Matt Ellsworth

The average human’s attention span is shorter than a goldfish – about 8 seconds – according to research released earlier this year from Microsoft. With this in mind, marketers typically rely on short, bite-sized posts to garner audience attention – but this doesn’t mean it should come at the expense of longform content.

Goldfish attention spans aside, here’s a few statistics to consider:

  • A study by Medium showed that readers pay the most attention to posts that take seven minutes to read. When you calculate that out, it adds up to about 1,600 words.
  • Data compiled by Moz found that posts with between 1,800 and 3,000 words tend to get the most links because people prefer to reference high-quality, in-depth content.
  • SearchMetrics’ annual Ranking Factors study shows that longer content is more likely to rank at the top of results pages.

av_length_of _contentBuild trust (and increase your average deal size) with rich, longform content

eBooks are great formats for longform content. They educate your readers while building trust, and can not only increase number of sales, but increase the average deal size. Here’s a look at why a Brafton client in the marketing industry found that their customers were more willing to buy (and buy in greater quantity) after downloading longform content.

Creating several information-rich, 1000+ word content with custom pictures, text, and lists that addressed common customer pain-points proved to be valuable tools for engaging customers. The company hosted these longform pieces on the landing page behind a download wall, and found that about 10 percent of new customers in a given quarter initially downloaded and read the in-depth content.

The client also observed that downloadable eBooks increased their average deal size by 16%. Their visitors that downloaded the eBook were spending more time than the rest of the visitors. For many of these viewers, becoming more educated about the company and finding answers to their complex questions is an important first step in preparing to make a large investment.

Dynamic and content 1000 words and higher is a crucial way to build trust for prospective customers, provide the transparent information they’re looking for and nurture them while they move through the process of converting.

There are significant perks to going beyond the typical 500-800 word blog posts. This range typically isn’t long enough for the highest-level, most interested audience, and it’s too long to catch the attention of a casual reader. However, if you do opt for this length, adding rich content and embedding social media and video into your piece is a great way to spruce up shortform content.

The “Quartz Curve” below shows this least optimized length for online content – too long to be easily shareable; too short to go into satisfying depth.

By allowing more room to investigate and analyze complex topics, longform content also helps to appeal to a wider variety of readers. For example:

  • The dynamic nature of longform allows for an 1,800-word article about social networks to:
    • Twitter users
    • Facebook users
    • LinkedIn users
    • Instagram users

A 300-word piece about social networks in general might not have the depth to attract as many audiences, and might even be too broad to appeal to users of any one social network in particular.

  • A longform piece about Advertising could be written to reach unique audiences interested in:
    • PPC
    • retargeting
    • banners
  • An article about Graphic Design could appeal to readers interested in:
    • logos
    • fonts
    • colors
    • software

Because of its depth and dynamic nature, longform content often contributes to more time spent reading a page, as well as higher conversion rates. While Medium defined seven minutes of reading as the optimal text post length, the number can vary depending on industry, goals and the type of post.