Everywhere you look, short-form content — or content under 1,000 words — seems to be standard. You’ll find it in social media posts, blog posts, emails, and other marketing collateral. Short-form content can be useful for relaying information in a concise way, but long-form content allows you to dive deeper into complicated subjects, establish your company as an industry expert, and strengthen your bottom line.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is any piece of marketing-related writing that exceeds 1,000 words. The final word count varies based on the topic, audience, and purpose. Unlike short-form content, which is often intended to be skimmed, long-form content is meant to be read word for word and provide useful, substantial information to the reader about a specific topic. The purpose of long-form content is not to drone on with useless fluff to reach a word count or stuff keywords but rather to explore a topic in greater depth. Common examples of long-form content include e-books, white papers, and ultimate guides.
How Long-Form Content Can Help Your Business
From better SEO rankings to strengthened network connections, business professionals can benefit greatly from the proper use of long-form content. Here are some ways to use long-form content that will yield maximum benefits for your company.
Long-form content allows you to put your content in front of new eyes. It gives you an outlet for something other than social media posts and often reaches a broader audience. Long-form content also provides the chance to create campaigns and play around with ads. Promoting it can have a more extensive reach than a blog post, as long as the long-form content isn’t gated (we’ll talk about this later).
Many people in marketing will tell you that SEO is king. Long-form content can give you more opportunities to rank high on search engines. Proper SEO, or search engine optimization, is what brings your content to potential clients when they search for a product you sell or information you can provide. The better your SEO, the higher your content is ranked, and the more people will likely see it.
Getting In Touch
Writing long-form content also gives you a chance to keep network relationships up to date. In most industries, relationships are built regularly. When you ask for feedback from your connections, you can get good advice, and they usually feel flattered and are willing to help you. Having long-form content is an excellent opportunity to reach out to these contacts and stay in touch.
Increased Time on Site
Comprehensive content equals increased time on site. If your long-form content is well-written and helpful to customers, they will spend more time looking at it. Long-form content sometimes means multiple pages, which also encourages users to spend more time on your website, thereby strengthening your SEO rankings as well as the trust between your brand and your target audience.
Along with increased time on site, long-form content can also increase your conversion rate. When potential customers spend more time on your site, they are more likely to spend money on your goods or services. This is especially true when you become a trusted source of information within your industry.
Position of Authority
Having comprehensive long-form content can help you establish your credibility and position yourself as an authority figure in your industry. Long-form content, such as definitive guides and white papers, shows that you are knowledgeable and can be trusted to give current, accurate information.
Types of Long-Form Content
When creating and implementing long-form content, you have several types to choose from. Each has its benefits and positive aspects to offer you and your company, but there is a time and a place for when these types of content will be the most useful. When used correctly, all of the following could further your marketing strategy.
- Annual year in review
- Case studies
- Definitive guides
- Roundups and reviews
- White papers
To decide which of these will work best for your purposes, read on for descriptions of each. We’re sure that you’ll find a use for at least one of them, if not multiple.
Annual Year in Review
An annual year in review is content that companies usually release at the end of a fiscal year. This long-form content is where you share your company’s growth, successes, and failures.
This review is an excellent opportunity to discuss the milestones your company has reached over the past year. Have you achieved any goals? Share them! You can be as specific as you want to be here. Also, share any failures and growth opportunities. It’s okay to be transparent and show how you’ve grown. If your team has grown, evolved, or expanded, this is the place to talk about that as well and to tell your readers how these changes have helped your company. Wrap up by talking about your company’s goals for the new year, and thank those who have helped you get this far.
Brochures and Datasheets
There are stylistic and aesthetic ways to show what you’re selling to your customers. A brochure is an informational document that can include eye-catching graphics and be folded in various ways for visual appeal. Compared to alternative forms of long-form content, brochures tend to be for sales and marketing purposes, but you can also turn them into a datasheet.
