5 Steps to Build a Powerful Listicle that Drives Clicks and Sales

Amber Paul
Amber Paul

Sr. VP of Distribution, Digital Media Solutions

About the author

January 18, 2022

Consumers are rapidly demanding more content be available in a single click. The current online culture, dominated by social media and shortened attention spans, has in part led to the rise of short and uncomplicated online content, including listicles.

Instead of excessively long web pages that never seem to end, consumers prioritize simple content layouts that concisely deliver key points. A listicle’s easy and quick format can be a powerful content source for driving users to make purchases and engage with brands. Coupled with an omnichannel promotional strategy that includes email and social media distribution, listicles are an excellent way for marketers to drive clicks and sales.

Despite their quick and effortless feel, creating an effective listicle should be well thought out. To best achieve strategic audience targeting, brand awareness, and establish audience trust, follow the five steps defined below to build an impactful listicle.

  1. Incorporate High-Quality Visual Content

When listicles are about available products, they should encourage audiences to click through to make purchases. Advertisers should prioritize visual assets in their listicles because pictures and graphics are incredibly effective at drawing attention.

Quality visuals also enhance a listicle’s shareability. For example: “10 Best Little Black Dresses” could be a winning listicle before New Year’s Eve because women know many other women are looking for their perfect New Year’s Eve outfits. Audiences targeted effectively, at the right time with the right kinds of lists and engaging visuals, could trigger the shareability that listicles are known for generating.

  1. Determine Listicle Format from Advertising Objective

Listicles are curated lists based on experience, research, quantifiable metrics, or editorial opinions. The list type should match both the advertising objective and the audience’s needs.

For example, suppose a carmaker wants to promote its fuel-efficient vehicles to environmentally conscious consumers. In that case, a listicle of cars with the best gas mileage based on EPA measurements is ideal. Meanwhile, a tax preparation company may want to draw in audiences with experience-based tips on how to get larger tax refunds.

After determining the objective, ensure the created content fulfills promises to readers. Using the carmaker listicle example, if the listicle promises the top ten fuel-efficient vehicles, it must deliver a list of ten fuel-efficient vehicles. If it doesn’t deliver, the listicle will not get shared, and the audience drawn to the listicle could dry up rather quickly.

  1. Select Optimized Keywords for Targeted Searches 

Listicles are often easy to write and read and, therefore, ideal for both short-tail and long-tail keywords. Targeting the right keywords can mean the difference between generating lots of traffic and generating lots of conversions, so research keywords carefully before drafting the listicle. Consider using a tool like Google Trends to discover what people are currently searching for and uncover insights about the search performance of particular keywords. Place your main keyword in key areas of your listicle, like the title and in headings, and be sure to use alt tags for images to increase your search engine optimization.

  1. Create Listicle Content that Appeals to the Target Audience 

A listicle featuring “Tech Gifts To Buy For People Who Don’t Do Tech,” for example, might require more rudimentary explanations and a variety of categories that consider different audience-knowledge levels. Whereas “best running watches” because of the assumed fitness audience can be more thorough and specific.

Regardless of the content style, the language within listicles should be easy to understand and not occupy too much of the reader’s time, even when going deep. Interestingly, audiences prefer odd-numbered lists, considering them more likely to contain legitimate content. Language should also be authoritative, even if listicle content is subjective. Clear, authoritative language can result in a more effective listicle that audiences consider the authority on the particular subject matter.

  1. Set-up an Effective Landing Page for the Listicle to Point to

Consumers are less likely to return to a clunky or unattractive website after a bad experience. Suppose an audience is flocking to a listicle. In that case, the landing page it drives to should be mobile optimized, load quickly, and create as little friction for the consumer as possible, optimizing conversions and engagement at the moment. Make sure that the tone and style of the landing page match the listicle to provide consumers with a cohesive and seamless experience.

Listicles are an effective way to engage audiences and scale conversions. To maximize the impact of a listicle, carefully plan the content, objectives, visuals, and keywords with a defined target audience in mind. Don’t forget to share the listicle across email and social media to help drive clicks and sales.

Acquire Customers Online, and Pay Only for Results with DMS

Digital Media Solutions (DMS) leverages the latest tracking and quality assurance technology, proven conversion-enhancing techniques, and expert, one-on-one support to help advertisers and publishers achieve their advertising and monetization goals. Our CPA-based, adtech-enabled digital media distribution covers diverse digital channels, including email, native, search, display, social media, blogs, forums, consumer reviews, listicles, contextual, mobile, and more. Contact DMS to learn more.

About the author

Amber Paul
Amber Paul

Sr. VP of Distribution, Digital Media Solutions

Amber Paul is the Senior Vice President of Distribution at Digital Media Solutions. Combining an entrepreneurial spirit with a well-versed affiliate marketing background, Amber has established herself as an industry veteran in the digital marketing space. With her dynamic skill set – from marketing strategy development to customer acquisition and branding solutions to B2B marketing – Amber has spent more than a decade matching branded, high-performing offers, delivering quality traffic to elite advertisers, and maximizing ROI for customers and campaigns. She’s delivered consistent results through each role she entered, including Vice President and Partner of AKMG, Inc., GlobalWide Media (acquirer of AKMG), and Union Square Media Group. Amber intelligently distributes marketing campaigns through an expansive network of publishers across multiple online channels while providing the technology, testing, analytics, process, experience and people-power to help brands achieve their campaign goals profitably.


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