Aug 18, 2015

Ultra Long Form Content: A 30 Day Test

You may have noticed my last two articles — on brand icons and brand mascots — have been long. Really, really long!

This was deliberate, and I’d like your input on it.

For the month of August I am running a content experiment. Instead of publishing two short articles per week, I am publishing one in depth article per week.

We’re half way through the experiment, and I’d like to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed.

Why Long Form Content

The idea for this project came from the 2015 Reader Survey. (The survey is still open if you haven’t shared your thoughts yet.)

Several people made suggestions that they’d like me to go deeper on some core branding topics. Rather than doing more of the same I am shaking things up with a few long articles.

Here’s what I am testing and hoping to accomplish:

1. Test Long Form Content Impact

I have heard anecdotally from Tim Ferriss and Gini Dietrich that long form content performs better over time. It may not launch to a ton of attention, but longer posts tend to generate more inbound links and higher search value. Within a year or two these articles generate a lot more website traffic than the shorter posts.

The first question: does long form content have greater SEO value than shorter posts?

2. Personal Development

Writing 2,500 word articles (8 – 10 pages) takes a lot of planning, research, and thought. They also require a different style of writing. Long form content applies different storylines and communication structures than shorter pieces, because you have to keep the reader’s interest over a much longer duration.

This is a personal challenge for me. Writing these massive posts is pushing me to develop my skills.

3. Deliver Value — Lots of Value

The third objective is the most important one. The purpose of these articles is to give you interesting, useful ideas that you can apply to your brand. These articles are more than opinion pieces or brain candy. They’re written as thorough explorations of a topic.

You’ll have to tell me if these posts are delivering you value.

Measuring the Performance of Long Form Content

To measure the performance of long form content I am tracking:

  • Website Visitors and Time on Page
  • Email Opens and Clicks
  • Social Media Shares
  • Inbound Website Referrals

I am comparing these metrics to the prior 30 day period, as well as to this time last year. I’ll report the results of this experiment in September.

Are there any other metrics you’d like to see?

Qualitative Feedback: What Are Your Impressions?

The most important measure of success comes from you. In addition to the marketing analytics, I’d like to know your thoughts:

  • Do you like long form content?
  • Have you found the longer posts valuable?
  • Any suggestions on how I can serve you better?

Any comments or suggestions you can provide are greatly appreciated. Let’s see what we can learn together.

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