Content Marketing Strategy: Clickbait vs. the Curiosity Gap?

Marketers must make banking more tantalizing, with a digital advertising strategy built around strong content and sizzling hot headlines.

Subscribe TodayThere are a lot of different ways to get clicks on the web. Take clickbait for example. Some advertisers like using clickbait — sensational headlines with the sole purpose of luring users into viewing a marketing message that often doesn’t have much (if anything) to do with the subject used as clickbait. For instance, a headline might say, “You Won’t Believe How These Ten Women Lost 100 Pounds.” Clicking on the link takes you to a page with a story about ten women who each lost 10 pounds with proper diet and exercise… while the content is surrounded by ads, sponsored links and/or other types of marketing.

Clickbait is popular with advertisers who generally purchase a ton of media on big sites with lots of eyeballs — they’re playing a numbers game. They don’t really care what it takes to get people to click. Which is one of the main reasons why clickbait has been so widely criticized as a questionable practice. It raises issues of integrity and relevance by using misdirection and what some would even call lying.

The underlying principles of clickbait — teasing readers — can still be utilized. However, instead of trying to dupe or ensnare consumers, marketers should exploit what’s called the “curiosity gap,” where you provide just enough information to make readers curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity unless they click through to the linked content. Just remember, there’s nothing that will ruin a user’s online experience faster than when they are forced to watch, view, or read an unrelated marketing message — especially before seeing the content they expected to see.

It all boils down to relevance. As Ben Grossman, VP/Strategy Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, puts it:

“It’s all too easy for brands to become a disruption in people’s lives — the pre-roll ad before the video they really want to watch, the page takeover that they have to exit before seeing content, or the commercial that interrupts their streaming music playlist. Top-performing brands realize it’s more valuable to be on the way than it is to be in the way. Occasionally, when brands truly excel, they can even become people’s destination.”

Grossman bemoans the experience gap and why marketers disappoint. So what’s the solution? To close this gap, Grossman offered examples of brands being on — not in — the way, citing IBM’s “Smarter Ideas for Smarter Cities” campaign that turned everyday signage into helpful benches and raincovers. You should see it for yourself.

Financial institutions have relevant stories to tell. Consumers everywhere are curious about how to make more money and get the most from the money they already have, all you have to do is create a little “curiosity gap” between the information they want and the knowledge you possess — Learn 5 Proven Secrets to Getting Rich, How to Keep Your Kid From Drowning in Student Debt, Tricks to Score the Lowest Interest Rate on Your Next Loan. It sounds like clickbait, but it isn’t. It’s just good, solid copywriting — getting creative with headlines, instead of the dry, dull, predictable, straightforward, lifeless approach many financial institutions take with their marketing copy.

Consumers want to move in the right direction and find financial wellbeing. If financial institutions can provide the necessary knowledge — while gently intertwining relevant products — then you have found the perfect recipe for an effective digital content strategy.

There are countless personal finance bloggers that are already creating this type of content, and doing so very successfully. Bank and credit union marketers often curate this content and share it on their social media sites. While this is a good backup plan, you can’t control the content on that will be shown on and around third-party content — it could be an ad from your competitor. If you own the content, you control the marketing message, the links, the call-to-action, and all the other miscellaneous cross-selling opportunities.

Hey, let’s face it… content marketing is hard. It’s much easier to create three different product ads in 14 different sizes and blast the ads onto as many websites as you can afford, just so you can check “digital ads” off of the to-do list. But if you want to generate high-quality clicks from engaged prospects, it may be time to build your digital marketing strategy around strong content framed with snappy headlines. Make banking tantalizing.

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