A Guide to Long-Form Content for SaaS Companies

Published on

December 21, 2023

A Guide to Long-Form Content for SaaS Companies

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As the whole world seems obsessed with 30-second TikTok videos and Instagram reels, you may think it’s the end of long-form content. 

But as you’ll quickly realize, long-form content is still crucial in the content marketing game, especially when it comes to high-ticket SaaS and B2B in general. 

Content marketing isn't just about conversions, but it's also about providing customer support, reducing churn, establishing expertise, and building trust among other things. 

This is especially important for SaaS brands — particularly high-ticket SaaS — because of the length of the sales cycle and the amount of stakeholders usually involved in a deal, from C-level execs to procurement.

I’ll explain how long-form content can (and should) be used in a content marketing strategy.

But first, let’s make sure that we’re on the same page about what “long-form content” even means. 

What is long-form content?

Even though “long-form content” is differentiated by its length, marketers do not agree on where “short-form” ends and where “long-form” starts.

I can’t blame them, to be honest, I don’t really know myself.

To keep it simple, let’s assume “long-form” starts at 1,000 words.

That’s super arbitrary (it could be 1256 or 1387), but we need to draw the line somewhere.

Long-form usually takes more time, resources, and effort to produce than short-form because it goes much more in-depth and needs to have a clear and detailed structure.

👉 By the way, “long-form” isn’t restricted to just written content. It can be text, video, audio, etc.

Typically, a long-form piece of content will combine various formats. It can be, for example, a long blog article with embedded videos and infographics. 

Some content formats, like expert guides and e-books, are better suited for this purpose because they give you the space to explore a topic thoroughly. 

Since I specialize in written content, I'm going to leave out the video and audio formats in this article and focus solely on written and mixed long-form content.  

Long-form vs short-form content 

So what makes long-form content so different that it has to have its own category?

Besides the fact that marketers LOVE unnecessarily classifying things, long-form content has a few characteristics of its own: 

  • It covers a topic in-depth and needs more research
  • The length requires more structure to be digestible
  • It’s tougher to write, edit, and publish
  • It can be hard to strike the right balance between digestibility and technicality
  • Complex topics have a tendency to be boring

Producing long-form content requires specific processes (better content outlines, decent content marketing strategy, SEO knowledge, etc.).

BUT it doesn’t mean that long-form is better than short-form.

👉 I often get asked by B2B SaaS marketers, “How long should our content be?”
My answer is, “It depends” (remember, I’m an SEO by trade, after all).
If you’re producing content about the weight of the Eiffel Tower, short can do the trick.
Trying to explain how to measure SaaS profitability? 500 words aren’t going to cut it.

How to choose between long-form and short-form content?

Let’s answer that question once and for all: your content should be as long as necessary.

You don’t seem convinced.

Um…

Let’s dig deeper, then.

Content — whatever the format — should only be produced if you have something specific to say or if you can help solve a specific problem.

➡️ If that problem is a complex one (say, how to grow a SaaS past 2M ARR), it will require longer content.

➡️ If the problem isn’t so complex (say, how to integrate Zapier and Pipedrive), the content can be shorter.

It really is that simple.

As we’ll cover in a bit, people think longer is always better when it comes to content if you want it to rank.

But think about the number of times you were looking for a cookie recipe and had to skim through the tale of how many weekends were happily spent thanks to that cookie recipe, how the grandmother who passed the recipe on had a wonderful life, and how these cookies are so good and the best American cookie recipe and that you should always bake them on Thursday nights, and — did you know you can actually freeze cookie dough with that recipe, and here’s the best butter to choose to make the best cookies and…

Oh.

Cookie ingredients.

From an SEO perspective, if you see long content ranking, you probably need a piece on the longer side.

Other than that, use your best judgment and remember: write what you’d like to read.

Plan your long-form and short-form content in advance

“Ok, your rant about cookie recipes is super convincing, but it’s not that helpful. How does that inform my SEO & Content Marketing strategy?”

I’m glad you asked.

We all know budgets cannot always be stretched, so the most important thing is to make a plan.

  1. Identify the topics your audience cares about. Or, even more importantly, why they buy from you.
  2. List out the content you need, whether it’s short or long-form
  3. Prioritize based on available resources and how critical each piece is.

If your website does not have a lot of content, it could be a good idea to invest in multiple short-form pieces instead of one big long-form article.

This will give you more authority, allow you to address a larger number of topics, and you can always refresh this content later if it needs it.

👉 The stronger your plan (including working on your existing content and creating new content), the easier it will be to plan resources and execute.

Benefits of long-form content for SaaS businesses

SaaS businesses can benefit a lot from long-form content. 

If your sales cycle is on the longer side, you’ll need multiple touches with prospects, and deep, expert content increases the likelihood of closing deals.

If you’re selling database recovery software, building a glossary of definitions probably won’t cut it — you need expert content to showcase your technical knowledge and show how you solve specific issues.

Long-form content conveys way more expertise and trustworthiness than short-form, but it doesn’t stop there.