Datasheets are an excellent way to summarize the performance and characteristics of your product. With a datasheet, you can lay out exactly what you’re selling and why a customer should be interested in it. Both brochures and datasheets should be pleasing to the eye, and they can each lead to conversions.
A case study is a type of long-form content and a research method that shows potential clients evidence of your success. It illustrates the details of a specific case up close and personal. Businesses tend to use this method to exhibit the result of a successful partnership with a particular client. A successful case study is usually 500-1,500 words.
When creating a case study, it is essential to provide a customer bio describing the client and their company. Present the customer’s struggle and how they tried to solve it independently. Then, explain the product or service you provided to solve their problem and the results of the connection. It never hurts to have a quote from the customer about how you helped them. You should also statistics and numbers to show how much their conversions, sales, or retention improved to make the most impact.
A definitive guide is supposed to be precisely what the name implies: an all-encompassing guide that lays out everything you need to learn about a topic. Sources are the end-all-be-all of definitive guides. You have to be familiar with the subject and know the reputable sources that will give you the information you need to write this kind of long-form content.
First and foremost, you need to know your purpose for writing a definitive guide. Having good keywords will help you on the SEO side of things. If you use statistics, case studies, or white papers, you can build trust and credibility. Visual graphics in your guide add some interest and keep your readers engaged.
Although e-books may be considered more extensive projects than other long-form content, they give you a place to immerse your readers in a subject and provide comprehensive information and answers. Writing an e-book entails the opportunity to educate your client base and include CTAs on your website.
When you’re putting together your e-book, you should keep a few things in mind:
- It can be helpful to format the e-book to include a table of contents and write it like you would write a blog.
- Any advice you give in the e-book should be insightful, unbiased, and include a CTA.
- An e-book is also a great way to link to influencers and partners who talk about similar topics.
Roundups and Reviews
Roundups and reviews talk about products, services, or companies. Reviews are relatively common, and they look at the advantages and disadvantages of certain products. Roundups are essentially a list of products to compare. Both are long-form content that can help your clients make decisions about products and services they may want to try.
If you decide to write a review and, by extension, a roundup, you need to make sure you stick to the facts and statistics and avoid biased opinions. Constructive criticism and essential information should be part of your content as well, but personal opinions and commentary should be avoided when you’re writing.
The purpose of a white paper is usually to give current and potential customers information on both sides of a topic and any issues around it. Your goal should be to educate the reader and be as unbiased as possible. If you do it correctly, you might even be able to influence customers when making their decisions about the topic.
The most essential phase of writing a white paper is research. Ask the questions people want answers to — and answer them. Format your content correctly by giving both sides of the problem throughout the entire paper. Cite your sources and references, and provide historical data.
How to Write Long-Form Content
Now that you know the different kinds of long-form content and how it can add value, it’s time to talk about how to write it. There are a few things to take into consideration when writing long-form content, including:
- Who it’s for
Who’s going to be reading your long-form content? Knowing your audience makes it easier to decide what type of long-form content you need to write.
- Why you need it
What’s the purpose behind writing your long-form content? Will you use it for marketing, education, or something completely different?
- What success looks like
At what point will you consider your long-form content a success? How will you measure your success?
- Gated v. ungated
Will your long-form content be available to anyone who wants it? Gated content means that prospective readers will need to put in an email address or other information to access your content. Ungated content means that the content will be freely accessible.
- Topic choice
Have a goal before you choose a topic. What kind of topics will reach your audience best? What are they searching for, and what other information is available? It can be helpful to look at the content you have that’s already doing well and build off of that.
Design isn’t just about making your content look good. You also need to think about practicality. Do you need email sign-up buttons or links to other content? Also, consider having buttons to share your content across social media.
- Promo strategy
When you put a lot of time into your long-form content, you want it to spread and be shared. For this to happen, you need a good promotion strategy. You can use paid ads, direct mail campaigns, giveaways, and more to make your content successful.
So, how will you use long-form content to help your company? How will your marketing strategy benefit from long-form content? There are various long-form content options available, so it’s time to choose one that works best for your business.