Do people who visit your blog know about what you do? Are you doing enough to capture leads and get sales? Do you add CTA (Calls To Action) to your posts?
I know it’s something lots of business bloggers, including me do forget about. No one told me when I started blogging that I had to do something to try and get visitors to buy or at least capture them now so I can sell later.
CTA’s are how we capture our reader’s attention and persuade them to take another step forward towards buying. They are the magic that can make all our blogging efforts worthwhile.
Listen below to find out how to use CTA’s effectively on your blog
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS
What is a CTA?
Most people hear the term call to action and read it as a call to buy. ‘Now you’ve read this post why not buy our stuff’. But we don’t always have to be this direct.
Not everyone who stumbles on a blog post on our site is ready to buy, today. We need to have a call to action for every kind of buyer.
I remember having a conversation with an author a number of years ago. They had identified the perfect keyword to sell their book and had dedicated a page on their website for it. It was optimised and drove traffic but no one was buying. Why?
The keyword was a question. People who arrived on the page were looking for the answer but instead, they got an advert for the book she was selling.
These visitors weren’t far enough into the buying process, they weren’t ready to buy. Instead of a sales page she should have been using the opportunity to write a detailed blog post with a CTA inviting them to read more, sign up for email updates or download the first chapter of her book.
Although not every piece of content we write should be pushing a direct sale we do need to create content that will push the right people towards the next phase of the buying journey.
A tourist thinking about visiting Ireland may well see your blog post on places to visit and sign up to your mailing list for more tourism advice, it’s only later they’ll choose to come and stay at your boutique campsite, B&B or hotel.
Types of CTA
The most important CTA on your website should be your contact info. It should be visible on every page, I recommend adding it to the header of your site if you have one. This means that everyone who visits knows exactly how to get in touch.
But that’s the very least you need to have on your website and blog. Each post should have a CTA.
Graphic banners. Include one at the bottom of your post and you’ll encourage people to take action. I use these and have been impressed by the results they create.
Banners don’t have to be at the bottom of your posts either, you can interrupt your posts with a banner. I notice AgoraPulse, who I write for do this. At the very least this ensures people know where they are, it’s good brand awareness.
Text based CTA
The problem with graphic CTA’s is a condition called ‘Banner blindness’
Marketing Terms defines banner blindness as:
“The tendency of web visitors to ignore banner ads, even when banners contain information visitors are actively seeking.”
This means that even the most beautifully designed banners and graphics we include as CTA’s in our posts won’t get seen by a portion of our visitors. We need to look for alternatives to reach these people.
One solution is text based CTA’s.
Back in 2015 I ran an event with my friend and colleague Lorna Sixsmith. We had a strong content marketing plan to help us sell tickets including lots of blog posts.
I wanted to ensure that anyone visiting those posts knew about the event so as well as including a banner CTA at the bottom of the post I added a CTA right at the top. I changed the colour of that text so it would stand out from the main post and fenced it off with a line. This meant that at the very least people would scan this short CTA before moving on to reading more.
You include text-based CTA’s anywhere in your posts. I’ve been experimenting with adding large format (usually H4) text CTA’s in the centre of my posts.
I’m hoping that as they are large they should perform the same function as other subheadings and slow readers who are scrolling through.
The world hates pop-up windows but they can be effective for marketers. You can have ‘less annoying’ pop-ups that only appear when someone leaves the site. They are less intrusive and I’ve found the one I have installed quite effective at driving email signups.
I made a mistake when I first installed it…
My CTA was all about subscribing to my newsletter. At first, I was disappointed with the results, loads of people were seeing it but not many were subscribing. What was I doing wrong?
When I looked at my text with critical eyes I realised I’d forgotten about my reader. I had briefly mentioned what they would get in return for signing up but I hadn’t made it sound interesting.
My headline ‘Get Social Snacks’, the name of my newsletter didn’t tell readers anything. I changed this to ‘Before you go…’ as readers would only see the window when they decided to leave the site and upped the benefits of joining the list. The result? A 33% increase in sign ups.
The lesson from this is to be creative, be snappy and think hard about what benefits you offer that will attract your customer.
Think hard about what value each of your CTA’s offers your customers and craft language that will entice them to click.
What to ask for in your CTA
Ask for comments
The easiest CTA to put in a post is a call for comments. Comments are hard to get but can build a valuable audience. When people leave a comment they’ll feel like they are connecting with you.
