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31DBBB Day 23: Call Your Readers to Action

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Call to actionThis is Day 23 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers.

I’m frequently reminded of the statistic that the average person is bombarded by as many as 3,000 marketing messages a day.  TV ads, radio ads, billboards, ads on websites, email messages, magazine ads, newspaper ads, direct mail, and more area all competing for our attention.

Most of these ads have been written by marketing professionals.  The pros know they’re competing for our attention, so they don’t beat around the bush.  They tell you exactly what they want you to do.  They include a clear call to action.

Even if you’re not selling anything through your blog, you are competing with these 3,000 marketing messages to get your readers to take action, even if that action is as simple as posting a comment.

7 Tips for Calling Your Readers to Action

Today’s lesson in the 31DBBB ebook has lots of great advice.  There’s also a link in it to a blog post titled 12 Tips To SNAP Readers Out of Passivity.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  Here are my top seven suggestions for calling your blog readers to action.

  1. Make only one call to action. Asking readers to do more things will actually result in them doing less.
  2. Limit your big asks. Most of your calls to action should be small, requiring little time and effort and no money.  Occasionally you can make a big request, but pick and choose those “big asks” carefully.
  3. Make your call to action at the end of the post. It’s OK to include the call to action earlier in the post, but then repeat it again at the end otherwise it’s likely by the end of the post many readers will have forgotten your request.
  4. Make your call to action clear and specific. Asking readers to “Spread the word about X” is vague.  Asking readers to “Retweet this post and share it on Facebook” is clear and specific.
  5. Make most of your calls to action benefit someone other than you. If you’re always asking readers to do things for you, they will tire of it.  In some posts, call readers to do things for others.  Often the most effective calls to action are when you challenge readers to do something for their own benefit.  For example, every day in this series one of the calls to action is to do that day’s assignment, which is a call to do something to improve your blog.
  6. Serve your readers first. If you want your readers to do things for you, show them that you’re blogging to serve them.  Make your posts helpful, respond to comments, answer questions, promote their blogs, etc.
  7. Thank those who respond. Whenever possible, thank the people who respond by name, maybe even with a link to their blog or Twitter profile.  When that’s not possible a general thanks shows you appreciate those who followed the call to action and don’t take them for granted.

For big asks, be strategic, focused, and varied

If you have something important you want to accomplish, consider doing a series of posts on that theme.  End each post with a call to the same action but in a different way.  For example, if you want to raise money for an orphanage in Kenya you might do a one week fund raising series.  One post might feature a video and include a call to action to give money so the kids have a shot at a productive life.  One post might feature an interview with the founders, and the call to action might be to donate to support their efforts to raise the children to know Christ.  One post could focus on the various passages in the Bible that call God’s people to care for orphans, and the call to action could appeal to the readers desire to follow God.

The point is that your readers are all very different.  Even for small calls to action, like asking readers to comment or subscribe, you should try to vary your approach.

Discussion

  1. Can you give an example of a time when you were successful at calling your readers to action?  Why do you think it was successful?
  2. What other advice do you have for converting passive readers to active readers?

Take Action!

I’m going to break the “one call to action per post” rule, but I’m hoping to make up for it but varying my approach today. 🙂

  • Post a comment responding to the discussion questions above.
  • Write a call to action post and include a link to it in your comment.
  • Share this post on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Review Jon Reid’s blog, Blog One Another, and give him some feedback.
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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

    44 Comments

    • I will get to these soon. I do some of these regularly. I usually

      always end a vlog or video teaching asking if we can pray for them

      through email or prayer page on our website.

      For now, I have posted a vlog that does have a call to acton at the end

      to join us as we minister at a church in our area.
      http://www.ronniespoon.blogspot.com

    • Paul, this is valuable again. I do find though that advertisers have put us on the wrong foot. They overdo everything and they fail to understand that the new paradigm is pull not push. We must move to the user or customer's need, rather than making them come to our offerings. Its about identifying their needs and engaging rather than pushing a product. That is a lesson many churches need to learn, for we are still caught in the mindset of bringing people to our buildings instead of taking the vital heart and soul of the church, which is its people, into the marketplace. Marketers barely find a channel before they are pumping away with scant regard for the needs or sensitivities of their target audiences. We must be more subtle, more vital, more accessible, more relevant, more fulfilling and less pushy, else we will just become a variation of spam.

      • Pull not push! I like that. I've been trying to do that for years in ministry and in my other people oriented work. I find it much more satisfying to see people "discover" something or be surprised by a God-thing. And yes, I like to feel that excitement from time to time.

