What makes a reader click on an ad, or better yet, pick up the phone and call you? Clickbait headlines generate high click rates because they connect emotionally — now, so can you.

  • You have approximately two to three seconds to grab the reader’s attention before they hit the back button or surf elsewhere.
  • Use excellent images. The weirder or the funnier the image is, the more clickable it will be.
  • Eye-catching photos with attention-grabbing headlines generate clicks, but to convert leads you must also provide meaningful content to your reader.

What makes a reader click on an ad, or better yet, pick up the phone and call you?

Clickbait headlines generate high click rates because they connect emotionally — now, so can you.

When you run an online ad you have one goal — getting the reader to click on it. The challenge is, how do you stand out from the billions of ads, videos and social media posts that are all vying for attention of your buyers and sellers?

Clickbait — imminently clickable

Merriam-Webster defines clickbait as “online material (such as headlines) designed to make readers want to click on hyperlinks, especially when the links lead to content of dubious value or interest.”

The goal is to exploit the reader’s curiosity by giving enough information to make one click, but not enough to satisfy without clicking through the content.

This is a good thing for real estate marketing, if you follow through on the unspoken promise made to the reader in the headline; we’ll get more into headlines in a moment.

Readers have the attention span of a gnat

A large proportion of the people viewing your online ad campaign will be using a mobile device.

You have approximately two to three seconds to grab the reader’s attention before they hit the back button or surf elsewhere.

Clickhole.com: A lesson in how clickbait works

The Onion, “America’s farcical newspaper,” has started a new site called Clickhole.com that is devoted exclusively to satirizing clickbait ads. The links below include recent examples:

Each of stories above has a Photoshopped picture that supports an over-the-top headline, plus content that makes you laugh because you know you’re being spoofed.

Market with eye-catching pictures

What makes an eye-catching picture? Jonah Berger in his book, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” explains that when you share a funny picture or post, you create “social currency” that causes others to feel more positively about you. This also increases the probability that your post will be shared.

Consequently, just another picture of another ordinary house will probably not generate the clicks you want.

Instead, look for something funny, unusual or weird about the house or the area where it is located. The weirder or the funnier the image is, the more clickable it will be.

One of my favorites is a house across from a cemetery with a sign rider that said, “quiet neighbors.”

Tap and play

Typing has always been a challenge on mobile devices, especially on phones. This is what makes communicating through apps such as Snapchat so popular.

People are more likely to engage when all they have to do is to simply tap and/or play.

If you want to have people respond to your ad, make sure you have a clickable picture or video. This is where clickbait strategies can be quite helpful.

How to write a clickable headline

Examples of highly clickable headlines that rely on the curiosity gap include, “How to spot a housing rental scam” or “Save thousands with this little known mortgage trick.”

In an article on Endgadget.com, Aaron Souppouris cites research showing that the more extreme the emotion in a headline, the more likely the reader will be to click on it.

In fact, there’s an old newsroom saying that, “If it bleeds, it leads.” All you have to do is listen to the evening news to see proof of this fact, but how does it apply in real estate?

Moving toward vs. moving away

Karen Horney, a German psychoanalyst whose critiques of Freud led to feminist psychology, used the terms “moving toward” and “moving away” to describe the motivations people have for taking action.

Positive headlines are about “moving toward.” Clotaire Rapaille’s research shows that using the words “dream” and “hope” in your headlines cause Americans not only to click but also to purchase.

On the other hand, “moving away” headlines normally tap into negative feelings. Examples include: “The Fed is raising rates — buy now before it’s too late!”

Another type of “moving away” headline can use resentment or anger to drive action: “Hate your landlord? Then stop paying his mortgage — become a homeowner now!”

According to Souppouris, the most clickable headlines combine both negative and positive elements: “Short on a down payment? Your prayers have been answered!”

Be clickable but avoid clickbaiting

The way to differentiate yourself from those who use clickbait strategies is to provide useful content to your reader. Using the three headlines above, here’s what you could include:

1. The Fed is raising rates

Take the average mortgage amount for your location, and then calculate how much more the borrower would pay over a 30-year loan if the rates increased by 1 percent. (The amount will be approximately $22,000 on a $100,000 loan.)

You could also show how much more income the buyer would have to earn to qualify for the increased loan amount.

2. Hate your landlord?

Compare how much it cost to rent a nice two-bedroom condo with the cost of owning a home.

You could also explain how homeowner’s build wealth each month by paying down their mortgage, even if the values do not increase.

3. Short on down payment?

Did you know that up to 80 percent of the properties in the United States qualify for down payment assistance?

Go to DownPaymentResource.com to learn what is available in your area, and then include that information when readers click-through to your ad.

Rate your headlines

One final tip to increase clickability is to use the American Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer. The higher the score, the more clickable your headline is.

Remember, eye-catching photos with attention-grabbing headlines generate clicks, but to convert leads you must also provide meaningful content to your reader.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent

Email Bernice Ross

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