Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing

Lists are everywhere and the headlines with lists are proliferating faster than rabbits imbibing unlimited amounts of Jack Daniels.

Anybody and everybody is using embedded lists in their content. Or, they are writing “mea culpas” vis Medium, exposing every aspect of their personal and professional lives.

Great content is somewhat list driven and we can all thank smartphones for some of this popularity. Your content is getting reduced to a small screen: so no lists, maybe no reads.

1) We aren’t the New York Times or a start-up with $25M in the back that can hire writers, editors and reporters away from a top tier publisher. So, we too use cheap theatrics and lists to help us get a blog read now and then. That’s tongue in cheek.

  • Your readers have an attention span of a gnat. So lists help to pull them into the content.
  • Lists work well with as images and videos as we sampled below.
  • Lists are easy to write. You can fact load them and newsjack the topics to your heart’s content.
  • Your readers, visitors are preconditioned to engaging with content that uses lists: the proliferation of lists embedded in content is everywhere.
  • Lists drive immediate engagement and move visitors into a sales funnel.
  • People want evidence, perspective and answers in your content and lists help to convey both, especially via blog with baked in frequency updates each month.
  • Lists facilitate updates – there is no shame in cutting and pasting updated content via a list. Is this “content laziness?” No: it’s smart, content should be updated
  • You can brand jack your biz into a list. Is this self-serving. Yes, but done frequently.
  • Lists facilitate content re-purposing via other content forms (email, other blog posts, social content) which is a fundamental “tool” in any content marketer’s toolbox.
  • Every good blog post starts with a list for many content marketers: those scatter-shot ideas can then be fleshed or “listed” out, no pun intended.
  • Millennials thrive on real time updates and lists are part of the picture and “secret sauce” to reach them according to Twitter and others.
  • Brands can be creative with lists: use them as a shorthand way to poll your staff, customers, partners, BOD members and any other stakeholders for company, product, customer wins and content marketing topics.
  • See texting as a way of life for many today. These people “live” on lists (stretching the metaphor a bit)- so, map your content accordingly.

2) Kapost shared this recent post about the power of Lists. You can easily cut and paste lists into a blog post to drive engagement, as they have done with this post.

Recommended for YouWebcast: The Art of Growth Hacking: Gaining Early Traction by Doing Things that Don't Scale

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image Comparative Analysis of 3 Companies Reveals the List Post Works 2014 07 23 22 20 28 2014 07 23 22 20 30

3) Don’t make the mistake of thinking visitors “read” your content like a Newspaper. They don’t – they are snacking and scanning your content in an F-shaped pattern. They’ll do a horizontal scan, then another and then move to vertical scan. Visualize a list in this image and it will help you understand why lists drive content ROI.

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image f reading pattern
4) We love the work Econusltancy does – typical (sorry Americans) bright, savvy technical Europeans who bake in great strategy along with “list loaded” headlines – the Headline, Column under the headline, screen right (newsletter at top, then two stacked ads and trending blog posts).

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image Digital marketing optimization five lessons from the top performers Econsultancy 2014 07 23 22 32 25 2014 07 23 22 32 27

5) Lists help to organize your content is give you an easy way to drive the user into your web site. Some might argue with us and say embedded lists on a page are just User Interface; but, it’s a fine line between the two, no pun intended.

This is excellent on page “list centric” content formatting by Marketing Sherpa – the universal menus stand out, the content is layered to catch the visitor’s attention and calls to action (screen column right and bottom of page) stand out as embedded text.

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image Marketing Research Articles Reports and Case Studies MarketingSherpa 2014 07 23 22 36 50 2014 07 23 22 38 24

6) Great Lists are a Part of Storytelling and Pixar is a great content role model – if you are a better filmmaker than Pixar then call us we have some work for you. Thanks to Emma Coats for creating this list.

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling Aerogramme Writers StudioPixars 22 Rules of Storytelling Aerogramme Writers Studio 2014 07 23 22 47 31 2014 07 23 22 47 33

7) Lists are moving from text to visual and “visual” drives engagement. There’s a reason why Buzz Feed has a monthly audience of 150M per month and morphing to a full blown media company.

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image 10 Inspired Toasts Perfect For Every Occasion 2014 07 23 22 54 32 2014 07 23 22 54 39

8) Lists are the heart of any great landing page and Sales Force has this down to a science: factual, brief, powerful content focused on generating conversions.

Ten Creative Ways to Use Lists in Content Marketing image Manage sales Salesforce.com 2014 07 23 22 59 23 2014 07 23 22 59 25

9) Rethink how you think about lists. Embed them in your Headlines too and tweak the fonts: “7 chic buys” is a list embed in Net-A-Porter’s Ad for their Publication on their Home Page – this is not brilliant copywriting, but the text size, color of the fonts against the background and multiple headers in the content are all done with a sophisticated design. “The devil is in the details” is apt.

10) If you are embedding visuals in lists be mindful of these attributes.

  1. Your building authenticity with your community: visual’s impact drives relevance.
  2. As technology “takes over our lives” visual strikes a chord within others. Sensory currency is “real” to the visitor.
  3. Visuals drive cultural relevancy that engages the visitor in ways that text cannot equate.
  4. “Archetypes” have been around since the days of ancient cave man paintings and visuals are a powerful storytelling tools that feature “heroines” and “heroes” embedded in brand storytelling.
  5. Visuals cut through the clutter and chatter that’s “smartphone” driven for many consumers and professionals.

Every blog post, especially one about lists, should end with no lists whatsoever. Give the poor list a break when/where you can and use them judiciously and creatively to drive more engagement with your content marketing.

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