How to Write Effective Listicles for Content Marketing

How to Write Effective Listicles for Content Marketing


It seems only natural that the introduction to an article about listicles should be a listicle itself, doesn’t it? 

Listicles, long-form content that takes on the shape of a list, are loved by readers because they:

  • are easy to skim
  • make information easy to digest
  • make memorizing data easier
  • often come with catchy headlines
  • are snappy and quickly consumed 

However, listicles have been used to death at one point and managed to acquire a bit of a bad rep. So, let’s take a look at the different ways to write yours effectively.

Make Them Funny 

Buzzfeed has made listicles hilarious, and although most of them follow the exact same pattern, people still love them. Case in point, this listicle on the odd habits some people have with food. 

Listicles work great when you’re looking to raise some brand awareness or boost traffic. They’re a definite go-to if your marketing goals can be achieved by making people laugh. For instance, you can do a post that will tickle your readers, but the key is to highlight your brand at the very end. Chances are the post will get shared on socials, so you will likely land some eyes on the piece.

Use Them to Convey Value 

Source: depositphotos.com

Listicles are also a great vessel for showcasing value and providing insight into information that would be of tangible use to your audience. You can choose to go into more or less detail with them, and strictly compose a list of, say, X items you need to have in your pantry – like in this post

Checklist posts, while essentially listicles, often drive a significant amount of traffic, especially if they come with a free printable. 

Or, you can go into a bit more detail about every item, but keep each heading short and to the point. Merely beef the article out a bit and add some additional value, like in this post about kitchen utensils. It’s concise, funny, and easy to digest, yet with plenty of actionable advice. 

Create a Master List 

If you have a lot of posts that deal with similar subjects, you can create a master listicle, which will help direct traffic to these smaller posts. You can then promote this listicle on socials, and with a bit of luck, it will rank well too. So, you can expect to trickle some valuable traffic down from it. 

For instance, this post on copycat recipes is a master list of recipes that emulate dishes from restaurants. If a visitor likes the topic in general, they’ll likely check out more than one of the recipes and spend a good deal of time on the website.

And now for some listicle composing tips!

Choose the Right Title 

Source: depositphotos.com

Clickbait titles are the downfall of many listicles. These kinds of titles do often work, but many have seen through them and will absolutely refuse to click on an article if it sounds like clickbait. 

Do your best to sum up what the list is about. Use a main keyword that describes every item on your list, and give it an interesting twist that will appeal to your audience. For instance, you may want to go for something straightforward, like “39 Customer Service Tools to Try in 2021.” 

Or, you can go for something like one of our above examples “The Only 12 Items You Need in Your Kitchen to Make (Practically) Every Meal Imaginable.” It’s catchy yet certainly not clickbait. 

Provide a Good Intro and Outro 

Most listicle readers will dive right into the list and completely skip the intro and outro. However, you still want to ensure you cushion the list between a couple of useful headings. 

Your intro can provide the space to explain why you chose to write this list, how you chose your items, the methodology behind any research you may have done, etc. 

The outro should round things off nicely, perhaps give an overall recommendation, highlight a specifically funny or interesting point, or maybe even throw in some added value for the readers who did choose to read it. 

Provide a Fresh Perspective 

Source: depositphotos.com

The one thing you want your listicle to be is different. You simply have to make it something more and something better than a compilation of the top listicles others have done on the same topic. If you merely merge two or three other posts into one and make yours longer but not more insightful, it won’t be worth all that much. 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, though. All you need is a new point of view, more background information, or more detail about certain entries. Adding a personal touch and speaking about your personal experiences is always a great way to level up any piece of content.

You can enrich the piece with fresh statistics, quotes, case studies, or real-life examples. Utilize anything the articles you’re basing your listicle on didn’t originally have. 

Focus on the Formatting 

Some very interesting lists are sadly formatted rather poorly, which is why they never get the attention they deserve. How you choose to format yours should entirely depend on your audience and the topic of your list. 

Perhaps you need to add a photo for every entry? The Buzzfeed article we opened with certainly did. Maybe you don’t need images at all, and you just need to provide your listicle items? 

The use of bold and italics is also highly advised, like in this post about making listicles

Final Thoughts 

Source: depositphotos.com

Listicles are a fun and engaging way to attract some attention and convey valuable or entertaining information. They’re a fantastic tool for boosting your traffic (and ultimately conversions). 

However, never forget:

  • Your listicle needs to be more than just a compilation of other listicles.
  • You need to make it interesting for your target audience.
  • You don’t need to do a 100+ entry listicle to spark interest – quality trumps quantity every time.