Let’s start with a basic fact – Buzzfeed and Upworthy are able to get us to open their articles with far higher frequency than most other websites. But how?
I saw an interesting study recently about how to write email subject lines that lead to higher open rates. The data was clear, there are only two categorical types of subject lines that far exceed others in performance.
The first type of subject line that gets higher open rates is one that peeks curiosity. It’s purposely vague, but taps into an area of intrigue that forces us to open because we crave to know the answer it promises to reveal. Shrouded in mystery, it’s a one sentence cliffhanger. Upworthy uses this approach and does so masterfully.
The second type of subject line that gets higher open rates is one that’s incredibly prescriptive. It tells you exactly what value you’re going to get without any mystery while tapping into an area of personal interest. “Details for 3pm meeting” would be one example, which Buzzfeed does incredibly well by giving anyone looking for entertainment “36 images that will keep you laughing all day” or “21 reasons that Saved By The Bell is the best.”
These two methods are only significant to get people in the door though. They lead to higher click-throughs and email open rates, but if the content itself is weak then people will leave and not return. Upworthy carefully curates meaningful videos and Buzzfeed aggregates great gifs, but both of them wisely employ age-old marketing tactics to get us all to pay attention in the first place.
Next time you write an email subject line or article header, which of these two tactics will you use?