Do not read this blog post

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

So you're reading this post, huh? Kind of a compelling title, isn’t it?

Why is that?


I have strong evidence that "negative" Web headlines and links often generate lots more clicks than "positive" ones. For example, my Worst Practices blog category gets more clicks than any other category on this blog.

Several years ago I worked on a site where we included a link "For Executives Only" and this generated more traffic than other links. It turns out people react to negatives. Words like "Worst", "Not", "Don't", and "Only" are interesting and people want to know what’s there.

My friend Jonathan Kranz experienced the same phenomenon with a link on his Web site: 10 Important Reasons NOT to Hire Me. Jonathan says: "that negative word, 'NOT,' attracts attention. Some people wonder why I would deliberately discourage business. More experienced marketers understand that I'm qualifying my prospects, and come to see how I manage it. Others are simply curious."

Try it!

The Web allows us to try new things and implement new ideas quickly, get people to check out it live, and then make changes to on the fly. Try a "negative" link and if that Web page that doesn’t work for you, you can just delete it. (You can’t do that with a print ad or direct-mail campaign).

Take a look at your site and find a link that you can flip around. Measure the traffic before and after the switch and see what works better. If there is a dramatic difference, let me know and I may blog about it.

> Negative

"How to increase productivity and drive revenue"
> "How to destabilize productivity, deter customers, and diminish revenue"

"Check out our online media room"
> "Our online media room -- for journalists and analysts only"

While the "negative" technique most certainly works, it should be used sparingly. Usually, only one negative link is appropriate.

And don't forget -- there must be something compelling and interesting to read once people click! Don't promise something interesting with a negative headline and then fail to deliver.

When people do click through, the landing page should immediately signal that you're having fun. Don't be too subtle. Don't let people think that you really are being negative or exclusionary.