The world is spending more time at home and online, creating the perfect storm for a successful clickbait campaign.
Attention-grabbing headlines and controversial or familiar images have a much higher clickthrough rate than other forms of content marketing. And though clickbait is being met with pushback from the major tech companies, when done right, it can capture the emotional needs of the viewer and drive them towards inspiring and relevant content.
Clickbait marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, from thumbnail photos to your Google search's news page. These stimulating and often polarizing campaigns are designed to pique human curiosity and drive you to take some sort of immediate action.
While the years of over-the-top clickbait campaigns might be over, many brands and companies are using the positive aspects of this technique to increase social sharing and initiate potential leads.
Want to see some effective clickbait examples from 2020? Let's take a closer look.
Are face masks good? Do they protect you and others? Where should you wear one? Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, it was clear that no one had the true answer to why and when we should cover our faces. Many news sites and health blogs capitalized on this global uncertainty by crafting headlines that lead the viewer to scientific or medical information about the importance or unimportance of wearing a facemask. This includes new sources such as The Wall Street Journal and academic blogs such as The Conversation.
We couldn't put this post together without highlighting this clickbait example.
Netflix is great at getting its users involved in the marketing and promotion of a new series or film on their streaming platform. The image of Joe Exotic's mullet and large tigers paired with real-time commentary from viewers created an organic clickbait wheel. People's posts about the show sparked curiosity, then news and media sites also started reporting on it.
The partially user-generated campaign created viral viewership on the Netflix platform, with a record-breaking 64 million viewers on Netflix in the first four weeks. It also propelled some of the show's stars into the world of pop culture, with Carol Baskin gaining a spot on Dancing with the Stars and getting a fictional TV show on NBC led by Kate McKinnon.
In the midst of Coronavirus, brands leading with joy have been able to create an emotional connection with their customers and attract new ones. Lego used the state of current events to foster community, link it to their brand's unique selling point (USP). Through the #LetsBuildTogether campaign, Lego received 377,000 engagements in a three month period from March 1 to May 31.
Warning: Google this infamous song at your own risk (NSFW).
In 2019, and even at the beginning of 2020, most people did not know about the song, “WAP”. Thanks to some clever marketing, the music video received more than 26 million views on the first day. The use of well-known celebrity cameos, including Kylie Jenner (who has over 194 million Instagram followers), capitalized on the curiosity gap between what people know and what they want to know.
Fantasy inspired thumbnails from the video featuring stars Cardi B and Megan the Stallion were turned into GIFs that appeared throughout social media and on new sites worldwide, sparking a collective moment of international curiosity. Whether or not you were happy with the WAP reveal, the use of familiar and sensational imagery resulted in an increase in traffic to the weblink (in this case, a YouTube video), which, according to Tubebuddy, has 176 million views and 417 thousand comments in one month.
This is one of most classic examples of clickbait. At a time when unemployment is high, and uncertainty lingers in the air, The Penny Hoarder has been able to turn money fears and employment worries into snapshots of optimism. From headlines such as "5 Strategies That'll Help You Stop Fighting With Your Partner About Money" and "Our Guide to Visiting National Parks (Without Spending a Small Fortune)," have been able to tap into relevant content that deals with issues such as people spending more time at home with their spouse to ways to travel and on a budget.
The clickbait marketing campaigns run by Penny Hoarder has made them one of the biggest personal finance websites in the U.S. Clearly, relevance plays a role in clickbait marketing. Will it resonate with the viewer? Will they yearn to see what’s on the other side of the door?
Facebook is one of the pioneers of 21st-century social media, and its first advertisement effort was geared towards driving engagement. By showcasing a lesser-known feature of the platform, Facebook groups, the tech giant unlocked a new funnel for discovery. It should be noted that using clickbait in your advertising design strategy is not always the best choice!
The Super Bowl commercial included real members from active Facebook groups crafting a testimony driven campaign. By luring people towards the possibility of community that planted a seed for people to go on Facebook while watching the Super Bowl. As U.S. houses have an average of 11 devices that connect to the internet, Facebook took advantage of our multi-screen usage habits and turned them into the #2 commercial, according to iSpot.tv, with almost 10 million online views and 32,814 social actions.
