Here’s The Biggest Mistake I See Bloggers Make

You might think it’s their content, headlines, bad SEO, or loads of other potential issues…

But it isn’t.

The biggest mistake they make is not being clear—crystal clear—on what they want people to do.

What do I mean by that?

Here are some examples…

Example 1: Look at the DIYthemes Blog Home Page

DIYthemes Blog

When you look at that page, what do you think I want people to do?

Sign up for the DIYthemes mailing list, of course.

Is there any doubt?

Nope.

It’s crystal clear.

There are other blogs out there who throw people into their newest content first, without using the Feature box, but that’s just plain silly.

Yes, people might want to read your content—and they can still do that—but you’ve got to optimize your website for YOUR intended actions.

Now there are some people who will say, “Well, what about my loyal visitors? Won’t that piss them off?”

It’s possible…but remember, when you’re running a blog that teaches people how to do something, your loyal readers don’t even visit your website. Instead, they consume your content via email or RSS.

As a matter of fact, how are you reading this article right now? 🙂

Example 2: Look at the Social Triggers Single Post Page

Social Triggers home page

You might notice a trend here…

What’s the main action I want people to take?

Again, I want people to sign up to the mailing list.

(Yes, I’m a list building freak because, in my opinion, it’s the BEST way to construct a blog that generates real business results).

Is there any doubt here?

Nope.

I use no colors on my site, except for the mailing list form.

And if they miss that, I’ve got another form right there at the top of the sidebar.

Is it a little overboard?

Maybe, but again, it’s absolutely crystal clear that I want people to sign up for my mailing list.

What Are Examples Of Desired Actions?

It’s clear that I focus on building an email list because I believe that’s best for my business.

However, with you, you might have a different intended action.

If you’re a web design company, you might want people to fill out proposal forms.

Or, if you’re any kind of service company, your intended action may be a phone call…or a contact form fill out…or anything that gets a visitor to contact you for potential services.

(Note, even in that case, I think an email list is probably best still :-D).

But what are some other examples of other intended actions?

Here’s a list:

  1. Sign up to your mailing list
  2. Click on your advertisements
  3. Contact you for service requests
  4. Learn more about your products
  5. Buy your products

Let’s See These Other Examples In Action…

You’ve seen how I convince people to sign up for the mailing list on DIYthemes and Social Triggers.

Now let’s look at some other websites…

Desired Action: Click to His Mailing List Squeeze Page

Here’s how Ramit Sethi handles his web design

Instead of focusing on getting the email from his blog, he tries to send people from his blog to a squeeze page.

As you can see, there are three pink arrows, and each arrow is pointing to a link that sends people to the same exact squeeze page where he promises loads of highly-valuable content.

Ramit Sethi

Who is this strategy good for?

  • People who want mailing list signups
  • People who sell services (instead of linking to a squeeze page, you could link to a services page)

Desired Action: Click on the Advertisement

Here’s how Smashing Magazine designs their website

As you can see by the arrows, their desired action is obviously their advertisements.

After all, more than 50% of their above-the-fold real estate is dedicated to ads.

Smashing Magazine website

Even though it’s a little much for my liking, I don’t blame them.

Gotta get paid, after all.

Regardless of how many ads there are…the action they want you to take is crystal clear.

Who is this strategy for?

I believe that for anyone who’s using their website to generate ad revenue, this is a good strategy. As a word of warning, I wouldn’t be this aggressive with ads until “after” you’ve built a loyal audience and gained a decent amount of traffic.

Desired Action: Learn More About Products

Now for our last example, let’s look at 37 Signals.

As you can see, it’s clear that they want you to see what products they offer.

After all, all of their top screen real estate is dedicated to their products.

Take a look:

37 signals

Who is this perfect for?

People whose main goal is to sell products.

Personally, I’d prefer to focus on the mailing list first, and products second, but 37signals products have a “free plan,” and that likely does well for generating qualified leads.

Now I Pass It To You…

When people visit your site, what’s your desired action?

Before you answer that…

Ask yourself, and be honest with yourself, “What action will help me grow my business the most?”

Once you know that, optimize your website for that.

About the author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.