What is long form content and do I need it?

Posted 03/12/2013

How much content is enough content? Google’s Panda update changed the game when it came to content, or did it?

Content, long form content, short form content, more and more CONTENT! It’s all we hear. It’s the ‘new’ thing – apparently. Google loves it (that’s for sure), but should you bother with this new fad?

Yes, is the short answer.

So… lets ‘do’ content then, right?

Content is a small word for a very big thing. There are many forms of content each with their own purpose. If you decide to ‘do’ content, then you really need a strategy in place. There are many forms of content – visual assets, tools, quizzes, webinars, videos, guides and the list goes on. Here is a really great visualisation of the types of some of the types of content out there and where they sit in terms of conversion, appeal and purpose:

Long Form Content Marketing

 

 

Credit where it’s due – I saw this at the Content Marketing Show during Hannah Smith’s fantastic talk, who credited it to Smart Insights.

There are so many forms of content here that you need to decide what will work best for you and your business. If there is no need or demand for entertaining content from the audience you wish to target then don’t make any, skip ahead to target conversions or to educate. Here I’m going to talk about long form content and how you can use it to benefit your business.

So what is long form content then?

Long form content is exactly how it sounds – it’s long. It seems that opinions slightly differ when it comes to how long is long form content. Some argue that it’s anything over a couple of sentences and some go more down the route of long form journalism – something more of a publication or novella. This is the type of content I will be talking about here – maybe not as long as a novella in all cases but certainly longer than a couple of sentences. Types of long form content include:
– E-books
– Whitepapers
– Guides & Resources
– Videos/Webinars

Some content can sound a bit scary to some businesses, I understand that. Videos and webinars may sound a bit alien and if this is the case then that is fine, ease yourself in with content that isn’t too far from what you’re already producing. Long form content is nothing new and certainly nothing scary.

If you currently have a blog, which I hope you do, then why not evaluate the performance of your blog. Who are you trying to target, how do they consume their content? This may give you a better idea of what strategy you should be taking. Will you be more successful producing a hugely detailed post once a week, or by producing a number of article length pieces a week? The only way to know is to research and to test.

If you find that your blog is more successful with more regular article length posts then why not begin to produce long form content in the shape of resources. Just to clear up, when I say article length this still calls for reasonable effort, length and quality –  less than 500 words just might not cut it anymore. Creating resources that are genuinely useful is key. Understand who your audience is and who you want it to be in order to target your content to them. Create useful, insightful guides bit by bit. There is no need to instantly write 10 white papers in one go. Start and build up your collection. Distribute this information as you would usually – through social media and maybe your marketing materials. You want to build a collection of specialist information that people will come to time and time again. As you create new guides, white papers or e-books let everyone know, advertise the fact that it’s free and it will not only draw people to your new content, but your evergreen content too.

 

What am I going to get out of this long form content?

What you get out of your content depends on what you have planned to do with it. As an example, here are some types of people that a digital marketing agency could create their content for:
– Other Digital Marketing Agencies
– In House Digital Marketers
– In House Marketers
– Managing Directors/Owners

Here is a starting point – four different personas. Content created for these different types of people will be very different and although some over laps will occur you cannot kill all birds with one stone, so know what content is meant to appeal to which persona.
If you create informative, useful content that targets the right audience then you will not only be building up the content on your site (for Google to love) but also attracting your ideal customers, high quality traffic and high quality links all year round and don’t just take my word for it – Neil Patel has found that long copy on his website has increased both is rankings and quality of conversions.

Why not take a look at our growing collection of resources.

Is there anything in particular that you would like us to produce a white paper for, why not let us know in the comments below?

 

 

 

 


 
 

 
 
Comments
  1. Susan Hallam

    A great article, Abra, and very useful to let our clients now about latest digital marketing tactics.

    It may now be called “long form content” – but in reality B2B marketers have been this way successfully for a long time!

    Long form content does lots of great things:

    – it is powerful for long-tail SEO
    – it demonstrates expertise and credibility
    – it works well alongside more brief content to provide extra oomph

    And I agree entirely that we should be testing short form/long term in terms of what meets the success criteria for our site…

    Susan Hallam

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