The best way to make outstanding content is to first consider the important elements, such as asking yourself what are the interests and education of your customers, their user intent, and the journey your customers will take to arrive at specific pieces of content.
Theoretically, this should mean that there is no all-round rule when it comes to the ideal length of website content as it mostly depends on your audience, your business expectations and goals, and your product.
Nevertheless, there is a way you can decide on the best length of content to produce for your own marketing strategy. At Strawberry Forge, we believe that long-format works for us and our sectors and audiences.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the difference between long-format and short-form content, and what might work for your company and why.
So, without any further ado…
What is Long-Format Content?
Technically, there is no absolute definition for what is classed as long-form and short-form content.
Nevertheless, I believe that most content creators and digital marketers agree that long-format content tends to have around 1000 words or more. This can include blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks and so on.
Long-form content can give you a substantial amount of knowledge which includes insights and analyses, as well as the latest statistics and data if the industry of your content allows for this.
However, long-format can be pretty demanding in terms of time and the resources involved and more than short-format, obvs.
I believe, that typically, long-format content is likely to work best when your audience is in the earlier stages of a buyers journey and has very little knowledge of the products or services that your business is providing.
At the end of the day, as far you’re selling high-end and expensive products and services, and your soon-to-be customers need extensive information about these types of services for them to make their final decision whether they’re going to buy you as a business or make a purchase of your product.
Long-form content is always a great idea if you’re a new business or if you’re about to launch a new product or service.
Long-form is good for this as it is giving your existing customers and new customers as much knowledge as they can get about you, and your product or service, so they’re more inclined to trust you.
If you’re a business whose goal is to close B2B sales which involve a long and complicated purchasing cycle, you can be sure that long-form content is going to ensure that your customers get the information that they need, for this process to be as straightforward to follow as possible.
The Pros of Long-Form
I think it’s fair to say that long-format content tends to work in those situations where you need to give in-depth information to your audience. This way, it can influence purchase decisions by familiarising new prospects with your services or products.
Enhanced credibility: A substantial amount of investment in terms of time, capital and resources are needed to write a 1000-word long in-depth and thoroughly researched blog. This effort is going to be pretty clear to your audience as well.
The way that long-form content is, it positions you as a brand that cares for your audience and wants to add value to their lives (we hope). From this, it will help you earn the trust of your audience and encourage your brand credibility.
Not to mention, publishing well-written, long-form content on a regular basis also keeps your audience hooked.
Less competition: When you publish your long-form content, it can be a pretty strenuous process, as you need to ensure it’s highly engaging and meaningful, which of course, takes time to develop.
Sometimes, this can discourage marketers from even considering to use long-form content, but you can outperform your competitors by using this as your upper-hand.
All the keywords: Many moons ago, there was a time when you could improve your search engine rankings by jam-packing your tiny 500-word article with keywords. However, you’re not able to use such practices any longer. In fact, search engine algorithms are constantly being updated in order to give original and useful content the attention it deserves.
The great thing with long-form is that it allows you to incorporate your keywords into the content in a pretty discreet way. This increases the keyword density of your content, meaning you’re increasing your organic traffic from the search engines — ideal!
Your website performs better: If you’re going to publish thorough and engaging long-form content, your audience is likely to spend more time on your website.
This, therefore, improves website parameters like the ‘bounce rate’ and the amount of time someone spends on site.
Additionally, long-form allows you to link internally to other blogs on your website, which will keep readers on your website for longer and continuing to improve the bounce rate.
Improved conversions: I think we’re all able to agree on the fact that the main objective of a digital marketing strategy is to convert the visitors of your website and blog readers into paying and returning customers.
This is when long-form content is particularly useful in this regard, as it boosts brand credibility and trust and positions you as an authoritative figure in your sector.
Additionally, long-form allows you to give your readers a clear and in-depth amount of information about your product, which is helpful in persuading them into making a purchase.
The Cons of Long-Form Content
In the war between short-form and long-form content, the latter generally offers a variety of lucrative benefits. However, it’s not perfect.
Expensive and time-consuming: Collating an engaging and worthwhile 1000-word long blog post is not easy, as it requires a thorough understanding of the topic in question. The content has to be well-researched and properly structured, and then there’s the amount of time that goes into the reviewing and editing processes, a well as the uploading.
It requires a significant amount of time and resources, and you need to weigh up whether your team can balance this extra workload with the jobs they’re already doing.
That thing, erm, attention span!: Today’s lifestyle which has us running at 100mph every single day has largely contributed to the decrease in our attention spans. Your audience is constantly busy and has a lot going on in their brains while scrolling over your website.
