Is Long-form Content the Key to Successful B2B Marketing?
You’ve heard the term being thrown around generously while having a lively conversation with fellow marketers, you might even have read a bit about it, but is long-form content really worth all the fuss? Join us as we probe this question in an attempt to settle the debate.
Let’s start by understanding what long-form content is. Any blog post with a word count of 1200 words or more falls under the long form umbrella. However, like any other content form, these long posts also have advantages and disadvantages depending on where they fit in your marketing strategy and how you plan to use them.
With this in mind, let's go ahead and explore the pros and cons of interactive content.
We shall start with the advantages:
1. It allows exploration of a topic in greater detail: eg. How to start a business a step by step guide. Consequently, your users can take home more value from your creations
2. It allows a reader to browse through a topic without reading word by word: eg. The "How to start a business?" blog above is an example. The layout is neat, hence it is easily readable
3. It presents you as an authority. Detailed content is the reserve of content leaders. Writing a detailed blog that is packed with info and is engaging is a challenge without a vast reserve of knowledge. For instance, Neil Patel’s blogs are usually long-form and engaging and over time it has positioned him as a thought leader
4. Search engines now have a >preference for long-form content as they delve deeper and provide better answers
5. A piece of long-form content that goes into great depth can be republished as other forms of content, after minor alterations, like ebooks, courses, quizzes infographics etc.
6. Long form content allows users to read selectively due to the presence of greater number of sections within the blog post. For instance, this post on How to start a business, has a lot of sections that allows readers to skip to another section in case they don't find the current section engaging enough
7. Due to its detailed nature, long-form content is also more likely to be shared especially among people who are new to a particular field and intend to learn more
8. Long form content garners more backlinks, hence it is propitious for ranking high on search engines
All these advantages apply when the content in consideration fulfills the prerequisite of high quality. Punching out a 2000 word article replete with fillers and fluff is a big no-no.
As we know, long-form content takes considerable time and effort to create but that is just part of the downside, let us have a look at the other challenges,
1. The first thing that comes to mind is that it takes considerable time to create a quality piece of long-form content. Consequently creating good long-form content is exhausting
2. A portion of the audience will be put off by long-form content and won’t read it till the end
3. It is difficult to pump out a steady stream of long-form content without a considerable knowledge base
With so many points in favor of long-form does it mean that this is the end of the road for short-form content? Well, it would be unwise to jump to conclusions. After all, long-form content faced the same fate until the early part of this decade. Now, seemingly every content marketer is a long form evangelist.
Short form content has had its time in the sun but it is still used by the likes of Seth Godin. The underlying idea is the same - convey the message in a format that suits the breadth of ideas delivered.
As with many things moderation is the key. While long-form content is good for brand building and engagement, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. The length of the long-form blog post and the breadth of ideas conveyed puts off a fraction of readers. This is avoidable. Follow these steps to make your long-form posts more palatable -
1. Break down your long-form blog into different sections and provide them as hyperlinks in the introduction. This allows readers to quickly jump to the personally relevant ones.
2. Refrain from creating dense paragraphs; make small paragraphs and include plenty of line breaks. Also, employ bullet points liberally to summarize and attract attention to points of interest.
3. Use visual aids such as graphs and charts to break up text and establish a flow of ideas within the article. If possible create an infographic to convey the essence of your blog post. The objective is to deliver your message in a range of methods to maximize reach. On a similar vein, a video can also be a valuable addition.
4. Provide a precis for readers who do not time to read long-form blogs.
Here’s a template to show you the components of an effective and easily readable piece of long-form content.
Assuming that you follow the above tips moving forward, how do you go the extra mile to differentiate your content? By adding some interactive content of course. You can choose from videos, quizzes, assessments, surveys, infographics, and calculators. This suggestion is in line with the last bullet point about conveying your message through a range of methods. There are a lot of ideas in long-form content. Retaining all these ideas is a challenge. To help readers take home maximum value from your creation a quiz/calculator/assessment at the end of the post is an excellent aid.
To Sum Up
Long form content is here to stay. Creating good quality long-form content is a challenge but it helps you get greater mileage. But is long-form content indeed the future of B2B marketing? The answer again is moderation. An effective content strategy focuses on catering to the widest possible audience. Thus include some short-form content in the mix.
Allow an explanation to naturally take its course until the idea is fully covered, don’t add extra words for the sake of word-count. Over to you.