Every blog post should contain a call to action (a CTA). Think of the first-time visitors: what do you want them to do after they finish reading your post? Do you want them to wander off? No, you want to capture them so that you can contact them again. No call to action = high bounce rate = opportunity lost. In this blog post we show you the minimum you need to know about CTAs to start getting business leads for your digital agency.
You're Wasting Your Time Blogging if You Don't Use Calls to Action in Your Blog Posts
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Before the Internet, creative agencies did not have to publish valuable content to get business leads. Business was referred to them. Well, times have changed. If you blog for the purposes of your digital agency business, you're probably doing it to influence future customers, raise your brand awareness or get direct business leads for your services.
Take a look at the bounce rate on your blog posts: does it make you happy?
(Bounce rate is the number of people leaving your blog post without visiting any other page of your website).
If this number is above 80%, that's too damn high because all your other web pages probably have a much lower bounce rate. This is completely normal for a blog post - or so the pundits say.
Why would I accept high bounce rates as normal? By blogging I'm actually paying people to read my free content. I spend hours writing even a simplest blog post. That makes me want to protect my investment because I'm capable of multiplying the number of hours spent writing by the dollar value of my hour. That's how much I'm currently paying you to read this for free, and that's why I leave nothing to chance. At the end of this and every other blog post I publish there's a call to action (a CTA) where I promise you something of value and you give me something in exchange.
So without further ado, here's my own list of CTA rules for blog posts which I consult myself when I'm creating call to action boxes.
Put the call to action (CTA) at the very end of your blog post.
I don’t bug my readers with popups, callouts or calls to action at the beginning of the post.
(Popups work but they're inhumane and even marketers agree.)
I need to first prove my worth and give, give, give before I ask for even a smallest commitment. A reader reaching the end of my blog post is proof enough of my worth and that's my favorite place to put a CTA: where it adds value and where it does not annoy.
One CTA per blog post only.
Ask for ten things and you'll get none: every website page should have one and only one purpose. My blog posts' purpose is to get permission to start a relationship with my reader. I define relationship as "email subscriber" because it fits my marketing strategy. I don't hit my reader with everything I've got at the end of my blog post, like so many other blogs which clutter their pages with ten social media buttons and two calls to action and three related blog posts. I apply the minimalist principle and ask for only one thing: an email address.
Make the CTA relevant to the blog post content.
If the blog post is about project management, the CTA is about project management too. Take a look at Hubspot's example: - an article about Twitter has a call to action related to optimizing your social media strategy. You can learn heaps about proper calls to action from Hubspot (they're a powerhouse and a constant source of inspiration to me). If you spend some time with their online channels, you can reverse-engineer parts of their marketing strategy and use that in your business.
Make your CTA stand the hell out from the rest of the page.
You've proven your worth: now drop the shyness! I personally like using size and contrast color for emphasis. You can use images, forms to fill out, even animated gifs if you feel adventurous. Scroll down this page: you can’t miss my CTA. Even if you scroll very fast and even if you’re on mobile, you'll notice my CTA because it's the only brightly colored element in that part of the page. Test your blog posts on mobile devices and make sure your CTA is clearly visible.
Make your copy sell: write your best value proposition.
It's the text that sells. Spell it out: what it is exactly that people receive from you in exchange for their email address? I like offering exclusive content that people can't get anywhere else. For example, in one of my CTAs I offer my exclusive stories about all the expensive mistakes I've made in my business. Nobody else but me can tell my stories, which makes my value proposition pretty unique. I also don't publish these stories anywhere else, so people must subscribe to get access to all my stories.
Automate your CTAs if you can.
I don’t force myself to invent a CTA at the moment when I'm finished writing a blog post - that’s a recipe for failure to publish. I have a selection of CTAs to choose from in advance. Have at least one CTA at your disposal.
But I don’t stop there: my content management system supports inserting pre-written CTAs into blog posts (we use Django CMS for which we developed a custom blog application with a CTA feature). This way I can choose from a multitude of CTAs, depending on the context of the blog post, and it takes me three seconds to insert a CTA into a blog post.
Don't make your CTA ask for sex on a first date.
A.k.a. don't ask for too much commitment from your blog post reader. He is probably not ready to buy anything from you just yet. Don't ask for money, don't ask for a free trial, don't ask to fill out 20 form fields. Ask for a tweet. Offer an instant social media follow button. Ask for an email address. In general, ask for their permission to proactively get in touch with them.
You don't need complicated tools to create a CTA.
The CTA image below? I used Google Slides to first draw a simple ebook cover. It's just a nice font from Google Fonts on a purple background. Then I dragged and dropped that cover to one of the placeit.net templates to generate this nice photo of a tablet with my ebook cover. I paid a one time fee of $8 to generate this image. Finally, I used my favorite graphics program to add the text and the 'button' to the right of the tablet.
Optimize your CTAs for first-time visitors
First-time visitors don't know you and you won't get the chance to get to know them better if you don't at least try to capture them as email subscribers or social media followers. A small number of first time visitors will subscribe at their first visit; if your content is good, they'll stumble upon your new blog posts in the future and they'll subscribe then. It's important to understand that you need to ask for a relationship every time they're visiting your website: if they keep coming back, they'll accept your offer sooner or later.