Clickbait strategy is not completely new. Many a marketer have tried to mislead their audience into buying their products and services.
Clickbaits remind me of scam ads that promise you quick weight loss while sitting on your ass.
You must have come across quite a few of the following type of blog post headlines:
- Life Insurance Companies Hate This New Trick
- How this One Man Started a Company From His Washroom
- Your Perception of Life Will Completely Change After Watching this Video
These are annoying headlines, aren’t they? They confuse you more than they tell you about what’s really in store for you. They are ambiguous and just meant to make you become really curious and click.
Some are just downright hilarious:
- 33 Heartbreaking Photos That Were Taken Just Before Death
Before coming to the conclusion on whether clickbait is a bad tactic, let’s first understand the purpose of content marketing.
As content marketers, we are out there building an audience for our business. Fake traffic will never lead to business, a loyal audience surely will.
We produce informative pieces that help us get to build an audience – a set of true fans and followers.
We are not creating content for people to click on it and find that it does not provide as much value as promised.
That’s exactly what clickbait tries to do and that’s why it’s such a hoax.
Remember, you are using content marketing to build trust, not to break it. It’s essential to write headlines that build curiosity and break the clutter while ensuring they are genuine.
Many publishers get carried away and use clickbait to get some quick traffic to their website. At the end of the day, you don’t want people to click just out of nosiness. You want your audience to enjoy reading your content.
The idea should be to make your audience fall in love with your content and not just be interested in a creepy headline.
While black hat SEO tried fooling the search engines, clickbait tries to fool the audience.
Ironically, both have had their share of initial success.
In the long run, clickbait reduces the credibility of your content and your business. Clickbait works as a cheap psychological trick to grab audience attention.
As a business owner and as a content producer it will never pay you to promise something that you are not providing.
You need to build a brand for your content as well as your services. It’s not a good idea to produce content that looks more like a scam – something that spoils the reputation of your business. Traffic is not your sole concern while doing content marketing, it’s the results that you get from the traffic that’s more important. The ultimate goal of traffic is to get you more sales. Therefore, you should be looking for sustainable site traffic that can be converted into long-term revenue.
Content marketing helps you to build a connection with your target audience. It is a long term strategy to enable you to help your audience, and therefore build a reputation.
If your content is not up to the mark, the number of clicks don’t matter.
The audience is smart enough to understand that they need not fall into the clickbait trap.
Grabbing audience’ attention has been and will always be a challenge. It’s a delicate balance that you have to create, between headlines that grab attention, excite and those that simply misrepresent information. As a content marketer, you need not be desperate for leads, as long as you are creating content that your audience wants to consume.
You must treat them with respect and know that they are intelligent enough to understand the difference between a good headline and a clickbait. It’s not like you cannot exaggerate in your headlines or make them a little quirky but you must not go overboard. There is no clear definition here. You just have to understand that you have to promise and represent what’s in there.
Your audience is no traffic machine. If you treat them as humans, they will respect and trust your business.
Another reason why you should not resort to such tactics is that Facebook has now banned clickbait content. The social network recently announced that it’s going to take action to suppress fake news and content.
What’s the Difference Between a Good Headline and a Clickbait one?
A good headline will usually attract the relevant clicks and sessions with a high duration. To write good headlines you need to:
- Craft creative and compelling headlines that drive attention. Make sure they are honest.
- Not make your headline sound like a call-to-action button.
- Not make false promises or include facts which are not true.
Here are some examples of good, creative blog post headlines:
- How to Talk to Your Angriest Customers (Help Scout)
- Why Strong Customer Relationships Trump Powerful Brands (Harvard Business Review)
What Else Should Should You Be Careful About?
- Avoid the overdose of ‘building up curiosity’ in your headlines.
- Always ask yourself whether your content will fulfil the expectations created by your headline.
- Explore interesting stuff about the subject you are talking about and create a piece that’s gratifying to your audience.
- Don’t look for short term solutions for your content marketing woes.
- Understand your audience and create a long term strategy that works for your business.
Here is an interesting video that showcases of some of the best blog post headline examples: