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It should be clear by now that I am advocating a form of permission marketing where you give information freely first, then ask for commitment later, rather than requiring a login before you share any information, or, asking for contact details first, and then blasting people with information they may or may not want later. But, that doesn't mean you should be timid. If you're trying to get visitors to do something, then make it clear what you want them to do. Subscribe to your newsletter, comment on your blog post, hire you, or buy your product. There is an idea from social psychology called Reciprocity.
The theory is that if you give people something that's useful to them, they'll be more likely to be nice, and give something back to you. By providing a website that allows them to find the information that they need quickly, easily, without hype and without pestering them, you make it more likely that they will react positively when you ask them for a favor in return. So, go ahead and ask, make it clear what you're offering, and how it's valuable to your visitors. For ecommerce sites, that's pretty simple. Your product pages should have easy ways to buy the items on display.
For blog sites where your goal may be to spread your influence through social media, you will need to make it easy for visitors to like, re-tweet, subscribe or email your content, and it doesn't hurt to ask in text as what is providing the buttons. Just make sure that your request is in balance with the idea of reciprocity. Don't expect people to give you their email address, home address, and phone number just for showing them some basic information. They will need to feel that there is real value for them in sharing their details with you or making a purchase, which means your site's content must really hit home with them first.
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