What is long form content and why should I be creating it?
Content marketing is essential to build brand awareness and generate leads for your professional services. But if you’re not using “long-form content”, you could be missing out. Quality content allows professionals to engage with their online audience by giving them what every consumer wants… something for nothing.
The right content (including the right mix of content) can demonstrate your outstanding knowledge and expertise and provide an insight into your firm’s personality. It shows prospective clients all the things they might not be getting from competing firms and helps to build a relationship before they even pick up the phone to arrange a consultation.
But content marketing is a broad church. It encompasses everything from your tweets to your Facebook and LinkedIn updates through to email marketing copy and even e-books.
Many firms focus exclusively on short-form types of content marketing. Those that can be produced quickly and posted frequently; such as status updates, short videos, infographics, tweets and short blog posts (250-600 words). But if you exclude long-form content from your content marketing strategy, you could be missing a trick.
What is long-form content?
Long-form content is an umbrella term that applies to any form of content that’s designed to be consumed slowly and in detail. It is usually at least 1,000 words in length and allows you to tackle subjects in more detail than can be managed in shorter forms. Examples of long-form content might include:
- lengthy blog posts;
- “How to” tutorials;
- in-depth case studies;
- annual reports/end of year “wrap-ups”.
What are the advantages of long-form content?
It’s easy to understand the appeal of short-form content. It doesn’t take too much time or effort to read it and it doesn’t eat up too much of your resources to produce it; which might otherwise be billable. It also allows you to post frequently and in high volumes to keep your followers engaged.
However, if you’re not also using long-form content, it’s like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with only half the pieces. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of long-form.
It allows you to showcase your expertise
Prospective clients want to see how you can bring your expertise to bear on their specific problems. This is much harder to accomplish in a short 250 to 500 word article.
When you post long-form content, it makes for much more effective thought leadership. It allows you to thoroughly showcase your knowledge and expertise, making you a much more appealing prospect than competitors who post less detailed content.
It can help to improve your SEO
Engaging, high-quality content (usually delivered in a longer format) can improve your SEO in a number of ways. It’s of higher value, therefore potentially generating more search results and more views. When users take the time to read through it, it improves metrics that search engines notice, such as time on page and (more importantly) scroll depth.
If users found your content informative, helpful and satisfying to read, they’re more likely to seek out other content they might find useful, encouraging movement around your site. And search engines will notice this, too.
It creates a resource for other sites to link to
When you create long-form content, you’ll create a handful of resources that definitively tackle the subject matter. This is often called “cornerstone content”. These are your most important pieces of flagship content.
Not only will you refer back to them in future through internal links and social media posts, but others will also link back to them for reference. When trusted, high Domain Authority sites link to your content. Not only does this improve your SEO but it’s viewed as a seal of approval by prospective clients.
High-value long-form content like free informational blogs, “how-to” guides and e-books not only generate value for prospective clients, they can be leveraged as “lead magnets” that encourage users to surrender their contact information in exchange for some more free valuable insights.
How to write compelling long-form content
There’s evidence to suggest that our attention spans are getting shorter, especially when we’re online. As such, your content needs to be engaging and compelling if you expect readers to keep scrolling through it.
If readers lose interest after a few seconds, this can send your bounce rates soaring; they’ll be hopping off your site quick smart. And high bounce rates can be harmful to your SEO.
Firstly and most fundamentally, your content needs to address something that’s of interest to your audience. It needs to help them address a pain point that they’ve encountered or solve a problem that they experience regularly. Why would readers spend several minutes reading an article that’s not going to be useful to them?
Using sub-headings (and lots of them) is an excellent way to break up your long piece of content and keep your reader engaged and scrolling. If your piece is particularly long, you could consider a ‘table of contents’ at the beginning so your reader can see what you’re going to write about and select sections of specific interest.
Even though you’ll use long-form content to tackle some weighty subjects, that doesn’t mean you have to do so in a dry and boring way. Ask rhetorical questions. Sprinkle in a few moments of levity. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. After all, wouldn’t you much rather do business with someone you liked?
So, should I stop writing short-form content?
Not at all.
A comprehensive content marketing strategy should allow for both short and long-form content. The former can be used to keep your followers engaged on a regular basis and remind them who you are. Your long content should be used to remind them why you’re so useful and valuable to them.
How can we help?
We only work with law firms so we understand what you’re up against. We work collaboratively with you to help you identify:
We help you ensure your tone of voice remains consistent and that your brand is represented properly.
Want to know more about how we can help in all aspects of your digital marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today.
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