Your headline is worth 90% of your effort.
And there’s one type that seems to outperform all others…
- I groan when I see it pop up in my newsfeed or inbox (but I click on it anyway).
- I dislike using it myself because it seems so cookie cutter (but when I do I see a genuine uptick in readership).
- Its name reminds me of an annoying popsicle (but it’s memorable just the same)
David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising, said that a headline is worth 90% of your advertising dollar. These days, its also worth 90% of your time and writing efforts.
And the kind of headline I’m talking about is called a ‘listicle’ headline. It has a number and is attached to a ‘list’ format article.
And love them or hate them, they convert like crazy.
Before Buzzfeed made it famous, this kind of writing has been around for a long long time.
In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2009, Umberto Eco said: “The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists.”
Research in The Journal of Consumer Research, The Top-Ten Effect: Consumers’ Subjective Categorization of Ranked Lists found:
“The top-ten effect that we demonstrate in these studies is based on the mental tendencies to use categories and to exaggerate the differences between them. These tendencies are part of the natural human readiness to perceive the world in terms of discrete things.”
“According to their research, the human brain can more easily chunk numerical lists that end in zero such as 10, 20, or 30.”
But, Gilad Lotan’s article in Medium, he’s the Head of Data Science at Buzzfeed, suggests otherwise.
Yes, his research has turned up that the most popular published listicles use the length of 10, followed by 15 and the 12.
But the audience research data turned up a surprising result.
The lists that use 29 are by far and away the most read. Examples include… 29 Most Important Life Lessons from Teachers and my personal fave, 29 Ridiculously Amazing Pieces of Floral Furniture.
So, here are some ideas to get you going (substitute the #29 and fill in the blanks):
- 6 Ways To Bulletproof ______
- 3 Common Mistakes ______ Make When ______
- 7 ______ You Won’t Believe About ______
- 5 ______ That Are Borderline Genius
- 5 Tricks You Need To Know Before Attempting ______
- 4 Proven Tips For ______
- 8 Facts You Won’t Believe About ______
- 101 Simple Tricks To ______
- 7 Mistakes People Make When ______
- 5 Simple ______You Can Do At Home
- 2 Secrets For Doing ______
- 2 Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring a ______
- 4 Questions You Need To Ask When ______
- 8 Skills Every ______ Should Know About ______
- 9 Truths About ______
- 5 Tricks Pro ______ Use To Get ______
- 5 Secrets For Achieving ______ Without Having To ______
- 3 Reasons Why ______ Don’t Use ______
- 6 Tricks To Free Yourself From ______
- 5 Tricks Pro ______ Use To Achieve ______
- 3 Hacks To Guarantee You Always ______
- How To Finally ______ In 5 Easy Steps
- 5 Hacks To Guarantee You Never Have To ______
- 4 Steps To Shortcut Your Way To ______
- 6 Tricks Pro ______ Use To Get ______
- 10 Tricks Pro ______ Use To Avoid ______
- 5 Simple Tricks Used By ______ To ______
- 10 Ways To Give yourself An Immediate Boost Before ______
- 7 Ways To Give yourself An Immediate Boost When ______
- 4 Ways To Give yourself An Immediate Boost After ______
- 3 Struggles ______ Have When ______ And What To Do About It
- 10 Unwritten ______ Rules You Need To Follow When ______
- 5 Cool Things You Can Do With ______
- 4 Simple ______ Solutions For ______
- 6 Fastest Ways To ______
- 5 Most Incredible Facts About ______
- 7 Best Places To Go When ______
- 6 Things To Do Before ______
- 3 Ways To Know When You’ve ______
- 5 Most Popular Things To Do When ______
(thank you to the The Content Samurai Team for the inspiration)