I got a question the other day from one of my email subscribers. Chris Huff, from Behind The Mixer, asked:
What’s the best length for standard stuff after a blog post. For example, there can be a list of related articles, an about box, social media icons, newsletter subscription, quite a bit before the viewer ever sees the comment box. I’ve wanted to add a newsletter subscription box to mine, but as you can see on this page, it seems like the end of the article is getting pretty busy.
Really good question.
The bottom of a post is a REALLY good place for a call to action. The reader has just read your post (if the post was good, anyway) and they’re now left with a decision of what to do next. So, you give them something to do.
Now, most bloggers tend to blow it by stacking way too many things under the post which don’t really accomplish anything. Most people could stand to thin it down. The ultimate answer is going to be based on:
- Testing to see what combinations get the most action.
- What you want them to do, and whether your primary goal for that spot is being accomplished or whether you’re distracting them with too much stuff.
One of the core marketing concepts in play here is this:
If you give people too many choices, they’ll usually make no choice at all.
So, let’s talk about what often goes in this spot under your posts.
Social Sharing Links
This is a good place to put social media sharing icons. Where most people overdo it with these is that they put too many of them on there.
You have to consider which social networks YOUR audience uses. Only display the ones that are relevant to them. I see a lot of bloggers who use various WordPress plug-ins for social media icons and they enable damn near every service the plug-in supports. Why? Just use the ones that matter. Facebook is the big one. Secondary would be Twitter. Google Plus might make sense, although there’s still many people who can’t get into that network (as of this writing). StumbleUpon might make sense, since it can be such a huge traffic draw at times.
An invitation to share can help. You’ll notice the big red letters at the bottom of this post which point right to the retweet button.
Lastly, remember that negative social proof can harm you. If you have social buttons with a bunch of zero’s on them, why not just remove ALL of them? Your audience obviously isn’t using them anyway.
In most cases, there is no point for this. If your blog is a solo-author blog, you have no reason to have a bio box on your blog. Just ensure the author name is clickable.
If you run a multi-author blog, especially one with routine guest posters, then it might make sense for you. Just limit the height.
I generally recommending leaving this one in place. It helps people get into your archives and derive more value from your blog. The only downside here is that it can distract people from clicking on anything else.
You could approach this in other way, however. You could drive people through your opt-in (to get them on your list), then route them directly into a “best of” list where they can find your best stuff. If you wanted to get really ninja, you could have different opt-in forms for each blog category, thereby allowing you to target not only the list content, but the stuff you route them to, depending on what drove them to subscribe to you.
I think the opt-in is your most important real estate under the post. And, if you had to rank your calls to action in terms of importance, I think your opt-in is #1.
So, the question remains… will including those other things (above) distract from your opt-in form?
Yes, it will. Zero question about that. Again, it comes down to testing and tracking. You should be monitoring the opt-in rate on the form under your posts and play around with arrangements and/or remove elements. See how high you can get your opt-in rate.
You can also try different calls to action for opt-ins. For example, you may have noticed that I removed the opt-in form from the bottom of my posts. It is a test. I replaced it with a link to my newsletter signup page. This is a bit of a non-standard way to do things, but the opt-in rate on a squeeze is so much higher than other pages, I thought I’d give it a try.
All bloggers want people to comment on their stuff. Problem is, most of us end up pushing comments so far down the page that it becomes forgotten. In markets which are used to comments (like, well, bloggers), they’ll go find the comments anyway. But, in many markets, communicating back to the author by way of a comment isn’t natural. So, you have to walk them to it.
You can use arrows to direct people’s attention to comments. You can always change the call to action. Instead of something default like “Add New Comment”, you can change it to something more inviting. Play with colors, fonts, and font decorations (i.e. bold, italics, etc.).
It Is A Balancing Act
There’s no single right answer for this one. It comes down to ranking your priorities, then monitoring performance so as to drive your reader into your target calls to action. Sometimes, it will involve sacrificing things for the sake of reducing clutter.
But, I encourage you to think through it. Make sure that everything you put under your posts has a reason for being which aligns with what you’re trying to accomplish.
Then, keep playing with it and testing things over time.