Insight November 28, 2016

4 Reasons to Use Numerals


By Trish McLaughlin, Senior Copywriter

If you want to get your numbers — open or click-through rates, for example — up, consider using numerals in your subject lines and headlines. According to Business 2 Community, subject lines or headlines that promote content with numerals, such as “6 Steps,” “5 Tricks,” or “9 Things,” are more likely to be clicked on than content without numbers.

It’s this reaction that spurs media outlets to abandon the Associated Press guideline, which is to spell out whole numbers up to (and including) nine. From magazine covers to blog headlines, the power of the numeral is forcing editors and proofreaders to turn a blind eye. Here are a few reasons why numerals are so effective:

  • Numerals make a clear promise about the content readers are opening.
  • Numerals have greater credibility than words. Think of the phrase, “Numbers don’t lie.” In the daily tsunami of emails and online messages, readers are likely to grab onto numbers.
  • Scanning, the most popular form of reading, is easier with numerals because they help the reader process content.
  • Writers are more likely to stay on topic with a numeral-based structure. Generally, that results in better content quality.

If you’re ready to use numerals to boost your numbers, check out these four tips:

  1. Start with the numeral. If your numeral is at the end of the headline or subject line, it’s less effective.
  2. Pay attention to the number you choose. A low number conveys that the content will be short and succinct. A higher number suggests thoroughness. An unusual number such as 19 or 43 can pique the reader’s interest.
  3. Think oddly. When using single digits, consider that a recent analysis of 300 blog article headlines revealed that odd numbers, especially “5” and “7,”resulted in more clicks than even numbers.
  4. Deliver what you promise. If you promised readers “7 Tips,” give them no more, no less. If you only have six, create another or update your headline or subject line to match.