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Short-Form or Long-Form Content?

When you churn out content for your business blog, you may face the challenge of choosing whether to produce short-form or long-form content for any specific topic. In this article, we will discuss what short-form and long-form content is, how their purposes differ, and five questions to ask when deciding between the two options.

Short-form vs long-form content

You can divide digital content into two types: short-form and long-form content. Short-form content is often defined as having less than 1,200 words. Short-form content focuses on a specific topic and is designed to be read rather quickly.

Short-form content is similar to what you can read in newspapers. Image source

Examples of short-form content are

  • News articles
  • Quick tutorials
  • Social media content such as posts and tweets
  • Emails

As you can see, there is plenty of diversity in short-term content! However, there are similarities in their usages. They are as follows (modified from Shane Barker):

  • When your audience is already familiar with your brand and your products and/or services
  • When your audience is looking for specific information about your brand
  • When you are selling a commonly-used product or service
  • When you are interacting with your existing customers or leads
  • When you are following a specific short-form format, such as specific social media formats and emails

Long-form content, on the other hand, is defined as having more than 1,200 words. Long-form content is designed to deliver comprehensive information about a topic and often serves more as a reference than a quick snippet of information.

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Examples of long-form content are

  • Comprehensive guides and how-tos
  • Documentation 
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks

These types of long-form content deliver detailed and often technical information to the audience. Their usages include (modified from Shane Barker):

  • When your audience has little knowledge of your products and/or services
  • When you are selling high-end an expensive product and/or a service
  • When you are selling products and services  that require extensive prior knowledge before use
  • When your brand is relatively new
  • When your goal is to close a B2B sale that involves a long and complex purchasing cycle
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After learning the differences between short-form and long-form content, it is now important to know when to write short-form content and long-form content. The answer ultimately depends on the scenario, but there are some patterns that you can follow. Here are the questions you should ask yourself: 

What is your goal for the content?

Your goal can be to:

  1. Increase awareness of your brand
  2. Attract your audience’s interest
  3. Force your audience to seriously consider your products and services
  4. Prove to your audience that your brand is the superior option for their needs
  5. Actually make your audience purchase your products and services

These are essentially the steps of the sales funnel, from brand awareness to actual purchase of the product. As you can see, the short-term content fits the first two goals best, which is good for attracting the interest of your audience. The third and fourth points are fit for long-form content, which can deliver more technical details of your product and help the audience make the decision on whether or not to choose your product. 

What kind of audience do you have?

The type of audience you have will help you determine the length of content you publish. If you are targeting a niche market and have an intimate knowledge of it, then you can already make good decisions on whether to produce short-form or long-form content for each instance. However, if you are targeting a wider market with a more diverse audience, you must analyze your audience behavior when clicking your ads and browsing your websites. The three metrics you need to measure are traffic, conversions, and engagement. Semrush recommends asking the following questions:

  1. What type of content drives the best level of conversions for us?
  2. What type of content drives the best engagement on social media?
  3. What type of content has the lowest bounce rate and highest session duration?

Using the insights from your metrics, you can decide whether short-form content or long-form content will be best for your audience.

What does your audience want at the moment?

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If you analyze your audience’s browsing habits you will realize that they have different behavior depending on where they are along your sales funnel. Additionally, a portion of your audience may prefer not to purchase your products but still follow your content because they find it helpful. You still need to consider them because there is always a chance to convert them into customers along the sales funnel. 

The metrics that you measure for the previous question (traffic, conversions, and engagement) are still useful in analyzing your audience along the funnel. In general, short-form content works best for brand awareness while long-form content works best for an audience who wants to read to get information, whether it leads to a purchase or not.

What form of content do your competitors use?

It is absolutely true that no two businesses are alike. However, you also need to check what your competitors use. Chances are, your content will be pitted against their existing content, especially in search rankings. This is important especially if your content is meant to drive awareness of your brand. You basically check what your competitors use and do not use to help you determine what type of content you should use. 

In fact, for industries and markets that have existed for years, there is usually a set of best practices that are generally followed because they are proven to work. It can include the length of content used to drive awareness and sales. 

Using this knowledge, you can choose whether to pursue proven strategies or try something new to break the existing trend.

What is your conversion path?

Finally, your conversion path may affect the final choice of short-form or long-form content. Food and fashion products do not require an elaborate conversion path to convince your audience whether to buy it or not; short-form content is the best for them. Products for technical use may require the audience to look at its specifications before making a purchase. If you are offering a service such as a SaaS, the conversion path can be longer as you slowly build up your case to your audience with a combination of long-form and short-form content.


A combination of short-form and long-form content is needed to sustain the growth of your business. However, you sometimes need to choose between short-form and long-form content for a given idea or situation. The questions you need to answer are the following:

  • What is your goal for the content?
  • What kind of audience do you have?
  • What does your audience want at the moment?
  • What form of content do your competitors use?
  • What is your conversion path?

The informed choice you make afterwards will further help the growth of your business.


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