Long-form sales pages vs. short. Know when to use one or the other and how each can affect your sales
The design and copy essentials you need to make your offer irresistible to visitors
Create optimized sales pages without any hassle using pre-optimized templates and a design-friendly landing page builder
Setting yourself up for sales success is as easy as A/B testing your pages and knowing which elements to test
What are Sales Pages?
A sales page is a standalone page created with one specific purpose in mind, to secure sales for your product. The product or service you’re selling on your page can differ depending on your industry or niche. However, the purpose of your sales page remains constant – getting visitors to convert into customers.
Sales pages are another type of post-click landing page that is divided into two main types:
- Long-form sales pages
- Short-form sales pages
Both types of sales pages are designed very similar. They contain a pitch of your product that your visitors go through and decide whether they want to click the call-to-action (CTA) or not.
The only difference between a long and a short sales page is the actual length of the page.
What is a short-form sales page?
Here’s an example of a short-form sales page promoting Ramit Sethi’s “Find Your Dream Job” guide:
The page has:
- A long headline explaining why you need to download the “Dream Job Secrets”
- A graphic that showcases the covers and titles of the guides
- Bullet points explaining what you’ll get once you convert on the form
- Rami Sethi’s claim of “$10,000 in 10 minutes” followed by a short about section that lets you know what his background is — enforcing credibility
- Visual cues directing you to the CTA button and images
- A short lead capture form that asks for your name and email address
- A color-contrasting CTA button with a “100% privacy. No games, No B.S., No spam” disclaimer
- Logos of reputable publications where the author and his products have been featured
A short-form sales page is like a typical post-click landing page and should include the same page elements. To find out more about post-click landing pages and how to optimize them, go here.
What is a long-form sales page?
A long-form sales page is precisely what its name suggests — a lengthy page that explains what the product is in as much detail as necessary. It is also commonly referred to as a “sales letter.” The page relays all the information about the offer so the visitor can make an informed decision.
While a long-form sales page includes all the elements of a short-form sales page (i.e. a headline, form, CTA button and image), the “hero” of the page is the copy because that’s what really matters. The amount of copy makes the long-form sales page long, which is why the copy should get the most attention.
Most long-form sales pages aren’t received well by audiences and listed below are four main reasons why:
- Most pages have horrible design
- They have low readability
- The copy is written in a hyped-up manner with many exclamation points and different colored texts
- Many products or services sold via long-form sales pages are scams, which is why their credibility is always somewhat of a question mark
The Pythagorean Plan page is an excellent example of a sales page gone wrong. The overall tone of the page is a bit off, and the “Dear Friend” greeting comes across very fake:
There’s only one graphic on the page, and the scattered red font draws emphasis to various parts of the sales pitch. But, this just makes the page design look scammy.
The Amazon ad on the left-side of the page is also a big distraction and detracts from any value the page has. The page also has a myriad of navigation links on the left hand margin, which gives visitors plenty of opportunities to navigate away from the page:
However, this list of reasons shouldn’t dissuade you from creating sales pages, because long-form sales pages are successful in generating leads and sales. Noah Kagan’s AppSumo long-form sales page is proof of that:
Creating an effective conversion-worthy long-form sales page is possible. All you need to do is include the right page elements. The ConversionXL agency sales page is the perfect example of what a long-form sales page should look like:
Above the fold, the page has a simple, to-the-point headline, customer badges, and a short 2-minute video you can watch.
When you scroll below the fold you see the concise break-up of the services the agency offers:
Further down, the copy and the images on the page explain what the agency does for you as the client. Some points are even designed in a hidden drop down menu, so only visitors who are interested in finding out about a certain point choose to view it.
The page also has three strategically placed lead capture forms asking the visitor information at the right points:
Another useful element ConversionXL uses is the “sticky” navigation links in the header that scroll with you as you move up and down the page. This feature makes it easy for you to navigate on the long page:
As you can see from ConversionXL, a long-form sales page can work for your product if you know how to strike the right balance of copy and design elements on the page.
