Did you know that the average B2B buyer’s journey involves the consumption of 13 pieces of content? That’s according to FocusVision (now part of the Forsta brand), and it emphasizes just how important content is to the modern consumer.
It should also serve as an eye-opener to any business that hasn’t embraced content creation as a focal point of its marketing strategy.
Regularly produced, quality content and copy can make all the difference when a buyer is deciding between brands. Even otherwise well-planned marketing campaigns are destined to fall short of expectations if not supported by top-notch content.
Fortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to content that must be adhered to. With content marketing, you have options in terms of content type, length and subject matter.
“Snackable” short-form content can be produced more rapidly and allows you to keep in regular contact with your leads and current customers. It’s a good fit for the nurturing phase (middle of the sales funnel) and keeps your company top-of-mind.
However, many marketing experts will tell you that long-form content ultimately makes the biggest impact on companies’ target audiences, which is why we felt it was important to write this article.
You’ll get the details of what long-form content is (including examples) and learn why it’s such a critical component of modern marketing strategies. We’ll also provide tips and advice to help you improve and sustain your content marketing if it’s new to your company or previously been low on your priority list.
What is Long-Form Content?
As you probably implied from the name, long-form content refers to content that is above average in length. It offers more information than a standard content marketing piece and/or greater depth of information on a particular topic.
Your next question is likely, “What is the word count for a piece of long-form content?” The answer, unfortunately, isn’t straightforward and will vary depending on which marketer is asked.
For some, content starts to be referred to as long once it reaches 700 words. For others, a minimum of 1,000 words is required. There are even those that believe the target should be 2,000 words. Here at Adventure, we consider the target word count for an “average” piece of content to be 500 words, and above that, it begins to transition toward long status.
A good approach is to aim for at least 1,000 words. If you come up a little short of that, it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is to cover the topic in as much detail as possible without stuffing in too much “fluff” that readers won’t care about.
You don’t need to be as concerned about going too long on a piece of content. Most marketers agree that long-form marketing content can contain up to 7,500 words. Above that, it starts to become a novella or book, and it’s rare for a consumer to expect those from a company.
Here are a few of the primary examples of long-form content:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- White papers/industry reports
Build Your Blog Content
Research from Content Marketing Institute found that blog posts are the number one content type used among B2B marketers. Additionally, HubSpot found that organizations that prioritize blogging achieve 13 times the ROI of those that don’t. Plus, companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog, according to Demand Metric.
So, when planning your long-form content, it’s a good idea to focus a lot of attention on building your blog presence.
There are many subject areas you could write about that would be useful to those in your target vertical markets:
- Tips, advice & industry insights
- Industry news
- Company news
- Product spotlights
- Service spotlights
There also are numerous blog post types you could utilize to best present information for the particular topic and to keep your blog fresh and interesting. Here are some of the most popular:
- How To – Describes how to execute a process
- List/Checklist – Includes a list/checklist of solutions, tools, resources, etc.
- Case Study – Outlines and unpacks the details of a project, event or process and shows how it turned out
- Definition – Defines complicated ideas or confusing terms
- Comparison – Compares one item or idea to a competing item or idea
- News/Update – Provides industry or company news and updates
- Q&A – Lists questions and provides answers in a Q&A format
- Tips – Shares tips and insight
- Cost & Pricing – Provides commentary on cost/pricing on a product/service
- Review – Provides a review of something (article, company, product, service, etc.)
If you’re curious, “listicles” are the most popular blog post format among business blogs, according to Responsive Inbound Marketing.
Get into the habit of writing and posting to your blog regularly, and you’ll have a great library of content before you know it.
The Role of Long-Form Content in SEO
As we discussed in our article SEO & Content: Marketing’s Dynamic Duo, content plays a crucial role in getting your company discovered when someone performs a Google search. Well-written copy that contains keywords relevant to the searcher’s intent and provides helpful information will be ranked higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs) than copy that is poorly written and isn’t backed by a good keyword strategy.
The good news for content creators is that Google automatically locates new content on the web to add to its database. But as Leanne Wong points out, simply publishing new content isn’t enough to achieve the high search ranking required to be found by a significant number of searchers.
