“Great content is the best sales tool in the world.”
– Marcus Sheridan
High-quality content that engages, informs, and delights your audience is an essential aspect of an online marketing strategy. Without creating and promoting content, acquiring and retaining customers can be excessively challenging.
However, great content is more than just creating something that is informative and provides value. A lot of factors determine the success of a piece of content, the length being one of them. The length of your content can have a substantial impact on the level of engagement of your audience. Besides, it has a significant impact on metrics like SEO, lead generation, and conversion. Let’s dive into the ideal lengths for different types of content.
For blog posts, what matters more than the number of words is the time your blog takes to read. If it is too short, it will conclude without even engaging your reader, and if it is too long, the reader might lose interest and discontinue reading. Medium suggests that the ideal reading time of a blog post is “seven minutes.” When translated into the number of words, 1,200-1600 words turn out to be a suitable word count. But it’s not the bottom line.
Guides, how-to posts, and tutorials may require more text, whereas response posts that answer specific questions can do well with just over 1,000 words. However, if the length of your blog post is short, be sure to add some images, infographics, and short videos to better engage your readers and make them stay on your post for longer.
Let’s take a look a look at different types of blog posts and their ideal lengths.
Super-short posts: 75-300 words – Good for generating discussion, but will rarely get social shares; bad for SEO.
Standard blogging length: 300-600 words – Good for getting comments and social shares, but will not have much impact on SEO.
Standard length for journalism posts: 750 words – Ideal for newspapers and media company websites, good for getting shares, comments, and backlinks; mediocre effect on SEO.
Response posts: 1,000-1,500 words – Perfect for solving someone’s problem, great for getting comments, shares, and backlinks; ideal for SEO.
Staple and pillar posts: 2,000 words or more – Highest ranking articles on Google, suitable for lists or explaining a topic in detail; best for SEO and authority on search engines.
Email subject lines
A 2012 MailChimp study suggested that “Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing.” The research found no difference in click-through rates for short or long subject lines. Therefore, you can write email subject lines of any length.
However, other studies on the same subject indicated a sweet spot of 28-39 characters. A study from MailerMailer suggested that subject lines with a length of 28-39 characters have higher open and click rates. Here’s the complete analysis:
4–15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
16–27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
28–39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
40–50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click
The general rule is to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. However, if you are reaching out to highly targeted audiences, the readers may appreciate additional information in the subject line.
There’s no recognized rule for ideal paragraph lengths. While 40-50 words or 4-5 lines are said to be suitable for a paragraph, the measure of your para should be in terms of ideas and not words or sentences.
The key to writing paragraphs is to keep the idea and the reader in mind.
For instance, if you are creating a research report, you may need to follow the topic-support-conclusion paragraph structure, which consists of 100-200 words. Take a look at the following example:
On the other hand, news reports require shorter sentences and paragraphs. News readers can lose interest if they have to read long descriptions. Even one-sentence paragraphs are considered impactful and acceptable in news writing. For example:
Similarly, long sentences are acceptable in e-books, especially if you are explaining a scene or event. When it comes to writing blog posts, vary your paragraph lengths to make the overall content more engaging and interesting. Ideally, your intro should consist of shorter sentences and paragraphs to grab the interest of the reader. Once the readers are hooked in, you can explain a topic in detail with longer paragraphs.
The ideal length of a video is less than two minutes, but like blog posts, the optimal video length can depend on the type, topic, audience, and platform.
While shorter videos are almost always better, sometimes, the topic requires more explanation. For instance, if you are creating a video tutorial for your software product, a 2-minute video will not provide an ample amount of information. Hence, it is essential to keep the objective of the video in mind.
Let’s take a look at the ideal video lengths for different channels and types.
Instagram: 10 to 30 seconds
Facebook: 24 to 90 second
LinkedIn: 30 seconds to 5 minutes
YouTube: 2 minutes or less; 6-20 seconds for YouTube video ads
Twitter: 20 to 45 seconds
Pinterest: 15 to 30 seconds
Snapchat: 10 seconds
Website: 30 to 60 seconds
Landing Pages: 30 to 60 seconds
Email Marketing: 45 seconds or less
Sales Video: 30 seconds or length
Explainer Video: 60 to 90 seconds
How-To or Tutorial Video: 2 to 10 minutes
Demo Video: 2 to 5 minutes
Case Study Video: 5 to 10 minutes
Webinar: 15 to 60 minutes
One-to-One Sales Video: 30 to 60 seconds
Promo Video: 30 to 60 seconds
Thought Leadership Video: 10 to 15 minutes
As you can see, the length of your video can vary depending upon its type and the channel on which you’re publishing it. However, in most cases, shorter is better, and your objective should be to capture attention quickly and ensure that the viewer does not lose interest.
Meta descriptions can be of any length, but Google generally shortens snippets to 155-160 characters. Therefore, you should keep your meta description below 160 characters. But keep in mind that your meta descriptions should be long enough to provide sufficient information, as the primary goal of a meta description is to drive clicks to your search engine listing.
Outbrain published a study that stated that the ideal length of a headline is between 50 and 100 characters. Another study from KISSmetrics indicated that the first three and the last three words of a headline are the most impactful. Therefore, a headline should contain at least 6 words, and in general, headlines with 7-8 words are considered to be most suitable for making an impression on the readers.
Twitter has a tweet-length limit; it limits tweets to 140 characters or less. However, tweets that are 120-130 characters or shorter get a 17% higher engagement rate than the tweets that are slightly longer.
The ideal length of a Facebook post is 100-140 characters, which in some cases, can be shorter than a Twitter post. However, a marketing study on Facebook suggested that Facebook posts that are 80 characters or less received a 60% higher engagement rate, whereas, the posts that were kept to 40 characters received an 86% higher engagement rate. Therefore, you can use shorter captions as well.
When using Facebook, it is critical to choose your words wisely as you have only 40-120 characters to spare. Provide a short, concise piece of information that is relevant, interesting, and to-the-point.
While Instagram has a character limit of 2,200 characters, you don’t want to type such big pieces of text. The ideal length of an Instagram caption is 125 characters or less.
However, brands on Instagram are tapping into long-term captions to better inform and engage their followers. A research conducted by Fohr indicated that the average caption length had almost tripled from 142 in 2016 to 336 in 2019.
Short and crisp captions still have their place, but longer captions provide your audience with more than just cool photos. If you’re not sure about the suitable length for your Instagram captions, keep 20-30 words or 100-200 characters as the baseline and monitor your engagement rates. Experiment by increasing and decreasing the caption lengths, and keep an eye on the engagement rates to figure out what works best for you.
The length of your content can directly impact its visibility, reach, and engagement.
While content length is crucial, it is equally important to say something in a human and delightful way. If you are trying to force an additional 300 words into your blog post but can’t think of anything meaningful or valuable, let the blog be short and to-the-point.
All in all, try to match your content with the lengths mentioned above, but feel free to break the rules. Make sure your content sounds natural, flows well, and makes sense instead of just aligning with the “length rules”.