I recently came across a juicy tweet by Breezy Scroll.
Referring to their story on Wimbledon, the tweet reads, “Plans to replace ball boys with trained dogs at Wimbledon flops, here’s why.”
I haven’t the slightest clue about tennis, and I’m only mildly interested in dogs.
But something about that statement made my thumb stop its incessant scrolling. I just had to find out the reason behind Wimbledon’s failure.
How did the writer manage to capture my attention in such a noisy world?
Two words: Open Loops.
As the expert at Emma explains, the open loop headline technique is a copywriting trick where you open a story in your copy, but never close it with a satisfactory ending.
“[It is] kind of like opening a loop, but never closing it. It works because our brains are hardwired to seek out the information we desire. By using the open loops technique in your subject lines, you create that gap of information that compels people to open your email to learn more and, effectively, close the loop.”
In other words, it’s the marketing equivalent of placing a cliffhanger right at the end of each episode in a Netflix series – it forces you to continue binging. This technique plays on the psychological tendency of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.
“Once we know the beginning of a story, we feel entitled to the ending,” says the author of Emma’s blog post on this topic.
Open loop copy usually follows this formula: Establishing a known fact + creating a mystery or intrigue which compels the audience to click or stay to find out the whole story.
In Breezy Scroll’s tweet, Wimbledon’s failure is the known, and the reason behind it is the enticing unknown.
You can use this formula in your:
- Email headlines or blog post titles to improve open rates
- Reels or TikTok videos to increase audience retention & watch time,
- At the beginning of your social captions to get people to read the whole thing
Some examples of this technique in action are:
- What Bruce Lee can teach you about design
- This little-known email formula can increase your CTR
- My mom lost 15 kg. Here’s what she ate every day
- This is how you can save more money on Movies as a Student
- Eating fries? Here’s why you should STOP right now
- The Secret Technique Logo Designers used to get fast Client Approvals
- Increase open rates with this tip from Hollywood
- [QUIZ] Which Indian dessert should you have this weekend?
- Are you making these 7 common LinkedIn profile mistakes?
- 17 Moments From “Stranger Things” That Made Me Cry My Eyes Out
- Only Someone whose Favorite Food Is Biryani Has Tried these 16 Varieties
All the above examples incorporate open loops in a subtle manner. But if you take it too far, you might end up with a cringe-worthy title, which many refer to as “clickbait.”
There’s a fine line to tread here.
Using clickbait is bad for your brand in the long term, and it turns off almost everybody.
In fact, if your news site or blog gets associated with regularly publishing clickbaity titles, you might get banned or censored by many audiences. So be very careful when you’re using open loops.
Some examples of clickbait headlines are:
- This guy started filming his dog. What happens next will SHOCK you…
- If Chicken Is Your Favorite Dish, Do Not At These 32 Food Pictures
- There’s No Way You’ve Seen More Than 50 Of These Bollywood Movie Sequels
- You Won’t Believe This Dog’s Dance Moves!
- 166 Photos You Won’t Believe Are Not Photoshopped
All these headlines are screaming desperately for attention. So they often have the opposite effect: they repulsed me so much that I never bothered to click and read the blog posts.
For examples of both great & poorly executed open loops, just scroll through Buzzfeed’s homepage. They seem to have mastered the technique with the occasional goof-up.
Now that you know how open loops work, you’ll start seeing them all over your feed, wherever you go. They’re all over the web but only a few get it right.
Got more examples to share with our community? Comment them below!