Let’s look at how long-form content helps SaaS marketing.

long form content
The 4 benefits of long-form content

Long-form content tends to rank higher in search

According to this research from SEMrush, longer content (over 1,000 words) is more likely to rank for multiple keywords and as the word count decreases, so does the number of ranked keywords. 

long-form content
Long-form content ranks higher on Google

This isn’t so surprising considering that long-form content tends to address more topics or the same topics with multiple angles — only it covers the topic better.

In addition, the more in-depth the article, the better the chance that Google will deem it quality content — meaning, it’ll rank higher.  

Here’s what Google considers “quality content,” according to its guidelines

what is long form content
Google's guidelines regarding long-form content

This research should still be taken with caution because there’s no qualitative information here: we don’t know whether these articles rank for the right kinds of keywords.

Because Google tends to favor long content, it sometimes only shows short content for very specific queries which is fine.

Trying to address broad topics with short-form content won’t work — as we’ve established before.

But don’t throw out short form just yet because no one wants to read 1,500 words about every random topic.

Long-form content gets more backlinks

Guides with lots of detailed information and unique insights tend to get more backlinks. When other players in your industry stumble upon your article when doing research, they will consider it a reference-worthy source of information.

Ahrefs found a positive correlation between word count and the number of referring domains (i.e. how many websites link to you): the bigger the word count, the higher the number of referring domains. 

long form content examples
Correlation between content length and referring domains

But correlation isn’t causation. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, check out this funny website showing very random correlations.

Length isn’t a ranking factor.

Longer articles do not rank higher in search by essence. Google has stated multiple times that it values “quality” (i.e. “does it add something to the internet?”) over length.

But longer content just tends to cover a specific topic more thoroughly which leads long-form content to match search intent more often than short-form.

Here’s what Google’s looking for according to its content guidelines: 

long form vs short form content
Google's guidelines on content

Long-form content is a way to build your authority

Aside from SEO considerations, long-form content can help you develop your thoughts on the industry, expand your company narrative, and build thought-leadership status in your field.

Articles that cover relevant topics in your industry in-depth show that you’ve got real expertise in the matter. 

Remember that, contrary to popular belief, people mostly buy the brands they remember.

Being front-of-mind when your buyers are ready is paramount, and thought-leadership status greatly helps.

Showing expertise through long-form is a great way to achieve this status, and boost your brand equity as a result.

To know more about building authority with content, check out our piece on content journalism ▶️

Long-form content gives you more repurposing opportunities

Content repurposing is the action of creating multiple pieces of content from one “main” piece — effectively “repurposing” it.

This is a great tactic to use in your content marketing strategy because it allows you to make the most of your content investments.

A piece of long-form content that goes deep into one topic will be full of shareable insights and information you can spread onto other channels in different formats.

One blog article can become 3 LinkedIn posts, several tweets, an email newsletter, a YouTube video, a podcast… you get the point. 

In addition to giving you as many repurposing opportunities as your creativity can handle, long-form content can also become an internal resource. You can send it as an instruction manual or guide to your team members, employees, partners, or freelancers you outsource some tasks to. 

You can also send it to clients or include it in your help center as a go-to resource. 

💡 Users who buy your software will typically need implementation guidelines, product documentation, and other resources to learn how to make the most of your product. If you’ve covered some of these topics in your long-form content, you’ll be able to refer your clients to it.

More information on content amplification in this article ▶️

How to write engaging long-form content: best practices

The main problem with long-form content is quite obvious: no one likes to read it.

Like my cookie recipe example, storytelling their weekend retreats before giving us what we came for (the actual recipe) in an attempt to rank higher means there’s a good chance people won’t actually read the content.

At best, they skim through it.

So how can one write long-form content that’s still helpful and memorable?

longer form content
Tips on how to write long-form content

Longer content doesn’t mean more fluff

Long-form content is long for a reason. It’s not about stuffing it with fluff to meet a higher word count. Writing longer articles doesn't mean you can just ramble on. 

Every sentence needs to have a purpose and add value to your overall message. Every word needs to have a reason to be there. 

Writing a longer article than your competitors doesn't mean it'll automatically rank or convert better. Your content must be more helpful, memorable, and customer-oriented than your competitors' content in order to perform better. 

If you write with your readers’ problems, pain points, and questions in mind, you’ll naturally create more helpful content and avoid stuffing it with fluff. 

Don’t bore your readers, diversify your content

Longer content doesn’t have to be monotonous. 

In fact, the more words it has, the more diversified your content should be. Reading through 5,000 words will surely get your readers bored halfway through. 

You need to keep things interesting by breaking the pattern with images, videos, infographics, GIFs, and whatever else you can think of. 

Adding visuals will not only make your content more dynamic, but it’ll also help your readers understand the topic much better. 

what is long-form content
Just us creating banging pieces of content @Scalecrush

To keep your content easy to consume, pay attention to the formatting. Space out your text, write short paragraphs, and add bullet points and numbered lists. 

You can also use frames or boxes to highlight what you want your readers to remember: key takeaways, pro-tips, quotes. Adding emojis can also help keep the reader’s eye entertained (do so only if it’s on brand). 

