A client recently asked if I could write a white paper for them. However, when I inquired about the project, I learned that they didn’t want a traditional 10-page white paper. They wanted a two-page article that would fit on a single sheet of paper, so that their sales reps could easily hand it to leads at meetings.
This client isn’t the first to ask me for a two-page “white paper.” It seems as though many B2B marketers want to create short pieces of content that will whet their audience’s appetites instead of overwhelming them with too much information.
I’ve conducted research into three popular types of B2B content – white papers, blog posts, and videos – to try to determine an answer.
Just Say “No” to Long, Boring White Papers!
In my opinion, a two-pager is not a white paper. It is not long enough to achieve all of the objectives of a white paper – such as fully analyzing your customers’ problems, discussing market drivers, providing best practices, and positioning your product or service as the ideal solution. However, a two-pager can help you engage early-stage leads and get them to opt in for longer resources, such as white papers and webinars.
On the other hand, many marketers go overboard with their white papers and turn them into long, boring sales pitches. B2B buyers don’t have the time to read lengthy white papers. An IDG study revealed that technology and service buyers think white papers should be seven pages or less. This is plenty of room to make the case for your product or service.
Google Gives Love to Both Long and Short Blog Posts
There is a lot of controversy over whether short or long blog posts perform better. Studies have shown that long blog posts get higher Google rankings, more inbound links, and more social shares. Neil Patel also found that web pages with 2,000 to 2,400 words attracted more high-quality leads than pages with less copy.
However, you may not need to write lengthy blog posts to get Google love. John Mueller, a Google representative, stated, “Rest assured, Googlebot doesn't just count words on a page or in an article, even short articles can be very useful and compelling to users. For example, we also crawl and index tweets, which are at most 140 characters long.” Mueller also stressed the importance of publishing high-quality blog posts and suggested that reader comments could help short articles get better rankings.
Have you ever glanced at a video’s length and decided not to watch it if it was too long? Our short attention spans are one reason why B2B videos should be concise. A Wistea study revealed that the longer the video, the less viewers are engaged. In addition, Forbes Insights found that 47 percent of executives prefer videos that are three to five minutes in length, while 36 percent want videos to be one to three minutes long.
Related Class: How to Engage Top Experts With Video
Another factor driving the trend toward shorter videos is mobile. Untether.tv reported that video will make up 66 percent of global mobile traffic by 2017. It’s usually easier for people to watch short videos when they are on the go, looking at a small screen, or dealing with a spotty Internet connection.
These statistics can be useful in helping you determine how long to make your B2B content. However, the most valuable statistics are the ones you will get from testing your content and discovering what your audience prefers. If your audience wants two-page “white papers,” publish more of them. If they will watch a 45-minute video, then don’t rule it out as a marketing option.
However, no matter what type of content you are producing, be as concise as possible. Don’t stuff your blog posts with extra words just because you think Google prefers long posts.
What are your thoughts on the ideal length for B2B content? Please share your opinions below.
For more information on how to create customer-focused content to keep your audience engaged, listed to Rachel Foster's Online Marketing Institute Class, B2B Technology Blueprint for Great Content Marketing today.