One of the aspects I love about digital marketing is that it’s not paint-by-numbers work or straight up artistry, so if you have writer’s block or hit a creativity wall, your day isn’t ruined, and you also aren’t sitting at a desk doing rote, mindless work all day. It’s a combination of art and science, qualitative and quantitative brainwork, that makes it what it is, and differentiates the good from the best. There are math and data and research behind what we do, but using that material requires inherent talent that’s built upon over the years from a sincere interest and honing it through education and practice. I’ve learned data collection and analysis and formulae and the things one can learn in school while getting my MBA. I’ve also learned a lot about wordsmithing while getting an English degree and from years of art studies about design and theory before that. But I have a lifelong interest in learning more about these things that keep my skills sharp as a byproduct of my activities, which pay off professionally, now in my later years. It’s more than just reading books and magazine/internet articles about it. It’s doing it in your spare time for fun and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t and how and why. It’s why I’ve had dozens of websites over the years that have come and gone, and were nothing more than playgrounds for learning more about digital marketing and building websites and designing and optimizing them and so on. I’ve done lots and lots of writing and created tons of digital assets that I’ve eventually just deleted.
Plus there are trends and technological changes/advancements that we have to stay abreast of to be able to understand what’s going to work best, what’s available, and how to leverage what’s out there to be the most effective and efficient we can be. At the dawn of the internet, it was banner ads and keyword stuffing which thankfully Google carpet-bombed with their algorithms. Now it involves more subtleties and artistry to build an effective marketing platform online. And surely, it will continue to be so. But one thing remains the same, and that’s human nature. We all have the same basic needs and wants as human beings, and triggering them is a fundamental “trick” of marketers. For that, we actually can use a formula, when writing headlines. They’re trite and cliche, we’ve seen them so much by now, but they still work. Our brains are lazy, and a quick snippet providing our brain with what to expect with the article beneath it is the best way to hook a reader into taking the next step, which is reading your content.
In marketing, the perennial example of a good sign that hooks the customer is the “Fresh Eggs Today: $1.00/dozen” roadside sign. It offers everything we need to know to make a decision, and it appeals to what we desire. The eggs are fresh. There is scarcity, in that they’re only available today. And we know what the price is and the quantity, so it will be an easy transaction. That’s the same methodology used when deriving effective headlines that work. And there’s a lot of research and data to back up that claim.
Have a look at this article by BuzzSumo and see what you think. It explains they why and what of how amazing viral headlines work, and how you can create them easily using the same formula. I’ve seen similar explanations of such, but this article is among the best I’ve come across.