Getting people to click has always been the bread and butter for digital marketers.
The topics of using search engines and social media to garner clicks have been well covered, but mobile phones and curated feeds have now brought us into a new era of the Internet.
As your audience scrolls through an endless stream of content on the web, the impression of your headline becomes just as important as the content itself. As the web evolves, so must our writing techniques. Welcome to Web Copywriting 3.0.
The search engine was the original hub of the Internet. The web functioned as a sort of tennis match, going from search engine to content site and back to search engine. Thus, marketers tried to influence their brand’s visibility through SEO and paid search ads. In order to effectively write for a search-centric web, it was important to front load keywords, appropriately tag webpages, and link out to your web properties. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, SEO remains important, but keywords are no longer the be-all and end-all for rising to the top.
Just like the way search-engine behemoth Google often dictated how web copywriters optimized their content, in the social era of the Internet, Facebook’s news-feed dictated the next big web writing revolution. In order to drive clicks and stand out within a never-ending content stream, digital marketers began loading headlines with hyperbolic emotions (“This Might Be The Cutest Video EVER”) and curiosity gaps (“You Won’t Believe What This 5-Year-Old Told His Mom”) to get viewers to click through. Although the clickbait headline trend is still alive and well, the oversaturation of exaggerated copy is losing its novelty.
The next big trend for digital copywriting is largely due to the growing prevalence of mobile web traffic. Because mobile has driven on-the-go content consumption, the biggest trend that defines headline copy for the web 3.0 is signaling.
Specifically, consumers want to know how long it’s going to take to consume a given piece of content and what they’re going to get out of it. At Sharethrough, we’ve seen that our best performing headlines have some indicator of length and educational value.
Headlines like “Big Data Explained in 6 Seconds” or “10 Things Every New Homeowner Should Know” perform extremely well (over 5% CTR!) because they deliver on both brevity and value. This is a large part why Buzzfeed-style lists are often successful in our mobile world–you know how long it’s going to take to get through and the value proposition is right in the title.
Brands often ask us how long the content itself should be. At Sharethrough, we believe content should be as short as possible, but as long as it deserves. This isn’t to say that a content marketing campaign built around Vine will accomplish all of your marketing goals. With more time comes more opportunity to communicate information and develop deeper connections with your target. But don’t take your consumer’s engagement for granted! The modern Internet is full of substitutes that will gladly steal your audience if you fail to keep their attention.
Whether you’re distributing a video, article, or infographic, the constant remains–the presentation will be the primary driver of online engagement. As social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Content is King, but marketing is Queen, and the Queen runs the household.” So as consumers look through their feeds for the next piece to consume, write copy that indicates the value and length of your content, and hopefully it will reign supreme.
—Simone Stolzoff is a copywriter and content strategist at Sharethrough, the largest in-feed advertising exchange. He spends his days writing headlines for branded content and thinking about the intersection of technology and human behavior. You can also find his articles on The Bold Italic. You can find him on twitter @simonestolzoff.