Short-form content like listicles and Q&As might seem like the domain of mainstream media outlets like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post — but this type of content also has a place in trade publications and B2B marketing.
There’s a reason short-form content is so popular. It can quickly convey your message to readers and make a complex topic easier to understand. As a bonus, more trade publications are accepting short-form content — and editors are seeing it perform well.
So, what are the benefits of short-form content in the B2B space, and how can you pitch this content?
Benefits of short-form content
Don’t worry. We’re not putting long-form content out to pasture. Traditional technical articles of 1,200 words or more are great when you’re covering a complicated topic and have a lot of information to convey. If readers want a topical deep dive, a long-form article often is the answer. It remains an important tool in your content toolbox.
But what about readers who want a fast answer? Or, readers who are familiar with your product and want some quick tips to improve performance?
This is where short-form content shines.
One obvious benefit: Short-form content takes less time to read. This can help you draw more readers who will read to the end of the piece. A study by Nielsen Norman Group found that people prefer to read shorter articles. Also, a Demand Gen Report study polled more than 100 B2B buyers and found that 95% of them preferred shorter content formats.
Short-form content often uses shorter sentences and paragraphs — in some cases just bullet points. This can increase readability and boost understanding of the topic.
Types of short-form content
What falls under the short-form content umbrella? Typically, short-form content is 500 to 1,000 words and doesn’t follow a standard article format.
Some common types include:
• Listicles: As the name suggests, a listicle is an article that is essentially a list. Listicles can be brief, with short bullet points for each item. Or they can be longer, with more details and photos provided. When you’re writing about tips or best practices, listicles are a natural fit for a numbered list and they make content skimmable and easy for readers to digest.
• Q&As: These can be a good way to get the voice of your customer into a publication. A Q&A can be similar to the messaging of a case study article, but less formal. Product users can answer common questions based on their experiences. They can talk about their biggest challenges on the job and how certain equipment or technologies helped solve them.
• FAQs: These are similar to a Q&A, except your company is the subject matter expert answering common questions. These questions can be specific to technologies or products, or more general and cover industry trends or best practices.
• Infographics: These might be harder to place in a trade publication, since they are the least similar to a traditional technical article. But the visual elements of an infographic often make them more memorable. Try pitching an infographic paired with a tech article to see if an editor is more open to that combination.
A common benefit of most types of short-form content is the ability to use more photos or graphics to help tell the story. For example, a listicle of five tips for improving equipment maintenance can have a photo accompanying each item on the list.
Another plus of short-form content is that you don’t always have to create it from scratch. You likely have an archive of existing articles or white papers that are helpful and relevant. A 1,500-word technical article can easily be reworked into a 700-word tips listicle. This helps you get more mileage out of your content.
Pitching short-form content
In many ways, pitching short-form content to trade publications is no different than successfully pitching traditional articles. Editors want content that is relevant to their readers and provides new information on technologies or industry trends.
When pitching short-form content, summarize the key points of the piece and how it relates to the publication’s readers. Let the editor know the length of the piece and how the format differs from a traditional article. Also be sure to provide plenty of good images — perhaps more than normal to help fill space in the case of a print publication.
If some editors are hesitant to accept short-form content, it can help to share success stories of how shorter or untraditional pieces have performed on your own channels or in other publications.
More likely, you might find many editors who welcome short-form content and want to use it more often. They find these types of pieces tend to work especially well online, where they’re great for SEO and reader engagement.
Success with short-form content
Short-form content has a place in B2B marketing and can help boost readership for complicated topics. Just as with traditional articles, short-form content should be interesting, informative and relevant. Sticking to these basic principles can help you sell short-form content to editors.