B2B content marketing can sometimes seem like a challenge…especially if writing isn’t your forte!
We all know that producing high-quality content that serves your audience is an integral part of a B2B marketing strategy. And while this may be the cardinal rule of sorts, it’s easier said than done. Unfortunately, there’s an ever-increasing flow of blog content from your competitors, making it a very saturated market. You could be publishing informative blogs on a consistent basis, but even then, you might struggle to break through the noise and be heard.
If writing wasn’t hard enough, you have multiple industry competitors all doing the same thing. So it’s no surprise that blogging can sometimes feel like you’re constantly swimming against the tide. But, what if I told you that there’s an approach you can take to blogging, that’ll help you cut through the noise and stand out from the competition?
If you’re seeking a better ROI from your B2B content marketing strategy (in particular blogging), then long-form content is a very effective way to help you achieve this. In the guide below, I’ll explain exactly why it’s so beneficial, and how you can incorporate long-form content writing into your B2B marketing.
Of course, with this post being about long-form content, it’s going to be a long piece. So grab a cup of coffee and dive in!
What is long-form B2B content?
This is a tricky question to start with, as although it might seem obvious, there are many different definitions of what long-form content actually is. From my experience, it tends to vary from person to person. Some consider a blog longer than 700 words to be long-form, whereas others believe articles have to be in excess of 2,000 words.
The reality is, it depends entirely on the type of content you’re putting out there. All great content starts with serving your audience. Think about it…what would your target customers want to read about?
For example, say you own a local accounting firm based in Manchester.
Ask yourself whether your audience would be more interested in reading a quick 300 blog celebrating the 30-year work anniversary of Pam from HR, or a detailed guide on business planning for the year ahead?
If you said the former, then you may need to rethink your answer…sorry Pam. The whole point of content marketing is to provide genuine value to your customers and any prospects. Despite what you might think, statistics show that readers crave meatier blogs.
For the sake of this post, let’s assume that long-form content refers to blogs of around 1,200 words or more.
Long-form vs short-form content
Of course, I’m not saying you should completely disregard short-form content altogether. Short-form content does have its benefits too! Both types of content have their place in a successful B2B content marketing strategy, and both can be very powerful tools when applied correctly.
Short-from content is a quick and effective way to get across a single point without needing a lengthy time commitment from your audience. It helps you to communicate to readers with a short attention span, hence why it is so effective on social media.
But, typically, long-form content performs better for organic search than its counterpart, but that isn’t necessarily because of the word count. It’s down to the fact that many search queries require detailed results and content to cover a topic in great depth. So really, it’s no surprise that long-from content gets the best results on the web.
People want full and detailed answers to their burning questions, and long-form satisfies this need by addressing their query in full. This type of content guides the audience through their challenges, and even answers questions they never knew they had.
Can you really write a 500 blog post with the same level of thoroughness?
The benefits of long-form content marketing
Now that you know exactly what long-form content is, and how it differs from short-form, let’s look at some of the benefits it can bring to your marketing strategy.
More on-site engagement
There’s a lot of shallow, meaningless content out there on the web. That’s why, when readers come across value-laden content, they lap it up. As a result, this translates to greater user-engagement for your brand. Once you’ve captivated your audience, they’ll be much more inclined to read and soak up the rest of the information you provide in your post. They’ll also be more likely to start reading other content on your website.
More brand authority
If you offer long-form content that gives your readers an insightful and detailed look into a certain topic or problem, you’ll begin to create an impression of authority for your brand. Audiences will start to turn to you for more thought-leadership topics within your industry, as when your content consistently delivers, your brand’s reputation will improve. As trust builds, more and more people will want to do business with you.
As more and more people read your long-form content, it’s also likely that they’ll feel the need to share with others, both on and off social media. Don’t believe me?
A study conducted by Buzzsumo in 2017 analysed the social shares of more than 100 million online articles. Among the top 10% most popular, it was long-form posts that got the most shares.
Did you know that more than 70% of all content published online fails to earn a single link from other sites? Yikes!
We all know that high-quality resources attract links, but the types of content most likely to receive backlinks on a consistent basis? Online research papers, opinion pieces and yeah, you guessed it, long-form content.
Increased organic traffic
Google is constantly spending millions of dollars every year to improve its search engine to make it quicker and easier for users to find the information they need. So it’s no surprise that they also take content quality seriously, as they want Google users to find the best and most informative results for their search query.
According to Google’s recent guidelines for search quality, a high-quality web page should:
- Achieve its purpose well
- Have a high level of expertise, authority and trustworthiness
- Have a satisfying amount of main content, including a descriptive and helpful title
Long-form content satisfies all these SEO requirements and is the best method for giving your organic traffic a boost.
Lead generation is vital for any B2B marketing strategy. You’ll be happy to hear that long-form content can work as an excellent tool for lead-gen. This is because longer posts give you more space and context to add relevant CTA’s for your opt-in incentive.
It’s also a lead generator in itself, as offering your site visitors whitepapers, guides, and other in-depth resources in exchange for a name and email address is a great way to build your list of prospects!
How to incorporate long-form writing into your B2B content marketing strategy
Okay, so now that we’ve learnt all about the benefits of long-form content and how it can add value to your content marketing, let me tell you how to go about writing it! But before you jump head-first into making long-form pieces, it’s important to know what it takes to do it successfully.
Obviously, you shouldn’t just start creating long-form content just for the sake of it. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does long-form fit within your marketing goals?
- Can you provide real value to your readers?
- Do you have the patience and discipline?
If your answer isn’t yes to all of them, then you might need to rethink whether long-form content is something you can really commit to. It needs to make sense in terms of both your business and marketing goals. You can’t just write a long and rambling fluff article, as that won’t give you the results you want.
