You’ve put all this time into crafting the perfect article or blog post. You’ve got a great headline, your SEO is spot-on, and you’ve nailed every point of your outline with, let’s face it, a certain linguistic genius. Your reader is enthralled, breathlessly gliding through paragraphs, and then… the article just ends. Full stop. The reader scrolls, scrolls, but that’s it. Disappointed, the reader heads off to see what kind of kitten pix are trending.
You have just committed blogging malpractice.
Don’t be that writer who leaves a reader hanging at the end. Instead, keep the conversation going with what are known as calls to action. In days of old, these usually were something like sending in a card (postage paid!) for a free trial subscription. You have a number of more interesting options in the Internet age for keeping readers engaged after they finish your article. But first, a couple of brief notes on…
What Calls To Action Should (And Shouldn’t) Do
-Calls to action should flow logically from your post or article. They should be an extension to your article. A jarring transition into “what to do next” is just a turn-off.
-Don’t try to force people into complying with your call to action (ex. make them give their email address before they can view a page). This is just a quick exit ramp to kitten pix.
-There should be a benefit to answering the call to action, be it a free gift, free trial, additional information, etc.
-There should be no obligation built into the call to action. Think try, rather than buy.
-There should be an element of urgency to your call to action. You’re looking for them to do the next thing right NOW!
The 9 Calls To Action
No doubt you could probably come up with more than nine if you tried, but these will get you started. Be sure to “mix them up” when writing posts. Try various ones to see which work best for your site. You’re also not limited to doing just one at a time, but don’t go completely overboard and load up the end a piece with five calls to action.
1) Invite readers to follow you on social media. Build your social community/following by including links to one or more of your social media networks at the end of your articles.
2) Similarly, invite readers to share your article to their social media. You should be doing this for all your posts anyways – search engines love lots of incoming links from social media – but you can always reinforce the point in a call to action.
3) Invite to comment. This is one way to really keep the conversation going, and an excellent way to build community. Invite readers to share their own experiences with the topic, offer their opinion, or ask questions (which you of course will then answer!). One great way to get people involved in the comments is to ask them a question.
4) Run a poll. Polls not only get readers involved in the post topic, but can also provide you with valuable insight into what your readers are looking for or what they find important. Give them the option of adding their own poll choice to really pull in valuable info (and potentially give you future article ideas).
5) Share your phone number or email address. If you offer relevant goods/services that you think your readers will be interested in, use a call to action to help them get in touch with you more easily.
6) Sell your stuff. Yeah, I know I said “try rather than buy,” but if you have an online store, you can occasionally plug it in a call to action. Even better, link to product tours, tutorials, or video demos if you have them.
7) Subscribe to a newsletter, email list, or the blog itself. Give them a good reason to do so (“Did you like this post?”), and then invite them to subscribe to your newsletter, etc. They’ll do this to get more info on the topic or to be notified when you add something new to the blog/site.
8) Link to more of your content. If they enjoyed the article, chances are they’ll be interested in more of the same, topic-wise. Use a call to action to internally link to other relevant articles, as well as other aspects of your site that you think might be of interest to them.
9) Give something away for free. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it is free. Think a free ebook, report, webinar, even a free consultation, if that is your thing. It should be on-topic and involve no obligation. Let’s call this one the “best for last.” Everyone loves freebies.
Finally, and this should come as no surprise… Do you have a favorite call to action that you like to use, or that has worked really well for you in the past? Share it in the comments!