CIO Friendly Content: How To Write The Right Amount

Is it too much, too little, or about right? Knowing just how much to write for your audience is tricky, especially when a host of competitors are vying for their attention. Research shows that CIOs are consuming more content than ever, so you need to know how to optimise your writing to suit their needs.

There’s an easy way to find out…ask them. That’s exactly what we did in our Tech Heads report – we surveyed over 250 IT decision makers about the way they consume content. Below are CIO word count preferences for different content types and tips to help you hit the sweet spot.

Email subject lines: 50 characters or fewer

An email is often the gateway to your writing being read. For that to happen, it needs to be opened and that starts with the subject line. If it’s too long, then not all of it will be displayed so aim for 50 characters or fewer. IT professionals are busy people so make it clear exactly what you’re offering, and phrase it in a way that’ll appeal to them – what words and concepts pique their interest?

Initial research stage: below 150 words

When searching for a business solution, 60% of CIOs like content to be delivered in 150 words or fewer. Initial research stage content often includes formats such as blog posts. 150 words isn’t much. To put it in context, this blog post is already 241 words long.

That doesn’t give you much time to say everything you want to, so you need to try to get to your point quickly. On top of that, you’ve got to keep your blog titles short (under 65-70 characters) so they don’t get truncated.

Rather than beating myself up over the fact that my blog post will go way over the 150-word mark, I tried to summarise its purpose and value in the first two paragraphs. After 107 words, I’d given the reader an overview of what they’ll get out of this blog post if they read on.

Shortlisting stage: 300 – 500 words

CIOs tend to use reviews and recommendations to whittle down their list of potential vendors. 55% want more detail at this point and prefer content to be in the 300 to 500 range. While this gives you more time to make your mark, it’s sometimes difficult to explain certain details succinctly.

A good way to achieve both accuracy and brevity is to use sub-headings and bulleted lists for different the points being made – they help to break up big chunks of text, and make it easy for the reader to pick and choose the bits that are relevant to them.

Decision stage: 2000-word mark

When it comes to making a buying decision, CIOs turn to case studies and expert opinions, with content preferences leaping to the 2000-word mark.

Even though that gives you more space on the page, it’s worth remembering the tips from earlier to hold the reader’s interest: get to the point early on, and use sub-headings and bullet points to break up text.

Also, although the reader will invest more time in reading your content at this stage, bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll read it all in one sitting. Include infographics, images and diagrams that summarise complex points, making it easy for them to pick up from where they left off.

For more insight on optimising your content marketing, read our Tech Heads report on CIOs and content consumption