Close your eyes for a second and picture the most typical used car salesman.
What do you see?
A pushy, annoying guy sweet talking some poor schmuck into buying a lemon?
A guy who uses sensational sentences to woo you, just does about anything to make you buy a piece of junk car. A guy who doesn’t care about developing a long lasting relationship with you but is just looking to make that sale – yes, I pictured Danny Devito from Matilda and I’m sure most of you did the same, that’s because Harry Wormwood is the typical used car salesman – his promises are hollow and he can’t put his money where his mouth is – a guy that has zero credibility.
Credibility is an important thing especially when you’re selling something – its importance becomes even more gargantuan in the online world. If you want to build stronger lasting relationships with your customers you need to be credible, your customers need to know that whatever you claim, you deliver.
You already knew that?
Surprisingly most marketers do know this vital piece of information and yet they continue to
produce content that negates this very basic rule.
This is what I’m going to rectify today.
However, we’re not going to be talking about content as a whole today, instead we’re going to be focusing on just a few words of copy – your headlines – seeing as they’re the very first thing your visitors notice whether it’s a landing page you’re creating, a blog post or a social media update.
We’re going to be talking about the 3 types of headlines that when used in excess cause great damage to your credibility as a marketer and the integrity of your product in the long run.
1. Curiosity inducing headlines
Look through the following headlines.
- Why former ANTM’s contest Angelea Preston is suing the show for a LOT of money
- This dad has the most adorable reaction to discovering he’s going to be a grandpa
- The last ice bucket challenge you need to see – and you really should see it
- Hate to start your morning off with bad Beyoncé and JAY Z news – but that’s life
You get what kind of headlines I’m talking about right?
Headlines that play at the information gap theory, which create a new gap of information in the reader’s mind and then play with that gap so that they move on to the rest of your landing page or click to the link of your blog post. When you make you reader curious by letting him know that there’s something that he doesn’t really know you create a sense of pain in your reader’s brain and he then has to know that information to relieve that pain – it’s like an itch that they just have to scratch.
While these kinds of headlines do work for a short period of time they don’t really add anything of benefit to you in the long run. When you start using these headlines all too often you damage your credibility because you’re not always able to deliver on the lofty promise that you made in the headline.
Not every reader thinks that the dad’s reaction was the most adorable thing, or that the last ice bucket challenge was really all you said it would be.
Yes, make use of the curiosity gap in your headlines but don’t make it a habit or your readers will start rolling their eyes at your content or worse they’ll eventually stop clicking.
2. Exaggerated sensational headlines
The overuse of sensational headlines can make a huge dent in your online credibility – once you get a bad rap for blowing things out of proportion in your headlines just to get a few dozen clicks your readers stop knocking at your door.
If your salacious headline is not followed up with equally zesty content not only is your reader disappointed, he is angry – mad at the fact that he was tricked by something so silly.
3. Shock and awe headlines
There’s this slightly drunk guy at every party, the guy who keeps on telling these hilarious improbable stories that everyone keeps listening to even though they know that his narrations are just a fabrication in his mind.
Shock and awe headlines function in the exact same manner, they reel your readers in because they sound so incredibly outrageous, but once they arrive on the real deal all they are met with is disappointment and then they are forced to think that your company similar to your headline lacks depth and is just desperate for any click that it can get.
If you want your visitors to think that your content lacks depth and quality by all means continue to write headlines that only make an impact for a few milliseconds and then leave a bad aftertaste of dissatisfaction in their minds.
Invest your time in writing headlines that actually work, effective headlines that only dazzle your readers but also deliver something informative and valuable to them. Headlines, that are unique, explicit and that easily convey information to your readers.
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