The B2B buying process is changing. More than three-quarters of B2B buyers conduct their own research before contacting a supplier, and most conduct 12 search queries before interacting with a specific brand’s website. With access to more information than ever before, B2B buyers increasingly rely on trusted recommendations and reliable, informative content to make purchasing decisions.
In an age when “snackable content” is the norm, it may seem counterintuitive to anchor a B2B content marketing strategy in long-form material. However, when it comes to B2B relationships, this format delivers a competitive return on investment (ROI) for marketing dollars and helps companies cut through digital noise to harness customer buying power.
Why is it worth your resources?
The consistent demand for high-performance content means marketing teams are swamped with deadlines. While it is tempting for resource-strapped companies to favor fast and easy-to-produce content over longer-form material, the latter is more influential. According to Forbes, B2B buyers are most likely to leverage white papers (82%), webinars (78%), case studies (73%) and e-books (67%) to make purchasing decisions.
Attract more clicks, shares, and eyeball hang time
Internet posts commonly hover at 500-800 words, but research shows extra effort for longer content achieves superior results. On average, the first page result in a Google search contains 1,890 words. According to Medium, reader retention peaks with content that can be digested in 7 minutes (about 1,600 words).
A longer word count also attracts greater social engagement. In his analysis of SEO company QuickSprout, author Neil Patel found that posts with more than 1,500 words attract 68% more Tweets and 22% more likes.
Content marketing is the new front-line strategy for educating buyers and converting sales, and long-form content is key to satiating the information needs of potential buyers. It provides a critical opportunity to demonstrate expertise, authority, and reliability over an extended time period. This means nixing sales language and long lead generation forms in favour of industry insights, thought leadership, and easy access to information.
Feed your marketing channels
Long-form content can be repurposed as infographics, short videos, and social media posts that will populate your feed for weeks, months, and years to come. Leveraging this content across multiple platforms will help potential buyers find you and your message faster.
How do you achieve results?
Word count isn’t enough–your material has to deliver. Don’t disappoint potential buyers with misleading titles, dated content, or hard-to-digest information.
Deliver genuine value
Fluff, filler, and sales language will deter potential customers from reading through to the end of your piece. Provide your reader with information they can’t get anywhere else. Fresh and unique perspectives will set you apart from competitors.
Consider Canadian e-commerce company Shopify. Its blog is a one-stop destination for business growth tips and how-to guides for its more than 500,000 users. Shopify regularly publishes long-form posts that tackle real challenges faced by real Shopify users. The posts feature insights from Shopify gurus and provide customers with a platform to tell their stories while helping other companies to overcome business hurdles.
Tell real stories
Use long-form content to take customers on a journey behind-the-scenes of your company headquarters, share expert insights from your executives and researchers, and provide first-hand learnings and success stories from satisfied customers.
Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of Hootsuite, is known for bringing readers inside his Vancouver-based tech company with long-form posts like “How 2,000 random coffee dates changed our company culture” and “Why I want my employees to leave their jobs”. By speaking candidly about his company culture and vision, Holmes has both established himself as a thought leader and built a relationship with Hootsuite’s more than 15 million users.
Create long-lasting content
Increase the ROI of long-form content by choosing topics and content styles that will provide exceptional value to your prospects. Industry research, case studies, and how-to guides that can be updated over time have the potential to generate business leads over longer periods.
Complementing your piece with high-quality images, infographics, featured quotes, and videos that captivate reader attention will make it easier to read and will generate more social shares. Take a look at Shopify’s post on Instagram hashtags to see how images make long-form content easier to digest.
Get going with long-form content marketing
By investing time and resources in longer content, B2B marketers can establish a competitive advantage that will provide results in the long-run. Give it a try by adding long-form material to your year-long content calendar.
Not sure how to get started? No time to create content? We’re here to help. Send us an email to start the conversation!