Why you should use lists in your content marketing

The top ten places you should visit before you die.

Five weird ways to get married.

Nine atrocities that will make you hate humanity.

We’re all used to these kinds of lists. They’re always fun to scroll through, and there are some clear reasons why they have such a big impact on people, and therefore why they’re a powerful marketing tool.

An easily digestible stream of content

Long blog posts, and more in-depth content like guides and whitepapers, are great for exploring ideas and conveying complex information, but they might not be the most inviting or attractive formats for casual readers.

Lists present users with accessible, easily digestible chunks of information. The desire to discover the next entry reduces the likelihood that someone will get bored and stop reading, which increases dwell time on your pages and reduces bounce rates.

Lists grab and hold people’s attention

Everyone has experienced the phenomenon of scanning the same piece of text multiple times without really absorbing the information. The list format aims to break this pattern, often with the help of visual content.

Like a Facebook or Twitter feed, most of what you see is made up of images and small pieces of text. As a result, lists can achieve a similar effect to social media platforms, which use carefully designed algorithms to keep people engaged.

They’re educational

Whether they’re about skyscrapers in China or Britney Spears’ career, consuming lists is a learning experience. They can provide your audience with something they didn’t know or expect, or supply a sense of self-validation and satisfaction by checking off things the user did already know.

Regardless of whether it’s an ego trip or the joy of learning something new, lists are a great way to offer a positive experience.

The story is finite

Research by psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke has suggested that the more information we have, the worse we tend to feel. In contrast, the fewer options we have and the faster we can make our decisions, the happier we feel. This is known as ‘the paradox of choice’.

With a list, we know that a definite end is coming, and headlines usually tell us how many entries there will be and when the experience will reach a satisfying conclusion. There’s also a sense of fulfilment that comes with reaching the end of the list, which is sure to keep users clicking on similar content in the future.

They’re all about the user

When developing buyer personas, you need to know what concerns your customers have, what they’re interested in and what they ultimately want to achieve. Nothing reflects this better than list-based content.

Lists in content marketing are a great opportunity to show, in an easily accessible format, that you can engage with your audience’s priorities, that you understand them and that, ultimately, you can provide solutions to their problems.