The average open rate of WeChat Official Accounts is only 5%.
If you are operating a subscription account, the window of opportunity for users to notice your article is only 1-2 seconds (the time the article title appears in preview in the chat page). After this short delay, your message will likely be buried under hundreds of other accounts’ update.
You can however increase your reading rate by having a killer title.
Newrank recently made an analysis of over 2,000 articles with +100,000 views and found a surprising fact: the average length of the titles are increasing year over year!
This study took the data on February 16th on the last 3 years, and compared the title length.
Here is the result:
There is a clear trend of increasing number of characters in article titles. The longest title recorded in the study is 61 characters (the most iPhone 7 screen could display are 32 characters).
This is partly due to the ever larger mobile screen size. The title itself becomes a story telling “Tweet” that attract users to click.
Here is an example of a title with 57 characters.
Eliminate the Career Certificate! Only two month till the two meetings (NPC &CPPCC), share if you are in a lot of WeChat groups! Let the congress representatives hear the voice from 30 million truck drivers! Let’s eliminate it this year! (WeChat account: Truck home)
Example of a typical title with around 22 characters:
4-minute short film: not one word is spoke , but it moved everyone!
The polygamist cult leader and his 79 wives, and those girls who have been brainwashed
This logistic company is out of business? No… my package is still on its way
These titles give readers significant context about a particular event and potential readers are likely to click and continue reading.
Here is an example:
[Attention] Never ever buy this type of car! Illegal! Very dangerous! Likely to be restricted in the near future! (WeChat: People’s Daily)
Exclamation marks and question marks are used in order to structure a long title into short digestible chunks.
Interestingly the number of articles receiving +100,000 views (among the 2,000 accounts polled) has decreased from 1,190 to 727, a 38% decrease in one year!
It seems that as the WeChat Official Account market matures, the views are concentrating on a few “super Official Accounts” with more than 1 million active followers.
So how should you craft your titles? According to the Newrank analysis, here are the 4 types of titles that are likely to increase the click through rate.
- Suspense (also called the “classic Buzzfeed hook”)
A quiet moment before the storm, what will be the next explosive news from North Korea?
Everyone is talking about Kim Jong-nam, why must he die?
Which is better: egg yolk or egg white? Here is the answer…
Why can’t you leave this person who doesn’t love you?
The bilingual speakers in our audience will appreciate the fact that Chinese headlines tend to breakdown in a 2-parts “Premise, Conclusion” structure, while Western headlines tend to flow in 1 single sentence.
- Creating a twist
Married for 3 years, turns out I am the mistress
The really smart person, usually have fewer friends
They ask | Why does he look so sloppy yet so handsome
She take off my pants, just to buy a bag!
Here again, most of the headlines are cut into a 2 parts “Premise, Twist” structure. The separation between the two parts is done with punctuation (, ! ?) or with a vertical separator (|), less likely to be seen in Western headlines.
This beauty cannibal zombie will make you laugh within minutes
Exaggeration is a good way to attract reads (we’re using it quite a bit ourselves), but keep in mind that you have to stay within boundaries.
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The safest way to write headlines is of course to get back to the core principle: usefulness. It is very subjective for us to decide what is exciting, tempting or funny. But it is fairly objective to figure out what is useful.
For young accounts trying to get initial traction, focusing on clearly stating why your article will deliver value to users remains the easiest way to maximize open rates.
High click through rate is correlated with the length of the title. It doesn’t mean longer titles would guarantee a higher click through rate. The key is to give context to your followers and create a title that they can relate with. And sometimes, it is might even be okay to exaggerate a bit : )