Although widely attributed to online media, this type of content has been around since the dawn of print journalism. In the 19th century, when newspapers were fighting for circulation numbers, they found the best way to attract new visitors was using catchy headlines to entice readers.
Here’s an example from a 1913 version of New York World, a newspaper run by the infamous Joseph Pulitzer. As you can see, every headline is attention-grabbing, emotional, and aimed at hooking a read at first glance.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and catchy newspaper headlines have transformed into catchy blog titles.
It’s also important to avoid misleading clickbait on your website, as it can damage trust in your brand.
Ultimately, success comes down to two things:
Write compelling, honest, engaging headlines.
Don’t disappoint your readers once they click on them.
Tips to Use Clickbait in Your Content Marketing Strategy
Now that you know how to use clickbait ethically, it’s time to implement these strategies into your content marketing.
Here’s how to get started:
Utilize the curiosity gap, but don’t exploit it. Avoid sensationalist material and inaccurate claims.
Deliver on any promises you make. Your audience expects the information you promise to them. If they consistently feel they can’t trust your claims, they won’t continue interacting with your brand.
Be honest with your readers and avoid misinformation. Be a beacon of honesty. According to Edleman, 53 percent of consumers need to trust brands they purchase from. If you remain truthful with your viewers, you’ll have a better chance of converting them.
Use numbers in your headlines. Numbers represent actionable steps users can use to reach their goals. Numbered lists also improve scanability and make it easier for readers to digest content.
Pay attention to your data. When using clickbait headlines, measure them against other headlines and see which perform better. Like anything in marketing, the numbers don’t lie. There’s no point investing in a tactic if it doesn’t work for your audience.
Write for more than clicks. A headline is just the beginning. What really matters is the quality of your content as a whole. While a witty headline may bring them to your page, your content will make them stay—so don’t neglect the rest.
Examples of Great Clickbait Strategies
Now that you know what not to do, let’s take a look at some clickbait strategies done right.
When Shopify and Google teamed up to promote Shopify Premium plans, they knew the best way to get people interested was to offer them something in return.
By using numbers, Blocks displays the high worth of its product, public trust in the campaign, and scarcity.
Not only will users who read this headline trust a large community supports Blocks, but they will also feel motivated to act immediately before the campaign ends.
Another great example of clickbait in ads comes from One Smart Penny, a financial advice blog.
In their ad, they use the curiosity gap, by alluding to a secret you’ll only find out if you read the blog. They also leverage the power of celebrity with a feature by Barbara Corcoran, which brings an element of social proof to the ad.
How to Create a Clickbait Headline
Ready to start writing your own? Follow these steps to write a great headline that drives clicks.
1. Use Google Alerts to Find Out What’s Trending
Leveraging popular trends and news is a great way to engage your users.
By setting up Google Alerts for trending or viral topics, you can stay ahead of your competition and be the first to break the news to your audience.
Pair your trending headlines with relevant keywords to boost your SEO.
You can offer physical value through discounts, free products, consultation services, and more. Or, you can offer something less tangible, such as a secret or an industry trick.
When using this clickbait strategy, be sure to follow through with your promise in your post.
No one wants a misleading headline, and if you don’t seem trustworthy, you’ll lose your audience’s attention.
4. Use a Teaser
One of the best clickbait strategies is to use a teaser in your headline.
By suggesting the reader will find something they don’t already know in your post, you’re leveraging the curiosity gap and creating immediate engagement.
A teaser can be a number of things, from “The X things you wish you knew…” or, “You’ll never guess what ____ did in Paris”.
As we said before, be sure to follow through with your teaser in the body of your post to avoid annoying your audience.
Is clickbait good or bad?
Neither. It is a powerful marketing strategy if used correctly. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging clicks on your post, as long as you’re offering value to your audience that goes beyond the headline.
What is the goal of clickbait?
The goal is to grab a user’s attention and encourage clicks on your content.
Does clickbait still work?
Yes, though it is different now. Because of the prevalence of misinformation online, many entities now have regulations in place to discourage misuse of clickbait headlines. Yet there are still ethical and productive ways to use this tactic.
How does clickbait affect us?
It works in our curiosity gap and piques our interest in topics or news.