Defining “call to action” in new media

Defining “call to action” in new media

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about using a traditional marketing call to action in your blog, and many of the insightful comments lead me to put a little bit more thought into the subject. I’ll be honest, when I began writing that post, I wasn’t even contemplating use of a call to action in a new media way. I was thinking of it in a traditional marketing way; you know, where the end of a direct marketing campaign says “quick calls us because we’ll do good things for you and gives you free stuff” (and often sounds a little more like the furniture salesman who cornered me in the store the other day and said “hey, I’m not supposed to, but if you buy that couch today, I’ll throw in the $75 scotch guard for free” though I’d said I was only getting design ideas). Anyway, nothing against marketing professionals that use that kind of call to action, because there are some scenarios where it’s more than appropriate and necessary. But last week, what I was really getting into was whether or not that specific pitch was appropriate for a blog.

While the comments debated the subject, some saying “yes we use a call to action in our blog posts” I began to realize that the used car salesman approach is not the only thing that readers were thinking about. Bonnie nailed it with her comment that “I think it really depends on how the call is written. You can freely include them if you stay away from sounding like a stereotypical used car salesman.”

So, let’s look at some other ways that you could reasonably define a call to action with a new media twist.

1.     In text links – in the last post I wrote that “Many people argue that a call to action creates a great opportunity to drop in some essential keywords with a link that will help the SEO strategy of the website. I say that you’ve got a whole blog post worth of text to work with and you’re better off including those query keywords with links in there.” One reader agreed with that, but said that in fact, he uses a call to action in 90% of his blog posts, and usually it’s by incorporating an in-text link. Theoretically, this could be considered a call to action (though I wasn’t thinking of it this way) since you are giving people the opportunity to learn more about a product or service that you offer. If you’re considering it from this angle, I take back my comment that 99% of the time I don’t feel a call to action is necessary because I actually use this strategy 99% of the time myself.

2.     Selling your knowledge – one reader that commented was a real estate agent struggling to find the balance between overselling and ensuring that readers are aware of her services. She said it’s frustrating to see all the agents that go too far. Another asked “but what if your blog is selling yourself?” When your blog is designed to sell yourself (your services, really) everything you write accomplishes that because you’re sharing your knowledge of the industry and the services you provide. By writing these posts about blogging, readers are aware of the services I offer, what knowledge I have, and what strategies I use. So it becomes necessary to leave a note at the end of the post saying “oh, by the way, WriteSourcing can help with your blog strategy, and if you contact us today and tell us where you read about us, we’ll give you a free consultation”. I won’t lie, something to that effect may be included when we do direct marketing, but when you read the blog, you kinda know that already, don’t you? So just remember, if you’re selling your knowledge, you’re also selling your services and this in a way is a call to action.

3.     You’re writing about a product – it’s okay now and again to write about a specific product or service on your blog to inform prospective customers, but you do need to avoid overselling in your strategy when you’re doing so. If you’re writing a post like this, all bets are off; use any type of call to action you’d like because you’re already being loud and proud about what you’ve got to offer and you want people to jump on those services as fast as ‘The Situation’ can close a different kind of deal (what? You know you’ve watched it!)

Are there any other ways you’d defining a blog call to action that’s fits well with new media strategies without sounding like my dear friend at the furniture store?