Keep It Short

How to write better short-form articles

One of the pervasive challenges our clients face is producing high-quality short content quickly. We know short-form articles and posts are critical at various stages in the customer journey and helps with discovery. But they can be a drag on your content team, especially brand journalists.

What is short-form content? For the purposes of this article, we're talking articles under 500 words. So not microcontent.

Two big challenges of short-form content marketing

There are two big issues with producing sub-500-word content:

  1. We have to do the same amount of backgrounding as for a longer piece
  2. It can be hard to feel like we're providing anything relevant when operating at such a surface level.

How to produce excellent short-form content faster

The best solution we've found for that is to engage internal experts to do the heavy lifting. We talk to sales, customer service and other front-line folks to tell us what questions and objections customers and prospects have about the topic. This gives us a set of must-address items.

Next, we develop a few other questions to add context or tap into trends, etc., and send the whole list to an internal SME to provide answers and insights in writing on in a quick conversation.

The SME's answers come back to the professional writers to craft into a piece that hits the key points with concision.

The entire process can be done within a matter of hours. We expedite the process by explaining the process to all involved, including why it's important for us to do this kind of content and how timely responses help us drive results. We set a standard expectation for response times (for them and for us), and promise to limit truly rapid response requests (like "within the hour").

A better process yields more than better content

We've instituted this process for several clients and see five big wins:

  1. Higher quality short-form content that better meets audience and business needs
  2. Shorter production and approval times
  3. Better use of each person's time, so everyone feels useful and satisfied
  4. Dramatic reduction in brand journalists feeling like they're wasting time or leaving most of the story in their notes
  5. Easier exploration of topics that may be high-interest to the audience so content specialists can do deeper research for longer form content.

Give it a try in your shop and see for yourself!

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