5 Reasons to Start Adding More Numbers to Your Content
Let’s face it–most marketers are not numbers people. We don’t dig math, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love numbers. Using numbers, lists, percentages, and other types of math in your messages are great ways to get attention, create credibility, and drive click-throughs. Why should you consider using numbers?
Numerals Attract More Attention Than Words
There isn’t much formal research to back this up, but numbers (3,5,7) get more attention than words (three, five, seven). In Cup O Content’s own A/B research efforts, we’ve found that articles, blogs, and social media posts that feature prime numerals do significantly better than those without.
The opposite is also true. If you don’t want a number to grab attention but feel that you need to include it, then spell it out.
Prime Numbers (Especially 3) Get More Attention Than Composites
What is it about prime numbers that fascinate us? Here at Cup O Content, we know that prime numbers (3,5,7) get more clicks than composites (4,6,8). This is because 3, as the old Schoolhouse Rock song goes, is a magic number. Most designers have heard of the rule of 3. And our culture has loved 3 from the beginning: 3 little pigs, 3 blind mice, the Holy Trinity, 3 strikes and you’re out. The list goes on.
But people also love 5 and 7. However, clear preferences seem to fall away for higher prime numbers. And when it comes to grabbing attention, lower numbers perform better than higher numbers, so don’t bother giving people 59 reasons to buy.
Play With Powerful Percentages
Although percentages are such an integrated part of our lives, we don’t think about them much. But they’ve been around since Roman times. They have been used to describe sales (15% off), election results (53% of the vote), food composition (2% milk), and more. We love to describe things in one-hundreds, even when numbers might make things more straightforward.
For example, people could be told they will save $4.48 instead of 15%, but retailers know percentages sell better than numbers.
Using percentages in headlines is not always practical. It doesn’t always result in more clicks, but including them in text, to support facts, or to restate conditions is a compelling way to convey a message.
When using percentages, style guides often tell writers to spell out “percent” instead of using the symbol (%). However, these rules are relaxing, and many experts believe that using the symbol is an excellent way to draw attention to the presence of percentages in text.
Use Sourced Numbers to Support Your Argument
We’ve all read online content that seems to be utter nonsense, or at least very unlikely to be true. The great and terrible thing about the internet is that almost anyone can say anything they want. So, when you set out to convince or persuade someone, remember that they are coming to your content with a level of skepticism. Even if you’re a highly respected publication like The New York Times or The Washington Times, including numbers adds credibility. Compare these two sets of facts. Which one feels more meaningful to you?
· There are millions of high school athletes
· There are thousands of NCAA athletes
· Very few NCAA athletes go on to play their sport professionally
· There are 7.4 million high school athletes
· 460,000 will become NCAA athletes
· Only 2% of NCAA athletes go on to play their sport professionally
Using numbers from a respected source not only supports your argument but also sheds a halo of credibility on yourself and your organization. So make it a habit to get specific numbers and to source them with reliable, trustworthy sources.
Break Grammar Rules When it Supports Your Goals
The world of grammar gets wonky when it comes to numbers. Some want you to spell out numbers 1-10. Others want you to spell out all numbers, list all as numerals, or just pick a style and stick with it. Worst of all, many legal documents want you to spell them out and also add the numerals in parenthesis, like this: three hundred and two dollars ($302.)
At Cup O Content, we’ve used all these rules. We don’t stick to one style. Instead, we use the grammatical strategy that works best to help us achieve our goals. In this article, for example, we’ve stuck to numerals, except when we’re talking about spelling out numbers (three hundred and two dollars) or if those numbers get really big (7.4 million). You see how this gets confusing, right?
Our best advice is to have a rule, stick with it, and then break it when it seems necessary.
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