In a world where the attention span of humans is equivalent to or less than that of a goldfish (3 seconds!), marketers feel an immense pressure to create shorter and crisper content across platforms.
Table of Contents
- What is Long-form Content?
- Benefits of Long-form Content
- How to use Long-form Content?
- THE NEW YORK TIMES
One question has plagued content marketers for a long time: Do people read long-form content?
In the digital world where the attention span of humans is equivalent to or less than that of a goldfish (8 seconds!), content creators and marketers are under immense pressure to create shorter and crisper content across platforms.
On the other hand, writers need to understand that starting a blog or an article only for writing isn’t suitable for both parties. Instead, to have a wide-spread and all-embracing audience reach, they should design their piece in a substantive way that focuses on the quality and quantity of the content, thereby creating something of utmost value to the target audience.
Moreover, long-form content facilitates massive audience engagement and provides more opportunities to new customers to learn more about your company – and ultimately convert. As is in the case of types of long-form content such as ebooks, articles, blogs that are up to 2500 words, and even reports, all these formats have not only stood the test of time but are considered essential lead magnets to attract customers.
Make a note of this:
- Longreads of 3000+ words get 3x more traffic than average length articles (901-1200 words) and also helps in retaining the defined audience, according to a SEMrush report.
- Articles with word counts between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic, according to HubSpot.
- Google rewards long-form content: Articles on the first page of Google results pages on average contain 1,890 words, says Brian Dean of Backlinko.
So should you or should you not adopt long-form? Let’s dig deeper.
What is long-form content?
Long-form content, also known as in-depth content, is almost like a guide you offer to your readers. Anything that goes beyond 1500 words is classified as long-form content. It comes in various forms. You could create guides, blogs, articles, ebooks, etc., that showcase how things are done. A 4000-word ebook can help the reader understand the nuances of the niche.
There are several benefits of long-form content. It provides the user a detailed insight into every issue they are likely to confront and the solutions.
What are the benefits of writing long-form content? Let’s take a look.
Benefits of long-form content
1. Improves organic traffic
One of the main reasons to market your business is to drive more visits to your website. Long-form content is believed to be a successful source of organic traffic. The most apparent advantage of organic search traffic is cost-benefit. Moreover, it proves to be of good value for money since pay-per-click advertising is a cost-effective technique that guarantees to put your company’s links in front of potential site visitors. Thereby, you only have to pay when a user is directed towards your website with all intents and purposes.
Another reason why we commend organic site traffic is credibility. Most internet users are well aware of the score at this point in the game: companies that rely solely on an exclusively paid approach to site traffic are frequently out of touch with the market in terms of presence and trust. According to the graph above, you will see a boost in your traffic when you write anywhere between 2250 and 2500 words. This word count will also get you more backlinks as compared to short assets.
2. Helps with decision making
From all the types of content marketing, long-form content is the most informative for the user. With this content piece, users can know everything about a particular service or solution.
For instance, when you talk about a guide that helps grow a business, it will contain challenges, tools, and solutions. This guide will also include risks involved and ways to mitigate them. Basically, it will be a complete document on how to run a business.
Similarly, if the guide is on hosting solutions, it will take the user through the need for hosting, why it is essential for their business, and the steps involved in choosing an excellent hosting service. It will convince the user that they need a hosting solution.
3. Establishes authority
What’s the difference between a 2-hour movie on a subject and a 10-episode web series on the same? The movie gives you a condensed version of the events that happened, whereas the 10-part series offers a lot more to chew on. It means more fleshed-out characters, more information, more detailing, and overall a more in-depth understanding of the event at hand.
Long-form content has quite the same impact on the reader. A blog post on ‘5 Benefits of Marketing Automation’ and a 15000-word ebook on ‘The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation for Your Business’ will have a very different impact on the reader. All types of long-form content provide a chance to establish authority by addressing relevant questions from your users, leads, and customers—no points for guessing which format will establish you as an authority on the subject.
4. Acts as a lead magnet
Evergreen content is an essential asset for your business. It is a lead magnet, can help pull people to your website, and is always relevant. Long-form content that you work on for your niche is one such evergreen content that you should have.
Evergreen content attracts backlinks and stays in tune with user’s requirements at all times. For instance, a complete guide to learning basic piano is something everyone interested in the instrument will want to read.
Similarly, a beginner’s guide to Facebook ads will be relevant every time a business considers paid marketing.
5. Improves social media broadcasting
Long-form content has the advantage of containing multiple links to externally published pieces on the internet. The linking assists the publishers who have published related articles in their efforts to establish links. They also share the parent content on social media to increase their linking efforts.
6. Increase conversion rates
At the end of the day, it all boils down to one question: Can it increase my conversion rates? Long-form content marketing can be punctuated with Call-to-Actions (CTAs) that create leads and, eventually, boost conversion rates organically.
Long-form content provides a large area for carefully placing CTAs that readers can click if they are interested in a product or service.
7. Delivers more resourceful information
When you go into great detail about a field, you show how much you know or how much competence your company can offer. You’re giving yourself more opportunities to demonstrate your abilities, which is excellent if you create valuable pieces that others dig. Anyone can provide a one-liner explanation to a topic, but it takes a pro to write in-depth content that keeps a reader’s attention. Thus, long-form writing appears to be more expert and competent as compared to other forms of content.
8. Facilitates better SERP ranking
Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) are the pages displayed by search engines in response to a query by a user. High-quality long-form content is more useful, shareable, and keeps engagement rates high that almost certainly result in a higher ranking on search engine results pages. Also, a higher SERP ranking should result in more visitors, more shares, engagement, and more interaction.