Use external resources in your content

Whether it's an insightful LinkedIn post that perfectly illustrates your point, or a trusted source that backs up your claims, referencing outside information is a great way to add credibility to your content. 

Not only will it help build trust with your audience and with search engines, but it's also an easy way to make your content more engaging. 

Just remember two golden rules: always give credit where it's due by referencing people you borrow information from and stick to reliable and trusted sources of information. 

benefits of long form content
An excerpt from our article about SaaS positioning, using an illustration from Robert Kaminski’s LinkedIn, with a direct link to the post it was taken from.
💡 Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to reach out to people to let them know you’ve featured them. It will let them know you exist, and there’s a chance they actually share your article with their audience too! Win-win!

Make sure you have a clear structure & table of contents

Long-form articles must be easy to navigate, and adding a table of contents is a great way to allow for faster navigation and a better viewing experience in general. 

People rarely read content in one-go. They’ll usually skim through it and take what they need from various parts.

Even when writing a long piece, it’s easy to get confused halfway through and lose sight of the points you were trying to get across. 

To prevent this, start the process by creating a detailed content outline. That way, you'll have a clear and logical structure to follow, and you won't get lost in the maze of your own thoughts.

Add some storytelling to your writing

Readers rarely read anything from top to bottom. They mostly skim through it. 

But still, some people will feel motivated to read every word of your content. Those are the people you should write for. 

Each piece of content you create should be written as if it was meant to be read in its entirety. So, you need to keep it interesting at all times. Storytelling is a great way to do that. 

We all love stories. They’re engaging, entertaining, and help us understand things more clearly. If we can visualize something, we can remember it better. Adding storytelling to your long-form content will make it easier for your readers to grasp the concepts you’re discussing.  

Design an engaging UX for your long-form SaaS content

Crafting an engaging UX for long-form content can be a nice extra, but it should be purposeful rather than arbitrary. The primary goal is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the content rather than overshadowing it.

The design should seamlessly guide users through complex information, employing features like intuitive navigation, visual aids, and interactive elements where necessary.

While the effort and cost involved make it an extra consideration, the value added to the user's comprehension and overall experience make it a judicious choice for substantial, strategic content pieces.

best examples of long-form content
This is an over the top creative UX for a long form piece of content by Adweek and Twitter

Examples of Really Nice Long-Form Content

Here are some examples of inspiring long-form content.

Long-form content example 1: Monday.com

This is a really nice piece from Monday.com.

It has it all:

  • Clear headings
  • A table of contents and progress bar
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Screenshots
  • An interactive poll
  • Concise answers
  • Good copywriting

Obviously, the topic "guide to project management" is super strategic for Monday.com. I'm sure the time spent on the creation of this article is totally worth it, especially since it's a top ranking result for "project management" (60.5K of SV = a lot of traffic), and the page ranks for 626 keywords.

examples of long form content
Example of long-form content by Monday

Long-form content example 2: Culture Amp

This is a very well-structured and clean piece of content from Culture Amp. It proves that you don't always need to go over the board with designs and UX to have a great SaaS article.

Sometimes, the use of bullet-points, bold font, and a couple of images is enough to make your content appealing to the audience.

Never underestimate the power of structure and clarity.

google long form content
Example of long-form content by Culture Amp

Long-form content example 3: Proofpoint

It's always nice to have creative ways to present numbers and data. Proofpoint does this very well in their guide about Phishing.

how long is long form content
Example of long-form content by Proofpoint

Using long-form effectively comes down to knowing your sh$t

Before we go to the traditional end-of-content FAQs, let’s sum it up.

If you only remember one thing, let it be this: 

The more you know your sh$t, the easier it is to plan and make long-form content.

So what do I mean by “knowing your sh$t?”

  1. Subject-matter expertise. If you don’t know anything about the topic, don’t write about it.
    Best case scenario, you fool a couple of people who don’t know better and won’t remember you. Worst case scenario, you devalue your brand in front of your industry.
  2. Know your audience. The more you know where people hang out, what they like to read, what they write about, and how they like their content made, the easier it will be to create engaging content, even long-form.
    If your audience has a strong meme culture (marketing, DevOps), use that to your advantage.
    If your audience loves a no BS approach, incorporate that into your storytelling. And so on and so forth.

Remember: content marketing isn’t about gaining traffic — it’s about building trust and community.

FAQs about long-form content

How long is long-form content?

There’s no universal word count that defines long-form content. Typically, it’s content that’s over 1,000 words or longer. Generally speaking, though, we're talking about articles that are longer and more in-depth than your average blog post. 

Should I repost my long-form content on other platforms?

Long-form content contains lots of information you can spread onto other platforms. For example, one long blog article can become a few LinkedIn posts, several tweets, and a YouTube video. You can repurpose it in many ways — and you absolutely should. 

Why use long-form content?

There are several benefits to creating long-form content. It can help boost your rankings, establish yourself as an authority in your field, and even generate some backlinks. But don’t force it. Short-form content is just as necessary. There should be a balance.

Kristin Myshkin

I'm a content and on-page SEO specialist here at ScaleCrush. I love when a blog post becomes more than a marketing piece, but an original source of information. This probably comes from my background in journalism.

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