Clickbait: How Can We Use It (Well) in Marketing?

Clickbaitnouninformal(on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page

We’ve all been there – innocently browsing the web and before you know it, 4 hours has passed and you’ve ended up down a deep, dark internet hole, reading about the truth behind how green gummy bears will destroy the world.

Clickbait is everywhere, and even though we recognise the tactics used, we still feel compelled to click. It’s a very clever (and cheap) tactic – it tickles our innate desire for curiosity through images or titles to ‘bait’ us into wanting to find out more by shocking or surprising us, leaving us on a cliff-hanger desperate to know just HOW different the cast of the Goonies look now. 

How can we use clickbait (well) in marketing?

When done well, clickbait headlines will make people stop and give you their most important asset – their attention. So, how can you use some of these tactics to aid your marketing without selling your soul to the clickbait devil?


A good headline doesn’t just get clicks – it gets the right clicks.

Creating engaging, interesting headlines that incites interest from a reader is great – and can also do great things for SEO –  but duping them into something that is misleading and irrelevant is bad marketing. Your content must deliver on your headline’s promise, not just put a good spin on a mundane topic. And on the flipside, if your headline doesn’t do a good job at representing your content, no one will ever know how good it is.

Social analytics company BuzzSumo analysed 100 million headlines to identify the most common phrases that resulted in the most social engagement. Typical headlines included:

  • 24 Pictures That Will Make You Feel Better About The World
  • What This Airline Did for Its Passengers Will Make You Tear Up
  • 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

These headlines set out why the reader should care about the content and highlight that it will evoke a particular feeling. Whilst this seems to work, over-sensationalising stories can be a real turn-off. Instead, ensure your headlines are benefits-led and punchy – try to condense the key benefits that your content will have for the reader so they instantly know what’s on offer.

Lists and numbers

This is something Buzzfeed absolutely revel in. Who doesn’t want to read an article that lists 76 cats that are having a worse week than you?

Using lists to break up and pick out the key takeaways from content such as blogs, can be hugely beneficial. Visually, this content is different – when reading a list we either scan through or naturally stop to pause on nuggets of information. They are, therefore perfectly designed to meet our needs in today’s environment – quick, punchy information that doesn’t require too much commitment. This also acts as a good way-in for longer, more detailed content that can follow. You’ll have drawn-in and engaged audience who want to know more on your topic.

Linking to relevant articles on your website

Have you ever been reading through a recipe for the perfect lasagne, only to when you reach the bottom of the page be inundated with articles and ads that are completely off topic and you wonder what on earth it was in your browsing history that triggered these to generate?

Internal linking within your site is good SEO practice – but these links must be relevant. Adding links to the end of your posts with an enticing image or headline will guide the reader to find out more and encourage them to stay on and explore the rest of your site. Unlike other sites that use shameless clickbait links, you’re not ‘tricking’ your reader into clicking to generate revenue from ad impressions – simply providing them with more content you think they’ll be interested in and demonstrating you understand their needs.

Mix it up

If you’re going to employ some of these tactics, be sure to vary the type of content and format of content you are putting out – too much of the same thing can have a detrimental effect. Knowing where and when it is appropriate and/or beneficial to employ different tones is key – social media or blog posts may work well… White Papers or case studies… not so much. Using these tactics in moderation can build a stronger relationship with your readers and encourage them to delve into your content, whilst still upholding your reputable brand image.

Want to know how you can make your copy more engaging? Get in touch with the Team to find out how we can help.

Alternatively, you can access more exclusive news and tips by visiting our insights page or signing up for our monthly eNewsletter.


Where is your next breakthrough coming from?

Spaces, 156 Great Charles Street Queensway,


B3 3HN

Max. file size: 512 MB.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.