The lab

Breaking News: Best in class headlines | Volume 25

Subscribe For The Best Insights On B2B Marketing
Free Content

Happy April’s Fools Day!

Don’t worry, there are no pranks ahead; I’ll leave the jokes and pranks up to the jesters in your life 🃏.

The best prank I’ve pulled is filling my high school principal’s office with many water-filled red solo cups as part of our senior prank.

Jokes aside, BuzzSumo dropped some stellar research around headlines and best practices. They took their report and partnered with industry experts to develop guidelines for headlines in 2021. You’ll need to read this one.

Before we get into that, here’s a peek at what’s to come:

  • Nail every first impression with the best headlines
  • Google click-throughs are lower than ever
  • Amazon’s warehouse gamification

How To Write The Best Headlines

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word headline?

It should be “first impression.”

Headlines allow for a quick glimpse into the content and are the first chance to connect with your audience. A strong headline creates a solid first impression; as the saying goes, there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

When crafting headlines, the goal is to convey information concisely and drive action.

But what makes a good headline 🤔?

Buzzsumo dug into 100 million headlines, accessed through their index, and asked industry experts to weigh in on their findings on what makes the best headline. We’ve pulled out Buzzosumo’s top five insights into crafting the best headline!

1. Facebook engagement is driven by instructional headlines.

Emotional headlines are so 2017. They don’t work to drive engagement like they used to. It’s best to leave these pathos-based headlines in the past-os 😅.

2. Twitter favours curiosity headline phrases hinting, teasing or questioning something.

People on Twitter like to be intrigued by the content shared, and they want to engage with thought-provoking and educational content. I’ve included a screengrab of the top five best phrases for starting headlines – notice the three-way tie.

3. Top Facebook posts had 590x more shares on average than the top tweets.

Regardless of how well-worded and actionable the headline is, the chances of getting that content shared is 500 fold on Facebook. Twitter is great for engaging through replies, but users on this channel aren’t as eager to engage through shares.

4. Both Facebook and Twitter have an ideal headline length of 11 words (65 characters) based on the most shared posts.

According to BuzzSumo’s research, the ideal headline length to gain shares is eleven words. Upon further analysis, the magic number for gaining social engagement is ten words!

Over the years headlines have gotten progressively shorter, and today headlines with three to ten words drive the most social media engagement. Even though eleven words received the most shared posts on average, three to ten words take the cake as consistent top performers for generating engagement.

5. Authoritative news sites have displaced low-quality entertainment publications as the top Facebook headlines.

Move over US Weekly—it’s the Economist’s time to shine. Facebook users are turning away from social media tabloids and are using the channel to access real-time news.

Although it’s good to stay up to date on breaking news, Facebook has gotten into hot water for catering to fake news. Nonetheless, users are less interested in reading fluff pieces and are looking for factual and authoritative information.

To uncover all the best practices around headlines and hear from the industry experts, you need to read the full report. 😉

And yes, Ross was one of these industry experts. He shouts out BuzzFeed and their ability to change the game with “click friendly” headlines, including direct active CTAs like “you need to” and “you should.” This strategy plays on the human desire to not miss out on information, #FOMO.

Key Takeaways

  • Headline best practices are changing with the times.
  • Keep headlines under eleven words for the most significant impact.
  • Twitter prefers catchy, intriguing headlines, while Facebook favours instructional ones.

Declining Click-Throughs

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Sparktoro, has been keeping tabs on the amount of Google searches resulting (or not resulting) in click-throughs.

In August of 2019, he found that 50% of US searches ended without a click. Meaning the query was resolved from the featured snippet, an alternative on-SERP feature (knowledge panels), or an incorrect search query leading to a bounce.

Sadly, moving into 2021, the trend isn’t looking good for sites trying to gain organic clicks. From all 5.1T searches occurring on desktop and mobile in 2020, 65% of global searches ended without a click.



If 65% isn’t bad enough, it’s suspected that this percentage is undercounted due to some mobile and, likely all, voice searches resulting in no clicks. Regardless of undercounting, mobile is the big culprit for no-click searches in 2020, with 77% of searches resulting in no action.

Although this is a good sign that Google is offering the best information right from the SERP, the goal of Google is to generate click-throughs. In Q1 this year, we saw a sharp decrease in featured snippets, especially around one-word searches, which could indicate Google is attempting to limit featured snippets to encourage engagement.

