What We Found from Studying 428 Pieces of Content (Short-Form & Long-Form) in 2022

Long-form content is harder to produce, requires more up-front investment, and takes longer to bring results than short-form content.

So why on earth should you create long-form content like blogs, videos, lead magnets, and even books?

We did a content length study — reviewing 428 pieces of content published over a 12-month period (November 2021 to November 2022) – to find out.

We pitted today’s hottest content trend – short-form video, including TikToks and Reels – against old-fashioned, long-form blog posts. We compared the results that each content type pulled in, including leads, customers, and sales.

And there was a clear winner:

Long-form content. 📃

Want more on this topic? We’ve got a bunch: 👉 See a replay of my LIVE stage reveal on this topic at DigitalMarketer’s Training Day December 2022 on YouTube, and my guide on how to write long-form content here. Here’s a podcast where I break it down, too.

Content Length Study: Pitting Long-Form Content Against Short-Form (The Data)

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long form content study content hacker

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I revealed this data on stage live for a DigitalMarketer Training Day in December 2022, where we had a terrific reaction to this data! The entire room was in uproar at the reveal of one customer that wanted a refund (from short-form video). 😂

This is what our content length study is going to show – WHY long-form content is worth every drop of sweat, every ounce of energy, and every penny you invest into its creation.

Because we already know businesses that blog receive 126% more leads than those that don’t blog.

We know content marketing as an industry will be worth $600 billion by 2024.

And we understand that nearly 80% of all internet users interact with blogs regularly, and 70% of buyers read at least 3-5 blogs during their journey to purchase a product or service.

But it’s another thing to SEE those results play out in real life. It’s entirely different to see a real example of a brand getting that ROI through long-form, written content.

But that’s what our study will reveal. Let’s dig into the data. 🔍

The Background Story (Why Do a Content Length Study?)

To start, some background:

I spent the first 10 years of my content marketing career building a business solely through long-form content and an optimized website (that means NO ads, not even any social media).

The results: 1,200+ published long-form blogs. 100K visitors per month. $100K per month in revenue, consistently, for 4+ years.

Every lead came from our SEO blog.

content study - results from 10yrs

I did it all solely with the main principles of content marketing at the forefront of my strategy. Because…

  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing (like ads) but generates 3x as many leads.
  • Websites with 400+ blog posts get more than double the traffic of websites with fewer posts.
  • SEO blogging earns you 1,000% more traffic than social media.

content study - content marketing principle

In 2021, I sold that business for over $1 million just so I could do it all over again at Content Hacker.

I went into building this brand with the exact same content strategy. I use the same methods to create long-form content, focusing on high-quality blog and email content + building relationships. 🔁

On top of that, in 2022 I decided to commit to one year of short-form video content (I had heard all the noise surrounding TikTok and Reels) alongside my continued investment in long-form content (one SEO blog per week, published on my site, plus weekly email nurturing and relationship-building).

One year later, I laid out my short-form content and long-form content results, side-by-side.

What did I discover when I compared the two?

Which format delivered more ROI in terms of leads, customers, revenue, and income?

Short-Form Content vs. Long-Form Content: The Content Length Study Results

short form vs long form content a clear winner content hacker

In 2022, I published 316 short-form videos (TikToks, Instagram/Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts) with 280,000+ views.

short-form content published in 2022

I also published 48 blogs, 52 emails, and 12 YouTube videos – all long-form.

long-form content published in 2022

When I compared the results from my short-form videos vs. my long-form pieces, this is what I found:

Leads

  • Leads from short-form content: less than 50 new email subscribers. 1 prospect who stayed stuck in consideration (and is still there).
  • Leads from long-form content: 95% of new traffic and subscribers come straight from the blog.

Customers

  • Customers from short-form content: 1 new customer who eventually wanted a refund.
  • Customers from long-form content: 62 new ideal customers. ZERO refunds or disputes.

Revenue/Income

  • Short-form content: 1 sale at $2,500 – 75% refund = $625 + $2 Reels Play bonus = $627
  • Long-form content: $200,000+ in sales from evergreen products and services
    • ~300% income growth (1st year of business)
    • ~$40K/mo hit in November 2022
    • ~$3,000 avg price point per customer

long-form content study - results

Key Takeaways

Overall, the difference in results from long-form content vs. short-form content is astounding.

Long-form content brought in 62x more ideal customers than short-form content.

Long-form content brought 198.75% more revenue.

Customers who found us through long-form content had ZERO disputes and wanted ZERO refunds.

In stark contrast…

The single customer who came to us through short-form video had poor expectations of our services and commitment issues, and eventually wanted a 75% refund.

The single prospect from short-form content was considering a $2,500 purchase but never bought.

This makes so much sense! Short-form content gives you just minutes or seconds to prove yourself, prove your brand, and set expectations for what your product/service really does.

That’s not enough time.

When we’re talking about building trust, nurturing, proving expertise, qualifying leads, establishing authority, forming relationships…

Long-form content is the hands-down winner.

Is it time to invest in long-form content for your brand? Need a writer on your team yesterday? 📝 Let us hire and train your perfect content writer, and set up systems for you to manage them successfully. It’s all inside our Done-For-You Content Engine service. Talk to us today to get started.

content engine

3 More Reasons to Invest in Long-Form Content

As our content length study has clearly shown, long-form content is top-tier. 👑

Let’s piggyback off the study we just discussed and talk about even more reasons to invest this year.

I could probably talk about this all day long, but here I’ll keep it to the top 3 reasons.

1. Short-Form Video Platforms Are NOT Profitable

Follower and subscriber count. Likes and comments.

