The Social Blogger: 5 Quick and Easy Tips to Create Effective Calls to Action

All of us want our blogging to reflect our voice, our personality, our point of view. Blogging should do all those things.

And, for those of us who are blogging as part of a focused content marketing strategy for our business or our cause, our blogging should also be able to deliver an effective call to action.

An effective call to action is likely the single most forgotten part of most bloggers’ strategies. It can have a creepy, sleazy feel to it, like going in for the kill, or making your move, or doing the fancy orchestrated and planned final close. Even when you’re not soliciting for money, it can still feel pushed or forced to move the relationship conversation to the “do this now” stage.

At its best, an effective call to action is more aligned with providing value than anything else. It’s not about taking but about giving. And who doesn’t love a giver, right?

To help move you past your squeamishness about implementing calls to actions, here are a few tips to hopefully make it easier:

Reveal your motive upfront

If you always message that you don’t have a motive, you seem dishonest. Sometimes I use the hash tag #blatantselfpromotion on tweets that are promoting a paid webinar or donation request. The frequency of my pitches is relatively low so people find it endearing. I get loads of positive feedback when I do it (and I get click-throughs and purchases) so do it already!

Use humor

Sexual innuendo, snarky jokes, teasing, humorous videos, and self deprecating remarks attract attention and arouse curiosity. Try something like “Momma needs new shoes, do you think you could whip out your wallet?” It cuts through the noise and makes it fun to participate in your flow. Find your humorous voice and keep the close light. People like playing games so make it a game.

Provide value first

@ChrisBrogan spoke via Skype at a recent SxSwI event I spoke at and his quote was this: “I’d rather have a friend now buy later than a buy now – it gives me more opportunities to engage and have their attention which leads to more loyalty and repeat business.” Giving value upfront without going straight to the final result will give you more opps to impact the result. Graduate the intensity of your calls to action and start with the easiest one first, building up to more and more commitment as the relationship progresses.

Simply ask

Sometimes being a blogger is like being in high school. Someone has a crush on you and they’re just waiting for you to ask them to the dance and you don’t. 20 years later at the reunion your secret admirer confesses their devotion and pines about how they should have just asked first. Don’t let this happen to you. Not everyone has the courage or drive to step up and ask for what they want. Offer it to them – it’s kind and it’s helpful. Simply ask your audience to do what you know is in their best interest and then listen for the answer.

Say what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said

It’s called expectation management and it circles back to tip #1 about revealing your motive. Tell people what to expect. Use words that signal a purchase or action and don’t use ones that signal waiting. Creating perceived scarcity with a limited time offer always smells fishy to me but if you really do quit selling something after a certain time, like limited run art prints, then be sure to say it and more importantly, do it. If you have an event that happens on a certain day, urgency is required and your audience will be disappointed you don’t make it clear that there is a real deadline. If the party’s on Friday, say so. Showing up Saturday won’t work. Be consistent and your audience will begin to understand your approach.

Advanced Tip plus the Short Answer – Do More of It

Most of my clients don’t do any call to action so adding then increases their effectiveness phenomenally. Just try adding them every 20th tweet or once a week. Don’t be afraid to lose audience either. If you want to use your blogging to build a revenue stream it’s only natural you might lose some of the “only in it if it’s free” audience. Say good bye and wish them well on their way. You’ll attract others that are interested in buying (or in volunteering for your cause or whatever).

If you are already doing calls to action, you’re tracking them, and you need to get better conversion, then consider a multivariate testing software set up. Instead of the slow mo a/b testing, you can drive an adwords based short time, low dollar high traffic campaign to either a landing page or an ad or link to test several variables at once on your call to action. Test, tweak, and repeat and while you’re at it, would you go follow me on Twitter too? 


Picture provided via Creative Commons License by Michael Francis McCarthy