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Wax Marketing Blog

Should Your Blog Posts Have a Call to Action?

By Beth Graddon-Hodgson

salesman

not Beth's husband

Most businesses use blogging as a marketing tool, and that’s the way it should be; but people are uncertain exactly what that means. Do you use traditional rules of marketing when you’re writing your blog posts? Write for a target audience? Try to sell a product? Include a call to action?  Well, those are more questions than I can answer here, and I’ve answered many of them before. But to summarize, yes to be an effective marketing tool you do have to think as you would when writing marketing copy (identify your target audience, make statements that are appealing and capture interest,  and she some light on your business). But the similarities end there.

You can use your blog to market, but you don’t really want to market on your blog because you can get your message and your brand identity across to your readers. You can read more about finding the right balance and avoiding overselling on your blog, but I want to talk a bit about using a call to action on your blog here. A call to action is an essential component to be included with any marketing material to encourage people to contact your business immediately rather than putting you on the backburner and forgetting about you entirely. If you’re using your blog to market, does that mean that you should use a call to action on your blog, then?

This is actually a highly debated topic. I have clients who just won’t have it any other way; they want that traditional marketing incentive to appear. Typically that involves relating the business’ services to the blog topic and encouraging people to visit the main website or services page to learn more about XYZ services.  My personal stance on the use of a call to action in a blog is that 99% of the time, it’s appropriate to do without it, and here are some of the reasons why:

1.     I’m a big believer that you don’t want your blog to feel like just another sales pitch. Even if you weren’t over-selling throughout the bulk of your blog post, a simple irrelevant name drop of your services can suddenly make people feel like you wrote the post to be self-serving.

2.     If you’ve got your blog built into your website (and even if you don’t and include links back to information on your main website) it’s really unnecessary to tell people where to find information, because people can get to it themselves.

3.     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.

While I haven’t performed a formal study, I do feel as though in general, blogs that don’t include the call to action (and don’t oversell in general) do better than those that do. But what it truly comes down to is personal preference.

A blogging call to action: to include or not include; that is the question. Seriously, what do you do?

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15 Comments

  1. Ahmed Says :
    Posted on January 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    What about if you the product you are selling on your blog is you as an individual?

  2. Mia Says :
    Posted on January 21, 2011 at 4:41 am

    I trust that’s important to know who is your audience, and to try to adapt your posts accordingly.

  3. Andy @ FirstFound Says :
    Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Ahmed and Mia have it right, it depends on your product and audience – so it’s a judgement call really.

    As a rule of thumb, I try and add calls to action, but that’s because our blog is aimed at potential customers.

  4. bonnie harris
    Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

    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.

  5. office cubicle
    Posted on January 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Yeah right,internet blogging is one of the most powerful tool to promote your site online.You can earn money by just writing a blog.If this is your passion,goodluck to your path 🙂

  6. Criminal Justice Degree Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Very interesting topic. I would say that I use a call to action 90% of the time, mostly because of the keywords that lead users to the site. If they’re just looking for information, it makes sense to leave off the CTA. When it relates to a specific service, I feel that the CTA gives the user a better idea of our priorities and what we’re willing to offer. Unfortunately, there is no “black and white” to this.

  7. Christi Borden Says :
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 6:16 am

    I am torn between writing for fun or writing for my real estate business. I want to establish my expertise but really hate when Realtors constantly sell… Whether it is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or their blogs. How do we find a focus for our blog without making it a constant sales pitch?

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on January 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      I think when realtors provide content (frankly you guys know so much about increasing home value, etc) I love their sites. When they are just pushing property endlessly it gets tiresome. Give us tips about our home, from feng shui to energy savings, and you’ll have a lot of readers. We won’t care if you sneak in a weekly property for sale profile either!

  8. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    CJD – see, I wouldn’t classify leaving keywords with links as a call to action at all. My stance above is more from the perspective of writing an industry relevant post that’s not really pushing your business/services, just informing your readers and then leaving something like like this at the end (pretend this is at the end of my post above):

    “To learn more about effective blog strategies or have a professional help you appropriately use an effective call to action in your blog, visit http://www.writesourcing.com

    But you know, you’ve just given me another idea for a post – because while I was referring more to a traditional sales call to action, there are other ways you can make the same idea more social media friendly. And in the examples you give, I’m with you completely that SOMETHING should be included. Awesome point, and thanks!

    I think Bonnie calls it exactly right in stating that it’s important to stay away from sounding like a used car salesman. I’ll be honest, my definition of a “call to action” in the context of this post was thinking of exactly that. And I think we’d all agree that I do sound just like that or an infomercial in my example in my comment above!

  9. What Do You Want Me To Do Next? | Chris Hughes | Social Media Strategist Says :
    Posted on January 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    […] a specific action. For instance, after you read this I want you to remember to include a specific call-to-action in the next blog post you write or the next video you […]

  10. Defining call to action for new media | Wax Blog
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    […] 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. […]

  11. sales process
    Posted on December 19, 2011 at 1:59 am

    sales process…

    […]Should Your Blog Posts Have a Call to Action? | Wax Blog[…]…

  12. Birmingham Web Designer Says :
    Posted on March 19, 2012 at 5:21 am

    That’s a really interesting way of looking at blogs. Personally I agree that a blog post shouldn’t be another sales pitch, maybe the “call to action” could be inviting people to comment or share their stories.

    I believe creating such a two way dialogue will give a far better result that a sales message. Not everyone is on the same place on the buying ladder.

    Thank you for the post, great food for though!

  13. Defining "call to action" in new media | Wax Marketing Blog Says :
    Posted on June 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    […] 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. […]

  14. UK Website Designer Says :
    Posted on March 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Hi Beth, thanks for sharing. Its 2015 and yes as you mentioned, most of the blogs nowadays always feel like a sales pitch. Ever worse, swamped with call to action pop-ups and subscribe now buttons.

    Sometimes it becomes annoying, it really is wise to keep it minimal and give the readers more space to enjoy what they are reading.

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