This is the fifth post in my series about how to craft blog posts. In previous posts I’ve covered choosing your topic, crafting your title, your opening paragraph and answering the question, “So What?“ Today I’m going to talk about your calls to action.
When you look at the number of comments on your blog compared to the total number of visitors it’s almost mind-boggling to see how passive your readers are. Add in other KPIs like the number of times they “like” your content, or the number of subscribers you have, and you wonder if those visitors are real, thinking people or just imaginary friends. Tired of blogging to a brick wall? Here are 12 tips to snap your readers out of passivity and get a response when you publish a post.
Why Passivity Is A Real Problem On Blogs
It’s important to understand that in order for anyone to take any kind of action they have to feel emotionally involved. If you run a boutique your customer buys that pretty scarf because she saw the twinkle in your eye and she heard the excitement in your voice. She may have even subconsciously taken a cue when you stepped behind the cash register.
None of these visual and audio cues are available on a blog, that’s why it’s important to learn how to write content that evokes an emotional response. But even that’s not enough because reader interpretation is often unpredictable.
The key to alleviating reader passivity, then, is to simply and clearly tell your readers exactly what you want them to do. Sounds easy enough. Just include a strong call to action in every post and you reader engagement and conversions will dramatically increase over night, right?
Not quite. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here are those 12 tips I mentioned earlier.
1. Know what action you want your readers to take: Before you even start writing your post, know what action you want your readers to take. In my post, “Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post” I explain how to create an effective post that literally leads you reader to complete your call to action.
2. One call to action per post: It’s a proven fact – Give your readers one option and they’ll generally choose it. Give them two and they’ll just leave the page. If your reader has more than one option he has to take a minute to decide which to follow, or which to follow first. It’s just too much bother so they generally choose neither.
3. Make it beneficial for both parties: Don’t be afraid to ask your readers to help you out by sharing or commenting or (gasp!) subscribing to your newsletter. But you’ll get better results if they get something out of it, too. For example, don’t ask them to share one of your poor-quality posts. Ask them to share your best content so their friends all think they’re superstars for sharing.
4. Keep it simple: If possible, make it a one-click solution. Use a plug-in to pre-format Tweets for one-click sharing. Don’t send your reader to another page that sends them to another page so they can fill out a form and then check their email and confirm so they can get your newsletter. Make it as easy as possible to complete the action.
5. Put it inside the post: Text links inside the post work best. For example, instead of putting a link at the end of the post that says “Click here to subscribe to my newsletter,” write a post about your newsletter and include a link to yours as an example. Here’s an example:
If you haven’t noticed my subscription form over there (INCLUDE LINK) in the sidebar, I’ve recently revamped my newsletter to include exclusive information that only subscribers can access. Why? Because I feel that people who subscribe to my newsletter are interested in more in-depth knowledge than the average reader, details and information that the average reader might find boring or confusing, but more experienced readers will find intriguing and thought-provoking.
6. Make it clear: Make it perfectly clear what you want your readers to do and what’s going to happen when they click that link. It’s fine to send them to a sales page, but warn them first, especially if that sales page is on a different domain and has a different design.
7. Use multiple calls to the same action: In the above example, I could have included another contextual link at the end of the post, or even at the end of the paragraph. I like to include one call to action near the beginning of the post for readers who only scan, and one near the end for readers who read the whole post. That way they don’t have to scroll back to the top to find the link.
8. Make them prominent: Use a different, prominent color for links so they stand out. A few years ago the folks at Chrome did a study and found that conversions increased more than 80 percent when they used #0044cc blue as their link color. Just sayin’…
9. Take your reader by the hand: Don’t assume anything. Don’t even assume your visitor is going to read as far as your call to action. Beginning with the title, take your reader by the hand and use persuasive content to lead them to your call to action and then tell them what you want them to do.
10. Give them an incentive: An incentive can be a freebie, exclusive access to information, or even the gratitude of their friends when they share your remarkable content. Everyone responds better when you tell them “What’s In It For Me?”
11. Change your actions from post to post: A lot of your readers are repeat visitors and if they’re seeing that same old call to action on every single post eventually they’re going to tune it out.
12. Don’t hard-sell, pre-sell: If you learn to write effective blog posts you’ll understand that the best way to get someone to complete an action is to persuade them to do it. People respond better to persuasion than they do a direct order. Don’t just write a standard blog post and plug in any old call to action at the end. Have your call to action ready to go and write content that persuades the reader to complete that action.
Stay tuned! In the next post in this series I’m going to cover adding depth to your posts to increase reader engagement. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of this series.