My coworkers and I sometimes joke about our clients’ predilections for stuffing as much information as possible into an ad. To illustrate this, our designers created a presentation called “Applesauce.”
It starts with an Apple Watch ad — simple and clear, with a single image and very little text. “Applesauce” then imagines what would happen if Apple decided to add a call-out, mention an offer, make the logo a bit larger, add a second image of the Apple Watch, and on and on.
In the end, it’s not a pretty sight.
When it comes to different marketing tactics, how much text should you include? Here’s a handy guide for some of the most common marketing tactics:
1. Billboard: Billboards are among the hardest marketing tactics to do well. Too often, people are tempted to put lots of information on a billboard. After all, billboards are expensive, so we want to get our money’s worth! Remember, though, that as people drive (or walk) by a billboard, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention.
We follow the seven-word rule: a billboard should have no more than seven words and your logo. No website address, no phone number, just seven words (or fewer) and your logo. If people are intrigued and want to know more, everyone knows how to use Google.
2. Digital ads: Speaking of Google, when you use Google display ads, you should limit yourself to a short headline, a short subhead, and a button: “Get started” or “See more.” The phrase “Learn more” is overused on buttons these days, so though we still use it we often try to think of something more creative. Like billboards, with digital ads you only have a moment make your mark.
3. Emails and print ads: Often, with emails and print ads — such as those in a newspaper, the Yellow Pages, or a local event program — you have more room for text. Include a strong headline, a subhead if needed, a short paragraph of text (three or four sentences), and a call to action. People who view your ads and emails are generally already in reading mode, so you can afford to be a bit wordier.
That said, don’t overdo it. If your print ad or email has more text than point #3 in this article does, you’re saying too much.
4. Postcards, brochures, and other direct mail: If you mail something, the front of your piece should include only a compelling headline and subhead. A postcard should contain about as much text as a print ad. A brochure can have more copy, but you still shouldn’t go overboard.
Remember that the point of these pieces is not to tell a customer everything about your company, but to intrigue them enough to call you, go to your store, or visit your website. Far too often, brochures cram text on the inside in 8-point font. Don’t do it!
5. Your website: The home page of your website should be clean, with fairly little text. The navigation should be user-friendly, so visitors easily discover where to click. The subpages of your website can be wordier — this is your chance to go into detail if you need to, because if people are viewing these pages it’s because they want to.
That said, here are two quick tips to make a website more readable. First, use plenty of images on the website to help break up the text. Don’t let your webpages turn into seas of words. Second, if possible, use expandable/collapsible bars, so if a website visitor wants to read more on a particular topic they click on the bar and expand the information, but all of the text isn’t showing at once.
One final point: match your call-to-action to your medium. In other words, if you want someone to visit your website or watch a video online, it’s best to promote that through a digital ad or an email so the target is a click away. If you want people to call you or visit your store, direct mail might be a better option. Billboards are often best for general awareness.
Whatever you do, make sure you are putting the right information in the right place, and don’t turn your ads