The Long and Short of Content Management
This is an article “The Long and Short of Content Management” by Marc Primo Warren
Your digital marketing strategy relies heavily on how good your content is. Copies that are full of fluff and don't address your audience’s needs will only waste your time, effort, and money because your chances of ranking on search pages and a low bounce rate are almost always slim to nil.
Marketers consider high-quality content as the fuel that drives their marketing strategies. From blog articles to your mailers and social media posts, the phrase ‘content is king’ has never been more true in terms of inbound marketing. It directly affects your search engine results page (SERP) rankings and helps you build your online presence as one that’s credible and trustworthy. And as most key practices in marketing go, content creation and management do take a lot of work.
Knowing the right target audience and their online behaviors and preferences will help you improve your content creation for high-quality web or blog posts that deliver results. So does utilizing the best tools for keyword targeting, determining the best post lengths that work for your audience, and identifying search intent.
Speaking of length, one of the most common questions most marketers ask when it comes to content creation is whether long or short-form articles are more appropriate for your marketing strategies.
With that, let’s go over the pros and cons of both forms to help you figure out what might prove to be more appealing to your particular audience.
While there are no exact rules on long-form content’s word count, most marketers will consider anything between 700 to 2,000 words. Translating this to time value, that’s about four to ten minutes of reading time, which can be a lot for most readers today.
However, long-form content can give you the leverage to provide all the essential information you want to share with your audience. Whether you are going for blog posts, whitepapers, or ebooks, long-form articles will give you more room to establish your authority on a particular subject matter via helpful insights and data sharing.
Of course, you would have to exert more time and effort in developing your articles and making sure that you double or even triple-check all the information you’re sharing with your audience otherwise, your content may cause high bounce rates.
The advantages of long-form articles
Depending on how voracious your audience types are as readers, long-form content works when they expect you to provide them with in-depth information on specific subject matters (like this one). Most how-to guides, tutorials, and technical listicles adapt to long-form content creation as it can better influence those who want to learn and get more resources.
There are other instances where long-form content can be very ideal; these include the early stages of your customer’s marketing journey (so they can learn more about the products and services you offer) when you are trying to get your target audience’s long-term commitment to your products or services, when you’re selling premium products that need more elaborate descriptions, or when you’re just about to launch a new product or brand. Taking these into consideration, it simply shows that most business-to-business (B2B) marketing which involves long-term cycles can gain a lot from long-form content.
When it comes to short-form articles or those that do not go over 700 words, you get a higher chance of capturing your audience’s attention span if they are the kind who don’t have the luxury of time. In today’s market, that slice in the consumer graph will comprise mostly millennials and generation Z’ers which by the way are also the largest consumer groups today.
Your short-form articles should be clear and concise, yet able to provide essential information that will keep them interesting to your audience. These types of content are ideal for your mailers, social media posts, and blog listicles, among others, especially if your audience already knows who you are and what you’re all about.
Given that you have a limited number of words per blog article, you’ll want to give your audience precise details about your brand, product, or services that will strike a chord and influence them to make a purchase. Reviewing your identified buyer personas’ search intent and targeting the right keywords to include in your short-form articles without overstuffing them (since Google RankBrain has finally put a stop to such guerilla keyword-density strategies) are the key things you want to achieve here.
These types of content work well if you already have established a community of followers from your social media accounts, blogs, or other channels as you can get more personal with them and can do away with trivial details.
The advantages of short-form articles
If you can say that you are already enjoying some form of brand recall and somehow have established yourself as an industry authority, you can rely on short-form content to push your reputation even further online in various ways.
For one, you can increase your following and readership with shorter articles as long as you cover all the key points that your audience is interested in. They can also give you more time to draft your articles, more angles you can divide into separate short-form content formats to sustain your posts and remain consistent, plus more chances of your articles being shared to lookalike audiences.
Another thing that sets short-form content apart from long articles is that they are more mobile-friendly given that smartphones are the most preferred devices for browsing today. Your audience will find your articles easier to digest on mobile devices and there’s no need for them to save or bookmark your pages as it’s easier to finish a 3-minute read, and you’ll get more chances for marketing mileage with every adult individual spending nearly three hours on their mobile phones each day.
Lastly, you can give your social media game a boost with short and direct-to-the-point articles using supporting captions to grab audience attention. This can create better engagement and wider reach through shares.
It’s all about what your audience needs and prefers
Deciding which content form will work best for you means that you have to understand where your target audiences are right now within your marketing funnel. Consumers who need to be made aware of your product need a lot of information before you can influence them to purchase your products and long forms such as ebooks and tutorials can help a lot in this phase.
However, when your consumer base is already in the decision stage, short-form content works best to further encourage them to try your brand out. Balancing out how you want to keep them interested in you relies on meticulously reviewing the information you want to share with them. Guide them throughout their customer journeys and make them know that you are paying attention to what they need from you by mixing up how you manage your content.
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