First off, TikTok is the perfect clickbait platform. These short videos tempt the viewer to watch, and continue to watch. Heck, don’t be surprised if you spend hours on the platform swiping through videos—there are tons of clickbait examples to mention here, but we're highlighting just one account.
Fashion Nova quickly established itself as the go-to comfort and affordable fashion brand with celebrity friends. Through a combination of sponsored ads and celebrity endorsements (Cardi B, Iggy Azalea), the brand built a social media presence that funneled in new leads based on social clout.
In 2020, Fashion Nova has elevated its strategy by being an early adopter to the social media platform. By using recognizable faces, meme culture, and adopting current social and news trends, the brand is able to draw people into their culture they have created, and their efforts often result in a conversion. Fashion Nova has built its brand to 1.8 million followers on TikTok and almost 19 million followers on Instagram, in the midst of a global pandemic. The earned market value of Fashion Nova is over $125 million.
With movie theaters closed for a large chunk of 2020, Disney Plus+ turned to its brand new streaming platform to bring in viewers. They were able to do this by offering a front-row seat to Hamilton, the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning musical, for which getting a ticket is notoriously difficult and expensive. The Hamilton campaign capitalized on the brand recognition and exclusivity of the play to drive new subscribers to the platform.
With a price tag of $6.99/month to unlock Hamilton and the Disney Plus vaults, the 72% increase of downloads of the streaming service in the U.S. was not only a strong ROI but helped to create clickthrough content and ads for the other shows on the platform.
“What are the lines that make Sex and the City cringeworthy?! I need to know!”
Buzzfeed is on this list as one of the earlier pioneers of clickbait. Their daily content does a good job of showcasing how to create effective clickbait content that directly serves its targeted audience. The worst lines in Sex and the City article trended on the Buzzfeed site by identifying its target audience (Sex and the City fans) and implying that there is something they don't know about the show. This accusation prompted an emotional response bordering on outrage ("how dare you talk about the best show of all time?"). Naturally, fans wanted to click through because they were already invested in the subject matter and likely to engage with the content.
Nothing resonates more closely with people than the word, free. The opportunity to get a free Google Home speaker just for being a Spotify premium speaker launched a self-driven content mill of international news articles and blog posts. Because both Spotify and Google have a high level of public trust, users felt comfortable clicking on these articles and ads, even though they might be certain that "free" was actually free.
Sites ranging from The Daily Mail to Business Insider covered the news, opting for bold headlines that promised immediate value, but only by acting fast. The partnership on this giveaway to premium subscribers launched numerous campaigns by websites, blogs, and independent news sources looking to share the news and increase engagement on their pages.
Alright, so this doesn’t merit a whole number, but it does show the power of compelling clickbait and how that can increase readership and even drive business in some cases.
With the world on pause and a global pandemic, the 24/7 news cycle quickly became a reality. But how can you connect with readers and have them return to your website to get the latest news? Enter the Washington Post. Though the reliable news source has been crafting engaging, clickable headlines since before 2020, this year, they perfected the ability to introduce uncertainty while offering solutions. The result was an August peak at #31 on the News & Media rankings according to and to the #182 website for engagement in the world, according to Amazon's Alexa.
The clickbait examples we examined today were able to deliver additional value and served as a point of discovery. Particularly, when they're used as thumb-stopping social media graphics, they can drive new leads and conversions, as well as foster long term relationships that drive your marketing objectives.
Your job is to get your product or service in front of an audience, and by grabbing their emotional attention, you are at least creating a space where they're willing to listen.
The worst thing you can do as a brand is blend in. Sometimes, in order to stand out, you need to take risks and be a bit controvertial—just make sure you're always staying true to your brand!
We sat down with Bill Macaitis, former Slack CMO, to chat about what it takes to success with ad design. Hear his tips and more in this Q&A style interview!