NONE of these things put income in your pocket. But ALL of them are hallmarks of short-form video platforms.

Some of the top content creators prove this is true.

@MrBeast is the world’s most-followed YouTuber with over 112 million subscribers.

He emphasizes the profitability of long-form YouTube videos over short-form videos on TikTok, saying, “The crazy thing is . . . if you get a billion views on TikTok, that’s only $1,000. YouTube [long-form] can make you $100,000 for a MILLION views.”

mrbeast content length study

Another top creator with over 17 million followers combined from TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, @ErikaKullberg, revealed her earnings from these platforms in October 2022.

She makes:

  • $2/day on TikTok
  • $0 from Instagram Reels
  • $30-40/day from Facebook Reels
  • $35,000 per long-form video on YouTube 🤯

erikakullberg long-form content study

2. Just ONE High-Quality, Long-Form Blog Can Be Your Most Effective Salesperson

A lot of work, research, thought, time, and investment goes into one long-form blog.

For instance, our blogs at Content Hacker take:

  • Regular keyword research, topic research, and strategic scheduling.
  • A full week of writing, by a dedicated writer, from research to finished draft, for EVERY blog.
  • An average of 3,000 words.

But – once that blog is published, it will work quietly in the background to pull in your ideal clients for months and years. It can even convert them and act as your 24/7 salesperson.

The thing is, these blogs will get crickets when they’re first published. Silence.

It can be unnerving to confront, especially if you expect the rush of likes and comments that comes from a social media post.

content study - what goes into our long-form blogs

But, in a few months, these blogs start to rank in Google.

They start bringing in ideal traffic and ideal customers.

And that’s when the magic happens. ✨ Like this:

One of our long-form blogs started to rank for the keyword “how to hire a writer.”

content length study - conversion from blog

An ideal lead’s husband researched this keyword on Google and found this deep piece of content. He shared it with her. She filled out a form by following a link to an associated sales service page.

The lead, Carla, scheduled a call with me and will pay $10K to work with me.

content length study - conversion from blog

This blog converted Carla because:

  • She was serious about her problem (hiring a writer) and finding a solution.
  • She was considering multiple vendors/resources – but found my content the most useful.
  • She stayed on my site – no doom-scrolling, no bouncing back to Google to find another solution.

And, by the way, this isn’t an isolated incident. We have even more lead journey stories just like Carla’s.

All from effective long-form content. 🏆

By the way… I don’t create all of my long-form content myself. I rely on a writer to help me create consistent, high-quality content weekly. And you can, too. Our Done-For-You Content Engine service sets you up with your own brand writer who will create ALL of your profitable long-form content. Talk to us today to get started.

3. You Can’t Build Customer Trust in 30-60 Seconds

If you want to create short-form video content that’s directly profitable…

You need to be able to build customer trust in just 30-60 seconds, and often from nothing, as many new leads will stumble upon you through Discover feeds and For You pages.

Can you do that?

content study - can you build trust in 30-60sec

Let’s be real. Most of us aren’t Beyonce. We CAN’T.

On top of that, video platform algorithms are programmed to get viewers to consume more content and spend more time on their platforms. They do NOT want users to stop, even if that means those viewers are leaving the platform to purchase from you.

The endless cycle of scrolling/watching, scrolling/watching, is the goal.

short-form platforms trigger addictive usage patterns

Source: Supernova via Medium

TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube give users every reason to scroll past you. And scroll they do.

That’s why most video marketers DON’T measure sales to determine success. Instead, 62% focus on engagement, and 61% focus on views.

How to Create Long-Form Content

Read the full blog: How to Create Long-Form Content (& Why It Matters)

Still not sure what you’re doing when it comes to long-form content? We’ve got some answers for you. Keep reading.

Content Length Study Takeaway: It’s Time to Get Deadly Serious About Long-Form Content

If you’re not serious about creating long-form content yet, it’s time to start.

This might mean fixing or re-doing your website so it’s set up for conversions and a friendly user experience.

It might mean finally hiring that dedicated writer who can focus solely on creating your brand’s high-quality, conversion-worthy long-form content.

And, remember, it HAS TO BE high-quality – or bust.

The majority of content – 95%! – gets zero backlinks.

90.63% of web pages get zero traffic from Google.

But great content should buck these statistics.

If you’re doing content and seeing NO results…

You have much more to learn about creating effective, high-quality long-form content.

When done right, long-form content should bring in traffic from Google, ideal clients, and even sales. Done correctly, long-form content will build your authority, earn backlinks, and grow your business.

But you have to know HOW to do it.

So, ask yourself: Do you need help? Get it!

Do you have more to learn? Commit to it!

It will make all the difference.

And help is right here:

That’s EXACTLY what my Content Engine service is for.

We help you build the Content Engine that will produce incredible long-form content for your brand on the regular.

How?

✔ We’ll find the best dedicated writer for your brand with the right expertise.

✔ We’ll train them on the right content standards.

✔ And then we’ll onboard them for you, including a system to manage them successfully into the future. We’ll even create a content calendar for you with researched blog topics.

Because if you want results-getting long-form content, you NEED a dedicated writer who knows what they’re doing.

Let us help you. Talk to us today about how to set up your brand’s Content Engine. 🚀

content engine

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an 8x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As the VP of Marketing at Content at Scale, she helps marketers achieve insane ROI (3-10x their time back at 1/3rd the cost) in a new era of AI as a baseline for content production. She's been named in the top 30 of all content marketers worldwide, is the founder of Content Hacker, and recently exited her 100-person writing agency with a desire to help marketers, teams, and entrepreneurs find the keys of online success and revenue growth without breaking.