With the surge in popularity of content marketing, every business owner and marketer today should create content and tell stories. Whether your content is text, audio, or visual, you want to attract more eye-balls by making your headline irresistible, right? After all, according to Brian Clark of CopyBlogger, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
There’re certainly a lot of benefits to posts with great titles. Not only more people get to read the post, they enjoy a higher click-through rate (CTR) and more social activity, which can positively influence your search rankings. If you ever pay attention to the magazines at your grocery store’s checkout, you’ll see that many of the titles include lists, have something intriguing or surprising, all of which is designed to make you want to buy it. In case of online content, our goal would be clicks, growing audience, and getting some kind of conversion from the reader (e.g., as little as getting their email address to placing an order).
With the clear benefits of catchy headlines, it’s a no-brainer to start using the techniques to make your titles amazing, right? As long as you don’t forget that correlation is not a causation.
As an example, let’s look at the Harvard Business Review’s most popular posts. Six out of 11 are lists. Correlation? Maybe. Causation? Definitely not. List-type posts don’t guarantee that your post will become popular, but given that your content rocks (this is prerequisite!), they might have a better chance.
Our End Goal is Audience’s Commitment
Christopher Penn has recently wrote a post: The Next Big Thing in Digital Marketing. In the post, Christopher writes that we, marketers, should strive not only to become influential (a measure based on the popularity), but to also earn your audiences’ commitment. He writes, “we’d rather have money in the bank rather than exposure.”
I couldn’t agree with this more.
Great titles chase the eye-balls and get more exposure, but my fear is that more and more marketers will abuse this technique. We are not in this profession to become sensationalists — going for the content people can’t resist clicking, but providing very little value inside (we’d lose trust fast!). We’re in marketing for the long haul, to attract and KEEP the audience for years to come, inspiring more brand ambassadors. It’s easier to market when you have engaged audience who’ll consume your content because YOU have published it, not because of the catchy title. Just look at Seth Godin’s posts: they don’t have catchy titles, they aren’t optimized for search, but they GET READ. We’re here for the long haul.
P.S. Just like J.D. Roth made a clever play on “get rich fast” schemes when he created GetRichSlowly.org, I encourage you focus on quality, your audience’s needs, and build your audience slowly!