Clickbait, Does it Work?

We all know and we all hate it, the Buzzfeed format, or the click-bait headlines, designed to draw you in with sensationalist titles, but often leave people with a bad taste in their mouths. We all hate the click bait titles, and we all know it’s click bait and yet every time we see it we still fall for it (yes Buzzfeed I do want to know what type of fruit I am), so why is that the case? And how effective is click-bait?

For those who don’t know, click-bait is as it sounds, headlines that bait people into clicking on their links to their articles, video images or blogs.  Wordstream defines these common characteristics within click-bait:

  • An eye-catching and compelling headline
  • Easily skimmable
  • Funny or memorable images/video
  • Humorous tone, or appeals to people’s emotions
  • Intended to encourage social sharing

Click-bait is great and spreading brand awareness and making sure that people click our links to our websites. But if click-bait is eye-catching and does exactly the job we want it to do, why do we hate and disregard click-bait?

Example of bad clickbait

More often than not, the titles are seen as irrelevant or exaggerated to the actual article or video attached, or they’re regarded as low effort. These are legitimate concerns, when the headline causes people to expect one thing but are instead another, it’ll cause them leave the page and become disillusioned to the website hosting the article or video. And that’s the exact opposite of what we want.

Rather than focusing on getting as much exposure as possible we should be aiming for meaningful relationships with consumers and engaging content. So they stay on our pages and that our product or service is relevant to their needs and wants. After all these people may click to the website, but if they don’t end up staying then was there any point of the the click at all?

Additionally, click-bait is getting old, we all recognise click-bait now and often actively avoid it. We now know that click-bait is well bait and the content isn’t as meaningful as we expect to be leading to people avoiding the article or webpage. This is harmful in multiple ways. Websites might have meaningful content, but their sensationalism titles drive people away from their website as we’re all sick of it and actively avoid it. Or people disregard the content as truthful or factual due to the nature of it’s title.

Be that as it may, here’s some interesting data on the statistics of click-bait.

While click-bait is generally regarded as bad, we can learn a lot from it.

  1. We should make sure our headlines and content are connected and relevant to one another.
  2. Headings can be used to invoke a response that can attract customers attentions.
  3. Clicks aren’t everything, you can get a lot of clicks from click-bait but if the content isn’t interesting consumers can be easily turned off.
  4. Content should be meaningful as to keep customers interested for longer after they have made the initial click.

All this leads back to content marketing, make content that is engaging and relevant to consumers to keep their attention. If the content we have isn’t meaningful, then people can easily be turned off and go to competitor instead.

Here’s a great article by Nicole Dieker from Unbounce that concisely details how to generate clicks without using click-bait.

So should we be using click-bait? Yes and no.
We should be making our headlines attractive to our viewers to increase brand awareness, visibility and clicks. But at the end of the day we need to make sure that our headings are relevant to what we’re selling or promoting, otherwise, it can turn away our potential customers.

So is there a tasteful way to use click-bait? Or should we just completely disregard click-bait?

Btw for everyone who was wondering, I am an orange.

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 3.48.29 PM

Leave a comment below, would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Clickbait, Does it Work?

    • Exactly, click-bait wouldn’t be so bad if the headlines were relevant to the content. Click-bait is just causing distrust between consumers and brands, and it’s so hard for brands to maintain customer loyalty as opposed to the past that click-bait is pretty much only harming the brands themselves now.

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  1. Clickbait titles often don’t always say upfront what the article actually is about, especially when it’s about something mundane or if the information is skewed to target a specific group. It’s a far more effective tactic for generating hits and discussion than a direct summary of the content.

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    • Yeah it’s definitely increasing in clicks for brands but if the content isn’t what they want or even mildly interesting what’s stopping consumers from just leaving the page?

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    • Same! Now that we as consumers are much more aware of click-bait it’s clear it’s not working as well anymore and marketers need to find new ways of drawing in attention of consumers.

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