It was a unusual slow morning in my feedly folder for content marketing.
My eyes skimmed headline after headline. For a second, there was a feeling that could be described as a nary flinch from my oft-twitchy index finger that was indicating me that it was itching to click an article and read some more.
Just before I came across this headline:
Double Your Clicks with the Jeopardy Effect?
With both my hands I wiped the flash flood of drool that was dripping from the side of my mouth and clicked the headline.
What triggered me about this headline that made it so f-in irresistible?
A promise that you can not resist
A Mafia don will make you an offers that you cannot refuse. Headline-writing dons make promises that you cannot resist.
With this headline, Don Roger Dooley did exactly the same.
Dooley his audience consists of people like you and me: people who actively study internet marketing strategies and seek every possible way to improve the connection between our articles and our audience.
When you are able to double your clicks, it would certainly show off an much better connection between your message and the desired audience. So when he made that promise in his headline, he is going to turn many headline skimmers into direct headline clickers.
However, the headline does not actually promise you anything
When you look at it from a more technical perspective, I suppose it does not promise you anything. The headline does not come right out and say “Here is Exactly How You Will Double Your Clicks.”
What actually happens it that it poses its “promise” in the form of a question: “Can You Double Your Clicks with …”
The most of what is really being promised here is that we will find out more about this so-called “Jeopardy Effect”.
And the answer if it actually could can very well be … no.
The Jeopardy Effect
So It seems that phrasing your headlines in the form of a question does indeed will increase your click-through rates. In fact it more than doubles them, on average.
The author of the posts cites a study by Norwegian researches Linda Laia and Audun Farbrotb as evidence.
Brian Clark made reference to the seasoned copywriter Bob Bly in making this point before.
A Question Headline must do a lot more than just simply asking a question to the reader, it must be a question that the reader will empathize with or would get the urge to have it answered.
So even though in the example of today: “Can You Double Your Clicks with the Jeopardy Effect?” might seem like it will lessen the strength of the promise that will be made, but what actually happens is that the psychological impact of the self-referential question format (look at how the question is asked) sucks us in and stokes a desire that we want to find out the answer to this.
Pay attention to the part where I slipped in about the headline being self-referential. That is what’s essential.
Question headlines that contain a self-referencing cue are particularly effective and will generate a much higher readership than question headlines without a self-referencing cue and/or rhetorical question headlines.”
Besides, it nails three of the four U’s
When you think that phrasing all of your headlines as a question is some kind of magic potion that you have to take, think again. It is just an excellent headline-writing technique, and the general tenets of a perfect headline must still be present no matter what tactic you will choose.
Let me explain what I just said:
- It has to be ultra-specific — How much can click-through improve? By at least the double. Why would this happen? Because of the Jeopardy Effect.
- It has to be unique — Personally, I never heard of the “Jeopardy Effect” before I came across this article, but I had some kind of idea what it may mean, and my curiosity was piqued by the reference of it.
- It has to be useful — What marketer, blogger, or even just the average Joe would not want to see their incoming clicks doubled?
Granted that it is not entirely urgent (the other U), but it does not need to be.
Urgency and uniqueness are two U’s that do not always have to be present in an very effective headline. Their necessity will eventually depend on the topic itself, the context of the article, and the timing. (But I wish you the best of luck with writing an irresistible headline that isn’t ultra-specific and useful. It is just not possible.,,)
Do NOT Go Question Crazy
Dooley makes a very good point when he states, “Any approach to boosting clicks on tweets, article headlines, etcetera can become less effective if overused.”
So do not change every headline in the form of a question. It is only one of many headline types that will work.
What are your sincere thoughts?
Getting back to the headline that has inspired me to write this post … what do you think about it? Does it work for you?
And do you see yourself placing a lot more questions directly into your headlines from now on?
Let’s discuss below!