Numbers are a time-honored trigger to get your readers to pay attention to your content.
When you use a number in a headline, whether in a blog post, an e-mail subject line, an advertisement, etc., you immediately hook the reader’s interest.
Numbers reach directly into our unconscious and say, “this message is important”. And according to the experts, numbers as figures/digits (i.e. “5”) work better on the Web than numbers that are spelled-out as words (i.e. “five”).
Example: If you’re going to write about how to be a better sous chef, headline it with “7 Ways to be a Better Sous Chef;” because you’ll get from 12-25% more traffic than saying “How to be a Better Sous Chef”.
Studies prove that readers, especially on the Web, don’t read all the words. They scan the text for:
- Highlighted words
- Bulleted lists
Scanning is even more prevalent for readers of e-mail newsletters.
CREDIBILITY AND USABILITY GAINED!
Here are 5 reasons why using numbers in your headlines generates more traffic:
1. SUBSTANCE: The promise of something specific.
I’m constantly disappointed in blogs and newsletters I read where I see a title I like, click on it, skim the first paragraph, only to find that the title has nothing to do with the content.Or the content lacked enough substance or structure to be any good.
One way to get better search results is to select titles where you’re guaranteed at least some measure of structure and substance. Choosing a headline with a number in it gives some assurance that even if the author is crazy, you’ll get to see “7 Ways to Be a Better Sous Chef”. There should be at least one or two steps worth reading even if the others miss the mark.
2. STRUCTURE: Make reading easier.
Organizing content into a numbered list guarantees your readers the post they’re reading will have structure. Even if you tend to wander when you read, there should be an easy enough path to follow from the beginning to end.
3. CLEAR ORGANIZATION: Essential for speed reading.
I am busy and I read a number of blog posts daily, mostly as I’m doing other things, like eating breakfast, listening to music, on hold with tech support, etc. Reading a blog with numbers allows me to skim the first line of every numbered entry to check for relevance without having to read all the way through. Although we can only read a few hundred words per minute without sacrificing memory, a numbered article entry lets the reader get right to what they’re looking for.
4. STICK TO THE SCRIPT.
Many blogs start as one thing and turn into something else by the end. When researching marketing for example, a post on why marketing is important is totally different than what kind of marketing is important. Numbers force you to stick to one of those topics in your post.
5. NUMBERS ARE “BRAIN CANDY.”
Our brains are attracted to numbers because they automatically organize information into a logical order. In marketing and advertising, your headline is an advertisement for your content. A single, small odd-numbered digit, like 7 for example, is like candy for your organizational mind.
Digits enhance the scanability of web content. It’s just that simple:
- A number is better that a word.
- Small numbers are more digestible than large ones.
- Odd numbers are seen as more authentic than even numbers.
In a world of vague promises where words and names are diluted beyond any value, a small number holds the promise of meaning, integrity and accessibility.
Are you using numbers in your headlines? Share your latest headline with us here. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!
About guest blogger, Mike Hamers: Mike is the owner and found of Lightspeed Commercial Arts – a technology-focused design company. He has been delivering graphic design, branding and web solutions to small and medium-sized businesses since 1989.
Mike’s priority is to develop the most effective, efficient and successful marketing and design solutions that suits your needs and accomplishes your company’s goals – on time and within your budget.