Attention Marketers – Create Lists (it’s Science!)

Modern marketers realize that personalization is key. The proliferation of technology and devices has led to a data deluge, and the result is empowered consumers with heightened expectations for being communicated to how they prefer, when they prefer, and about what they are actually interested in.

It’s also no mystery that lists are everywhere online. Buzzfeed immediately comes to mind, but the list frenzy is influencing many aspects of content marketing. I believe lists have become the gold standard for succinctly relaying information about your product in a world where consumers have difficulty processing the hundreds (a conservative estimate) of advertising messages they see each day.

I love lists myself, and gravitate towards such content. Of course I want to read about “20 Amazing New Restaurants Coming to Philly” but will likely pass on a detailed restaurant critic’s review. I’m busy, so the quicker I can digest information, the more appealing it becomes. The higher my perception that something will be fast to finish, the greater likelihood I will click or start to read it.

So to practice what I preach, below are my top three attempts to convince you why you should leverage lists first and foremost in your marketing efforts.

  1. An article in The New Yorker set out to provide “A List of Reasons Why Our Brains Love Lists,” using science to make the case. The conclusion is that our brains are drawn to lists because they enable us to process facts more efficiently and retain the information with minimal effort. Although we may not dig as deep into a subject, we feel more confident that we know the time and mental effort required prior to reading the first word.
  2. In pharma advertising when the call to action typically comes down to “ask your doctor,” we want to expose consumers to treatment options which could improve their quality of life while making it easy to remember and talk about at a doctor appointment. Why not learn from the over 80 million unique users in the U.S. who visit Buzzfeed in a month (according to Quantcast), and communicate using lists? Content presented in list form doesn’t just have to be about pop culture references from the 1990s, lists can be used for important health information too.
  3. Digital marketing is highly conducive to testing. We can swap subject lines, mix creative headlines and analyze onsite behavior to gain fast insights into what resonates most with users. We recently tested over 20 headlines in a native advertising campaign with a client and found the top three highest click through rates all began as follows:
    • 5 Tips to Help…
    • 5 Facts to Manage…
    • 5 Must-Know Facts About Managing Your…

Lists don’t have to be gimmicky – it’s just that they often are. Thus we have a tendency to associate lists with topics lacking true substance. But as marketers we shouldn’t shy away from a format users clearly desire, even if health and wellness information is serious subject matter. If you want to catch attention quickly, relay information concisely and have it sink in with patients to become actionable – embrace the list.

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