Does long content work better on web pages than short content?
This is an ongoing debate that carried over from traditional advertising and continues in the digital realm. There are those who believe that well-written long content has the best chance to convince people. Others believe that the shorter and snappier the content, the better it cuts through.
Perhaps the debate should be about products that are relatively new vs products in mature categories. For products that have been around for a long time, there is little that customers don’t know. Even if the copy is long and goes into glorious descriptions, it is unlikely to sustain interest.
On the other hand, for a breakthrough product category where customers don’t know much, it requires in-depth content that explains what the benefits are to drive interest.
The debate about long vs short form content on websites should be more about how mature the category is and whether customers are looking to be better-informed
Consider, for example, the number of books and articles that have now proliferated on the web around the Metaverse. Or blockchain and cryptocurrency. In these categories, people are looking for more information and easy explanations. They are willing to read and watch to understand the concept better. So long form content will perform better once people arrive at these pages.
What is HubSpot’s recommendation?
HubSpot says that anything between 2100 and 2400 words is the best length for blog posts. Anything shorter than that is not going to rank as well on search. Again, this is a generalisation, a pattern that has been observed by studying a set of posts. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to gaining attention. For every long form piece of content that generates hundreds of thousands of views, there could be short pieces that attract millions.
The interest rises and dips over time. Some websites get steady traffic from a niche topic that converts well. Trying to go into why that particular topic is getting hits may not reveal anything startling. On the web, there are multiple points from which people enter and exit.
On a landing page and a mobile screen, there is little time to waste, People are searching with specific intent and unless the page satisfies it, they will not linger. Mobile screens have made it even harder to sustain interest.
What people hold in their hands is slightly wider than a newspaper column. They scroll much faster than they read. If they see reams of unbroken text, the way it is laid out in books, they will hit the back button and exit.
On a mobile screen, laying out content is far trickier than doing it on a desktop web page. Responsive design is one solution but look at the interactive pieces on New York Times to see how much effort goes into making content work well across screens of all sizes.
HubSpot’s CMS offers design flexibility
By using a wide set of blocks, HubSpot offers designers and developers the flexibility to build websites that work in all screen sizes. This is important for a number of reasons. Creating highlights, graphics, and room for the eye to move removes the effort from getting through a wall of text. Being able to break into text clusters across screens enhances the visual experience for users.
There are also lessons to be carried over from print and newspapers. Keep the important information that draws people in right at the top, where it won’t be missed. Then, enable several layers of drilling down deeply into the content. The serious reader who is looking to understand is not intimidated. But they are a fraction of the visitors who will come to the site, either on the desktop or the mobile version.
The one thing long content builds over time, gradually, is trust. When the content is rich, well-structured and informative, it builds reputations. Short form is great for emails and landing pages but when users dig deep, they engage deeply as well.
HubSpot also gives you tips on the strengths of the competition in terms of content. That’s an additional point to analyse because those promises are also helping to build the market. It’s important to know the width of promises that attract customers to a category.
Content development has to take into account each of these pointers. It’s never about putting out text, simply by a word count. In fact, the more customer feedback and concerns are addressed when generating content, the more it resonates.
Short vs long attention spans
The feeling has gained ground, with heat maps on websites and the number of distractions that people have, that attention is now fragmented. It is true that attracting attention is now harder than it ever used to be.
Content development should take into account what the end objectives are for a piece of content and how it is consumed. There are several factors that need to be considered.
But when people find something that holds their interest, it is quite likely that this will work uniformly across a whole range of users the same way. The effort involved is in understanding what your customers respond to by experimenting with topics, short and long-form content and having the option to absorb the information with easy-to-understand graphics. People will navigate naturally to what works best for them.
The relatability of content is another attention magnet. Dry prose which is merely factual is harder to read and understand. Using analogies and reference points from lived experiences tends to get better attention.
And simply following a leader’s footsteps in not the way to go. Mimicking content instead of carving out the brand voice tends to reinforce the leader. It’s not a good strategy for the long-term.
Talk to our consultants at Blueoshan on building a robust delivery vehicle of content through HubSpot.