It’s tricky making predictions.
But I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot more short-form copywriting in the future.
I believe this to be true for two reasons… one is physical, and the other is more connected to our changing lifestyles.
Let’s start with the physical reason.
Our devices are no longer suited to long-form writing
I remember when I used to read the news on a large format newspaper.
Those things were really big. Not a problem on a breakfast table, if you could keep the pages out of the marmalade. But they required great dexterity when on a crowded commuter train or bus.
Big format, and lots of space for long news articles. And plenty of space for long-copy ads.
Now let’s jump forward to the first decade of the web, when millions of people turned to their computers for the news.
That was a very different experience.
Unlike a newspaper, online news could be updated multiple times a day. And the user experience was utterly different too. No more turning paper pages. Just clicking and scrolling.
And the content of the pages changed too. There is no online equivalent of those big, full-page or half-page ads we see in newspapers and magazine.
The ads became smaller, and the copy had to be shorter.
Sure, you could write long-form promotional emails, and long-form sales pages that scrolled on and on forever.
Right up until the other foot dropped…
The arrival of smartphones changed everything. Again.
Welcome to 2007 and the Apple iPhone. Not the first mobile phone by any means, but the first true smartphone.
Compare that screen size to a newspaper, magazine or desktop computer.
Compared to all devices that came before it, the size of a smartphone screen is ridiculously small.
Who could imagine that people would choose to read and write on such a small device? It makes no sense.
But today, about 50% of all web access takes place through smartphones.
And over 90% of social media activity takes place on smartphones.
Put simply, if you’re a marketer and you want to reach consumers where they spend their time, you need to be on mobile.
And if you want to market your products or services on mobile, you need someone who can write short copy.
The rhythm of our days is now measured in shorter beats.
This is the lifestyle reason behind the shift to short-form copywriting.
The rhythm of our days has changed.
The rhythm is faster.
We are less likely to spend an unbroken five minutes reading a single 2,000-word article on our smartphone.
We are more likely to use that same block of time to check our email and our Twitter account, post a comment on Facebook, look at the latest news updates, and check our bank account balance.
More things done, with less uninterrupted time spent on any one of them. Our attention is always on the move.
Again, this means using shorter copy. If you try writing long copy for use on a smartphone, you’ll lose most of your readers after the first few lines.
Better to get started now.
If you’re a marketer, it’s time to think about how to create these short-beat promotional messages.
If you’re a digital writer or copywriter, you need to start figuring out how you can meet your audience where they’re at, and deliver your messages with far fewer words.
Enjoy the challenge!