Does Clickbait Work? (The Answer Will Shock You!)

Written on 20 June, 2018 by Julia Hammond
Categories Content

Clickbait is a dirty word in the online marketing world. When we hear it, most of us think ‘fake news stories’ or ‘bad pyramid selling articles on social media’.

You can picture the headline now, right?

She Took This Magic Pill and You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!

Most of us probably will guess what happened next, but we still click the link anyway. And then we spend the next ten minutes of our lives trying to navigate through sparse content, an abundance of ads and deceptive icons designed to make you think you’re clicking the ‘next page’ button.

It’s time-consuming nonsense. Why would anyone want to use clickbait for genuine content marketing?

First of all, not all clickbait is created equal.

While the above example is the absolute worst, there are plenty more out there. All you need to do is take one look at BuzzFeed to discover a wide variety of successful clickbait articles. But, while they work for BuzzFeed, will they work for your business? Read on to find out – you won’t believe what I say next!

Clickbait isn’t new

This may come as a surprise, but clickbait has been around longer than the internet. Of course, it wasn’t always referred to as clickbait, given this was before the days of newsfeeds, smartphones and even of computer mouses.

It was a practice originally used in print media. Eye-catching headlines were created, but the articles were poorly researched, or in some cases were outright lies. In America, it was called yellow journalism; however, the UK and Australia typically refer to it as tabloid journalism. Think back to the celebrity gossip magazines you read at the doctor’s office before you had a smartphone to distract you. The source was always an undisclosed ‘close friend’, just like the supposed unnamed ‘experts’ in clickbait articles today.

While tabloid journalism may not be something to aspire to, the style of reporting was wildly popular and made a lot of sales. How? The catchy headlines, of course!

The best headlines polarise

We have eight seconds (or less) to capture someone’s attention on the internet. You could write the greatest article in the world, but if your headline doesn’t stand out from the rest, no one will ever read it.

In 2014, a research study was conducted on 69,907 headlines produced by four international media outlets. After analysing the sentiment of these headlines (whether the primary emotional response was positive, negative or neutral), they found that those with an extreme sentiment were the most popular.

To put it simply, if you’re worried that your article’s headline might offend someone or cause an extreme reaction, you’re probably on the right track. Think of the times you’ve become outraged at something you’ve read online. According to the study, even if someone feels an intense negative reaction towards a headline, there’s a high likelihood that they will still click on it.

Headline sentiment is a concept closely related to marketing strategies many of us are already familiar with, such as creating customer avatars. If you’re trying to draw the attention of too broad an audience, chances are your content will fall flat.

Alternatively, if you develop a customer avatar, write content for a specific person in mind and create a captivating headline that plays to their emotions, you’re that much closer to getting a conversion.

But how does it work for your business?

I know what you’re thinking. This all sounds great, but it’s not going to suit your business, right? The truth is clickbait can work for any business, you just need to find the right formula for the content you want to produce. Here are a few examples:


People with Credit Card Debt Are in for a Big Surprise

Follow this headline up with a blog about how your finance company helps people with credit card debt manage their money better.


You’ll Never Believe What Was Blocking This Woman’s Drain!

This could be an example of your plumbing company unblocking a customer’s drain, as well as a PSA about things you shouldn’t flush.


9 Fashion Trends Making a Comeback This Winter (#4 is Surprising!)

Lists are an easy way to display your products. Adding the brackets at the end tickles our natural curiosity.


Does Clickbait Work? (The Answer Will Shock You!)

You’re reading this, aren’t you?

Clickbait is a useful tool for capturing your audience’s attention, but when you’re using it for business, there is a little more to it than simply writing a catchy headline.

Content is key

An attention-grabbing title without quality content is the reason why clickbait has been given such a bad reputation. It may get you a lot of clicks, but your bounce rate will be through the roof. You also risk enraging potential customers who won’t trust your brand again.

Instead, if you have useful, informative content on the other end of your link, as well as a great product or service to back up your claim, your clickbait article will not only generate more clicks, but also increase conversions.

Clickbait can be a valuable piece of your content marketing puzzle.

If you’re not sure how to get started, WME provide content marketing services that ‘experts’ say will surprise you! In all seriousness though, there are so many opportunities your business can take advantage of, so don’t hesitate to get in touch on 1300 638 734 or via our contact form.

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