Clickbait is not a good marketing tactic, here’s why.

To be a great marketer, you must think like the user.

I have seen it happen a great deal (and I am pretty sure I have done this myself); a marketer gets a great idea, pitches it to the team and runs with the campaign only to realize that while it works for them, it lacks appeal with the populous.

That is because they were not thinking like the user.

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A marketer’s job is to theorize what a user wants and needs, but sometimes that theory is based solely on the outcome or interests of the brand. I have often had to explain to management; it does not matter what you want; it only matters what the client does. It is a hard pill to swallow and can induce feelings of hurt and rejection, but the fact is, it is just business, not personal.

Clickbait is the best example of this. Users hate it!

Ask yourself, how annoying is it to ask a question only to be taken off on a twenty-minute tangent and then never get the response you need? Do you feel like you just wasted valuable time? Would you avoid asking this person in the future? This is what clickbait feels like to a user when they are taken on a clickbait journey that doesn’t provide an answer to the headline question. To be honest, it infuriates me.

Clickbait helps the SEO team show its worth. The number of clicks from clickbait can be impressive. What is the actual conversion rate of these click-based sales? To answer this, you need to know if there is click through.

Clickbait is a complex metric to measure because it is a method to improve SERP rankings and often doesn’t even have a conversion point to measure with. It is a basic understanding among professionals that content placed at the top of the rankings will eventually convert but is the effort worth the outcome?

In this trying time, relying solely on improving rankings and advertising is risky. It may produce quick sales results, but brand loyalty is the only accurate measure of success.

The ultimate goal of marketing is to convert and turn conversions into repeat sales (also known as customer retention). It can only happen when your customers love your brand.

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Clickbait will not achieve this.

  1. Misleading headlines create distrust in the brand.
  2. People have limited time to waste. Clickbait is time-consuming. It is content written to impress Google, not the reader. It is modern-day SEO with good grammar and lots of digital media.
  3. It assumes the user is gullible. You want to educate a user about your brand, not assume they are “dumb”.

There will always be a certain level of clickbait.

Crafting headlines is an actual job that some consider a form of art. As a content writer, one of the most challenging parts of my job is coming up with a great headline to attract readers, but I have a set of standards to follow.

  1. The story needs to match the headline.
  2. If the headline asks a question, I will answer it.
  3. The story needs to help the reader in some way. Inform, persuade or entertain.
  4. I write for the user first and foremost. Yes, it is possible. It took me years of training.
  5. Last but most important, I try to put myself in the user’s shoes and not the shoes of the brand or industry.

I am not the norm in my industry because I often dispel popular money-generating myths. I truly believe that hard work will always yield better returns than quick profit-making SEO strategies that kill brands. Why would I want to propose something to my clients, that I would never do myself and knowing I may potentially lose them in the future to bad advice?

It truly is a question of clickbait. I can tell you what you need to hear, or I can tell you what you want to hear. I am not “that” marketer, and that makes me smile.


Published by Madeline Foster

I am a senior digital marketer, product manager, and consultant but I also like to write about trendy things. My passion has always been writing, my mission is to help the world become a better place through socially responsible social media because I believe that everyone needs a voice.

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