A line or two of text at the bottom of your posts asking a specific question or even asking for feedback can encourage readers to participate in the comments section.
Ask for a social connection
Leaving a comment on your posts is hard work for readers. People are more likely to respond to your articles on social media so try adding a CTA that links to one of your social media accounts instead
Make sure you let people know what the value is of following you on Twitter, Liking your Facebook page, joining your Facebook group and link to that channel.
If you are writing about a topic you’ve written about before include a ‘further reading’ section at the bottom of your post. This will keep readers on-site longer, decrease your bounce rate and make them more likely to remember you and your brand.
Of course, you don’t have to put related posts at the bottom, you can link within the body of your text too.
It was this tactic that got me hooked on Social Media Examiner. I’d start on one post on their site and follow a path through their content learning as I went. Over a number of years, they have turned me into a loyal consumer who is now ready to attend their conferences and pay for their products.
Subscribe to your email list
Yes, it’s great people visit your site but if you can capture their email addresses you can prolong the relationship, turn them into repeat and loyal visitors and sell to them.
If you have a freebie, a giveaway or a lead incentive that’s always going to capture more email addresses but if not just give them the opportunity to subscribe and make it sound enticing. What’s the benefit of them signing up?
“You won’t need to keep checking my site for new blogging info and guides if you subscribe to my newsletter“
Ask for a share
CTA’s can be used to encourage people to share your posts. I use the ‘Click to tweet’ plugin. This lets me make sections of my text tweetable. See below.
[Tweet “What’s a CTA and how do you use them in your blog?”]
The SumoMe plugin encourages people to share images from my posts on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I get at least one share a week as a result of these.
‘Pay with a tweet’ encourages people to share a tweet in return for a download or access to an area of your site. It’s a clever way to encourage others to share.
Call to buy
All of the above are what I call ‘Soft CTA’s’. You are encouraging users to take an action but not selling directly to them. The final kind of CTA is one that encourages direct sales.
Irish insurance company Chill Insurance includes a ‘Get A Quote’ CTA on every relevant blog post. It appears in the sidebar on desktop and at the foot of the post on mobile.
Don’t be wishy-washy about your direct selling CTA. Tell people what you want them to do, whether it’s ‘book an appointment’ ‘get a quote’ or ‘buy now’.
There is room in your content schedule for each of these types of CTA, look at each post you write and choose the one most relevant to it.
For example, a shoe shop writing a post about the best shoes to buy for winter should include a direct link to buy your shoes. Whereas a CTA to join your mailing list would suit a less sales oriented post reviewing London Fashion Week.
This week’s blogging challenge is to look at your last 5 blog posts and find opportunities to add Calls to action. Decide which type, graphic, text or pop-up will work best and also think about how close to buying people who visit those posts will be.
A proposition for you
Before you go I’ve a proposition for you. The one-year anniversary of Blogcentric is speeding towards us and I’d love to feature some of you. If you have made changes to your blog as a result of listening I want to hear your stories and record a short slot for the anniversary edition. So get in touch, email me firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories and we’ll set something up.
Do Facebook ads make you tear your hair out? Let us manage your Facebook ads for you. We'll save you time and improve results. Get A Quote Now.
Elaine Rogers says
This is a constant learning curve for me. I do add a CTA but generally it’s an afterthought – I should really be organising my post around my CTA – some day I’ll get it right lol.
Great post Amanda!
Dee Sewell says
Thanks for the reminder Amanda, I never did it when I started blogging, then felt very awkward adding a CTA, then it became second nature, and now I’m not blogging as much my last post missed it out almost completely! I added a question mark to my latest post which might encourage people to respond. Will remember on the next post…
Elaine Rogers says
If it’s a popular post, you could edit to add a CTA Dee 🙂
Eleanor @ Kreativ says
Brilliant post Amanda…and so very true. When I first started blogging I had no idea about CTAs. I would just leave my readers hanging. I was a crap date 🙂
Amanda Webb says
It’s easily forgotten, even now I’m not making best use of them. But I shall!
Amanda Webb says
I probably felt weird adding them too. I think as businesses we’re sometimes reluctant to come across too salesy, so much so that we forget to sell altogether.
Amanda Webb says
It’s something I’m working on constantly. I’m a lot better than I used to be and it’s easy when you have a specific campaign to promote but it’s crucial if you really want your blog to work for you.