Clickbait Subject Lines: You Won’t Believe the Results

“Email on the Move” by rawpixel on Unsplash

Clickbait is a pejorative term for a headline-writing technique that online publishers have been using for years to drive traffic to websites, more often than not featuring paper-thin content, in the hope of driving advertising impressions and revenues.

You only need to click on a clickbait-type headline a couple of times to realize you’ve been duped — like a fish finding itself on a hook after biting down on a juicy worm.

The thing about clickbait is that it nearly always leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The content is rarely as sensational, awe-inspiring or informative as the headline promises, and quite often, it simply wastes your time.

Note: As an ex-newspaperman, I’m constantly perplexed as to why any editor would allow their “quality” content to be sullied by clickbait-style advertising partnerships (see below). In an age when ad-blocking software robs publishers of much-needed revenue, I guess many are just desperate for the cash they generate, although I cannot help but feel it’s a rather short-term plan for a very uncertain future.

Not All Traffic Is Good Traffic

The basic premise of clickbait is that all traffic is good traffic. This doesn’t work in the world of email marketing, where long-term relationships are far more valuable than quick wins.

For an email marketing subject line to drive real success, it has to tell the subscriber absolutely everything about the email they are about to open. It’s actually very similar to a good old-fashioned (honest) newspaper headline, which tells the full story and encourages the reader to pick up a newspaper and carry on reading.

I doubt very much that you would pick up a newspaper again if its headlines had little connection to the articles or were just a front for ill-targeted advertising. It’s exactly the same with email.

The moment an email subject line tricks or misinforms a subscriber to open an email is the moment you lose that subscriber’s engagement forever. They will either unsubscribe or (worse still) never open another email from you again.

In the perfect world, your subscribers will never receive an untargeted message. However, as we don’t live in a perfect world, I would rather a subscriber not open the occasional email because the subject didn’t quite pique their interest than waste their time on misleading and highly frustrating content.

Instead of attempting to hoodwink your subscribers into opening your emails, wouldn’t it be better to just give them what they want?

This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Marketing Strategist, Author of #BecomingTHEExpert, Content Marketing Trainer, and Cyclist. Check out my author profile:

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