Blogging Commandment 8 – Thou Shalt Ask for Action

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“Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” -Zig Ziglar

Blogging Commandment 8I made the Skype call and scanned my reader’s blog as I waited for them to pick-up.

“Hello, Stan?”

“Hey, John  – I’m calling for our 30 minute chat. You ready to dive in?”

“Sure, thanks Stan! I appreciate you taking the time time.”

“No problem, John, 30-minutes goes quick so hit me with your #1 challenge.”

After a few seconds of silence, John says –

“I can’t get anyone to sign-up for my email list. I’m using an Expert Product like you mentioned but no one seems to want it.”

Quickly, I scanned his navigation, sidebar, blog headline, and two most recent points…

“John,” I began,” I know why. You aren’t asking anyone to sign-up! Why?”

Well, he began, his voice shifting into a self-assured monotone – I don’t push people on my blog. If I engage, start a conversation, and create a sense of community, people will reciprocate.

“Umm… John”, I began.

“Yes?”

“Engagement isn’t a substitute for marketing.”

For the next 25 minutes, John and I had a spirited debate. The next day, a promotional box for his Expert Product made an appearance, moved from an obscure landing page to the end of each post. He started getting subscribers – lots of them.

Excuse me but I have to ask.

Do you believe in the blogging tooth fairy too?

The belief that a blog replaces “selling in print” allowing you to magically get more sales, leads, readers, and attention by simply showing up?

If so, we need to talk.

The Problem With “Engagement”

Engagement is a powerful meme. It suggests a two-way exchange where both parties offer equal value. The popular theory is that engagement equals retweeting, answering comments, chatting in hangouts, posting cool stuff on Facebook.  These activities are part of the process but something is missing.

You see, engagement also includes good old-fashioned marketing. Smart marketers know that great content wins trust but doesn’t move the conversation forward. The best “engagers” offer great products, trade information for permission to contact.

You need to embed well-crafted call-to-action in your engagement for results. Ignore this commandment and your blog will sputter along barely pulling its weight.

The Definition of Advertising Is…

You might be getting a little nervous. You probably think that I’m recommending that you wedge a lopsided “buy my product” appeal at the end of each sentence. You may even suspect that I want to turn your blog into a mishmash of Google Adsense, flashing banners, and oily salesman tactics.

You know me better than that.

I believe that advertising is the product of bad marketing.

Instead, you should uncover your reader’s needs, work hard to get admitted to their circle of trust, methodically build your authority and credibility and then – only then – do you ask for their attention, subscription, or sale.

This is good marketing. This is good content marketing. This is damn good blogging.

How to Ask For Action

Here are a few tips to jumpstart your call-to-action efforts:

1. Decide What You Want: It’s best to focus on one primary action. Consistently asking for the same action in various ways will get better results than confusing your readers with a buffet of choices.

2. Trade Contact for Content: Always give your best content in exchange for contact information, usually an email address.  Asking people to simply “sign up for my newsletter” won’t be as successful as giving them access to videos, special reports, a spot on an upcoming webinar, or a free product trial.  The more creative you are the better you’ll do.

3. High Visibility: Put your call-to-action where it will be noticed.  I recommend the header of your blog, top of the sidebar and after each blog post.  When appropriate, refer to your offer in your blog posts as well.

4. Be Persistent and Consistent: Always ask.  Even if you are sick of including a call-to-action. In marketing, the most persistent and consistent wins.

Fired Up?  Ready to Go?

There is a ton on Pushing Social to help you get going.  I suggest you get a free membership to my PS Mastermind, my private lock-box filled with special reports video, and other stuff you will love.  Sign up for it here.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

5 thoughts on “Blogging Commandment 8 – Thou Shalt Ask for Action

  1. Derek Fischer

    It is an all too common mistake to focus on having great, engaging content and then dropping the ball by not making the subscription process immediately obvious to visitors. Professional marketers know that unless you ask for engagement that you are unlikely to get it but many people, especially in small business, are doing their own online marketing and they often baulk at the idea of asking for the engagement that they are after. Around 2% of people will comment on a blog even when a call to action encourages them to, without the call bloggers are flying on a wing and a prayer.

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  3. Leon

    Thanks, Stanford.

    Congrats on the Social Media Blog award. I find your content really helpful, even though I blog just as a hobby.

    Lots to learn from you.

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