The Psychology Behind the Open-Loop: Keeping Your Audience Coming Back for More

Author: Jack Martin

WHY is it so hard to watch “just one episode” of your favorite TV series on Netflix? WHY?

Thanks to streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, HBOgo, it is getting easier and easier for us mindless, lazy Sunday humans to say YES to “just one more episode*” (*and by one more episode, we mean probably around 2-4). They make it easy to binge watch by automatically counting down to the next episode before your pulse can return to normal after the jaw dropping ending of the previous episode. They (meaning Hollywood), do this by using the Open Loop tactic.

What is the Open Loop tactic?

The Open Loop is when at the end of the Orange is the New Black episode you are watching, Piper beats Pensatucky to a pulp until they both end up laying lifeless on the grounds outside the prison. Screen goes blank. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? You have no idea. Your cortisol levels skyrocket. Anxiety ensues. They have successfully planted the need to know what happens next. Lucky for you, the next episode is ready and waiting for your consumption. Press play and all those anxieties will go away. Your cortisol levels will return to normal.

As a marketer, this concept of creating a physical need to consume more information is extremely attractive, but also relatively elusive. So how can we use the Open Loop tactic to get site visitors to stick around, to get a reader to click on another blog post rather than leaving your site without looking back, or to turn email lists into paying customers?


NEVER give away all the information at once. If you do, you might never hear from your audience again. Draw your readers in, present the problem and tease the answer in a Tweet or a Facebook post and make them click. Something as simple as “Crappy content is killing your conversion rates, now you can change that.” or “Join our email list to find out how you can boost your open rates with 6 easy steps.”

Why should this work?

With these short sentences we have presented a problem with no solution in sight. Just like with the Orange is the New Black scenario, we are hard-wired to need closure. We have a compulsion to tie-up loose ends. Once you get your readers to click, then give them the information they need to feel as though they can solve the problem you presented (with your help of course). I am by no means saying that every piece of content that you put out there should be a cliffhanger, at some point you will have to provide a story and answers. Check out this amazing post with 27 different, proven copywriting formulas that will help you capture your audience.

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