Comparative Analysis of 3 Companies Reveals the “List Post” Works

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Upland Admin


Science Daily reports that a full 90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years, and advancements in mobile technology and self publishing tools continue to accelerate. Using this as a barometer for the information deluge of the next few years, you’d better buy an umbrella—it’s about to storm. 

Comparative Analysis of 3 Companies Reveals the “List Post” Works by @jeanwrites

To stand out from this content chaos, marketers and publishers invest hours into strategy and research to produce content that doesn’t inundate the consumer, but connects with them.

So the list post was born.

For some purposes, the list post works well. It succinctly communicates messages in an easily digestible and often practical medium. Busy readers, who tend to scan web copy, get a fairly good gist of what the post is about—as quickly as 1,2,3, and so on.

But despite its increasing popularity, many people—myself included—hate the list post.

Andy Crestodina, strategic director for Orbit Media who has provided web strategy advice to more than 1,000 businesses, describes the list post as “an enduring source of horrible content around the web.”

Content marketers talking in one of LinkedIn’s most respected groups of marketers) openly opine dissatisfaction. They complain that list posts:

  1. Lead to reader’s “list post fatigue.”
  2. Lack in quality of information or original research
  3. And can insult reader intellect.

But despite the feeling that list posts insult our intellect, they continue to perform exceptionally well for user engagement, social sharing, lead generation, and other key performance indicators B2B marketers use to assess the quality of their content. 

Data Confirms the List Post Is Powerful

A Kapost comparative analysis of three online blogging juggernauts (Kapost, Content Marketing Institute, and Moz) reveals 30% of the top 25 posts shared on social media are list posts with a number in the headline. More importantly, of the top 5 performing blog posts on social, 53% are list posts.

53% of the top performing blog posts on social are list posts.

Furthermore, in a deeper look at each company’s top five posts, of the 47% without a listed number in the headline almost all have a list-like quality if you read the article.

Separately, BufferApp research shows that not only are numbers in list posts more effective for organic traffic, but also tend to increase your social sharing or “going-viral” chances. Numbers take up a small amount of character space, and thus are easy to share socially.

Top 5 Socially Shared Posts from December 2013 to June 2014 (List Posts in Red)

  • CMI: 3 out of 5
  • Kapost: 3 out of 5
  • Moz: 2 out of 5
13 SlideShare Masters Share Their Secrets 1206
Why a “Challenger Sale” Sales Team Needs Content Marketing 427
Masters of SlideShare 365
25 Bay Area Marketers You Should Follow 363
32 Texas Marketers You Should Follow 340


6 Process Resources for Measuring B2B Content Marketing Performance 8388
How to Use Data to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy 4588
How to Audit Your Website Content for SEO 2946
57-Point Blog Marketing Checklist 2908
10 Ways to Inspire Your Inner Content Creator 2396


10 Smart Tips to Leverage Google+ for Increased Web Traffic 6706
12 Ways to Increase Traffic From Google Without Building Links 5824
New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool 5503
The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read 5305
Announcing the Brand New Beginner’s Guide to Social Media 5286

Lesson Learned

I hate to admit it, believe me. But the list post has value in today’s consumer habitat. Though it goes against all my atomic composition, the evidence is too concrete to ignore. The list post is one of the best conduits for messaging.

Really, I probably should have written this in a list format.

So next time you’re writing a blog post, try thinking of “7 Unique Ways” the post can be transformed into a list or “3 Bullet Points About Your Topic.” It might just result in more traffic, increased social engagement, and eventually more leads for your business.

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