Defining “call to action” in new media

Defining “call to action” in new media

A 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. I’ll be honest, when I began writing that post, I wasn’t even contemplating use of a call to action in a new media way. I was thinking of it in a traditional marketing way; you know, where the end of a direct marketing campaign says “quick calls us because we’ll do good things for you and gives you free stuff” (and often sounds a little more like the furniture salesman who cornered me in the store the other day and said “hey, I’m not supposed to, but if you buy that couch today, I’ll throw in the $75 scotch guard for free” though I’d said I was only getting design ideas). Anyway, nothing against marketing professionals that use that kind of call to action, because there are some scenarios where it’s more than appropriate and necessary. But last week, what I was really getting into was whether or not that specific pitch was appropriate for a blog.

While the comments debated the subject, some saying “yes we use a call to action in our blog posts” I began to realize that the used car salesman approach is not the only thing that readers were thinking about. Bonnie nailed it with her comment that “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.”

So, let’s look at some other ways that you could reasonably define a call to action with a new media twist.

1.     In text links – in the last post I wrote that “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.” One reader agreed with that, but said that in fact, he uses a call to action in 90% of his blog posts, and usually it’s by incorporating an in-text link. Theoretically, this could be considered a call to action (though I wasn’t thinking of it this way) since you are giving people the opportunity to learn more about a product or service that you offer. If you’re considering it from this angle, I take back my comment that 99% of the time I don’t feel a call to action is necessary because I actually use this strategy 99% of the time myself.

2.     Selling your knowledge – one reader that commented was a real estate agent struggling to find the balance between overselling and ensuring that readers are aware of her services. She said it’s frustrating to see all the agents that go too far. Another asked “but what if your blog is selling yourself?” When your blog is designed to sell yourself (your services, really) everything you write accomplishes that because you’re sharing your knowledge of the industry and the services you provide. By writing these posts about blogging, readers are aware of the services I offer, what knowledge I have, and what strategies I use. So it becomes necessary to leave a note at the end of the post saying “oh, by the way, WriteSourcing can help with your blog strategy, and if you contact us today and tell us where you read about us, we’ll give you a free consultation”. I won’t lie, something to that effect may be included when we do direct marketing, but when you read the blog, you kinda know that already, don’t you? So just remember, if you’re selling your knowledge, you’re also selling your services and this in a way is a call to action.

3.     You’re writing about a product – it’s okay now and again to write about a specific product or service on your blog to inform prospective customers, but you do need to avoid overselling in your strategy when you’re doing so. If you’re writing a post like this, all bets are off; use any type of call to action you’d like because you’re already being loud and proud about what you’ve got to offer and you want people to jump on those services as fast as ‘The Situation’ can close a different kind of deal (what? You know you’ve watched it!)

Are there any other ways you’d defining a blog call to action that’s fits well with new media strategies without sounding like my dear friend at the furniture store?

10 Comments
  • Gary Brazzell
    Posted at 08:42h, 03 February Reply

    “You don’t want to sound like a used-car salesman” essentially saying you don’t want to sound cheesy. Just because you don’t want to, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Can we really look at those infomercial millionaires and say that they were unsuccessful with their cheesy sales pitches? Of course we can’t. A business should sound cheesy when cheesy works! I would argue that the Snuggie’s entire marketing campaign is based on the effective use of cheesy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xZp-GLMMJ0). If Snuggie has a blog, it should certainly be cheesy and have obvious cheesy calls to action. The answer to the question of when, where, and how to implement a call to action boils down to this: “Do anything and everything that increases sales so long as you do not simultaneously cannibalize your brand value / brand reputation.”

  • bonnie
    Posted at 09:13h, 03 February Reply

    Gary, you’re absolutely right. I think that “cheesy” has its place and works well in the right context. I come from a B2B background where “cheesy” or “salesy” is not a good thing…but in many cases (such as used cars, internet millionaires and Snuggies) it is the best approach. I think maybe the real point is to make sure your call to action is one that your audience will respond to!

  • Finally Fast
    Posted at 14:12h, 04 February Reply

    This is something that only applies to a narrow industry and a narrow group of bloggers, but I would say developing a freeware software product and offering it up for free download and updating about the developmental process is a great call to action if you’re a software developer…and I don’t know that it necessarily falls into the “Sharing Your Knowledge” category because often times these bloggers don’t usually explain how they’ve developed their product or even offer coding tips.

    A great example of this would be the Dan from Around the Hill who developed a freeware WordPress app for Android and then got contacted by several businesses to create apps for them (Automattic included!).

  • Hementh
    Posted at 17:41h, 04 February Reply

    Thanks for the references. I’m working on a project about Marketing and Sales and the info is really helpful.

  • Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted at 13:25h, 07 February Reply

    @ Gary – agreed, and if you’re using your blog as more of an advertising tool in that context, then cheesy can work! The snuggy got a lot of hype for its ridiculous commercials that got people rolling their eyes, but they still purchased!

    Blogs that position themselves as resources, on the other hand, would like alleniate their readers a bit by pushing the “salesman act” a bit too far! I think it’s important to note that the blogging strategies I typically cover on this blog are not necessary those setup to advertise or review products so this is more the context where it would be avoided. So, I come at this with a similar perspective as Bonnie.

    Anyone reading the snuggy’s blog would certainly expect it to stay in line with the brand image they’ve established. If suddenly they were to start writing about how to get a good night’s sleep by doing a bed bug inspection (not in a tongue and cheek way) people may walk! But, if I were to turn all car salesman on you here, you may have the same reaction!

    So, I completely agree! Though I would still urge more of my clients to go the “resource” route with their blogs and avoid the cheese. But when it fits the brand, that’s a different story!

  • Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted at 13:27h, 07 February Reply

    @Finally Fast – that’s a great one!! And I would also agree “sharing your knowledge” could be putting together an EZine that compiles information already on the blog. But in this context, you’re really sharing your product and letting that speak for itself. Love that definition! Thanks for your input!

  • Medical Assistant
    Posted at 17:34h, 07 February Reply

    A call to action definitely has to be appropriate for the audience (I actually do have a Snuggie in my house). I probably fall into the Selling Knowledge section, but without a call to action, I’m just throwing knowledge out there and hoping people think it’s useful enough to convert. It’s not telling them what I offer in addition to the knowledge.

  • bonnie
    Posted at 18:17h, 07 February Reply

    Who doesn’t have a Snuggie in their house??

  • Company Culture
    Posted at 18:59h, 07 February Reply

    I think the ‘call to action’ should be which ever works with your target audience, be it traditonal or new media.

    A company blog that positions itself as a resource is still a form of marketing. They will still want the visitor to do something once they have read the ‘resource’.

    Sam.

  • as seen on tv
    Posted at 14:47h, 21 April Reply

    as seen on tv…

    […]Defining call to action for new media | Wax Blog[…]…

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