Today, more searches than ever occur on Google, creating more click opportunities and keywords to rank for. The bad news, mobile searches are increasing in popularity, mobile clicks are decreasing, and with the vaccine rollout users will turn back to mobile browsers, away from the desktop, as we start to spend less time at home.

Key Takeaways

  • Organic clicks from Google’s SERP are declining.
  • Mobile and voice searches are the biggest culprit of no-click searches.
  • To prevent a drop in clicks, Google could be considering reducing featured snippets.

Amazon’s Astonishing Warehouse Gamification

To keep warehouse employees motivated and eager to perform tedious tasks, Amazon has been integrating gamification elements.

The game platform, FC Games, includes at least six arcade-style mini-games and has already been installed at a few warehouse facilities dating back to 2019. Amazon is now planning to roll out the game system in at least 20 states.

Games are installed and played on the screens next to the worker’s stations. Their physical actions (assembling orders, moving items, and sorting goods) are translated into virtual in-game moves. For example, in the game Mission Racer, the faster someone moves and completes their task, the faster their car will move around the track.

Employees don’t only compete against each other in these virtual games sparking competition, they’re also playing to win prizes like virtual pets, swag bucks and, during the holiday season, consumer electronics.

Amazon says the games aren’t designed to reward employees with tangible goods. Instead, it is a way for Amazon to encourage warehouse productivity as the work is becoming increasingly tedious.

If you’re wondering if these games are mandatory or becoming mandatory as rollout occurs, Kent Hollenbeck, an Amazon spokesperson, had this to say:

“Even with this expansion, the program remains completely optional for employees; they can switch in or out of different games depending on their preference, can play anonymously, or not play at all—the choice is theirs.”

Keeping these games optional is ideal since some employees are hesitant to take part, with one employee connecting this gamification system to that of Black Mirror’s Fifteen Million Merits. Which, by the way, is a great show streaming on Netflix — highly recommend.

While Amazon is still planning and working on automating the tedious, low mobility, repetitive warehouse tasks, it is a lengthy rollout process. At the moment, warehouses with automation have a higher injury rate.

For now, Amazon is sticking to gamifying workstations to keep employees entertained, engaged, and energized to perform at their best.

Key Takeaways

  • Warehouse automation for Amazon is a ways away.
  • Gamification is proving successful in keeping warehouse workers performing well based on the new roll-out.
  • Some employees are hesitant to support gamification as it is reminiscent of a dystopian system to track and encourage employees to work as hard and fast as possible.


🔐 Cynet raised $40 M in Series C funding to expand its autonomous breach protection company into Europe and North America.

💻 In a non-disclosed deal, Zapier acquired Markerpad, a no-code education service and community. Markerpad is going to continue operating as its own entity.

🕴️Using AI and machine learning to read job boards at scale and gain insights into where the job market is headed, Retrain.ai raised $13 M in Series A funding.


Microsoft and Discord have been undergoing deal talks. The deal is confidential for the time being, but we have heard it could cost Microsoft upwards of $10 B.

Recently, Microsoft has been focused on online communities, purchasing LinkedIn in 2016, Github in 2016, and attempting to purchase TikTok in 2020.

After failing to purchase TikTok, Microsoft went after ZeniMax Media, the parent company, to several large gaming studios. In September 2020, Microsoft closed the deal at $7.5 B.

Now with the pandemic-induced boom in gaming, Microsoft is looking to further cement its position in that industry. Through deal-making, acquisitions, and mergers, Microsoft is buying its way into the market and weaving connectivity through each platform for a seamless Microsoft gaming experience.


How to 10x your copy by Aleksandr Volodarsky (@volodarik)


Ryland James by Ryland James (Best Track: Water)

Originally sent out, by me Cali B, on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Stay up to date with all of our latest findings by subscribing to our newsletter today. Signing up also gives you early access to Ross’ Tuesday essay full of exclusive industry insights.

Google’s featured snippets (briefly) disappeared, Facebook’s AI is learning to watch videos, and those SEO myths we’ve all believed in are being busted!

Get The Latest SaaS & Marketing Insights Delivered To Your Inbox
Research, exclusive insights and information that isn’t published anywhere else.

Quick, do it now before the next drop!

Did you enjoy this post?

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est eopksio laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis istpoe natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque eopsloi

The Best Insights On B2B Marketing

Subscribe today to get access to some of the best content on B2B growth & tech.