Standing out from the competition requires long-form content with good domain authority. Domain authority refers to the level of trustworthiness of a domain (the entire website). It’s based on the quantity AND quality of backlinks that direct to the site based on Google’s ranking algorithm.
The ideal scenario is for your domain to accumulate a lot of high-quality backlinks. But in a case where it’s one or the other, a lower number of high-quality backlinks is preferable to a higher number of low-quality backlinks. The power of long-form content lies in the fact that it enables you to target a keyword pool in great depth. Depending on its length, a single long-form blog could rank for dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of related keywords, long-tail keywords and keyword variants. The more keywords that are included in the content, the more organic traffic can be driven to the site.
Just keep in mind that SEO is a process that takes time to build momentum. You probably won’t see instant results, but they’ll come eventually.
Other Reasons to Write Long-Form Content
Boosting SEO isn’t the only reason you should write long-form content. The benefits go beyond satisfying Google’s search algorithm.
To Serve as Lead Magnets
Another reason to write lengthy, in-depth content pieces is to have them serve as lead magnets. A lead magnet is an enticing, gated piece of content developed to capture contact information on a webpage or landing page that enables you to market to individuals further.
At minimum, you should aim to accumulate email addresses. You may also want to collect information such as names, business addresses and phone numbers, but know that the more information you ask for in exchange for access to a lead magnet, the more reluctant individuals may be to respond.
Lead magnets are especially beneficial at the top of the funnel when targeting individuals who are in the early stages of their research and not ready to speak with a salesperson. You can use your lead magnet to serve as an introduction to your company and, hopefully, make a positive impression and establish the credibility of your company.
Types of lead magnets include:
- Checklist – A content piece that condenses a subject down into an actionable list
- Template – An outline that serves as a starting point for the user. All they need to do is fill in the blanks
- Case Study – An example that details the real-world application of a product or service
- Guide – An in-depth content piece that educates the reader on a particular topic
- Product Literature – High-level, introductory content that provides an overview of a product or service
- Toolbox – A collection of tools such as calculators, templates and worksheets the user can apply at their company
To learn more, check out our post How to Create a Lead Magnet.
To Entertain, Inform & Provide Solutions
Last, but certainly not least, long-form content should be developed so your company can regularly entertain readers, inform them and provide them with solutions to their problems. This should be the ultimate goal regardless of whether you’re trying to get found on Google, collect lead information or something else entirely.
Today’s buyers want to research on their own terms and rarely wish to speak to a sales or customer service rep early in the process. Content, and especially long-form content, fills that void and does the job of creating a connection between the buyer and the supplier.
Meaningful Brands reported that 84% of people expect brands to produce content that entertains, provides solutions and produces experiences and events.
Quality, customer-focused content is key. It should be enjoyable to read, not dry and boring. Also, it should be helpful and empathize with the pain points of your target audience, not be overly promotional. Don’t be pushy going for the sale.
B2B blogs with educational content get 52% more organic traffic than B2B blogs with company-focused content, according to Backlinkto. Additionally, Omnicore found that better content can drive traffic to a blog by up to 2,000%.
How to Create Long-Form Content at Scale
With long-form content being so essential to marketing success, the onus is on companies’ marketing managers and marketing teams to churn out large amounts of good content each year. Depending on levels of experience and available time and resources, it could be quite a challenge. So, how can you ensure your company can create long-form content at scale?
First, put together a well-thought-out content strategy, and stick to the plan throughout the year. Sure, you may need to adapt from time to time, but remember that content marketing is a long-term play. So, don’t get discouraged if success doesn’t come immediately. For more information, read our article Adventure’s Ultimate Guide to Creating a Content Strategy.
If you have a team at your disposal, make sure everyone is knowledgeable, on the same page and driving toward the same end goal. Our article How to Get the Most Out of Your Content Team has some general advice, while insight specific to blogs can be found in our article How to Help Your Copywriter Create a Winning Blog Post.
If you don’t have the luxury of a content team (or even if you do but still want additional support), you can look into hiring an outside entity like a marketing agency. You may be surprised to find that it is on par with the alternative option of hiring in-house, as our comparison article details.
Regardless of how it is ultimately produced, long-form content needs to be a prominent mainstay of your marketing strategy. Consumers demand it, and it will contribute to increasing your company’s bottom line.
Do you have additional questions about long-form content or want to learn more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.