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?