Tips for effective long-form content

It’s been proven that long-form content can offer great returns in building customer loyalty and improve your brand’s online search rankings, but it’s important not to overwhelm your audience with chunks of lifeless text while you try to get your point across. Here’s how to walk the fine line.

In the article ‘The value of long-form content in your online marketing strategy’ we examined why incorporating articles of 1 000 to 5 000 words in your online marketing plan is worth the perceived effort. The idea is to inform, add value or answer a question, and in doing so generate shares and grow brand awareness. With long-form content you have a real opportunity to explore your subject matter in depth.

Choose the right format
‘How to’, ‘why’ and listicle (numbered) formats are a great way to present potentially complicated topics in an easy-to-understand, digestible way. Breaking up subheadings further using bullet points, graphs, images or infographics, and using odd numbers and power words that inspire emotion in headlines are other ways to attract attention. These formats work well with personal experience stories, advice on a particular topic, research round-ups and arguing a point, and are great for backlinks. Other ways to frame content include presenting product information in an informative Q&A, as a case study, white paper or product brochure. These formats lend themselves to winning over customers who may be only a few steps away from purchasing your product or service.

Select your topic
With long-form content you have the freedom to choose a broad topic, for example, ‘What type of laptop will suit you best?’ or narrow it down to one specific aspect, make or model, like ‘Gamers! Time to upgrade your laptop?’ Then there’s the case for evergreen content that will enjoy readership for longer than a trendy topic that is relevant right now, but won’t be viewed in a month, six months’ or a year’s time. Opt for a balance between necessary short-term content like product reviews, seasonal lifestyle and health topics that are searched for often and for a longer period of time. FAQs, advice and explanations of concepts frequently used in your industry are also good ways to keep traffic alive and current information flowing.

Before publishing your long-form content, do a quick checklist of these key ingredients:

  • Your URL is important for your success – use short URLs with your keyword embedded.
  • Use power or trigger words in your headline and main copy – BuzzSumo suggest words that inspire awe, amusement and joy.
  • Use floating share buttons.
  • Make your content scannable by using short paragraphs, short sentences, bolded items, bullet points, high-quality images and/or infographics.
  • Use links to relevant sources – it’s good for SEO and builds trustworthiness.
  • Embed Tweets, videos from YouTube, Instagram posts, etc, to increase engagement.

Compiling a content marketing calendar with the right mix of long- and short-form content is a skill. A professional agency can guide you on the ingredients for a successful overall campaign to keep your audience engaged and your conversion rates high. The Content Marketing Institute estimates that 47% of B2B (and 49% of B2C) marketers outsource content creation. Get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

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