Tried-and-true tactics for crafting a compelling listicle.

What’s not to love about listicles? They’re entertaining and fun, short and sweet. But not every listicle lives up to readers’ expectations. So what’s the trick?

These 11 components are key for crafting the perfect listicle:

1. A Compelling Number

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Obviously, every listicle starts with a number — but the trick is finding the perfect one. Odd numbers, the number 10, and prime numbers usually perform best.

2. An Exceptional Headline

Numbers alone won’t entice readers to click. You also need to craft a compelling headline to seal the deal. Not sure if your headline makes the cut? Brainstorm several ideas and put them into a headline analyzer tool.

3. A Unique Angle

Find a unique angle so you aren’t just telling the same story others have already told. Every brand is unique, so what’s your take on the subject at hand? Find the sweet spot where your brand values align with trending topics.
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4. A Timely or Evergreen Topic

Listicles are designed to be shared on social media, and even have the potential to go viral — but only if they’re relevant and highly clickable. Take advantage of what’s trending or focus on topics that are always popular…like Ryan Gosling.
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5. A Strong Opening Paragraph

Once you’ve won over readers, your content must also maintain their interest. Make sure to open with a strong introductory paragraph that confirms the reader made the right decision by clicking through in the first place.

6. Conversational Style

Generally listicles aren’t technical pieces, so make sure you use a conversational style. Write like you’re talking to a friend, not a potential customer.
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7. Numbered Subheadings

The main draw of listicles is that they break up large chunks of text, and are easy to scan for relevant tidbits. If one of your paragraphs requires a lengthy explanation, use numbered subheadings to keep your content organized and easily digestible.

8. Short Paragraphs

Don’t include more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph. Listicles are usually intended to be light, so don’t weigh down an otherwise fun topic with long-winded commentary.

9. Supporting Images

Employing a listicle format doesn’t mean you can forgo supporting visuals. In fact, images are the perfect way to provide examples or explanations of each item in the list. Tired of the same old stock photos or screenshots? Change it up by embedding tweets, YouTube videos or Facebook posts when relevant.
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10. A Business Goal

Before you choose to write about celebrity gossip or the latest political scandal, think about how your content will help you to achieve your marketing goals. While producing compelling content is important, so is being intentional and tracking your progress. Ask yourself: Who is your audience? What do you want them to do after reading your listicle? How will you measure your success?

11. Content That Delivers

Make sure your readers are rewarded for their interest and time — don’t give them the bait and switch. Meet and exceed their expectations every time with thoughtful, well-written, and most importantly, valuable content.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into an authoritative trade publication. Click to learn more about how to produce great content and prove ROI on your marketing efforts.

Author Ami Foote

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Ami is a staff writer at L&T. She has previously written for Ireland.com, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Britax Child Safety, and a variety of non-profits around the country. On a good day, you can find Ami obsessively consuming one or all of the following: folk music, NPR, black coffee, jeopardy, or Guinness.

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