What is Clickbait in Marketing?

Typically when we hear the term “clickbait” we think of those annoyingly misleading titles for YouTube video searches. We might find ourselves stumbling upon a video that has nothing to do with the initial subject. But is all clickbait bad? The simple answer is no. 

Clickbait—when used properly—can actually prove to be a pretty effective marketing tool. Let’s say you’re eager to draw in more traffic to your website. You can use clickbait as a marketing strategy by plugging in your site via links on other popular websites. All in all, clickbait is a marketing tactic that is employed as a way to attract more users to click on content. This article will discuss some tips and tricks on how to effectively use clickbait and when you should avoid it.

clickbait examples

What is Clickbait?

Over the past ten years, the world has seen a rapid change in how we use the internet. One of the terms or techniques that has risen out of the digital age is clickbait. Clickbait is clickable content, such as an internal or external link or a misleading irrelevant title, meant to distract users away from their initial search. Many users and websites look down upon those who use clickbait to gain more likes, views, and followers. 

For instance, top dog social media sites like Facebook have enacted tightly secure algorithm security methods to identify that the majority of its site users do not like clickbait. Thus, a preference and utter disdain for the practice has caused other social media giants like YouTube to ban the practice. You have probably seen clickbait examples like “Shocking new evidence” or “Wait until we show you this.” But that video might have been followed by a video that does not live up to the hype at all.

Illegitimate news sites also use clickbait marketing to gain a mass following. For instance, news sites that over hype their headlines but then include an article that does not line up to the expectations of the reader’s interests. Clickbait certainly is not a brand new topic. You’ve probably already encountered clickbait several times before reading this article. Nevertheless, we will still discuss how to apply clickbait in the marketing world. But first, let’s dive a little deeper into why clickbait got its bad reputation.

clickbait marketing

How is Clickbait Used?

As previously mentioned, clickbait can be used in the form of an enticing headline. It can also be used in the form of an eye-catching image or a brilliantly descriptive caption. Let’s talk about clickbait images for a moment. You are probably familiar with the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” When clickbait is used via enticing photos, it can be very useful to the site administrator to gain more traction to the site. 

Captions are another form of clickbait. They provide a brief descriptive snippet of the story behind the photo. Nevertheless, if the user is not satisfied with the actual story or article paired with the captioned image, then the site will end up losing the user’s trust. Ultimately, clickbait can cause a site to lose all of its credibility if the company does not use it properly. 

Clickbait also has a bad reputation because it is inherently very misleading at times. Let’s say you are in an emergency situation, and you need to quickly look up a “how-to” video on Youtube. If you come across a video claiming to teach you how to save a life with CPR, then you might be fairly disappointed to find that the video is a vlog about visiting a pharmacy. In fact, the video only references CPR once by default, because of the vlogger briefly mentions a CPR kit found in the store. This type of misleading content can be very frustrating to stumble upon. Especially, if you are frantically trying to save someone’s life with a video tutorial.

Apply Clickbait to your Marketing Plan

Let’s take a look at how you can apply clickbait along with more useful methods for marketing. 



As previously mentioned, clickbait can be very frustrating for the user and deter them from visiting your site. If you want to use clickbait effectively, you need to throw out the rational bait and switch approach. Trade it in for delivering on your promises. The key is to deliver on your promise while keeping some of your products and services for paying customers. For example, if you are sharing the 10 most effective fat-burning foods, you should aim to include at least 9 in your article. Once you have gained the attention of your audience with the first 9 foods, you can incorporate a link to subscribe to your newsletter for them to gain access to the 10th fat-burning food. 

Where content creators who are aiming to market go wrong is when they try to pair clickbait with completely useless or irrelevant content. As humans, we are naturally curious and never satisfied. Our appetite to know more often outweighs our logic in ascertaining whether or not we are clicking on something useful. Try to appeal to the pathos, or emotion, of your potential clients. Audiences want to know that their voice is being heard by the servicer or provider. In order to use clickbait effectively, appealing to the emotional investments of potential clients can be very beneficial. 

Another clickbait marketing approach would be to optimize your content’s shareability. Try to use easy to remember phrases and hashtags. This will enable interested parties to quickly and easily click and share your products or services. You can employ this clickbait marketing tool with the incorporation of a simple “share” tab to enable users to efficiently share access to your site. 

If you are unsure of what type of catchphrases you should be using, conduct a product evaluation on your current inventory. In doing so, you will be able to discern which products are currently trending on social media sites and platforms. Furthermore, you can also have prospective clients evaluate your products via surveys. The surveys will provide you with an authentic scope of what clients are currently in the market for. More importantly, the comments can provide you with usable hashtags or phrases. You can copyright those for the sake of publicizing your business. These hashtags and phrases will serve as an excellent source of clickbait when you are preparing your clickbait marketing strategy. 

what is clickbait


If you are thinking about using clickbait as a marketing tool, there are some important cautionary details to keep in mind. Firstly, never lie to your audience about your products or services. Blatantly lying to them will build a broken relationship between business and consumer. At its core, clickbait will inherently drive your audience to click on the content. So, aim for transparency and skip the lies and deceitful methods. If you are concerned that your product or service does not lend itself to the creation of catchy headlines, try researching methods to generate leads to build your clientele. 

Another strategy for using clickbait is to ensure that it does not come across too much like a sales pitch. Sales pitches have a bad reputation for making potential clients feel pressured. You do not want users to scroll and press the x tab to exit the page. The goal is for them to actually click on your content. Thus, you should avoid using sales pitch words and phrases in your clickbait examples like “try now” or “start now.” 

Applying Clickbait to Your Marketing

Now that you know what to look for, you will be able to apply it to your marketing strategy. Clickbait can be both an advantage and disadvantage to your marketing strategy. The key is to make sure that you have a robust understanding of how to use clickbait effectively. You should also keep all of the negative implications that could ensue in mind as well. After all, you want your business to have a positive reputation. Furthermore, your start-up business needs to lead to you building a positive consumer report with all interested parties.

Lastly, don’t shy away from using clickbait if you find it to be an effective yet cost-efficient strategy. It all comes down to the factor of your intent. If you are intentionally trying to mislead your prospective customers, they will most likely be able to tell that you are trying to deceive them. However, if your intention is to give your customer a sneak peek at what you have to offer, you will certainly see your positive intentions reflected back into the traction that you gain using clickbait. 


  • What is clickbait?
  • What are examples of clickbait titles?
  • Is all clickbait bad?
  • How do you use clickbait?
  • Why do companies use clickbait?

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