Four reasons long-form content should drive your communications strategy

The trend towards mindless clickbait seems to be ebbing in some quarters.

Published on 31st May, 2019
Hand holding a lightbulb with bokeh background effect

B2B marketers are increasingly realising that traffic isn’t the be-all and end-all. What matters is getting the attention of the right people, and saying something useful that they will remember and act upon.

Longer form content is a better way to do this. For those used to measuring success in clicks, this may seem a tough financial decision. A decent 2,000 worder can take much longer to research and write than five 400-worders. A weighty report (see our analysis of Deloitte’s 142 pager) doesn’t come quickly or cheaply.

But there are very good reasons why leading consultancies, tech companies and universities are increasingly spending more time producing less – but longer and better - content. Here are four:

  • Long form focusses the mind
    Short form content is easy to churn out. Anyone can think of something their company does and write 400 words on it. Short form can be good, but it can also allow you to become lazy, delegating content to junior writers who become content mills.

    Long form, if done right, forces you to say something interesting, to ask difficult questions and search for answers. It requires thinking and planning, creating, research, time taken to speak to experts. Different ideas must bounced around and woven together into a narrative arc. It is a journey to useful conclusions that is taken, not just by the writers, but by everyone involved.

    It gives you space to get deep into a subject and pass on some real insight and knowledge to your readers. There is time to bring in evidence and expert perspectives to back up your ideas. This can be infinitely more useful to your audience that short snippets which are clicked but easily forgotten.

    Two people working at a whiteboard, discussing an idea
  • Long form has longevity
    In-depth content can give you months of value. Good long form is full of great quotes, images, stats and ideas. You can use snippets to keep promoting it for months with different angles on social media and PPC marketing, without your audience becoming jaded. Informative content is also much more likely to be shared further by the right people.

    On the other hand, a single short blog will probably give you a couple of social posts before your audience think you’re flogging a dead horse. So, although it may take longer to create it, it can be more powerful in terms of long-term engagement.

  • Long form is good for SEO
    Google prioritises content over 2,000 words – it shows you have put thought into it, not just churned something out, and Google rewards that. It also gives you lots of chance for titles and subtitles which include phrases your intended audience are likely to search for, and links to authoritative sources, which search engines like. But most importantly, once they arrive they will find something that interests them, not something that tricked them into clicking.

    Person using a tablet device, tapping on an icon
  • Long form powers lead gen
    No-one is going to sign up to read a few hundred words, but really interesting long form allows opportunities for lead capture. It can be downloaded as a gated piece of insight on your website; or readers can get a taste but must enter details to read the whole thing. Or you can make the content free, but use it as teaser to sign up to your newsletter for more, opening a regular channel to communicate with potential leads.

To deliver an ROI, long form content needs to be insightful enough that people click, read, and sign up for more.

This means working with experienced people to develop it, people who are capable of drawing out expertise, appreciating the context it exists in, and identifying the decisions it needs to influence. It also means accepting that good content is at the strategic core of your marketing, influencing and lead gen strategy, not just another tactic to be churned out beneath a keyword rich headline.

Long form is not always right – there is plenty of room for good short form too, including for teaser pieces that lead to longer insights. But for organisations with something to say, it increasingly has a place at the heart of your communications strategy.

For more insights like this, sign up to our newsletter.

Read our other insights