How are Sales Pages Different Than Landing Pages and Your Homepage?
post-click landing pages and sales pages are the same thing because they are both standalone web pages that have one specific goal in mind. Both post-click landing pages and sales pages have the following elements:
- CTA button
- Lead capture form
- Trust indicators (testimonials, customer badges, company logos, endorsements, disclaimers)
However, long-form sales pages differ from typical post-click landing pages because the former tend to be quite lengthy when it comes to copy.
On the other hand, a homepage and a sales page are two completely different web pages. Your homepage discusses all the products and services your company has to offer while a sales page discusses just one offer and entices the visitor to sign-up for that single offer.
For example, this is the homepage for ConversionXL:
The page has all the services listed with navigation links that take visitors to the other pages on the website.
The homepage is shorter than the agency’s long-form sales page featured in chapter 1. But the latter discusses the offer in so much detail that it answers all of the questions a visitor may have.
When should you use a long-form sales page?
Although a long sales page gets the job done, it is not always the best page design for your product or offer. Here are a few instances in which a long-form sales page works:
- When your product is expensive
- When your product is complicated and requires more copy to explain its value
- When your product requires a high commitment from your visitors
- When you have a relatively new product and want to educate your prospects about it
A sales page works best for your offer when the offer has a higher price tag and requires a high commitment from your prospect. That being said, a long-form sales page is not a good choice for offers like free trials.
The Relentless Movement Webinar program is a perfect example of a product that needs a long-form sales page (P.S. This page was created with Instapage.):
- The webinar program costs $57
- The program lasts for 7 days, so it needs a longer explanation
- The program requires a big money and time commitment
- The program (and the brand behind the program) aren’t widely known, so the long-form sales page is a good fit
Are you promoting a free trial for an offer your prospects already know about? Ditch the long-form sales page and go with shorter copy because when your visitors know your product well, they don’t need much copy to be convinced to sign up.
What Do I Include on My Sales Page?
To see what you need to include on your long-form sales page (or sales letter) let’s look at Brandgasm 101’s sales page and break down the page elements.
The Brandgasm sales page has a longer headline than a typical post-click landing page. Your sales letter headline needs to be a bit longer than a typical post-click landing page because the sales letter is like a pitch and you need to really “hook” your visitors. This is achieved with an explanatory headline, which has the UVP (Unique Selling Proposition) to convince visitors to keep reading the page:
The copy is the hero of the long-form sales page, i.e. it is the element you need to focus on the most. If your copy is not on point, you might as well skip creating a sales page at all.
Because the sales page is lengthy, the copy needs to be broken down to enhance readability. It’s good to arrange your copy in short paragraphs and bullet points where necessary. It also works well when the copy is differentiated from other page elements (like Brandgasm 101 did with quotes in special boxes).
There should be multiple CTA buttons on your sales page. You can’t expect your visitors to scroll and find your main CTA button after they’re done reading everything on your page. This is why it’s a good idea to place multiple CTA buttons throughout the page. Visitors can just click the button where they feel the most convinced.
Your button needs to use a contrasting color and should have actionable copy on it. The Brandgasm 101 CTA button could be more contrasting, but what it’s really lacking is personalized copy.
It’s good to have an “About Us” section on your sales page to boost credibility and make your offer more humanistic:
It’s also necessary to include testimonials of your past clients to assure your visitors the product they’re about to invest in has already proven useful to others. The same is true for customer badges and logos of companies where your product has been featured:
Feature a video that helps explain what your product does:
Remove Navigation Links
Just like post-click landing pages, navigation links should be removed from sales pages. You spent so much time designing and writing copy for your long-form page, why would you provide options for visitors to leave?
What Industries Should Use Sales Pages?
You can create a long-form sales page no matter what industry you specialize in, just make sure the offer you’re promoting is worth creating a long-form page.
