Tell Readers What You Want Them to Do

In the world of blogging and internet marketing, a ‘call to action’ is a message that encourages prospects to perform a specific task. This can involve purchasing a product, making a donation, subscribing to a newsletter or feed, joining your community on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, things of that nature.

The specific action is defined by the marketer and is based on personal goals.

When you think about it, call-to-actions are really a very natural result of the majority of human interactions we experience almost daily.

How many times have you called a friend up, exchanged pleasantries and idle banter for a bit, then before hanging up, you ask them to get together sometime for lunch, a beer, whatever. The friend usually responds affirming the appreciation and acceptance of the invitation, a date and time agreed upon – a call-to-action offered and fulfilled.

This is just one example of how we tell others how we would like them to continue the interactions that’s going on between us.

If we use this technique in conjunction with our content, the call to action shifts from being a subtle request to more of a considerate obligation that requires your prospects immediate commitment.

Sometimes I feel that way when I’ve read something from local charities – I subscribe to several because you just never know when you might be able to help out in some small way. However, I’m am a big animal rights advocate and that’s where the bulk of my charitable contributions are directed most times. When I see an animal at our local animal protection league that needs serious help and funds to get that help, I feel a strong sense of obligation to assist somehow. I hear their call to action and I respond.

Unfortunately, this same technique works for those get-rich-quick scams that continually prey on our basic desire for happiness, which we all know is often tied to financial wealth. If the message is commanding enough, people will generally do whatever that “call-to-action” is commanding they do. Even if it’s a bad thing!

Another habit we possess instinctively is to share information. We often share information about our experiences with products, services or places – good or bad – we do like to share! Sometimes we share details even if no one asks for it.

Utilizing this instinct, and coupling it with a “call-to-action” seems like a pretty good plan, don’t you think?

If you want someone to spread the word about your content or service, ask them. Many times, they will share the information even if you don’t offer some kind of incentive.

Good idea – Then comes the monkey wrench…

Modesty, pride and fear are the main obstacles that get in our way. Right?

Let me guess – The little voice inside your head tells you that you’ll come off as conceited? You’re too proud to beg? Fear of rejection is a real issue?

So what else can you do?

You write!

You publish free content. You give away free tools without asking for anything in return. You do this consistently. You nurture your reputation. You build a following.

That’s what you do!

Once you’ve given your readers enough of yourself by sharing your knowledge, you won’t feel guilty in asking for a little help.

Repeat after me – There’s Nothing Wrong With Asking for Help

I’ve seen bloggers use a variety of “call-to-action” models. Some focus on increasing their social reach and some focus on revenue generation or donations. For the most part, people are more then willing to give away compliments or subscribe with an email address while fewer are willing to part with money.

Your “call to action” requests should be set up in a way that says ‘do this now.’ Don’t let your prospect’s interest or satisfaction diminish or allow them to become distracted by other things drawing their attention away.

If you are giving away free content, you *should* ask yourself WHY you are doing that – Then learn to embed your call to actions in some of those masterful pieces.

Don’t let modesty, pride or fear stand in the way of asking your readers to help in some way and don’t underestimate the power of reciprocity.

These are behaviors exhibited within the influential social norm that can be used to your advantage, especially when it comes to blogging and marketing online.

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6 responses
  1. Abby Avatar

    Very relevant post, as I am going through this same thing myself. While I want to somehow turn my blog into something “real” in terms of production, following and a little bit of money, I don’t really know how to go about doing that and feel awkward asking anyone to do anything other than read.
    I recently created a Facebook page for the blog and still feel weird asking people to “like” it. I’m not shy, so this kind of weirds me out 😉
    Thank you for this post! You got me thinking…

  2. Mindy Halleck Avatar

    Gayla, loved your post about ‘asking for help’ and why some people blog. My blog, Literary Liaisons is about sharing my writing experiences and resources for other writers, it’s about building community and keeping my name out there for that day when I finish my novel and do have something to market. But for now my focus is on building a writers community and it’s been great, as you so wisely said, ‘never underestimate the power of reciprocity.” Thanks for the newsletter, it’s one of the few that i actually read. Mindy

  3. C. S. Jameson Avatar

    Call to Action really encompasses where I am at. I decided in 2008 that I was going to be a writer, and began work on my first novel. In 2009 I bought my domain and hosting. But I only recently started utilizing it for blogging. Since I started this journey, I have had a lot of fear, and it has really held me back. I feel like I’m in third grade when really I should be in fifth. Thanks for helping me think this through!!

  4. Haim A.Razat Avatar

    Great insights and tips. I definitely want to get traction with my readers. Moving towards that direction.

  5. Angel Avatar

    Good point! 🙂 I did follow you on Facebook. 🙂

  6. Gayla Baer-Taylor Avatar

    @ Abby – You sound SO much like me! It’s been impossible for me to get to the place of asking anyone to help. A few years back one of my very dear friends told me I was being very selfish in not asking for help. She pointed out that “good, helpful feeling” I get when I help – well other people might want to feel that too. That changed my entire outlook. Keep that in mind when you feel that little tug holding you back.

    @ Mindy – You are wise in building your community – several years ago I caught an interview with Donald Trump (LOVE that man by the way) – He was asked “If you lost everything you own today, what would you do?” His response was something along the lines of “I’d get a good night sleep and tomorrow I would network, network, network.” You can never have a network that’s too strong! 🙂 Good luck with that novel and thanks for subscribing to our newsletter.

    C.S. – I remember that all consuming fear when I first began to write. Back in those days, people were SO overly critical of proper punctuation, etc. It made me nervous. I always felt like I was one semicolon or lack of away from being tarred and feathered in the blogosphere. What I have discovered is the blogosphere is such an amazing melting pot of global talent. Some of the best posts and stories I’ve read come from bloggers who have brilliant minds and glowing imaginations but not an ounce of knowledge on where to put those semicolons. Then again, I type as I speak with lots of hyphens and exclamation points – so I can appreciate those types of character flaws. 🙂 Don’t ever let fear hold you back. If you have a story to tell – there’s a collection of readers waiting to hear it.

    Angel – I love your blog! I followed you back on FB. 🙂 I’m not 100% vegetarian, but close. Maybe with your help I can make that full transition soon 🙂

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