The Long Tail of Long-form Marketing Content

Long_tailOne of the benefits that authors of all kinds have discovered with eBooks in recent years is the long tail of revenue that the electronic bookstores provide. Without the need for costly warehousing and distribution, the shelf life of an eBook is infinite; no book ever needs to be out of print again. So when an author releases a new book and finds a new audience, the entire catalogue of old books is there for the author’s fans to discover. (This is true for both fiction and non-fiction in eBooks, but here we’re looking mainly at non-fiction.)

This is the long tail – small sales over a long period. Of course this is a well-known concept in sales and marketing, and it is a key benefit for eBooks, which have in ten years revolutionized publishing. But the long tail also benefits long-form content marketing, in ways that some organizations might not recognize at first.

The principal benefit is that eBooks, and any other kind of longer-form content holds its value better over time. When you’re putting 40 or 50 pages’ worth of information together, it tends to treat bigger concepts, more complex ideas. You have the space, and good reason, to tackle those areas where nuance and subtlety matter. The content tends to follow the form.

By contrast, white papers, pamphlets, and one-pagers tend to work with specific ideas and practical approaches. That information might be vital (and we certainly wouldn’t advise against anyone producing valuable content in any form!) but it’s also subject to change.

Your products evolve over time. The market evolves. You adjust the way you approach customers, and maybe even the customers you approach, as you learn more about your market and how you can fit into it. And that means that a quick guide to your products or to how your industry works can be obsolete at any time. One changed fact can render your content obsolete.

But long-form content tends to resist change better. You might need to make small changes–maybe update your product names, or add a chapter on some new wrinkle that your customers tend to be interested in. But unless there’s a fundamental shift in what you do, topics that you treat in depth typically resist needing large-scale change.

One of Calamus’s clients is a world champion bikini model and fitness guru. She has a number of one-page guides for recipes, exercises, and other heath information. Those guides are great, but she’s constantly creating new ones. Every time a new idea emerges – and in the health and nutrition field, that happens daily – she’s creating new sheets to show that she’s on top of her field.

But we’re publishing an eBook with her in the spring of 2016 that draws on her many years of experience entering and winning bikini competitions around the world. It’s full of information for beginners that could only come from a highly knowledgeable and experienced source.

And it’s also targeting long-term sales; this information won’t go stale, as long as fitness and bikini competitions still exist. She will be able to point to this book as proof of her authority on the subject long after she has retired from competition herself.

That brings us to the other value of the long tail: great content has value for a lot more people. Say you’re using a quick tip sheet to draw in subscribers for your mailing list. Even if it’s successful, the audience who’s looking for that content will eventually be exhausted, and you’ll need to create new content to find new subscribers again.

Think of using a book-length offer to do the same job. You don’t have a few tips there; you have a range of different content that you can push. You can potentially promote it in different ways to different audiences.

And of course, all of the benefits of long-form content are extended on the long tail. Your authority on a subject is more firmly established when you can show your library of published works. Interested users will find greater value when they browse your library of content. And if your eBooks are generating revenue, they can continue to do so without any additional cost or effort on your part.

The benefits of eBooks and other long-form content are clear, and they are only enhanced over time. The value of long-form content is enduring, making it a sound investment of your marketing efforts.

Contact Calamus now to talk about how long-form marketing content might work for you!

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