Why Listicles Suck at Content Marketing

Are Listicles a Good Marketing Tool?

When listicles first started building momentum online, they gained a lot of hype in the marketing community, and for good reason: they increased organic traffic, social sharing, and click-throughs.

The benefits of this popular content format are enticing, but not without drawbacks. This tired trend simply isn’t producing the results it once was.

In this post, we’re getting meta with a list article on why content marketers should steer clear of listicles.

5 Reasons Listicles Aren’t a Good Marketing Tool

1. It’s lazy.

list articles don’t require an introduction or a closing statement; they don’t even really need any organized format beyond numbered bullets points. The minor organization makes listicles incredibly easy to write, but the lack of effort doesn’t go unnoticed.

Sure, numbered titles may draw readers in, but the only way to hold their attention is with engaging quality content.   

2. They’re ubiquitous.

These days, it seems like everyone and their mother is writing listicles. What was once a fun, light-hearted way for your content to stand out is now an overused trend, often even a crutch.

Using listicles to capture attention when there’s already a surplus of list articles makes you blend in rather than stand out. You’re more likely to catch someone’s eye by creating simple, straightforward titles that accurately portray the article’s content, paired with well-thought copy that delivers on the title’s promise.

3. You lose authority.

Take a moment to think of some sources that you consider reputable. What kind of content do they publish? Regardless of your industry, odds are your answer doesn’t include list articles. Credibility is established with informative, well-researched, and thorough content.

Publications become highly regarded by showing their expertise and sharing their knowledge, which is difficult to showcase when the information is watered down. Listicles might result in a small boost in page views, but they rarely produce backlinks or establish authority.

4. You come off as a try-hard.

Have you ever witnessed aging parents trying to keep up with new slang to better connect with their children? The result is often cringe-worthy and even further demonstrates how out of touch they are. The same can be said of brands that cling to trends in an effort to remain relevant.

Listicles are perfectly appropriate for specific content, like funny images of cats or reasons why brunch is great, but placing educational content in a list format often feels forced.

5. They lack substance.

One of the defining characteristics of list articles is their brevity. While quick summaries are useful for taking in a large amount of information without getting overwhelmed, the concise nature prevents you from covering much detail.

Longform articles allow you to flesh out your points so that you ensure you’re offering valuable information. In content marketing, it’s important to remember the rule of quality over quantity. Listicles tend to only offer the latter.

Final Note

These points aren’t to state that these types of articles are always detrimental; if listicles are true to your brand, then go ahead and continue using them. We even use them from time to time here at HeadsUp.

However, be vigilant and ensure the list articles you write aren’t being used as a clickbait-y substitute for quality content that makes your readers think. Before you write your next listicle, ask yourself this: why shouldn’t this be an article?

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