Content Marketing is all the rage. Your team needs to generate a lot of authentic conversation about your product or service. One way to approach this buzzword phenomenon is to have your staff write a lot of really simple essays, quickly, and with as catchy a headline as possible. Just make sure their articles have a numbered list! If you don’t have a numbered list, you ain’t got nothin’.
Numbered lists draw a wide audience to your website. A numbered lists screams “short article” and “easy to read.” If the reader likes the short article, perhaps they’ll stick around or even engage with a “like” or “share.” Even if they don’t, perhaps they’ll poke around your site. Maybe these numbered list articles will create a bit of authentic engagement or a few sales. At the very least they will drive traffic numbers and allow your marketing team to show PowerPoint slides with compelling traffic graphs that will make some executives happy. At least for a few quarters.
Don’t make the mistake of allowing the possibility TL;DR! Keep your list short. Don’t trust that people want to read or be engaged at a deeper level. And for heaven’s sake, if you have deeper more important content, make sure you gate that content at a deeper level than your enumerated list article!
With that said, here are the top 4 ways to write a a numbered list article:
1. Make sure the headings are in bold
Don’t make the amateur mistake of enumerating, but then not pressing that fact hard. The headings and the numbering need to be bold or even graphical! You don’t want the readers to lose track of where they are!
2. Use a dubious, overpromising headline
This isn’t journalism from 40 years ago folks! Nobody is going to sue you if your headline is a bit over the top, or even promises something it won’t deliver. Here are two examples:
Actual topic: Computer buyers don’t really care about CPU speed anymore.
Bad headline: Computer buyers don’t really care about CPU speed anymore
Good headline: 4 Ways that Gen Y Buyers Trash Gen X’s Fixation on CPU Speed
Actual topic: Pharmaceutical firms concerned about possible gene patent changes
Bad headline: Pharmaceutical firms concerned about possible gene patent changes
Good headline: 7 Ways Pharma Companies may Profit from Gene Patent Changes
3. Use a licensed, content-free image. Creative Commons is OK.
Make sure you show the license to show you are on the up-and-up and support the community.
4. Connect the points to your mission and message in an obvious way
But do it in the last point of the article, or in the coda (or in both places). For example, I have been a marketing manager, product manager, and content creator for a long time. But it is only recently that I have given in and started calling myself a Content Marketing Manager. I suppose that will change in a year or two, but I’ll still be doing the same stuff. And don’t forget to ask the reader what they think. What do you think?
Don’t forget to toss a “bonus” points in as a coda!
Try not to use the numbers 3, 5, or ten in your lists. Always use 4, 6, 7, 8, or 9. You can use 11 or higher for longer pieces, but never use 10. Or 15. I have no proof of this, but I can easily say that some experts could find these numbers would work best if they were to look into it.
Articles should also include a bio for the writer with a level of hyperbole that makes him or her appear as if he or she is well on the way to curing a devastating disease, has started 7 companies, and has helped clients and partners succeed beyond their wildest dreams! Use a headshot and social links too.
About the author
Gary Dietz is a Content Marketing mogul, having single-handledly brought countless multi-national companies and startups from the brink of disaster simply by writing a white paper or blog entry or tweet. Gary is currently searching for a new opportunity in the content marketing space and has just published a book. You can reach Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @garymdietz and on LinkedIn