Well, it turns out there’s a whole load of psychology behind that. Research suggests that having numbers in your headline can increase your clickthrough rate and achieve 73% more social shares and engagement.
So, how do odd numbers come into this? Studies have shown that odd numbers are one of three drivers (of course!) that can tempt people into clicking on a headline and visiting an article.
Let’s break it down…
A study by George Loewenstein found that humans like content that contains a short list of tips/insights. And ideally, it’s on a subject the reader finds interesting! He found that small amounts of material were ideal for increasing curiosity, explaining that while taking in lots of material is rewarding, eventually curiosity drops.
In today’s digital space, attention spans are as short as they’ve ever been, but competition for that attention is incredibly high. To stand out, it’s highly likely that the more concise your content is, the more likely it is to succeed.
Simply put, grouping information together makes it easier for the human brain to remember. And similar to how we group mobile numbers, area codes and bank details, our working memory tends to chunk numbers together in groups of three to five.
It’s funny – with evenly numbered lists, readers will subconsciously assume that something’s either been added or removed from the article to keep the list to a round number. However, Abreena Tompkins’ study of over 300 articles about online learning found that grouping information in threes or fives allowed readers to absorb information better.
Her research also showed how the human mind struggles to retain information of more than nine items in a row. Apparently, breaking up longer material into odd-numbered groups helps the brain process information.
This is as relevant and true today as it has ever been.
In a social media culture where you can get information instantly, readers favour easily digestible material. Why? Because they can ‘scan’ rather than read.
To sum it all up, here are three immediate benefits (see what we did there?!) of having odd numbers in your content…
Odd numbers imply that the content is maxed out with all available resources, whereas evenly numbered articles suggest material’s been added in or taken away for the sake of balance.
Sure, even numbers create symmetry, and in many cases are appealing to the sensory memory. But odd numbers spark curiosity and are therefore easier to remember…
When we see an uneven number, our brain automatically tries to split it into two even numbers. This helps us to avoid being mentally blocked by a ‘tie’ or feeling evenly balanced. A clear win always makes us happier.
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