Contrary to popular belief, longform content is not dead. The perception that our attention spans are not as good as they used to be has caused creators to make their content shorter, whether it be written, video, or audio content. However, longform articles are still important to content marketing strategies, and you can use them to deliver quality content to your audience. You can grow your brand and increase user engagement by strategically incorporating longform content into your marketing plan.
What is considered longform as opposed to short form content can vary, especially for different media.
- Written: For written longform content the standard is usually 1,200 words or more.
- Video: Videos have also become shorter due to the perceived change in attention spans. Videos attempt to grab viewers immediately to make sure they stay tuned for the entire video. Generally, videos that are three minutes or more are considered longform. Anything longer and you have to make sure your audience is really invested, otherwise they will stop watching.
- Audio: Different types of audio content have different guidelines. Podcasts are one example where longform is the norm. Podcasts can be hours long, but their specific and niche nature means listeners are already interested in and engaged with the content. You don’t have to worry as much about grabbing their attention right off the bat like you do with written or video content.
Lengths also vary so much because it is difficult to generalize the attention spans of your audience. Different users have different attention spans as well as different interests. Someone with a shorter attention span will watch a 10-minute video about, say, gardening differently than someone with a longer attention span. The viewer’s interest in gardening is also a factor in their attention span.
Types of Content
There are certain types of content that are better suited to the longform format.
- Journalism and storytelling are both worthy of higher word counts, because they require lots of detail as well as sometimes complex explanations and background information.
- E-books are another example of the longer form, and their read-anywhere capabilities mean that readers can take time to digest what they are reading and go at their own pace.
- Guides and White Papers are also well suited to the longform format. The topics for this type of content are endless, but formats can include how-to guides and handbooks. White Papers are usually a little more detailed than guides and often present a position on the topic rather than just the facts. The important thing is to show that you are the expert on the topic you are covering.
- Case Studies are very useful for content marketing. Presenting examples of how your company has successfully tackled problems in the past can show potential customers how you can help them in concrete terms.
- Reports can be useful in explaining research results and data gathered. If you’ve done a study that your audience might find interesting or useful, reports are a great for presenting that.
- Successful longform videos include mini-documentaries (such as Vox’s Explained series), or interviews with experts and prominent figures in a field.
- Podcasts can be used to make documentaries, and can be used for content such as interviews and panel discussions surrounding a topic related to your brand.
Incorporating the occasional longform article into your content marketing strategy has many benefits.
- According to a study by serpIQ, longer articles tend to show up higher in search engine results, and the longer a piece of content is, the higher it appears,1 so longform is great for SEO.
- Users also spend more time on average on the page and the site as a whole (more words to read = more time reading them). Longform content can help increase user engagement and traffic as well.2
- Longform can also be useful in turning potential customers into paying customers. Convert regular readers of your blog into dedicated readers or even paying customers with the perfect piece of longform content. At the very least, you will keep your audience coming back for more. The more they come back, the more likely they are to become paying customers in the future.
- Good longform content can also be a great way to show your audience that you are the expert on a topic. Make sure you do the research, even though it may be time consuming, to build trust with your audience. They will keep returning to you for content if they trust your brand and find it credible.
- Providing your audience with content in which they have expressed interest shows that you listen to their needs. This has a lot of value for your audience, as they can find something important, interesting, or useful to them and will continue to seek you out as a content provider. You will build a reputation for being reliable and consistent when it comes to providing your audience with quality content.
- Longform content gives you the opportunity to explore topics in more detail. You can use it to expand on topics that your audience has shown interest in through their engagement with your content. You can also write a shorter article and link to a longer article you have written on the topic. Audiences then have the option to pursue the longer piece if they are interested.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between longform content and good longform content. Think about the last lengthy article that you read. What made you spend time reading it? Of course, interest in the topic is a major factor, but what else about the article was engaging? Include lots of detail and background information for readers, so that they aren’t confused while reading. Writing style is also important. Using a narrative structure rather than a list of information can be useful in engaging readers.
Here are a couple more things to think about if you’re interested in writing longform articles:
- Interactivity: This helps with user engagement, as it encourages users to click around and stay interested in the material. Consider including a graphic or chart that users can manipulate.
- Topic: Make sure the subject of your article is worthy of a higher word count. Not every subject needs 1,200 words or more to be fully covered. It’s not worth filling an article with empty words just to have a higher word count.
- Gated or Ungated: Gated content is content which is only downloadable in exchange for information such as an email address. Users can be hesitant to provide such information, so consider whether their email addresses are worth their annoyance.
- Curation: Longer articles take longer to create. There is more writing time, research time, and editing time. Consider linking to articles written by others occasionally, instead of investing all your time in one article.
Pace Creative has the know-how to help you incorporate longform content into your content marketing strategy and we would love to help you grow your business. Don’t hesitate to get in touch! Whether you’re writing longform or short form, make sure you’re familiar with the metrics to measure the success of your content marketing!