One of the most common questions we get about business blogging is in regards to the call to action.
What should we ask readers to do at the end of the post?
I think it’s an issue of having too many options.
Some type of content upgrade? A simple link to your homepage or services page?
Should the CTA (call to action) be at the end of the post or maybe the middle or maybe a popup?
There are lots of options. Here are a few thoughts on how to identify the right CTA for your business blog.
Step 1. Map Out Your Sales Cycle
The first step is a big step. This is where I see most businesses get askew with their blog CTAs.
The big mistake is jumping ahead in the sales cycle.
For example, at the end of the blog post (or even in the middle or maybe even at the beginning) a call to action popups up to contact the company or to even just view the company’s services.
In my experience, when someone is reading one of your blog posts it’s the first time they’ve ever been on your site. They’ve never interacted with your brand before. They were just looking for some information and came across your blog post.
First and foremost they’re just looking for that content.
Assess your sales cycle. Consider all the steps a typical customer goes through. From first interaction with your brand to all the questions you answer to final sale.
Just knowing your sales cycle helps you select the appropriate blog CTA. You don’t want to skip steps in the cycle because you’ll throw off your new readers.
Step 2. Assess Your Blogging Strategy & Posts
Some businesses only write about themselves and their products. Some write only about general things like answering questions their target readers have in relation to the industry. Some do both.
We typically recommend the latter or maybe both.
But whatever your strategy, it helps to be aware of your strategy because that helps determine the type of CTA that is appropriate for your reader.
If you’re writing about your products and services your reader is deeper into the sales process. You can use more sales-type CTAs. If you’re writing about more general topics then you’ll want to use CTAs that are earlier in the sales process like linking to related content.
Step 3. Assess Type Of Reader
Most times when you’re blogging you’re writing for your target customer.
However, that may not be the only reader you want to attract. You can indirectly reach more of your customers if you also write posts for journalists, podcasters, other bloggers, influencers, etc. If they like your content they may highlight it for their audiences. That can raise the profile of your brand helping expose you to larger audiences.
With CTAs, if you’re writing for general exposure you may not want to link to your products since the reader isn’t really a fit for what you’re selling. But you may want to link to your About page or to other similar content on your website that they may find valuable.
Step 4. Compare Your Goals & Reader Goals
Most companies we work with have the goal of getting a new sale. Totally makes sense. But that’s not always the reader’s goal. At least not right away.
This gets back to the sales cycle. You want to first understand what your reader is looking for and what they want to do when they’re reading a blog post and find a way to align their mindset with your goals for them.
In sales, the salesperson is often not immediately looking to make a sale because they know that not every person is ready to buy right away. So the salesperson just looks to take one more step. They ask one more question. They take it slow with one step at a time.
For example, your reader may not be ready to buy now, but maybe next week, next month or in five years they will be. In the meantime, offering to send them new content every week via an email newsletter may be something valuable to both of you.
Step 5. Determine Value To Reader
We’ll end with this idea and it’s always looking to provide value to your reader. The more you give the more you get, but you can’t focus on what you’re getting out of the situation. People can sniff that out.
The reality is that people have all kinds of options when it comes to content today. You may have amazing content, but if your reader can get content that is even almost as good as yours with less intrusion in the form of CTAs and ads they’re going to go for it over yours.
That’s why people rarely pay for online content. Why pay $10/month for a newspaper when you can get news on Twitter for free? Why pay for expert content when you can get something nearly as good from a blogger?
Whatever your CTA, always ask yourself what value the reader will get in the deal.
A Few Ideas…
Here are a few ideas for CTAs that are a little different. That are a little earlier in the sales cycle:
- Related posts
- Content downloads (ebooks, white papers, guides, etc.)
- Email newsletters, social profiles
- Your about page
- A tool like a blog grader
- A question to inspire a comment
- Social sharing buttons
- A case study
The right CTA on your blog posts can continue the interaction with your reader. But if you jump the gun and get too aggressive you risk alienated the person you’ve just worked hard to get onto your blog in the first place. Have patience when it comes to CTAs on your blog. Know that most of the time it’s the first time the person has interacted with your brand.