Long Form Content: Choosing the Right Option for Your Needs
Content marketing – the phrase conjures up thoughts of blog posts and interacting on social media. Both of those are part and parcel of content marketing, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. In order to be successful here, you’ll need the right mixture of short-form content, and long form content.
However, many business owners struggle when it comes to long form content. What’s the best option? Should you write an ebook? Do need whitepapers? What about reports and the like? Are case studies better? Let’s take a closer look at your long form content options and how each can play a role in your marketing success.
Why Does Long-Form Content Matter?
Before we dive into a discussion of the various types of long form content, let’s dig into why it actually matters. The conventional wisdom is that people are busier than ever. You have mere seconds to catch their attention. They’re bombarded with demands on their interest from all sides, more now than ever before. How does that fit with long form content that requires more attention and time? According to Forbes, “When it’s done right, in the right circumstances, it works.”
So, how do you “do it right”? Well, that largely comes down to choosing the right type for your needs, and then using it correctly.
Authoritative: One important reason why long form content works so well, and is so important, is the fact that it is seen as highly authoritative. This is an essential consideration for brands attempting to build their reputation for being an authority on a particular topic or in a specific area. The more in-depth and detailed the information you can provide, the more authoritative your business appears to customers.
Shareable: Many types of long form content, when not locked behind a paywall, or available as a download only, are highly shareable. This includes reports, short ebooks, case studies, long articles and more. Shareable content is vital for building your audience organically, and getting your customers to spread the word about your company without you having to spend money on marketing.
Value: Finally, long form content delivers greater value to your audience members. It offers more data than short form content, ensuring that your audience can glean more value overall. It might answer more questions, show how to do something in greater depth, or illustrate a point more clearly. All of these are important considerations for businesses attempting to build their brand and reach their audience.
Ebooks are probably the best-known type of long form content. They’ve been around for years, and have been used for everything from lures to get people to visit a website to rewards for signing up for a newsletter or email campaign. When given away, ebooks are excellent long form content options, but you need to use them correctly.
First, they need to be the right length. Don’t write a book that’s 300 pages and then give it away. Your customers aren’t going to read it, and your cost of production will be high. Shoot for anywhere from 10 to 50 pages or so, and make sure that you have a good mix of text and high-quality images. Professional layout and design are also important. Use your ebook as a loss leader, as an incentive, or a reward in a giveaway contest.
Case studies can be either long or short. However, when they’re used as long form content, you’ll find that you have more ability to illuminate the problems and/or challenges faced by clients, why those problems mattered in the first place, and how your firm was able to get around or overcome those obstacles.
Case studies can be distributed individually like reports, or they can be combined into book-like formats featuring several case studies. These are often best used as downloadable content on your website, but they can also be used to great extent within an email marketing campaign. As with ebooks (and most other long-form content), design matters just as much as the quality of your writing. Use graphics, and have the case studies professionally laid out and designed to ensure quality.
Ah, reports – they’re the bread and butter of the long form content world. They can really be just about any length, from little more than a few pages to dozens of pages and more. Reports can be highly detailed, like smaller ebooks, or they can be a bit broader in terms of vision. What separates a report from an ebook? Really, it’s more about appearance than anything else these days.
Reports usually have a different overall format than an ebook does, with less “book-like” design elements, no table of contents, and more/larger graphics in relation to the amount of text. Like case studies and ebooks, reports can be used as rewards for giveaways, as incentives to sign up for a mailing list, or just about anything else you might need.
While most videos you produce should be kept relatively short, there is value in creating some longer videos, as well. These can be used in a number of ways, ranging from showing how to use your product, or how your service was able to benefit a previous customer (think video case study) to behind the scenes content that helps connect your audience with your employees in new ways. You can host videos on your site, on YouTube, both or use them in social media marketing and email campaigns if you like.
Whitepapers are something of a mix between case studies and reports, and they can be used to establish authority and credibility, as well as to inform your audience. They should generally be centered on challenges that your products or services can help customers overcome, but feel free to get a little creative with these, as well. They can also be used in all the same ways as ebooks, reports and case studies.
There you have them – some of the most important long form content options and how each benefits you and can be used in your marketing campaigns.