Thus, so far, you would have understood that long-form content marketing is always a win-win opportunity. Content creators win by escalating their exposure, getting more of what they truly want with the help of free marketing tools, and your potential readers win because they reap benefits from the value provided in your knowledgeable content.
How to use long-form content
A few brands are nailing long-form content. Let’s read a bit about examples of long-form content:
You can use a slice of life or evoke emotions through long-form content. The content needs to match your vision and mission statements. Chevrolet had the mission statement that cars take you from point A to point B. However, their mission statement did not limit itself to vehicles. What they meant was, when your goals are set, it becomes easy to navigate from one point to another. They showcased how one can achieve their goals through hard work and a determined mind using documentaries. This long-form content helped them build excellent customer relationships and inspire minds. With long-form content, they managed to connect with their audience.
One of the top technology brands, IBM, has been using long-form content to attract and nurture its audiences for a while. They use a mixed bag of video, audio, and text formats to communicate.
Their storytelling abilities and immersive approach make the content exciting and engaging. Users are compelled to read the entire piece. They have inspirational tales that surround the creation of an innovative solution. Most of their long-form content pieces are motivating and highly successful.
This is a brand known for being at the top of its long-form content marketing game. The company has understood how content works and what format interests people the most. They have successfully converted long-form content write-ups into lead magnets for their business.
They use long-form video content or, say vlogs, to create awareness among people regarding their product. Similarly, they showcase how a ransomware attack can cause problems for people using computers. They stress the importance of networking and security through their videos and text content.
Digital long-form type of content has offered the New York Times a new opportunity to exercise its narrative muscles, in addition to the breaking news and features reporting that its audience has come to anticipate. Snow Fall, a multi-chapter website by features reporter John Brand, tells the story of the Tunnel Creek avalanche in Washington state using pictures, video, and graphics.
BMW is another automobile manufacturer that makes use of long-form material. Besides entertaining their audiences, they’ve also ventured into filmmaking to promote their business. It uses a specific horror story to promote one of its products in a recent content release. It’s only because of this type of innovation that content writers and marketers have been encouraged to create long-form content. They are making videos to direct some public views and attention towards some of the most recent projects they’re working on. This builds customer anticipation for when the product will be available in the market for purchase.
Thus, BMW makes us understand how a film is an excellent approach to get people to write long-form content on a topic. Additionally, some other formats like reviews, testing, how-to tutorials, etc., are also used to bundle the content and create a system that practices regularly producing long-form content that adds to the company’s profit avenues.
In the area of long-form content development, Airbnb has done something inimitable. They issued an interactive annual report a few years ago that highlighted and detailed the company’s growth to the last tee. The piece featured specific information about the service users and not just text and numbers in general. This strategy turned out to be an exceptional one. The company successfully presented the report in an interactive format against the conventional forms of traditional video, article, and audio formats used earlier. Their rapid expansion drew in new clients while also reassuring existing ones.
These are true stories backed with original photographs and videos. When many brands relied on the same old content publishing media, Airbnb’s plan was undoubtedly a legit smart move.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is a company that sells recreational equipment. Blogging is a method of creating long-form content. The most popular blogs are about people’s experiences with certain things. REI has taken advantage of the blogosphere by creating controversial and responsive content, which usually amazes its users the most. REI isn’t stomping on this medium for the sake of making profits in business; instead, it’s their unique way of paying tribute to one of its customers, which in turn promotes REI as a brand in the online market.
Being a telecommunication company, Qualcomm has advanced into long-form content in all mediums, including text, audio, and long-form video content. Their branded vlogs attracted its target audience into the story and directed their attention towards its products.
Among the diversified forms of the company’s content, one particular piece stands out. It is a short film where the audience follows a guy who wakes up to find his girlfriend missing. The short film utilizes the technology that the company makes to find her. This is how they make the best use of their content and is acknowledged as one of the best companies crushing it with long-form content.
Long-form content can boost rankings and improve website credibility if created and used correctly. You can leverage this content type for your business and increase your revenue generation opportunities.
Before working on the long-form content, be sure to align your goals and mission statement with the long-form content strategy. Research and understand your target market before you jump into writing.
Identify what resonates with the user and what kind of content they are most likely to read. If your research is not laden with insights, you might not succeed with your content writing efforts.
Finally, stay patient and let the content reap the rewards. It takes a while before long-form content helps your business succeed.
Choosing a suitable format is the first step to creating long-form content. Selection of topics comes next which is to be done for your long-form writing material. The third step is to choose between gated or ungated content, and the final step is to write the actual content.
Creating long-form content involves a lot of research and hard work; therefore, it should effectively be promoted and amplified to reach the targeted audience. Sharing it on social media platforms is an obvious way to increase your reach. Other than this, you can include relevant influencers in your piece, use guest posting for promotion, share it in your relevant online communities and email list, use social and search ads, etc.
Some popular types of long-form content include ultimate guides, tutorials, resource lists, industry definitions, how-to guides, case studies, videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
Google’s algorithm not only penalizes thin material but also doesn’t rank it. So you, as content writers, should keep in mind that as context is essential to search engines, long-form content can provide more in-depth context and help relate it to a more significant number of related topics and demonstrate the link between them.
Consider using images, videos, few inbound and outbound links in your content for better audience engagement. Secondly, create an in-depth piece, set its specific goals, and decide which details to explore as it’s an easy way to expand and dig into long-form content marketing. Lastly, make sure you’re adding more value to your material than your competitors.