Here’s how to make headlines for the right reasons
‘Clickbait’ is a bit of a dirty word in marketing. If you don’t already know, it refers to the kind of content and links you see which are designed to make you want to click on them. It doesn’t matter what the content itself is like; the idea is just to stack up as many interactions as possible.
Some examples of clickbait include:
- I spent £50 and made £50,000. Here’s how!
- The one mistake everyone makes that is stopping you succeeding
- She’s 85 but looks 35. What’s her secret?
- 25 celebrities you never knew were lizards in disguise!
You get the idea. Clickbait articles are typically full of ads and require you to click several times to read through the whole post, which rarely lives up to the excitement of its title. These articles are all style and no substance, but they do work when it comes to baiting the reader.
However, don’t feel like you need to resort to these underhand tactics in order to engage your audience. Here are five ways to promote clicks without using clickbait.
Make the benefits obvious
Too much content focuses on the author rather than the reader. Clickbait is guilty of this, talking about the amazing things which have supposedly happened to other people. Instead, use your content to focus on your audience, not on yourself.
By doing this, you can instantly show off the benefits of reading your content. An article titled ‘6 ways to grow your small business using technology’ is specific and clear in its subject matter and phrasing, giving readers a genuine reason to click and read on.
Be clear as well as catchy
Clickbait article titles are designed to be catchy, but there isn’t much more to them. Vague, emotion-driven phrases might work to pique interest, but they don’t offer much in the way of substance, and overusing them will eventually lead to a loss of trust from your audience.
So instead of using vague phrases like “harness the power of digitalisation”, opt instead for more specific and grounded wording like “invest in the right technology to enhance key aspects of your business”. By being more realistic, it instantly becomes a lot clearer what you’re actually offering with your content.
Ask a question
Questions are a great, genuine way to attract attention. They can either spark a discussion or offer an answer.
For the former, take this example:
- Do you set office hours when you work from home?
When you read a question like that, your brain immediately kicks into gear to answer it for yourself. Then you start wondering how your view compares to others, and already people are engaged.
On the other hand, question titles can look like this:
- Can you write a catchy one-liner that clearly explains your business?
This kind of title introduces a possibility which the reader may not have ever thought about before. But as soon as they read it, they’re questioning whether they can do it or not. Plus, by asking the question you’re also promising to help them achieve the skill.
Make a list
Numbers instantly make a headline more attractive, because readers know exactly what they’re getting into. The difference between ‘How to…’ and ‘5 ways to…’ is the same as entering the doctor’s waiting room and being told to just wait, or being told you’ll be seen in 15 minutes. It’s nice to have some certainty.
A listicle gives readers the freedom to read as much or as little of the content as they like. It sets expectations which get rid of any uncertainty, and that instantly makes your content more palatable.
It’s no coincidence we chose a number format for this article!