We’ve been addicted to lists ever since Moses published the “Top 10 things thou shalt or shalt not do” post, and for busy copywriters on multiple deadlines, they’ve been a God send ever since.
Lists posts, or “listicles”, are the bloggers’ get out of jail card. They work because they promise something really specific in the headline: “10 critical factors for success in topic X” or “5 must have tips to help you achieve Y”. But all too often these blogs over promise and under deliver. Think how many times that “10 indispensable things…” headline has hooked you in, then led you to some turgid compilation of facts no one either knows or cares about?
List blogging is popular because it makes creating clickable headlines easy, but if it becomes the default tactic in the blogger’s toolkit, something’s gone wrong.
Think your list blogs have lost their lustre? Here’s five and half things to try next time you want to perk up your post.
1. The How-To blog
Does what it says on the tin. “How to” blogs work because they educate before they sell. These blogs offer step-by-step guidance to help readers achieve really difficult things like, How to squeeze more out of the B2B marketing budget, Getting started with Google Adwords or How to win B2B business awards.
For the old timers in B2B marketing, this “teach them how to fish” approach takes a bit of getting used to. Why, they wonder, would we want to teach our prospects how to do the very thing we’re trying to sell them? Anyone who’s ever tried to remove a radiator after watching this youtube video knows the answer to this: the professionals make things look easy because they’re professional.
2. The What blog
“What” blogs introduce or explain a basic concept, as in What B2B marketers really need to know about free newswires. They’re great for promoting authority but frequently, they’re just lists blogs in disguise. Truth is, if the example blog above uses the headline “Top 10 free newswires for B2B marketers” it works better. As an aside, if we use the headline “Top 10 free newswires for B2B marketers: Reviewed“, it works better still.
3. The Why blog
Knowing what is happening is important, but knowing why something is happening is critical. “Why” blogs get to the source of an argument. They detail the drivers behind the “what”.
When you’re launching new products or services, “Why” posts can be invaluable. Knowing why the time is right or the market is ready for the new offers you’re introducing is always more compelling than knowing that you’re launching them. Our Why B2B sports marketing just got more competitive blog, or our Why we think sports and technology are a winning match post position the B2B marketing products and services we sell in context and make them more relevant for the prospects we need to target.
4. The Curated blog
Curated posts are probably the most helpful posts you can offer. The best of these work because they compile really valuable information or resources that your readers just can’t get anywhere else. The top 20 most influential tweeters in Learning Technology is an example. Well curated blogs can take days or even weeks to create, but their long-term value can be priceless.
5. The Infographic blog
Here’s the thing: As the blogging business matures, words are stepping aside and making way for higher impact, more graphic content. Strong infographics communicate key points faster than words and play well on social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. The best of them require strong design skills, but the new wave of DIY services like piktochart, infographicreator or venngage mean infographic blogging is a viable option for any blogger.
Oh and finally:
5.5 The awesome just because it’s awesome blog
Let’s get one thing straight: Awesomeness doesn’t need a format, it needs a great idea. Any of the formats above work so long as the expectation set in the headline is matched by the content offered up post the click. Blogs are awesome when they deliver on the detail and deal with the big questions your customers have only just started to care about.
The good news is that every business already has what it takes to deliver awesome content to their customers and prospects. The great ideas, opinions and innovations that make your business special are powering your business now.