If you’re happy to commit, then good! The benefits of long-form content can’t be denied. To give you a helping hand, I’ve put together the following steps to show you how you can start writing your first long-form blog post:
1. Define the long-form blog’s purpose and how will you measure success
To start with, you need to plan and define the purpose of your long-form blog. Figure out what you want to achieve with it, and how you’ll measure if it was successful or not.
Are you creating content to attract more traffic to your website, or is your goal to generate more leads? Are you targeting your existing customers, or are you writing the blog to someone who has never heard of your brand before?
The answers to these questions will inform you how to put the post together.
2. Pick your topic and keywords
If you’re not sure exactly what you want to blog about, the whole idea of writing long-form content can begin to seem really overwhelming. That’s why it’s good to pick your topic and keywords first, to help you structure the post.
You can use many different tools to help you, but the best place to start is on Google itself. Google autocomplete will suggest search terms as you start typing in the search box, showing you what variations of a given keyword people are actually searching for.
At the bottom of each SERP (Search Engine Results Page), you’ll find a section called ‘related searches.’ There’ll be a bunch of keyword variations that you can turn into a fully-fledged content idea!
If you’re still struggling, take a look at our blog on some of the best SEO tools out there to help you pick your keywords. Remember that posting without a blog content strategy in place can be difficult to maintain in the long term, so make sure you produce an editorial calendar to plan all your blog content ahead of time.
Once you’ve picked your blog topic and chosen keywords, it’s time to do a bit of research. Now, this is probably the most tedious part of blog writing, and although it might make you feel like your back at school putting together a written assignment, you can’t underestimate its importance.
As I mentioned before, a 2,000-word article that’s full of rambling sentences and fluff will have no real value to your readers. You need to make sure you conduct thorough research into your chosen topic so that your post is the go-to place for information. Get your hands on as many different points-of-view, arguments, statistics, data-points, quotes and case studies as humanly possible.
4. Outline your blog
Once you’ve conducted some thorough research and made notes, it’s time to develop a more detailed structure for how you want the post to be. The best way to start is by defining the core sections of your post and the order in which they’ll appear in. Follow that by adding in subsections and relevant points from your notes accordingly.
It can take a while, but trust me; having a clear and robust structure will make the actual writing of the post so much easier.
5. Write the first draft
Now it’s time to write!
Get all the information for your blog down into a solid first draft. But don’t worry about making mistakes, or being tidy; you’ll have time to revisit and edit later on. Follow the outline you made by structuring your post using the different sections and subheadings. As long as your outline and research are well organised, the writing should come naturally.
6. Create a title using your keywords
A good blog title will make all the difference when it comes to driving audiences to your post. After all, a title’s main purpose is to stand out and entice users to click-through to the actual piece.
If you’ve already done your topic and keyword research, you should already have a good idea of what will actually work. Don’t forget to include your main keyword too; this is very important in boosting the blog’s SEO!
7. Edit and format your blog
After finishing the first draft and incorporating a catchy SEO title, it’s time to go back and edit your draft post. You want to make sure that your long-form blog is as easy as possible to read and digest.
Use shorter paragraphs, concise sentences, clear subheadings, lists, and bullet points to get your point across. Make sure you also complete regular spell-checks and get a colleague to proof-read it once you’ve finished. Spelling and grammar mistakes can be costly when it comes to increasing your brand authority!
8. Incorporate your SEO strategy
Simply being a long-form content piece isn’t enough to get it noticed. To maximise your chances of ranking high in Google, you’ll need to ensure your SEO is all in order.
If you’ve been following the steps correctly, you should have already found a way to include your main keyword in the blog’s title. However, you should also add key search terms into your subheadings, as well as inserting them throughout the text of your post.
Just don’t overdo it! Keyword stuffing is considered bad practice, as you shouldn’t compromise the flow of your text for a few extra keyword mentions.
Adding internal links to other relevant blogs and pages on your website is a great way to direct users to other parts of your site. You can also increase the value of your long-form post by linking to external resources.
Meta title, URL slug and meta description
These three are all HTML elements that describe and summarise the contents of your blog post for the benefit of users and search engines. They all play a significant role when it comes to on-page SEO. Here’s an example:
A well-written meta description has the power to increase the CTR (click-through-rate) of your organic search results. That means more of the people who see your post in the search results will actually click through and land on your website!
Stick to these rules when it comes to writing a good meta description and title:
- Try to include your target keyword in both the title and snippet description.
- Your meta title should be no more than 60 characters.
- You should aim your meta description to be between 140-160 characters.
Page speed and mobile-friendliness
Two ways to quickly frustrate your blog’s readers include having a slow-page speed and content that isn’t optimised for mobile users. Google has also hinted that both of these play a big part when it comes to ranking factors. Fortunately, the search engine has two tools you can use to check; PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test.
Congratulations, you can now publish your long-form content piece! Remember to promote your new blog or article on social media and keep track of the key performance metrics; keyword rankings, backlinks, and social shares.
It’s also worth making sure that you monitor and respond to any feedback you get from your audience on the post, as well as on social media. This is a great way to connect with them on a more personal level and bring attention to any gaps that your post may have failed to address.
Do you need help with your B2B content marketing strategy?
Content marketing isn’t a quick process; it takes time and dedication before you start seeing the results. If you’re unsure how to tackle long-form content writing, or if you simply need help putting together an effective B2B marketing strategy, then look no further.
By working with List & Found, you can expect big results, clever processes, and all your t’s and i’s crossed and dotted. We do things properly, and we’ll keep you informed (with no jargon or buzzwords) every step of the way.
If you’re looking to get more from your content marketing, get in touch with us via phone on 0161 820 2221 or by emailing directly to firstname.lastname@example.org