Have you noticed that apart from the standard 10 Secrets Of… style of number headlines, most are written with odd numbers?
I went off on a quest to find out why this is.
Brandon Cornett says
With everything else being equal, odd numbers have been shown to outperform even numbers. Odd numbers appear more scientific and legitimate. That’s why Listerine kills 99% of germs instead of 100%.
A number written as a numeral e.g. “7″ rather than “seven” stands out in the text heading. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is a good example. The numeral draws the readers eye when scanning. People remember odd numbers more easily than even numbers.
Kendall SummerHawk says
Most of the time you see 3, 5, 7 and 9. Our brain is also able to take in information in small groupings, so when we see the number 3 or the number 5 it’s very easy for our brain to understand that. It’s very easy for that message to come into our brain and we stay more receptive to it.
She goes on to say that larger numbers such as “15″ seem more unmanageable for quick scanning and processing.
The number does not have to be right at the beginning of the headline e.g. Top 5 Free Ways To Promote Your Writing Business or Have You Made These 3 Basic Freelance Writing Mistakes?
Using odd numbers in headlines is a tried and true approach in the direct marketing, copywriting and popular magazine world. They know how to write headlines that attract attention and engage readers.
In marketing, the Law of Specificity states that people are more likely to believe information if it is specific rather than general.
Numerals provide a focus for the reader and a specific promise. It also provides a focus for the writer. With any promise comes the need to deliver. Sometimes headlines are “bait” to get you hooked, but once you read on the article doesn’t match the promise.