Whether you blog is for fun or for profit you should have your “Most Desired Action” clearly defined. What is Most Desired Action? Depending on the orientation and goals of your [tag-tec]blog[/tag-tech] or site it can be anything and here are a few examples, by no means all-inclusive:
- Get people to interact and comment on your stories.
- Turn an accidental visitor into reader by providing easy access to more relevant information.
- Have visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed or newsletter.
- And the Big One – have your visitors click on your AdSense or Affiliate link.
Examples above just some of the most common Most Desired Actions and yours could be quite different form it but your must have it clearly defined in your mind and guide your visitor every step of the way until they actually take that action. And here is how to improve your chances of actually getting that action.
There are really 3 steps to this process:
- Know How Your visitors interact with your site or blog
- Define your Most Desired Action and present it in most trafficked area of your blog.
- Track your results and test different placement of call to your Most Desired Action.
Step 1 is actually quite easy. While there are commercial solutions that provide you with exact tracking of how your visitors interact with your site – it might be expensive and quite unnecessary, especially for personal blogs. If you are looking for commercial solution – you can check Clickdensity, they do offer free trial to test the waters before making a dive.
But for the most blogs simply knowing how MOST of the visitors view your pages should be sufficient for initial placement of call to action and then use results tracking to achieve better results. There are multiple studies done on the subject and I’ll provide links to relevant resource in just a minute but here is an image of typical representation of how YOUR visitors see your blog or site:
Obviously there is a lot more to this topic and I highly recommend you visit these resources to read more details:
- Eyetracking Research – usability studies done by Nielsen Norman group. Highly recommend you read the “F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content”.
- Eye Gaze Patterns while Searching vs. Browsing a Website – by Usability news.
- Clickstream Study on dynamic web.
Step 2 is to get your personal Most Desired Action in prominent location and have your visitors act on it. I could use some hypothetical goal and provide theories on getting it done but let’s work with real figures and use real blog.
Since you are already reading my blog I will share my personal experience and use it as an example. I’m still in early stages of promoting my blog and at this point don’t even have Page Rank assigned (in so-called Google sandbox). But that doesn’t mean I can work on basic SEO.
So my goals are two-fold:
- build link popularity to rank better in search engines and
- get more readers and subscribers to my RSS feed
Based on *heat map* you see above in this post there are a few regions on my blog that will get a lot more exposure and I have to make the best use of it to achieve my goals. It required a bit of thinking and code tinkering but here is how I decided to solve the issue.
In most prominent location I have a Featured Article. Currently it directly corresponds to my goals and provides a value to my readers by sharing for free updated theme for WordPress 2.2+. My second goal is covered by link in footer of that theme with credit to my site for re-work as well as original creator. Everyone who uses the theme will link back to my site as a small token of appreciation for the work – I hope it will not be removed.
Now on goal number 2 I had to be a more creative. My first approach is using What Would Seth Godin Do plugin and also hopes that by providing valuable content I will get people to subscribe to my RSS feed (and test showed it did, although it is still not 100% conclusive since numbers are fairly small) but I also have to have a more direct and visually appealing Call To Action.
As you can clearly see on eyetrack map right side of my blog gets less attention then main content so to BRING that attention I had to create a call to Subscribe to my RSS that would stand out a lot more. I could have simply use standard RSS subscribe buttons but since my blog dedicated to Web 2.0 it gave me opportunity to be bolder and after 5 minutes of work in Photoshop I created a brand new RSS button not used ANYWHERE else and visually appealing. Small time and skill investment that pays dividends for me – my subscribers more then doubled since implementing it.
So here is a short lesson – if you place you call to action in a location that gets less attention – make it visually appealing to pull the eyes to it and have it clicked.
If you read detailed research results, links to which I have provided earlier you will also find that people tend to react to bigger images even when placed in less prominent location. Same stand true for bigger size adblock, if that is your MDA.
Step 3 is a follow up to previous 2. You have to track you results and test different variations by placing your Call to Action in different locations. Sometime you will find that a simple small change can have great impact on achieving your Most Desired Action.
We are all people and most of us follow common patterns. Proper testing can never be substituted with guesswork. I use multiple statistics software to test my results but so far haven’t found one better then Google Analytics. It is free and Site Overlay can you’re your eyes on what people do on your site.