In this case, your blogs must be extremely engaging and well-structured, otherwise, they will fail to hold the attention of your audience. Even including elements like photos can help to entice a reader to carry on going with your blog.
Irregularity: When you do publish your award-winning 3000-word blog, this is a great way to improve audience engagement, but it isn’t much use if you’re only publishing such content every so often.
It’s essential that you publish content on a regular basis in order to stay relevant to your audience.
Not so mobile-friendly: We all know there is an epidemic of us being glued to our phones. This simply tells us how important it is to be mobile-efficient when it comes to blogging.
However, even if your website is mobile-responsive, long-form content may not attract too many mobile users. A small screen size and minimal attention span makes it tricky for people to read lengthy blogs on their phones.
What is Short-Form Content?
Typically, short-form content is said to hold a word count of 750 or less and includes emails, blog posts, social media posts. Short-form content is often useful in conveying crucial information in a crisp and concise format.
More often than not, short-form content is useful when your audience is already pretty familiar with your brand and your products or services. These people will be looking for precise information in order for them to make a purchase, so they’re not looking to waste their time with unnecessary details.
Short-form content is ideal if you’re a business who is selling relatively inexpensive and frequently used products or services, as these benefit from a ‘straight to the point’ description rather than a lengthy one.
If you’re interacting with your current customers, short-form content is perfect. If they’re 100% ready to purchase from you, they’ve chosen you and not your competitors.
Finally, if you’re writing for specific formats such as Facebook Ads, email subject lines, or PPC campaigns, short-form content is your go-to.
The Pros of Short-Form Content
For many established marketers and brands, short-form content is the best choice, let’s see why…
Better Readership: Without sounding too insulting, your audience may have a short attention span, and might not want to be read every word of a long blog post. For the most part, they want something they can scan through.
Short-form content increases the chances that your audience will actually read the entire piece. This leads to increased audience engagement. It’s particularly useful when you want to put forward important information about your business brand.
Less time-consuming: One of the better arguments which are pro-short-form content is that it requires less time to create, and therefore it can be published sooner. This is always put at the front of conversation whenever there is a debate on the battle between short-form and long-form content.
Improved engagement: With short-form content, you’re able to use short and snappy social media posts, which grab the attention of your audience quickly. It’s likely that they will read these posts in their full form and may even share them. This then leads to improved engagement levels and takes your content to a much greater audience.
Mobile friendly: Short-form content is mobile-friendly due to its precision and length. It’s easier to read a sharp 750-word blog post on your phone, as opposed to a 5000-word post.
So keeping your content short ensures that your audience genuinely reads it on their mobile, instead of saving it for later.
Phones were actually accounted for just over half of the global internet traffic in 2018, which simply shows the importance of being mobile-friendly and engaging with your audience.
The Cons of Short-Form Content
A lack of depth: Short-form content refrains you from explaining a topic in vast detail. This particularly difficult when you’re writing about a topic which requires statistics and examples.
A lack of deep insights can make your content appear less valuable, and your audience might view these posts as low-quality. This is particularly true when they are at a stage in the sales funnel where they need to know more about your brand.
Mediocre website performance: When your audience isn’t able to get hold of any meaningful information from your website, they are less likely to stay and spend time on it. This decreases the time people will be on a site and leads to poor bounce rates.
Search Friendly? Nope: Possibly the biggest disadvantage of short-form content. It rarely climbs up in search engine rankings.
This is due to the fact that it doesn’t establish your authority over important subjects in your sector. Additionally, the low word count stops you from making your content ‘keyword rich’.
Understanding the Buyers’ Journey
The issue with short-form Vs. long-for content can be (partly) resolved by taking a more in-depth look at the buyers’ journey.
You have got to understand where your audience members are in terms of the sales funnel.
When potential customers are in the awareness stage of the buyers’ journey, they need a little more convincing before they are anywhere near considering a purchase from your brand. This is where long blog posts, ebooks and tutorials are ideal in such cases.
However, qualified leads in the Decision stage of the buyers’ journey need a little push before they can make a decision. A targeted email which states the benefits of your new product might just be what they need in order to click ‘enter’.
The Final Thought
Funnily enough, this blog has been extremely long, so it’s pretty obvious that Strawberry Forge is all about that long-form life.
It’s clear to see, that the war of short-form and long-form content has been blowing the minds of marketers and website owners for an extensive amount of time. What complicates the whole debate even more is the fact there isn’t an obvious winner.
Although the long-form content improves the rankings of search engines and brand credibility, short-term content is mobile-friendly — a pretty important element in this day and age.
Realistically, the choice between short-form content and long-form content depends on where your target audience is in the sales funnel.
An in-depth understanding of your target audience is required and the end goal of your marketing campaign needs to be crystal clear.