I’m a huge fan of the Glove and Boots blog.
There are very few sites on the web that I actively visit to check for updates, but Glove and Boots is one of them.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll remember I first featured them in my 15 other things to do if you don’t get Buzzfeed article.
Reason I’m writing about them today is that in their latest video, they very wisely point out that if you overload your headlines with hyperbolic and misleading claims – otherwise known online as ‘clickbaiting’ – you will eventually lose credibility with your audience.
That’s one of the reasons I love the blog so much: aside from catering to my love of Jim Henson-esque puppetry, the guys behind the blog are obviously clued-up on all things internet marketing. Check out their previous blogs and you’ll see what I mean.
But hang on…
You should watch their clickbaiting video here:
If you do nothing else today: bookmark their blog.
Obviously, it’s a lot of fun… but there is actually a serious marketing lesson to be learned here, especially by copywriters.
As Fafa points out, if you overload your headlines (or subject lines) with too much hyperbole and don’t pay off in the content itself, you’re going to create a sense of distrust between you and your reader.
This is bad.
Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt to write engaging and attention-grabbing headlines… you definitely should.
But using cheap proclamation tactics like “the best thing you’ll ever see…” or “the most profitable way to…” will only cause a negative response unless it’s really true. Which, let’s face it, isn’t likely to be the case if you’re resorting to such lazy headlines.
Indeed, an email landed in my inbox just yesterday inviting me to “the UK’s most popular 2-hour seminar on forex”. Totally unquantifiable, of course. Utterly impersonal. And ultimately, just bad copy.
There are many ways to cause intrigue and excitement in a headline, without having to use hyperbole.
Looking through the most popular subject lines from the All Good Copy email, you can see that a successful headline doesn’t need to blow smoke.
Here’s the top three this year (all performing more than 20% above the industry average):
“Back from my travels with a brand new free guide” – I was surprised by this as it’s very literal and a bit boring. But perhaps it ranks highly for that very reason. It offers something free that is then provided in the content and has intrigue because you wonder where my travels have taken me and what the free guide could be. No nonsense here, it’s just simple and relevant.
“Say hello to a more imaginative salutation in your copy” – Again, nothing really promised here and certainly no hyperbole or emotional manipulation – just a soft play on the word ‘salutation’. Indeed, the piece was all about salutations in copywriting and by focusing on the content, the headline paid off as an effective one.
“Did this hard-working piece of copy really kill JFK?” – Now, this is veering towards clickbait. But I think it redeems itself by referencing the content too. If the subject line had been “Proof who killed JFK” anyone who opened the email expecting to see the president’s shooting from different angle would have been bitterly disappointed to find an article about ‘eyebrows’ in direct response copy. Instead, what this subject line does is take the intrigue of a clickbait headline but makes it relevant to the content.
So, you can see that not only is it OK to avoid hyperbole and misleading proclamations in your headlines, if you signal your content appropriately, you can still enjoy the benefit of intrigue that a clickbait type headline would generate, without upsetting your reader and losing trust.
What do you think?
Have you come across any unscrupulous clickbait headlines recently where the content then disappointed you?
Share your thoughts below.