The internet has thousands, possibly millions, of listicles about cats. In fact, a quick search reveals “17 Cats Who Look Like Madonna” as an option, but listicles can be more than just feline/popstar mash-ups and instead offer valuable opportunities for marketers to reach consumers who are in a shopping mindset. The rise of listicles, which don’t take long to read or require much deep thought, is a natural evolution of the scrolling, skimming, social media dominated culture that characterizes so many interactions online.

The easy, quick format of a listicle can be used as a content marketing tool for ecommerce, driving audiences directly to brand websites for purchasing or encouraging audiences to fill out a lead form. “The article as a numbered list,” Maria Konnikova wrote in a 2013 The New Yorker article, “has several features that make it inherently captivating: the headline catches our eye in a stream of content; it positions its subject within a preexisting category and classification system…it spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront.”

Online audiences are getting smarter about avoiding traditional online ads. A fun, quick-to-read listicle can drive users to make purchases or engage with brands and may be more successful than traditional ads. For marketers looking to capture savvy audiences, the right placements on listicles could be an effective strategy to engage and convert. It’s important to choose listicles wisely though. For strategic audience targeting, brand awareness and audience trust, a good listicle should have certain qualities.

9 Tips About Listicles That Can Benefit Digital Marketers

1. The style of list should be determined by marketing objective and audience need., breaks down the four types of listicles:

  • Experience-Based: ex. 101 Tips from a Frequent Traveler
  • Research-Based: ex. 10 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft
  • Editorial-Based: ex. Seven Reasons to Choose Blueberry Muffins Over Raspberry Muffins
  • Curated List: ex. Five Best Movies of 2019

2. The type of content in listicles should fit the target audience. A list featuring “Tech Gifts To Buy For People Who Don’t Do Tech,” for example, might require more rudimentary explanations and a variety of categories that consider different audience-knowledge levels. Whereas, “Best Running Watches,” because of the built-in audience, can be wonkier, thorough and more specific. Regardless of the style of content, the language should be easy to understand and not occupy too much of the reader’s time, even when going deep. (Interestingly, audiences prefer odd-numbered lists, considering them more likely to contain legitimate content.)

3. Listicles should be authoritative. Many lists of “10 best” are subjective, but the subjectivity does not need to be transparent in a listicle. Effective listicles become the authority on their proclamations.

4. Listicles should be visually arresting, particularly if the lists are about available products and are encouraging audiences to click through. Marketers should prioritize visual assets in their content marketing strategies, because pictures and graphics are incredibly effective.

5. A well-researched listicle will have considered its competition in the market. Offering creativity and originality, while still touching on the key points that drive traffic, is important for a useful listicle.

6. A listicle should have keywords optimized for targeted searches. Listicles are often easy to write and read and, therefore, ideal for both core keywords and long-tail keywords. But targeting the right keywords can mean the difference between generating lots of traffic and generating lots of conversions.

7. Effective listicles should be inherently shareable. The “10 Best Little Black Dresses” could be a winner before New Year’s Eve, because women know many other women are looking for their perfect New Year’s Eve outfits. Audiences targeted effectively, at the right time with the right kind of lists, could trigger the shareability that listicles lend themselves to.

8. A well-targeted list has an obligation to fulfill its promise to readers. If a listicle promises 10 great dresses, it needs to deliver. If it doesn’t, not only will it not get shared, but that pre-existing, mid-funnel audience initially drawn to the listicle, could dry up pretty quickly.

9. An ecommerce listicle is only as good as the landing page it’s directing users toward. 38% of consumers are less likely to return to a clunky or unattractive website after a bad experience. If an audience is flocking to a listicle, the landing pages it drives to should be mobile optimized, load quickly and create as little friction for the consumer as possible, optimizing conversions and engagement in the moment.

Effective Content Marketing Nurtures Lead Generation

Lead generation and content marketing are partners. When it comes to engaging prospects and securing conversions, strong content marketing can be the hook that brings audiences to the yard. Listicles can be an entertaining and informative way to drive consumers to lead forms or sales, particularly for ecommerce and with audiences dubious of traditional advertising approaches.

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