When It Comes to Content, Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Brent Rapisardi

Sr. Client Consulting Manager

Assessing Content Length in Marketing Efforts

Lately it seems like everywhere I look the recurring theme seems to be bigger is better – whether it’s televisions, smartphone processors, or wholesale clubs. There still is one place where bigger doesn’t always equate to better: Content Marketing.

Recently I have been seeing clients providing single content pieces to syndicate that are so large you would think someone magically took 3-5 different pieces and stuffed them together in one pdf or mpeg file.

Buyers today are on information overload, they are engaging with an average of 12 hours of media per day, according to eMedia.  Given this trend, vendors are competing for our audience’s attention, and are forced to target them with easier-to-consume content. So, as vendors, you are now challenged to provide content that is not only high quality, but  easily consumable. Buyers who access your content will determine in the first minute or so whether or not this content is the right piece for them. But if you have a gargantuan-sized content piece they may never have that opportunity.

Below are two of the most common examples of mega-content I have recently had clients attempt to syndicate:

The white paper that is almost as long as an encyclopedia

content length white paperI had conducted a recent content audit for a client, and found a white paper that was over 100+ pages. It wasn’t an issue of quality of content – it was great material – the challenge here is the content length. According to a recent Pardot study, 70% of buyers are looking to consume white papers that are less than 5 pages in length.

If you have pdf content that comes close to triple-digit page numbers it may be time to re-purpose. In the above case I went back to the client and advised them on breaking this huge white paper into multiple installments. The white paper consisted of 10 different sections, while all related, were presented in a chronological timeline (e.g. start here, then proceed to this chapter).

The webinar/video whose run-time is almost as long as The Wolf of Wall Street

content length - webinars videosDuring another content audit I had provided for a client I had found that the average  webinar length was well over 65 minutes! A buyer’s time is an extremely precious commodity – I am barely able to schedule meetings that last longer than 30 minutes, let alone find the time to sit through an hour-long webcast no matter how good the content is. TechTarget’s recent Media Consumption study underscored this point, identifying that the preferred length of videos and webinars is 6-10 minutes in the majority of regions around the world.

Time is limited, and not many people can commit to a long webinar, there needs to be quick hitting information that is compelling enough to the buyer to keep them coming back from more. The recommended strategy here is to cut down on content length and create  multiple short videos (no longer than six minutes) that cover off on each section of the webinar. These can be uploaded into YouTube and promoted through numerous social media platforms such as the client’s Twitter account.

Multiple pieces created from one large asset provide more intelligence and allow for a more personalized follow-up. Whether it’s a white paper or a webinar, when dealing with large content pieces, it is impossible to tell what material the prospect engaged with and where they dropped off. If it’s a white paper, did they stop reading at page 2 or page 92? Did they skip ahead throughout the webinar until they saw a relevant section being covered? When dealing with content length of this size, there is no way to know exactly what was consumed.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are a society that wants the message as quickly as possible. We are using SnapChat to send texts that last no longer than 10 seconds, we are posting videos on Vine that last no longer than 6 seconds, and we are posting thoughts on Twitter 140 carefully chosen characters at a time. Buyers want the info, and they want it fast – and they will not wait for you. Your competitors are positioning content against this directive, and in order to remain competitive you should be to – even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.

If you want to talk content with me, feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.


content development, content length, content marketing, content strategy, media consumption, videos, webinar, white paper

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