Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: What’s Better?

The best way to determine if you should write long-form or short-form content is to clearly define who the content is targeted at.

You need to think about what problems or questions does the reader want to be solved, how did the reader arrive at your content, what is their intent in reading your content, and what are the specific demographics of the reader.

Once you have defined the end reader you can then select the content type that is most appropriate whether that be a blog post or an in-depth well-researched e-book.

Seems easy right?

Well, the theory is pretty straight forward but the execution is a little more complicated depending on the specific circumstances. In this article, we will give you a good framework for how to work out which type of content is best for you.

What is long-form and short-form content?

The first thing we need to do is define exactly what the two types of content are.

Let’s start with long-form content.

Long-form content is generally 2000 or more words in length and is most commonly used in content marketing when producing whitepapers, in-depth articles, e-books, and how-to guides.

Short-form content on the other hand is generally about 1000 words or less and most used in content marketing when producing things like blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, and product descriptions.

Given that each of the different content types usually applies to a specific type of content such as blog posts or e-books you might be thinking that gives a clear answer as to what type to use. But that’s not always true, there is much more to consider so let’s discuss some specific examples.

Examples of long-form content

Here are some specific situations when long-form content is most appropriate:

  • Educating Customers – when a customer is at the early stages of the marketing cycle and not informed about your products or services high-quality, engaging, and 100% unique, long-form content is a great way to build understanding and awareness of them.
  • Business-to-Business Sales – if you sell products or services to other businesses then this often requires longer copy and content due to the complexities of the product or service. The same applies to higher-end products or services for business-to-consumer sales.
  • Explain Complexity – when you need to showcase the benefits of a product or service to the customer then long-form content helps you do that. For example, if you are selling home air conditioning units then this requires a lot more explanation than selling a pair of shoes.

Examples of short-form content:

Here are some situations when short-form content might be most appropriate:

  • Promote Repeat Business – if customers are already familiar with your products and services, then they don’t need to be educated about them – they might only need to be reminded that they exist and that the customer should buy from you. For example, social media posts and email newsletters.
  • When the Transaction Value is Low – for most business-to-consumer purchases you don’t need to give the customer a lot of information as they probably already are aware of you, and since the purchase price isn’t large, they don’t require lots of information to help reassure them of the benefits of your product or service.
  • To Get the Customer’s Attention – short-form content is much better as a way to get the attention of potential customers to move them along the marketing/ sales cycle. Peoples attention spans are short and if your initial contact with them requires them to read a 2000-word article they will most likely not engage with you.

How to Determine Which Content-Length is Best?

In each situation, you should ask yourself these five questions before deciding which length of content is best for that specific situation.

1. How educated are readers about your products or services?

Start by determining how educated the customer is about your product or services or the general industry that you are in. If they need to be educated a lot, then long-form content will be a much better form of content to use as you’ll have plenty of space to inform them of every aspect of your product and services.

Readers will also be more likely to perceive long-form content as more valuable and trust it more – and depending on the type of content search engines might also rank long-from content higher too.

If customers are already knowledgeable about your brand and products, then a short-form type of copy can be a better form of content to use. This is because readers are already past the ‘learning about you’ stage and so short-form content is much better to drive readers closer to conversion.

2. What level of interest do your customers have in your brand or products?

The next thing to consider is how interested and enthusiastic your customers are about your brand and products already.

If your readers are coming to your content with a high level of interest in your products then they are far more likely to want to read in-depth information about your products and higher amounts of content than if they don’t have any interest in your brand or products already.

In this case, you need to use short-form content to get their attention and move them towards conversion with the very least amount of content/ information possible. Assessing your Google analytics is a great way to determine the level of interest your readers have for your products or services when they visit your website.

3. Who will produce your content? 

The next question you have to answer is what resources your business has to produce the content – keeping in mind that you’ll need different resources for long and short-form content.

You should never let your lack of resources be a factor in deciding what type of content to produce – always put the reader at the forefront of your decisions or it will most likely fail. You can always outsource your content marketing to a content writing company or work with freelancers if you need to bring in new resources to do content marketing properly.

4. Why are your readers reading your content?

By this question, I basically mean what the intent of readers is when they are reading your content. The best way to do this is to do keyword research. When you do keyword research you can match your content to the search intent of readers.

For example, if people are searching for ‘’top ways to lose weight” then they likely want a long article or e-book that examines all of the best ways to lose weight.

On the other hand, if they are searching for “how long to run each day to lose weight” then they want an exact answer that can best be given to them through a short blog post.

5. What does success look like for your content?

The final thing to consider is what exactly do you want to achieve by publishing the content you are considering. For example, do you want the reader to subscribe to your blog, contact you for further information, read more content on your website, etc?

When you decide what action, you want your readers to take you can then better assess if it should be short or long-form content. For example, if you want the reader to subscribe to your blog then it will be best to focus on long-form content that informs the reader – in the hope, they eventually become paying customers.

The bottom line

Hopefully, this guide has informed you of the difference between short and long-form content and which one is the best for different situations.

If you can produce and publish the right content you will be better able to drive traffic to your website and ultimately boost conversions.

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