Reasons to invest in long-form content for marketing

Michael Marchese
July 7, 2016
long-form content

Reasons to invest in long-form content for marketing

Michael Marchese
July 7, 2016

Given the short attention spans of most internet users, common sense would tell us to publish shorter content. But as it turns out, several studies show long-form content has a higher level of engagement, from likes and shares to conversions.

How long is long?

According to Forbes, long-form content contains at least 1,200 words. In addition to longer blog posts, this kind of content includes guides, ebooks and white papers. However, content isn’t restricted to the written word. Audio or video that is more than a 30-second spot also qualifies. For those marketers who have aimed for short, sweet and to the point, content that is fewer than 1,000 words (and with all the right SEO), they can find this to be a jolting concept.
Experts argue that done correctly, long-form content can be very effective. As Josh Steimle states in the Forbes article, “That’s because the best long-form content marketing doesn’t make one feel like they’re being marketed to.”
Remember, content marketing is not advertising. With content marketing, you strive to get visitors to understand and interact with your brand. You want them to trust you, your message and information you provide. Sometimes telling that story or sharing that vital information will take more than one great picture or those 1,000 words.

Why you want longer

A study by serpIQ revealed the average length of content that made the top 10 search query results usually were more than 2,000 words. SEO in longer pieces is just as important as in shorter length content. However, as with all content you create, you can’t just put it up there. You want to make sure you have well written and, perhaps most important, relevant and helpful content for your intended audience.
Jarom McDonald, a content specialist at Lucidpress, outs himself as a millennial who is thought to only engage with quick bits of information. However, he reminds that while attention spans may be shorter, “what that really means is that we’re getting better at quickly determining what we want to spend time on and what we don’t care about.” Thus, long-format content that grabs attention to the point that the reader, listener or viewer forgets how long they’ve spent on an item is exactly what you’re seeking.
If you do your homework and gather insight to understand what your audience wants most and how you can be most helpful, you will be better prepared to deliver comprehensive content.
Having more comprehensive content equates to more time on your website, more page views and fewer bounces. Emma Siemasko, content marketing specialist at Grasshopper, says that the more time visitors spend on your site equals more trust of your brand. She posted an 18,000-word guide on her website and found great results, “People stayed on the page 40 percent longer than on the average page, and they looked at 25 percent more pages than the average visitor,” Siemasko said.
Those who like your content are going to share your content. This is still true with longer-form content. Neil Patel ran A/B tests on his content to discover that content with more than 1,500 words received an average of 68 percent more re-tweets and 22.6 percent more Facebook shares.
When News Whip found that they suddenly had a rise in sharing, they dug in to find out what was being shared. In-depth features were very popular on social media. Included in the mix was a 3,535-word transcription of a lecture by Neil Gaiman on the importance of reading. It was posted by The Guardian and had more than 220,000 shares.

Deciding to go long

Once you decide to expand your content length, here are some tips to keep you on track to make sure you’re not just longer, but solid with what you deliver:

  • Don’t create in a vacuum. As with all other content you create, always keep your audience in mind. While you may be ready to go long, they may not be ready to consume it. Keep an eye on your metrics and your feedback.
  • Not all topics are created equal. Be a good judge of whether the information you are presenting is worthy of the length you wish to give it. Not everything is.
  • Stand out from the competition. Create content about what you know best. Make the decision to provide in-depth coverage about your strengths.
  • Always have great content. Whatever you put out there, no matter the length, write with purpose. Having 3,000 words doesn’t make it better than a 1,000 piece just because it’s longer. Bottom line: Don’t add fluff for the sake of it and don’t ramble.
  • Make it flow and tell the story. Remember that throwing together a number of statistics won’t hold attention. The better the read, the longer the reader will stay. Think of your content less as a lecture and more as a conversation.
  • Don’t forget social media. It is a great place to promote your longer content. However, be sure you’ve built up your following. Additionally, ensure that your social media followers are interested in taking the time for longer pieces.
  • Keep it evergreen. Whenever possible, create content that has a long lifespan (in addition to the longer length). Evergreen pieces perform better over time because they are relevant for longer periods of time.

Tempesta Media is an outsourced content provider that will empower your content efforts. Contact us to learn more.

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