In today’s marketplace, brands are competing for prospects’ time as well as their money. There’s a wealth of information and entertainment out there, free for the asking. If brands want to use content to attract prospects and encourage them to buy, it had better be good.
But to be good does it have to be short? Some people seem to think so. Everyone is so busy, the argument goes, and the average attention span has dwindled to the time it takes to read a Tweet. You have at most 140 characters to grab a prospect’s attention or you’ve lost them.
Well, if you’re selling complex business technology solutions, that’s going to be some trick. There’s no way to establish the business case for a particular technology in a couple of sentences. In order to fully explain how the technology works and the value it delivers, you’re going to have to dig even deeper. In the shorter-is-always-better line of thinking, you’re going to be met with yawns, blank stares and TLDR (too long, didn’t read) responses.
Thing is, the data don’t support that argument:
- B2B technology buyers download an average of nine pieces of content during the purchasing process. (Source: IDG Enterprise)
- Whitepapers, which tend to range in the 1,500- to 2,000-word range, are the No. 1 content type, used by 82 percent of decision-makers. (Source: Demand Gen Report)
- The highest-ranking articles on Google are around 2,450 words in length. (Source: Backlinko)
The average person reads at a rate of about 300 words per minute. That means it’s going to take a couple of minutes to read a 600-word blog post, about six minutes to read an 1,800-word whitepaper and more than eight minutes to read one of those lengthy, high-ranking articles.
If you can’t get prospects to invest two to eight minutes of their time, I would submit that the problem isn’t the length of the content but its quality. Because face it, there’s a lot of really bad content out there. Fluffy me-too content. Self-serving sales-pitch content. Confusing hype-filled content. And content that’s just poorly written.
So, if length isn’t the driving factor, what will make your content valuable to your prospects?
- Clarity. If you provide content that’s clear and informative, that cuts through the confusion and helps them really understand a particular technology, people are going to read it.
- Relevance. The content needs to be relevant to the prospect’s needs at that stage of the buying process. That requires understanding your various audiences and delivering the right content at the right time.
- Accuracy. Your content should convey that you truly know what you’re writing about and have checked your facts and data points.
Twitter has its place, but I seriously doubt that anyone has ever made a technology purchasing decision based upon 140 characters. I put my money on high-quality content that’s so good prospects will take the time to read it.