So, if your product:
- Is expensive
- Requires a longer commitment
- Requires more than a few paragraphs of copy to explain your product’s value
Then it’s wise for you to create a sales page rather than a short-form post-click landing page because the sales page’s length is what convinces your visitors to buy what you’re offering.
Joanna Wiebe from CopyHackers has the graphic below explaining how much copy your page needs depending on the awareness level of your product:
Are you selling a coaching program? Designing a long-form sales page may be your best choice because the sales page gives you the freedom to explain your product properly.
This is what Girls Gone Strong coaching program does with their sales page:
The page has a video, copy that explains the coaching program effectively, video testimonials, an FAQ section, an About Us section, photographs of women that appeal to the target audience, and multiple CTA buttons placed strategically on the page.
You can even promote your ebook with a sales page. Take a look at the Renegade Diet Book sales page here:
You can even promote your SaaS product with the help of a long-form sales page like AppSumo does with their long-form sales page.
It doesn’t matter what industry or niche you do business; a long-form sales page will work for your offer if it meets the prerequisites mentioned above.
How Do I Generate Traffic to My Sales Page?
Knowing what goes into a successful sales page is only half the conversion battle. For your sales pages to succeed, you need to know how to promote them.
For a sales page to convert, you have to be able to generate traffic to the page. When it comes to promoting your sales pages, you have two main options:
- Paid promotion techniques (Google Ads, Bing and Yahoo Ads, and Social Media promotions)
- Unpaid promotion tactics (discussion forums, email marketing, social media shares, etc.)
Learn more about promoting your sales pages using both paid and unpaid promotion techniques in this post-click landing page guide.
How Do I Create a Sales Page?
There are two main options when it comes to creating sales pages; you can either:
- Hire expensive designers and developers to design and code the page for you
- Choose the do-it-yourself option and create your page yourself using an easy, powerful post-click landing page platform like Instapage.
Instapage offers you the opportunity to create your post-click landing pages without any design or coding experience. Simply:
- Select a template from our vast array of free templates
- Customize the page to your liking
- Integrate with other applications
- Publish to the web
Creating a sales page becomes extremely easy when you have the right software by your side and pre-optimized templates — that’s what Instapage has to offer.
Edit and customize the template in the easy-to-use, designer-friendly builder and click “publish.”
How Do I A/B Test My Sales Page?
A/B testing is the best way for you to increase your sales page conversions. With A/B testing, you create different variations of your page and see which variation performs better. This testing process gives you the “winning variation,” which can be shown to all visitors from that point forward.
The key to winning at A/B testing is to constantly be testing. However, remember to achieve statistical significance with each test, so your tests are accurate.
You can essentially test every element on your post-click landing page. The first thing you need to test on your sales page is the length — whether a short or long-form page would work better with your offer.
When Crazy Egg tested a long versus short page, the longer version grew revenue by 363%:
CTA Button Color
Also, test the color of your CTA button. Shopify shows an example where a red CTA button performed 34% better than a green button on a signup form:
Another element you should be testing is the headline. Clarity always does wonders for your headline. For example, an A/B test by VWO on a clear post-click landing page headline increased conversions by 89%:
Performing A/B tests and interpreting the results becomes much easier with the right tool by your side. Instapage’s A/B testing tool can assist you here. With just a few clicks, you can add your variations and Instapage lets you track four primary metrics:
- Unique Visitors: The number of unique visitors that have seen that post-click landing page variation
- Unique Conversions: The number of visitors that have filled out your post-click landing page’s form
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors that turned into a conversion on that page variation
- Improvement: The difference in the conversion rate tested against the original variation
Sales pages give you the opportunity to pitch your products the right way in front of your visitors. With a long-form sales page, you have the chance to perfectly explain your offer, and with the right mix of graphics and copy, you can win more customers from your sales pages.
Create your sales page here with Instapage!