Do Not Click On This!

Why did you click? The Title told you not to.

You clicked because of intrigue and expectations. You may have wanted to know what you shouldn't know. You may have wanted to see my mistake. You may have had a feel sensation of missing out. All of these feelings are built into our nature, but as a marketer you must understand how to disrupt the natural flow to create content people will want to read...even if they are told not to read it. 

What Is Disruption? 

Simply put, disruption is a disturbance that interrupts a process. From a marketing perspective, I like to think of it as presenting a idea that is unexpected. 

Disruption has not always been a great tool in the publishing world, but with today's media-inundated society, disruption is almost a flawless technique to grab attention. With so many messages pushed to our screens, big or small and so many of them being exactly the same, anything that stands out against the mainstream practically begs to be seen. 

Example of Disruption: DOn't Buy This Jacket

Patagonia took a great leap of faith with the idea of disruption on Cyber Monday. If you went to their site on Cyber Monday you would have seen this homepage image saying "Don't Buy This Jacket".  It paid off for Patagonia. Sales increased significantly for this one jacket. 

So why did this disruption work? People knew they were going to see sales all day long on Cyber Monday. Deep sales were expected. What wasn't expected was to see a message saying don't buy this. It made people stop and wonder why should they not buy this. And instead of moving back along to their shopping, they clicked on the jacket. They wanted to know what they were missing out on. 

How to Be Disruptive

Shatter Expectations

To create a disruptive message, you have to understand what is the expected response to your message. Once you figure out what people will most likely assume about your article, product, sale, social post, etc., begin thinking of (and writing down) the opposite expectations. What would people never assume or think of in regards to your promotion? That's what you want to tap into. 

Example: Again using Patagonia, they knew people would expect to see a sale. So what would people not expect? Well...for sure no one would expect to go to a retail website on Cyber Monday and see "Don't Buy This."

My Real Life Example: I've accidentally sent out an email in which I was running an A/B test against various subject lines. One of the subject lines still had [TEST] in the front of the subject. While I was fretting over the mistake, as time passed by, I had to laugh because the email with [TEST] in the subject line received the best open rate and click-through rate for links inside the email. Now, I do not suggest creating email campaigns with the word  [TEST] in front of them, but I am showing that being different stands out. 

Time to Exercise: When you are crafting your next message, write down five expectations. Then write five things people would not expect. This exercise will not only help you come up with a disruptive message, but it will help you dig deeper into your subject and help you learn something you may have never considered.

Don't write what everyone expects you to write:
Texting & Driving Is Not a Good Combination

Don't write what you expect yourself to write:
How to Stay Safe on the Road with So Many Distractions

Write something unexpected:
5 Things You've Never Knew About Driving (Even If You Are 50)

This is a big challenge, but taking the time to find the right angle will save you so much more effort in the long run. Going through this process and coming up with the title first, will actually help you shape your entire strategy and approach to your message. 

My Real Life Advice: Sometimes, as great as your disruptive message is, you're never going to get it past legal or other team members. Sometimes, being disruptive (as much as it could prosper with your consumers) will never come to the light of day for a whole slew of reasons, legal, fear of the risk, politics, etc. Either way, going through this exercise will help you craft a better message.

Never Forget Design

Have you ever heard a picture is worth 1,000 words? That's because we can gather a multitude of information from a visual. In fact, visuals process 60,000 times faster than text in a human brain. So not only do we get more information from a visual, we understand the information more quickly. And when you are looking to be disruptive, you want to catch people quickly. 

My Real Life Advice: Include text on your images for social posts. Most people on social look at the image first. The image actually becomes the metric to decide whether to read the social post text at all. If you have a text-based message integrated in your image, you're more likely to get people to click through to your site from social because you a reaching them before they can determine to refuse. Now, Facebook advertising makes that really hard with their 20% or less text on an image. It just means you have to be more creative. 

Use [Special] Characters

I'm sure you are used to seeing | in meta titles. A pipe | is the character that takes up the least amount of pixel space in a mete title. But think beyond the the pipe, and look at your keyboard as an expressive way to write. In the end, whether you are writing a meta title to pull through in Google or writing a social post, you want the same results: You want what you write to stand out and bring clicks back to your website. 

Which one stands out more?
Rank Higher in Search with Digital Marketing Services
*Rank Higher* in Search with Digital Marketing Services
[Rank Higher] in Search with Digital Marketing Services
//Rank Higher\\ in Search with Digital Marketing Services

Using special characters, you can disrupt normal expectations. Use the design of a character to lead eyes to the most important value of the sentence.

Embrace Numbers

There is a reason magazine covers have a lot of numbers. THEY WORK.

5 Ways to Braid Your Hair Like Katniss Everdeen
12 Tips to Live a More Successful Life
32 Ideas to Spice Up Your Relationship

There are several reasons numbers in headlines work so well, but from a social/mobile perspective the key factor is commitment. If I am on Facebook on my mobile device and I see a article that says 5 Ways to Braid Your Hair Like Katniss Everdeen, then I know my commitment may be a few minutes. If I come across an article that says 32 Ideas to Spice Up Your Relationship, I know I will need to commit several minutes to get through the article. 

Headlines are Important!

If you have never been through the experience of writing 20 headlines for an article, I suggest to you begin my friend. Learning to write a great headline isn't just for journalists, it is for every marketer learning to craft great messages.

I like to use Co-Scheduler's free Headline Analyzer tool each time I write an article, meta title, email subject line, or short social post. The tool analyzes a lot of factors from length, emotional value, sentiment, keywords, post-type, etc. 

As an SEO, I love that the tool renders out a SERP result for people to visualize what their headline may look like in a search engine. 

My Real Life Experience: List-based and disruptive headlines have demonstrated the best click-through rates.