Listicles. I hate them. Truly despise them. But then also kind of love them.
If you’re not familiar with this buzzword, a listicle is an article that — you guessed it — is written in the form of a list. There are pros and cons to this approach. Let’s explore.
1. PRO: They work
They’re just so… damn… clickable.
In a world where 80% of your “readers” never make it past the headline, the promise of a concrete number has some serious allure.
2. CON: They don’t WORK work
No one ever changed the world with 5 surprising facts or 3 tips to lose belly fat.
If your goal is to get clicks — then get your listicle on, my friend, and mission accomplished.
If your goal is to get these nameless clickers to change behavior and DO something (like buy from you), you may need to up your game.
3. CON: The explanations (i.e. the non-list copy) are always so lame
A listicle is a list. The “article” part of it is usually a crammed-in-afterthought that just makes you want to cringe.
Except this listicle, in which every word was lovingly curated and will enthrall you.
4. CON: It’s lazy writing
Can we all admit this… a listicle is a long form grocery list, alright? You can literally write this stuff on the back of a napkin.
5. PRO: You’re meeting us where we’re at
As digital marketers, our goal is to tailor our messaging to the buyer’s journey and their frame of mind.
And we, as a society, have collective ADD. So give the people what they want, dammit, because the best content might just be the content that gets read.
Again “read,” if you consider skimming titles to be reading.
7. CON: They make us forget how to count
Half of the time authors seem to forget how to count mid-listicle. Maybe it’s some stat they heard about odd numbered lists performing 20% better than even ones?
See also: #4 re: lazy writing (and/or copyediting.)
8. CON: Absurdly large numbers
I don’t want to know 100 or 101 things about anything.
It’s too much.
TOO MUCH, I tell you!
9. PRO: ’90s nostalgia & pop culture
I’m a sucker for anything featuring N*Sync, Spice Girls, Furbies, memes. If you can find a way to work some pop culture that into your B2B marketing, then you do you.
Do I really want to hear the 5 Things Lady Gaga Can Teach Us About Employment Practices Liability Insurance?
10. CON: No real conclusion
Where did we land? No decisive information? Shitty half-baked close that the author gave little to no thought to?
This must be a listicle.
Okay, seriously though…
The real conclusion of these pros and cons: share and create content that brings insight to your audience.
If you can do that in a list, great. But if it feels like a waste of space, it probably is.
The kind of engagement that moves the needle on results goes beyond clickbait.