This is PART 1 of a multi-part series on Content Headlines and Social Media posting. We are taking some high-level marketing analysis and breaking it down for business owners to understand and implement in their own business.

Let's face reality.

Most of us are not copywriting experts.

But luckily, we are surrounded by up to 5000 ads a day, so if we just look at what most ads look like, we would have a pretty good idea about what good marketing looks and sounds like right?

Well, we would be wrong.

A study conducted by 2 of the largest content marketing companies analyzing over 3.3 million pieces of headline/blog content, tells us that most of the common "marketing headlines" that you see out there, actually REDUCES the number of times people click on your ads or content. And these are posts that we see literally every single day!

You know the types

9 Tips for creating an amazing ______

Why every doctor is using the latest ______

An easy way to get Free ______

So what exactly is wrong with these sorts of headlines?

Aren't these the sort of headlines that all the gurus and experts were telling us would work for the past few years?

Well, to sum up, the whole 28-page analysis, it all comes down to 3 key points:

  1. What works yesterday, might not still work today.
  2. People have a built-in spam filters and can tell when they are being sold to.
  3. Marketing Speak does not build trust.

At one point, these types of blog posts and social media headlines worked, but the internet moves very quickly. As soon as a marketing trend becomes known to be successful by the average business owner, you can be sure that our audiences are already sick of seeing these marketing techniques.

Humans are great at recognizing patterns, and it doesn't take too many clickbait titles for people to catch on that certain types of headlines typically end up being low-quality content, or overly sales-y.

Pay attention to your scrolling habits on Facebook or when reading an article. Notice how many ads you skip over? Chances are there are keywords you just subconsciously know to gloss over.

This means that when we are spending so much of our precious time blogging or writing social media posts… we should pay extra attention to the headline that we don't signal to people that they should just keep scrolling.

So you're probably asking now:
"What are those words I should be avoiding then?" (or maybe you didn't, but isn't this how most marketers segue into things? ) We will go into detail in our next post, but here's a quick sample:

Surprised at all?

Some of these I knew already, but #9 totally blew me away! (okay okay… I think you're starting to get the point about cheesy marketing lines!)

Easy? Free? WHY?

How do words like that get on the naughty list?

It's important to note, that using these words does not automatically mean that they will perform poorly, just that the deck is stacked against them, and you need to ensure you have a good reason to use them. Otherwise, you are just turning away customers.

Think about WHO is consuming the content.

The number problem with humanity, no matter the subject, is that we have a strong tendency to think of the world from our own perspective. It's actually quite hard to consistently put ourselves in other people's shoes.

But when it comes to marketing, this is absolutely essential to get this right:

To create content that 100% benefits the viewer.

This means that you have to understand VERY clearly who your customers are, and WHAT exactly is motivating them to be spending their limited time online and on your content.

Yes, you have an amazing product that they need or want.

But maybe they are not ready to buy yet.

Maybe right now they just want to learn about a subject, without feeling the ulterior motive of a sales attack about to hit them at any moment. (So… this might be a bad time for me to ask you to join our marketing newsletter…. but hopefully, a little self-aware humour makes that pitch a little easier to swallow!)

This gets to the heart of what makes a headline turn people off. That collectively we all have clicked on too many articles and been let down that the headline did not deliver on its promise.

Bad headlines happen when marketing gets in the way of a good piece of content.

Is it really such a big deal?

In short: YES.

In fact, I can prove that even if this entire study is wrong, that it's still a bad idea to use common marketing language or clickbait to promote your content.

Think about this:

Everything we consume online goes through some sort of analytics or filter. (cue dystopian future music). Google and Facebook don't make their money from advertisers. They actually make their money by ensuring that you are consuming content on their platform.

This means that even if your clickbait-y headlines work, Google and Facebook are going to know about it. When they notice that people clicking on your really catchy/clickbait-y headlines aren't impressed with what they see on the other side… what do you think is going to happen?


Your content is going to get buried.

The Philosophy of Good Marketing

In this article and the rest of the posts in the series, we are going to talk a lot about TACTICS. Types of words and headlines to get better engagement.

But Tactics change by the day in marketing.

So it's my hope that in this series of articles, that you don't just take away the TACTIC that will inevitably change, but the PHILOSOPHY behind it:

That the secret to good marketing is to always be creating content that provides good value, accurately represents itself, and delivers on its promise.

In Part 2, we will go over the types of posts and headlines that are destroying your engagement, and your credibility.

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