Posting quality articles on your website and elsewhere online should be the cornerstone of a consultancy's marketing.
It demonstrates expertise while also being something of value you can share to clients, prospects and referrers that both provides value while subtly reminding them of the benefits you bring.
Should you be concentrating on long detailed blogs that explore an idea thoroughly, or shorter punchy ones that give the topline
details for people who just want the "so what"... what is best for consultants?
They both have their place, and in a perfect world your consultancy's blog would have both. We'll be exploring their respective pros and cons... but whatever the length, quality is paramount.
However, short or long, a blog provides little benefit if nobody reads it.
Whatever the length, you need need to ensure each blog you post is "search engine optimised" so that people searching for the subject will be pointed to it by Google. You also need to have a simple system for sharing it to your mailing list subscribers, relevant clients and contacts, and for social media too. Without this your carefully written blog will simply be a hidden gem.
Long blogs - the benefits
It is worth starting with why posting long articles online brings lots of benefits. Most consultants realise this and will rightly be sceptical of a lot of commonplace poor advice out there along the lines of "90% of people read just the first few paragraphs, so that's all you need".
In fact, good quality long articles are really popular online. They impress, they get liked and shared, and the people who read them to the end are great prospects. The people who left early probably only had a cursory interest in the subject. It's the quality of the ones that stick with it to the end that matters.
The evidence is that decent long-form articles are more likely to be liked, shared and attract backlinks (links from other websites). Google also ranks them more highly.
So long blogs are really good in such situations as:
- You want to impress with your detailed knowledge of a subject.
- It is a subject where the reader will find a longer article compelling. For instance, if you have a strong case study of helping a client deal with a knotty challenge with plenty of insights for others in a similar situation, then others in this situation will want to invest their time reading it because of its relevance and value to them.
- It's a subject where there is a lot of elements for someone to consider... a bit like this subject!
- You are able to write it to hold the reader's interest to the end.
- It's a competitive subject and you need to do everything possible to appear prominently on Google.
Long blogs - the problems
But there are downsides as long blogs generally require a lot of work. A 900-word detailed blog could well take a lot more effort than two or three shorter punchy blogs.
So going for longer blogs means your output falls. In fact, given the work involved it often stops people doing them all together.
Many blogs are written primarily for the "search engine optimisation" benefits to help the consultancy's website appear prominently. Long blogs are powerful here, but so too is having a regular flow of frequent blogs that cover a wide range of potential search phrases. Google likes websites that are regularly updated, not those that have a burst once every few months.
Research from Hubspot (a business blogging and inbound marketing platform) found, perhaps not surprisingly, B2B firm websites with the most blogs get disproportionately more traffic and leads. Its research suggests the benefits from blogging really kicks-in when businesses blog 11-or-more times a month on a sustained basis (so effectively three a week), which is just not going to be possible for most businesses if every blog is a lengthy and highly original thought-piece.
So, long blogs definitely have their place and strong benefits. But if you are looking to attract traffic to your website, beware of falling into the trap of saying "we will only blog when we have something worth saying"... and then blogging only once or twice a year.
We come across plenty of businesses like this. They have a lot of insights that are worth sharing, but use "quality" as an excuse for not writing... rather than a spur to share their excellent insights more regularly.
For more insights on how to launch and maintain a successful blogging programme at your consultancy (including how to increase the frequency of good-quality short and long blogs), click here for details of our complimentary Successful Blogging for Consultancy Firms webinar.