes to suit a new web structure they are rolling out.
She liked my work.
But when it came time to show the team, Burt objected, “I would never read this. It’s too long. I hate when pages go on and on. I would just leave this site.”
Too many notes.
So how many words should be on a web page?
Just as many words, Majesty, as are required, neither more nor less.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Do 1,849 words sound excessive to you? Surely Burt would say so. That is, unless he’s a golfer and visited this page. I bet he’d stick around for all eight ways to become a better golfer.
But there’s no way Burt would read 5,276 words, right? Well, he might, if his college-aged son wanted to get into the school of his choice.
In contrast, this medical device homepage has fewer than 100 words. I don’t know what they do, and I’m pretty sure Burt wouldn’t stick around to find out.
My point should be obvious: If it’s interesting to you, you’ll read it. So I guess Burt was saying, “I don’t think my product is interesting enough for potential customers to read about.”
That’s not a good sign.
Let’s ask smarter grown ups.
So Burt got me curious, what’s been written about the ideal length of a web page?
Turns out, a lot.
Jennifer Kyrnin asks and answers, “How Long Should Your Web Page Be?”
User Interface Engineering, a consulting firm specializing in web site and product usability, writes, “One of the most significant findings of our research on web-site usability is that users are perfectly willing to scroll. However, they’ll only do it if the page gives them strong clues that scrolling will help them find what they’re looking for.” It’s a worthwhile read.
More on the subject is just a google away.
Look what I got.
This unsolicited mug from a vendor as an enticement.
Beth didn’t see the resemblance! I was, like, um, Beth? He has a big nose, big chin, glasses, and my receding hairline!
Anyhow, I set our coffee maker to the second-largest setting so I’ll never use this undersized mug. Neither child wants it.
And the vendor’s “Let’s send something ‘noteworthy with our logo on it’ to solicit a response” trick didn’t work on me.
A client tried that recently. I don’t think it yielded a single reply for him, much less a sale.
All hail, Tom Merrick!
I was Vice President of Direct Marketing for a Syracuse, NY-based ad agency between 2003 and 2004.
Our creative director, Tom Merrick, once sent an unsolicited mailing so creative, it was written up for an industry rag. (I wish I could find the article.)
For a small guitar lesson outfit, Tom went to Wal*Mart and bought a few dozen pairs of women’s underwear.
He put one in each package with the simple note, “If you thought it was cool to get women’s underwear sent to you, just imagine how cool it will be when they throw some on stage!”
Genius. I still laugh about it 14 years later.
- The data shows that short, digestible content is also popular for businesses, with the majority (52%) of videos uploaded in Q3’17 falling below three minutes in length.
- A Quick-Start Guide to Paid Content Promotion: If you want your content to get discovered by the right audience at a scale that will help further your business purpose, you’re going to need to amplify its power by incorporating paid promotion into your content marketing strategy.
- This commercial.
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