      • "we are still caught in the mindset of bringing people to our buildings instead of taking the vital heart and soul of the church, which is its people, into the marketplace"

        So true! Some of the consequences of this mindset is that it keeps us competing for people's attention and we end up with consumeristic programs. I think that when we are challenged to take our lives out into the rest of the world it keeps us more honest. At least it has for me–I'm more conscious now of the impact of my life since I've started focusing on living missionally rather than trying to get people to come to church.

    • Many of my posts are meant to be thought provoking. In essence they are meant to move the reader to consider what I have written and do something with it. Today's post does this: http://larrywestfall.com/where-are-the-sources-of

      I gave the readers some insight and suggestions and I am hopeful that they will take the initiative from there. I agree with Peter, I am not concerned with getting people to do what I want them to do. I am prayerful that they will begin to do what God wants them to do. I just want to be a catalyst for that. Not sure if this is really what Darren has in mind but I don't run a "how to" blog or sell an "info product."

      • GREAT post Larry. I have been called to work with those in pain and done so all my life. People think I've had a pretty exotic life, but it all came from working where God calls me.

        As age has rushed up on me I have felt more and more lead to provide action challenges. I think that's what you in essence did in your post. Isn't that itself a form or call to action?

      • Larry, I understand what you're saying about not running a "how to" blog or selling an "info product" but I think even with the kind of posts you write on your blog, it and your readers could benefit from a clearer call to action.

        For example, in your post today you close with 2 questions: "What other things could you add to this list? What is your plan to get involved?"

        Are the questions intended to be rhetorical? Believe it or not, many readers will take them that way. If not, what specifically are you inviting your readers to do?

        – Take a moment and reflect on the sources of pain around them?
        – Post a comment listing the sources of pain around them?
        – Pray and ask God to show them where to get involved?

        If you state those calls to action specifically, I think your readers will be more likely to do them.

        • Paul, thanks for the input. Being contemplative by nature I guess it is hard for me to see from another perspective at times. I updated the post with a few changes at the end. Maybe you could look at it and let me know what you think.

          I do think by making a few minor changes I was able to more clearly define how the reader could respond.

          • Larry, I definitely think you're changes have made the call to action clear.

            Just to play devil's advocate with myself… While I do think a clear call to action is generally a good thing, one could definitely make the case that with a blog like yours that it's perfectly legit to not make a clear call to action and leave it up to the Holy Spirit to call people to action.

            So, don't feel like you have to have a call to action. I just wanted to you to know how it could be done and why.

    • Like Larry my blog is designed to challenge people to a spiritual truth or a Biblical value. The action point is very personalized. Asking the right question will often generate a good response in the comments. I see that getting readers to leave comments is a good goal for my type of blog because if they comment, it may mean that they have really thought through the implications of the post for their own life.

      Today I asked people to comment by telling their "act of surrender." We'll see how that goes. (and in honor of Kevin W. it features cows!) http://junctionforjesus.blogspot.com/2010/06/disc

    • by call to action, you mean – to get readers to do something out of the ordinary and in unity?
      I couldn't possibly expect people to listen to a new call to action every day – although it feels like I am doing it.
      I suppose that the Poll I setup was a call to action – I wanted people's opinion on something that interests me and should interest my reader. So far it has gone well – I'll post the results next week. Here is is – if us want to add your click 🙂 http://synapticlight.com/poll-what-do-you-think-o… anything to pawn a link to my blog – sorry.

      I think that a "Call to Action" should also me lead by example, whatever it is. You can't call and sit down, you need to call – get up and lead, whatever that may mean.

      • According to today's lesson a call to action could be something as simple as asking people to comment on the post. In that light, I think it is possible to have at least a very small call to action at the end of every post.

          • I have been trying to remove some junk, to speed up the blog, so maybe it was in the middle of that when you looked.
            please have another look.

        • yeah, my calls to action at the end of my posts don't usually work, must be the wording.
          otherwise it is just the technical nature of the blog that does not promote comments – pity.
          I was thinking of starting up a new blog that's more personal (that will also take over http://sonofmine.wordpress.com/) then I must get a big call to action for everyone to take a look 🙂

    • This is one that will take a little getting used to for me. I totally recognize the importance, and will try to frame more posts with some sort of challenge at the end. Definitely asking people to comment a response to a question could be a simple way to get more engagement.

      For today's post, I put something together that I've had int the queue for a week or two now. It sorta breaks a couple of the rules (i'm asking for two things, and one of them involves spending money), but I wanted to give it a shot. Let me know what you think…
      http://bibledude.net/2010/06/the-shirt-that-says-