When it comes to content creation to attract and engage an audience, many marketers believe in the short and sweet approach. Converting people within a few lines, in order to get them hooked quickly before they lose interest.
There’s certainly a lot of scope for regular short blog pieces which can provoke thought and encourage interaction. But, more often these days, people are raving about the benefits that the more informative long form content can bring – from the usefulness, interest and relevancy to the reader, to the enhanced visibility through SEO.
What is long form content?
There are varying ideas on what length of copy constitutes long form content, but generally it’s a piece that’s between one and two thousand words. Despite the common belief that people will get bored quickly, evidence shows that if you can give the reader something interesting, unique and engaging then you will be likely to keep them until the end and beyond.
Also, while the shorter piece may get the reader onto the site, long form content seems to more positively affect factors such as whether they return to the site, how long they stay on it for and the bounce rate. Could this be because long form content gives you more scope to establish your credibility than a shorter piece could?
Long form content is something which seems to be favoured by the search engines too, with the highest ranking pages appearing to contain articles that are more long form in nature. Search engines value long form content as they tend to be high quality, information-rich items that offer plenty of room for keywords. And we all want to be friends with the search engines now don’t we!
In the image below from serpIQ, you can see that top-ranked content is around 2,450 words – definitely not light reading!
Bear in mind, that if something is helpful to the reader then they are more likely to share it, giving you greater authority on the subject and a more audible voice in the industry in which you want to shine.
Long form content is the opportunity to show that you are able to offer so much more than the, normally opinion based, blog piece. It gives you the chance to go into greater detail on a subject, provide more useful information and the longer someone spends reading about something, the more chance you will have of gaining their interest and their trust.
Examples of long form content might be a whitepaper, serious in tone and around three to four pages long (approx. 2000 words). These are perfect for capturing leads as they offer interesting reading, backed up by well researched information and facts. The white paper could contain graphics and images to accompany the text too. Often the success of a white paper depends on whether it gives well researched insight into a topic that has never been given before.
Another example of long form content could be the e-book, again, a tool which is useful to a person looking to learn more about a certain subject. This is the opportunity for brands to connect more deeply with their target audience and can be any length up to 80,000 words and beyond.
How to write good long form content
The main secret is to not be scared of using long form content, but to ensure that what you are producing is useful, well researched, unique and engaging.
Start by figuring out what you want to achieve from your content. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand, make more sales, speak to your customers and become a voice of authority within your industry, or just build on your mailing list?
One you’ve established the reason for your content, another important step is to identify your audience – who are you talking to and what do you need them to do?
Then discover what they want to know about, what kind of content is already appealing to them and work out how you will do it better. Your content should be presented in an informative, authoritative and well researched way that will appeal to your audience.
You should also figure out what you think will be a good outcome from the content, whether it’s social media shares, increased enquiries, greater feedback etc.
Above all, ensure that you know what you are talking about and that it’s laid out in a way that will be easy to understand to your reader. Offer something useful and new and you’re more likely to get it shared.
Long form content can be a perfect example of inbound marketing when you’ve taken time over it and done it right. So do your research and discover how you can go one better with your content today.