Ever wondered why so many articles, videos and newsletters are based around the idea of a numbered list? It’s because lists are extremely popular. People love them. Today, I’m going to explain why, and how, you should incorporate lists in your content marketing.
Why then are lists so popular?
Lists promise ideas. Lots of ideas. And fast!
Lists promises a number of bite-sized ideas or suggestions. And quickly. So when we see “21 Business habits of highly successful people“, we’re not expecting an in-depth examination of 21 habitual characteristics of people who have achieved business success.
We’re expecting lots of ideas. And we hope that at least one of those ideas will help us in some way. If it does, it will repay the 3 or 4 minutes we invested in reading it. That’s a good return for just a few minutes of our time.
Now, I have a question for you. Does your content marketing mix contain list-based content?
If not, I suggest you give it a try. Lists are perfect for sharing, which makes them ideal if you want to expand your reach on social networks. New readers who discover your work through list content, will then get the chance to see your more detailed work. Others will follow you on the social networks, where they see your lists shared. Many of my most shared blog posts are lists.
Lists can also be very powerful, when it comes to increasing your email marketing open rates. Email marketing that has a list in the subject line, can result in significantly increased open rates.
Most small business owners are not expert copywriters. As such, the subject lines they use for their email marketing tend to under perform. And poorly written subject lines result in low open rates. This means no matter how good their marketing message is, very few people will see it.
Using an average list title as the subject line of a marketing email, will always, always out perform an average, regular subject line.
Should you focus exclusively on lists?
No you shouldn’t.
Allow me to explain.
True, there are YouTubers making a fortune from creating only list-based videos. And yes, there are sites that attract millions of page views, who rely very heavily on list-based content. The business model behind both of these examples is primarily advertising. If your business sells ads based on open rates, keep churning out the lists.
However, for every other kind of business, relying exclusively on lists is a bad idea. And they should be used sparingly.
For example, I could have written this article as a list.
- It would have taken me a lot less time to write.
- It would have been shared a lot more on social networks.
- And the email version of the post would have been opened by a lot more people.
However, I wanted to dig a little deeper into one subject; the content marketing effectiveness of lists. I didn’t want to weaken that focus with “10 Reasons why lists dominate the internet”.
Going a deeper than a list
Sometimes, you need to offer more substance around one subject. Other times, an issue could be impacting your audience and you need to address it. And there are times when you want to share one really useful idea, which wouldn’t work if you broke it down into a list of sub-ideas.
The surface level approach that makes lists so popular, renders them ineffective for anything that requires depth.
So mix it up. But include lists as part of that mix.
In short, if you haven’t already used list-based articles, videos, podcasts episodes, posts or newsletters, give it a go.
Experiment. Test different types of list. Measure the feedback. Check the numbers, including; sales, client enquiries, open rates, social shares and new subscribers, etc.
And let the numbers be your guide.