47% of buyers read 3-5 pieces of content before making a sale. If you thought your blog posts were not a key piece of your sales funnel, then you are mistaken.
But let’s be honest, how much are your blogs supporting your sales process?
If you are like most marketers and founders we chat with, the answer is somewhere between “I don’t know” and “not well”.
Does that mean that there’s no way to leverage your blog and website to grow your business? Heck no. It just means we need to think a bit smarter when it comes to how we use our content to convert website visitors into customers.
The answer is a CTA (call to action).
CTAs are nothing new. We see buttons abounding on pages all the time calling us to click here, learn more, or talk to sales. We sprinkle them onto our websites while crossing our fingers that someone will click them and become a customer.
If you’ve tried to copy this strategy and are not seeing results then this is the post for you.
In this article we will examine what a call to action is, what types of calls to action you need on your website, how to create calls to action that convert, and more. None of this is theoretical. It is all backed by what we’ve seen work on other websites, our own, and those of our clients.
If you’re ready to build a website that converts, keep reading!
CTA is short for “Call to Action”, and it really is as simple as that: it’s a call to the visitor on your website to take action.
That action could be anything:
There should be no pages on your website without a clear action for the reader to take, the key is identifying what that action ought to be.
Let’s take a step back for a moment. Broadly speaking, the call to action is an inflection point for your readers.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. They landed on your website because they were looking for an answer to a question or a solution to a problem and they got wanted: clarity. But wait! Now there is a moment where they could take another step forward, perhaps a step they hadn’t considered taking. This is a step that very well could change their life from here on out. The question is, will they take it?
This is no overstatement, it’s psychology. The call to action is not just a button to be clicked on, it is an invitation. What you invite your readers to depends on the page and the stage of the funnel it corresponds to, so we’ll get to that next.
What are the types of CTAs
A call to action is an invitation, but what are you inviting your readers to? Answering that question is essential to creating calls to action that are clicked on instead of ignored.
More often than not, websites are placing the wrong call to action on their pages. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I land on with a CTA at the bottom to “buy now”. Buy now? I just met you, what makes you think I want to buy now?
It’s like going on a first date with someone and jumping right to “will you marry me?”
It’d be much better to say something along the lines of “Hey it was great getting coffee, would you like to get dinner?” This is a natural progression that (hopefully) we are all used to.
This principle is true for your CTAs.
There are some calls to action that will be more akin to asking for a second cup of coffee, and others that will ask for marriage. It is important to know the difference between each one, and when to use them.
You can break CTAs down into the following types:
There are of course other types of CTAs, but I find these 5 are a great place to start. Now where do we place them on the website?
We have 5 common types of CTAs, so the natural next question is where to place them on your website.
Answering this requires some nuance. The content of the page will directly influence what CTA you use, so let’s examine the primary types of pages on a website to see which CTAs you can place on them.
Your primary menus (both the header and footer) absolutely must include a CTA.
When someone visits your home page for the first time their eye path moves in a “z” shape:
It’s critical to put a call to action in the path of that Z. Which call to action will you choose? I like to put one that is the first step in the sales process. If you have a standalone SaaS app then that might be “sign up”. If you are a consultant/service based company that might be “schedule a consultation”. And if you run an e-commerce shop I would choose “shop” with a link to a page with all your products/product categories.
Which call to action will you choose? I like to put one that is the first step in the sales process. If you have a standalone SaaS app then that might be “sign up”. If you are a consultant/service based company that might be “schedule a consultation”. And if you run an e-commerce shop I would choose “shop” with a link to a page with all your products/product categories.
The CTA you choose for your landing page will depend on the content of that page.
If you have a landing page tied to a product/service then the CTA must be the next step your reader needs to take to make a purchase. That could be signing up, creating an account, or scheduling a call.
If you have a SaaS website then chances are you have various pages dedicated to the features of your product and use cases it serves. If you don’t, get on that because those are great for increasing conversions and SEO.
The CTAs on these pages, like the home page, should be focused on the bottom of the funnel. I like to match them with the home page CTA, so they will direct users to either sign up, book a call, or perhaps view pricing plans.
If you run an e-commerce shop, it's critical that you use the correct CTAs in order to drive more sales from your store. Product pages need bottom of the funnel CTAs like "checkout" or "add to bag". Anything else will run the risk of getting in the way and distracting your prospective customer.
Lastly, what CTAs do you place on your blog posts. Up till now every CTA has directed readers to the middle/bottom of the funnel but a blog post is a very different piece of content.
If someone lands on your home page or a landing page we can assume there is more commercial intent behind their visit. If someone lands on a blog post from a Google search though there may be zero commercial intent, so bear that in mind.
Far too often I see websites with CTAs like “talk to sales” at the end of their blog post. This is a mistake. Instead, direct the reader to a lead magnet related to the content of the blog post.
This lead magnet could be an eBook or workbook that elaborates on the content of the post. Or it could be free email course or video series. Whatever it is, you want this to be relevant to the content they landed on in order to increase the chances that someone will convert from it.
So far we’ve covered what a CTA is, what the different kinds of CTAs you should use, and how to place them on your website. If you can master these three principles you are doing better than 90% of websites out there.
Here are three tips to take your calls to action to the next level.
Follow these three tips and you will have a serious leg up on your competition.
A guide on CTAs would not be complete without examples of great CTAs in action. Here are a few brands we’re especially big fans of and how you can learn from them.
HubSpot is a classic example of marketing done right. Note a few things here on their blog post:
HotJar knows a thing or two about conversion optimization, it's the basis of their entire business! I love how they embed CTAs like these right into the post content:
We're fans of Business Made Simple, they are a business and marketing education company that preaches clarity and simplicity of message and their homepage does an excellent job of following through on their message:
And then when you try to leave they hook you with a lead magnet:
We'd be remiss not to mention ourselves, we try our best to take what we learn from around the industry and our own testing to share those findings with you. We took cues from the above examples, our home page is optimized in the header with clear CTAs to take action along with an exit intent pop up:
And our blog is optimized to drive more traffic into the top/middle of our funnel through a series of lead magnets throughout the website:
Armed with the know-how as to what makes a great CTA there is nothing stopping you. Take your blog posts from simple pieces of content to targeted lead-generation machines. It’s as simple as choosing a well-styled and well-placed button or next step, and trust us it makes a world of difference.
A good call to action is just one step in a comprehensive marketing plan that will make your website a growth engine for your business. To see the other 4 steps, click the button below for our free 5-step marketing plan to turn your website into a growth machine.
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