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Why listicles deserve a spot in your finance content mix

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It's all in the numbers

Think listicles have had their day? Not so fast. BuzzFeed, whose content attracts 108 billion views per year, lives and breathes them. ListVerse, a website comprised entirely of lists, enjoys the company of 8 million readers per month. And the second most-read New York Times article of 2019 was ‘The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now’.

Besides, listicles have been around for more than 100 years. According to this Northeastern University study, the most popular articles in 19th-century newspapers were listicles — and they ‘went viral’ via reprinting.

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Regardless of their success, listicles often cop a bad wrap. ‘Listicles and clickbait are killing real journalism,’ writes journalist Sean Dodson on The Conversation.

So, where does that leave financial services content marketers? Despite the valid concerns of journalists, listicles are a handy tool, especially in the world of finance — where customers fear content that’s dry, technical and hard to understand. 

 

Despite the valid concerns of journalists, listicles are a handy tool, especially in the world of finance — where customers fear content that’s dry, technical and hard to understand.

 

Listicles let you break down complex information into bite-sized portions, which empowers readers, instead of alienating them. Here’s how to listicle right.

1. Think outside the box

The Internet is already flooded with generic financial services content listicles with titles like ’10 ways to save money’. Trying to compete with yet more predictable content doesn’t make sense. 

To ensure your listicles cut through, you need to think out of the box. Take inspiration from the blog of American personal finance company NerdWallet, which attracts more than 11 million readers per month via organic traffic and is worth more than $US520 million. Recent star performers include ‘8 African American financial gurus to follow in 2020’, which inspired more than 1,000 reactions and more than 750 shares on Facebook.

2. Research and go deep

Listicles are often accused of dumbing down knowledge. But, writing with clarity and for ease of reading isn’t about pursuing the lowest common denominator. It’s about connecting in a helpful, meaningful way. After all, Ernest Hemingway’s most quoted advice is, ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know’. 

One bank getting the balance right in financial services content marketing is Europe’s Santander, with its ‘Prosper and Thrive’ content hub. For example, Sean Williams’s ‘10 credit tips from someone with a perfect credit score’, makes for thought-provoking but fluent reading — thanks to a mix of research, detailed advice, and firsthand experiences. 

3. Make financial action easy

According to this Bankrate survey, the average American stuck with their primary checking account for all 16 years between 2001 and 2017. Why? For 14%, the answer’s easy — changing looks like too much of a hassle.

This is where financial services content marketing and the listicle have a beautiful symbiosis: both aim to make things easier. Athena Home Loans, an Australian mortgage disrupter that wrote more than $500 million in home loans within a year of launching in May 2018 capitalises on this, with listicles like, ‘Hacks for how to pay off your home loan faster’ and ‘Five simple renovations to add value to your property’. 

4. Embrace the lifestyle listicle

Financial services content marketing isn’t just about directly spruiking products and services. It’s also about getting people to think differently — about their relationship with money and what it can do for them. 

That’s where lifestyle listicles go great guns. (As long as you don’t go too lifestyle, that is). American financial services company Chase hits the mark with its inspiring travel pieces, like ‘5 amazing travel routes for your next road trip’ and ‘5 easy (and affordable!) day trips to take right now’. Then there are the Chase Sapphire Six travel guides, which cover six must-visit spots in major destinations, like Toronto and New York City, based on data from Sapphire Reserve card members.  

They may seem simple on the surface but listicles offer far more value than initially meets the eye. From listicles to podcasts, infographics, videos, short and long-form editorial content, research and whitepapers — we specialise in content creation of every kind for finance brands. 

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The Dubs is the content marketing agency for the financial sector. Get in touch.

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Jasmine Crittenden
Jasmine Crittenden has written extensively for major finance brands including Westpac, BT Financial Group, Suncorp and Aberdeen Standard Investments – across both digital and print. She’s an expert in content that puts the human element in finance marketing, be it connecting with local communities, inspiring millennials to care about super or clarifying the complexities of personal loans.