My Case for Clickbait

GNT #073: My Case for Clickbait

content lead generation sales Jun 13, 2024

read time: 4 minutes

7 years ago, Ed and I posted a flight video on YouTube of our backcountry airplane camping adventure in Johnson Creek, Idaho.

It's a remote landing strip and trip of a lifetime through Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

We set up camp near the runway and hiked up to the Johnson Creek hot spring that feeds into a literal bathtub on the side of a mountain.

It was one of the most awesome things I've ever experienced, so we included a shot of it right at the beginning of the video.

After we posted the video, a friend reached out to me:

"You're clickbait!"

The term clickbait had a negative connotation to me.

It brought up feelings of icky content with headline bait leading to unimpressive articles.

But since then, I've developed a very different and positive understanding of the concept.

The idea of a concise and impactful hook (I like that word better 😊) has been a big part of the growth to 1M+ views on YouTube and building marketing engines for myself and my clients that consistently generate demand for products and services.

The truth is...

Nothing matters without the click.

No one will read your article you meticulously crafted.
Watch your video you spent money on.
Open your stellar email.

Even in daily life, hooks are crucial for sending a text, sharing a slide, or even just enticing people to pay attention in a meeting.

An effective hook is what grabs attention and drives action.

Creating click-worthy hooks is an artform and science I've been working on.

And today, we're making the case for positive clickbait and covering some fundamental basics of creating killer hooks so you can start building visibility and trust.

Leverage Curiosity

When I started writing my newsletter in January 2023 I knew there was a skill around copywriting email subject lines, but frankly, I wasn't very good at it.

What I learned is that a hook isn't just about sensationalism.

It's really understanding human curiosity -- and leveraging it to grab attention.

❓Why it works?

Curiosity Gap: Humans have an innate desire to fill gaps in their knowledge. Headlines that create curiosity gaps compel people to click to satisfy that need. 

Feel Something: Content that triggers emotions—whether it's excitement, joy, or even anger—tend to attract more engagement.

Promise of Value: People are more likely to click on content that promises to offer valuable insights, tips, or solutions to their very challenging problems.

Tips for Crafting Click-Worthy Hooks

1. Be Specific and Concise

A good hook is clear about what the reader can expect. Vague promises don't get clicks, specific ones do.

2. Try Numbers and Lists

Headlines like "5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Strategy" perform well because they signal easy-to-digest information. 

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Phrases like "Don't Miss Out" or "Before It's Too Late" can motivate people to click now rather than later. 

Read more about leveraging urgency: GNT #059: How to sell you (without feeling weird)

4. Ask Questions

Questions in headlines can engage your reader's mind, making them more likely to seek the answer in your content.

5. Highlight Benefits

Make sure your hook clearly communicates the benefit to the reader. What will they gain from clicking? Clickbait becomes a negative and breaks trust when the promise isn't kept.

Real-World Examples of Effective Hooks

Example 1:

"How I Built a Morning Routine That Boosted My Productivity by 50% in 3 Months"

Why It Works: It's specific, promises a significant benefit, and taps into a common desire for better productivity.

Example 2:

"Are You Making These Common Mistakes When Brushing Your Teeth?"

Why It Works: It uses a question to engage curiosity and offers to help avoid potential pitfalls in an everyday activity. It's relatable and valuable.

Deconstruct What Hooks You and Build Your Library

Now what? 

Theory is great, but how are you actually going to apply this knowledge in your life to get better results?

Simple. 2 things.

1. Deconstruct what you click

What's hooking you?
What are you watching?
What are you reading?
Why did the hook work?

If you stripped out the detail and simply looked at the formula, what would it look like?

- Simple Example: "How to lose 1 pound per week without giving up your favorite foods"

Now, let's strip out the detail to see why this works.

- Formula: How to [GET A BENEFIT] without [SOMETHING PAINFUL]

We now have a template!

2. Build your library of hook templates

Create a Google Sheet, Notion page, or wherever you keep stuff and start adding your deconstructed hook templates.

Not only will you have a library of clickable copy, but you can start applying the formula to your world.

- Example for Applied Template:

How to Plan Your Kids Summer Schedules without the Stress

How to Save Money on Groceries without Sacrificing Quality
How to Stay Fit While Working a 9-to-5 Job
How to Travel the World on a Budget without Missing Out

BONUS: Here are a few more of my favorite hook templates to add in your new hook library!

The Ultimate Guide to [TOPIC] for [TARGET AUDIENCE]
[NUMBER] [TOPIC] Tips You Need to Know
What Everyone Should Know About [TOPIC]
The Beginner’s Guide to [TOPIC]
How to [TOPIC] Like a Pro
[NUMBER] Secrets of [TOPIC]
[NUMBER] Myths About [TOPIC] Debunked
The Best [TOPIC] Strategies You Haven't Tried Yet
[NUMBER] Signs You Need to [TAKE ACTION]
The Ultimate Checklist for [TOPIC]


A final note about hooks.

You might be thinking.. 

"What if my content/video/event isn't that great? I don't want to promise something too grand and disappoint people."

I live in the midwest, Minnesota to be exact, and everyone downplays their value.

If you are proud of your creation, I challenge you to start thinking boldly and confidently about your unique value.

And use clickbait.

Because it's not just about you, it's about helping your customer solve their problems.

And they'll never start to learn how to solve their problems without...

the click.

Happy summer.

See you next week.

p.s. here's the Johnson Creek bathtub clickbait.  😉


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