Back in 2015, Microsoft issued a famous report stating that a consumer’s attention span is less than that of the average goldfish. Judging by the content we often see circulating – quick-hitting listicles, 240-character social media posts, Snapchats and Instagram stories that vanish – the report seems to ring true.
But while attention spans may be shrinking, longer form content is making a necessary comeback for B2B marketers. You should embrace this trend for three key reasons:
- Google loves long form. Ultimately, Google wants to connect searchers with the most relevant and authoritative information that answers a user’s query. It’s no longer about keywords – it’s all about authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Keyword-rich authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.
- Serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and that you know your industry. So while a small percentage of people will take the time to do a deep read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified. Serve them well with powerful, deep-dive content.
- With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert, the thought leader, and the authority that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.
What Qualifies as Long-Form Content?
There’s no standard definition of what constitutes long form, but a reasonable guideline is that anything over 1,000 words requires engaged effort on the part of the user and would likely provide depth of information. With 85% of web content weighing in at less than 1,000 words, you may think it’s insane to write long form, but don’t try to fit in, stand out. Your audience wants both long form and short form.
Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too long; there’s only too dull. Make your content of interest and value to your reader, and they will stay until they reach the end.
These types of content lend themselves to long form:
- How-to articles. Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
- Research reports. Compile primary and/or secondary research into a report on market trends, user behavior or other.
- White papers. Provide your audience with comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
- Solution guides. Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
- Technical documents. Explain the way a product or process works.
- Case studies. Some case studies lend themselves to long form.
- .Longer videos with valuable content can also be valuable for engaged users.
Tips for Effective Long Form Content
- Always think in terms of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce your topic, dive into the details, then come to clear conclusion.
- Write an executive summary. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.
- Use design to guide your reader. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points and imagery to make your long content easy to read and to encourage readers to keep going.
- Carefully evaluate topics to identify those that work in long form. Don’t try to stretch out a limited subject and don’t try to condense a book-length issue to a few thousand words.
- Hire freelance writers, editors and proofreaders if you don’t have the time or resources to create long-form content on your own. Most professional writers should be able to grasp and communicate any topic, no matter how dense or technical.
- Create a cornerstone long-form piece and then segment the information into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts and to get more value from your investment in the long-form version.