Given that content marketing is going to be on the rise for at least a few more years, it is important to up your strategy and beat the content game. Infact, 76% of B2B marketers say they will produce more content in 2016 and that is just one segment of businesses.

One of the most important questions when deciding on strategy is whether to go short form, or long form. Each has its own set of pros and cons – the best way to deal with the dilemma is to strike a clever balance.

In this posts let’s explore both and draw some conclusions, which may help you formulate your strategy.

Long form content

Long form content is detailed and has a lot of information. To put it even more plainly – anything that is above 2000 words makes this cut; it includes ebooks, tutorials, manuals, long articles, research papers and more.

In this age, most content marketers automatically assume that long form content is irrelevant, but it is really not that simple, and it is definitely not that general. Long form content can be a strategy for success or failure depending on the business. So the question is not whether long form content is relevant in this time, rather it is the relevance to your business and your conditions that counts.

Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of long form content.

Why long?

  • The most obvious and most important advantage of long form content is well explained in this statement – “If google has a choice to show two articles for the same keyword, which one are they going to chose: the one where readers average 45 secs on the page or the one where readers average 4.5 mins on the page.” – Marcus Sheridan, Founder of The sales Lion. The best way to beat the SEO game is through long form content.
  • Here’s reason 2, long form content actually helps you convert better, totally backed by research. In a marketing experiment, experts analysed and drove traffic via Google Adwords to both long form and short form copy. The result? They conducted three rounds, and in all three rounds, long form outdid short form by 40.54%, 50% and 45.45% respectively. Infact, I can further confirm to this by giving an example from personal experience – all the long posts in our blog bring in nearly 2x the conversion rate of the shorter (<1000 words) posts and very consistently, too.
  • Long form content also helps you establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert. Writing an article at least 2000 words long is not an easy task and cannot be done without extensive research and understanding of the topic. Long form allows you to give a very rich and deep insight into a topic, and also validates your point better. What’s more – it allows you to spin your information into a story, and well, stories are certainly better than drab articles laden with umpteen statistics!

Why not?

Now let’s look at reasons why you may not want to use long form content:

  • The content will obviously be highly demanding. If you are writing a super long post, it should be good enough, enlightening much, and engaging – so that users would want to read the entire article. A bunch of stats and writing chunky pieces of information, is not going to cut it. Bottomline – it needs a LOT of effort.
  • Sometimes in order to foster user engagement, you may have to branch out you content into areas outside your realm and in that case, publishing long form content which demands in-depth knowledge and experience in the field can be a major limiting factor. For example, you want to write about football, but you don’t really know enough to publish a well-researched case study, but you sure can publish a quirky, engaging short post.

Short form content

“There is a definite trend towards small”, says the author of the Content Code, Mark Schaefer and he is right. For starters, look at the enchant that websites like Pinterest, or content forms like infographics, and gifs have on readers.

Blog posts less than 1000 words, listicles, and social media posts are some highly effective types of short form content. Just like long content, short also has a number of undeniable advantages. Let’s take a look.

Why short?

  • Let’s face it, we all have very short attention spans. Most of us are not excited by the idea of reading a foot long essay to understand something. Also, most of us read articles and posts as a form of relaxation, and so we want to put in as little mental effort as possible. Short form content confirms to all these reader requirements.
  • It is absolutely mobile friendly. Have you ever tried reading a long post on your mobile? I am sure you know how annoying it is to do that. Again, short form scores here. With the advent of smartphones, reading and surfing on mobiles has obviously become very common and only short form content is engaging and easy enough to read on a mobile device.
  • Also, short form has the power to go viral and touch even the most unlikely readers. People are more willing to share short content because for one, it won’t take too much of your time to read. Especially for small businesses who don’t have the time to invest in long form content, short form content generation when paired with effective social media tools can boost the impact of your content and can even become viral.

Why not?

  • Short form doesn’t allow you to dive into the details and intricacies of the subject. If you can’t dive into details, it is difficult to get people to believe in you and trust your opinion and that makes it difficult to convert. Afterall, the whole point of content marketing is to be able to convert, isn’t it?
  • Let’s say you see a title, ‘How to stick to your new year resolutions?’ and you get excited and click on the post, but all you see is 200 word post, with a bunch of do’s and don’t’s, as opposed to a detailed step by step guidance you expected. Now, wouldn’t you feel dissatisfied?
  • Definitely not good for SEO; a long form article with the same keywords will always triumph your short form content, and believe me when I say that there is no shortage of long form content.

Which is better?

Seeing that both have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages, which one is a better strategy? Well, here is what I think – blindly using either one is a recipe for disaster. Instead, take advantage of both, write some thoughtful, well-researched posts and supplement them with quirky short form content.

Stop asking the question – short or long form content? Instead ask yourselves, how you can use both in sync to get the maximum results.

Featured image source.