If your content marketing programme is up and running, with high-quality, relevant content being published on a regular basis, you’re well on your way to building an audience of potential customers.
But are you reeling them in?
Content marketing without an effective call to action (CTA) is like fishing without a hook. You keep throwing bait into the water but you’re not pulling anything out. One of the main goals of content marketing is, of course, to engage your audience. But the ultimate goal is to turn them – or a proportion of them – into customers.
The CTA is your hook and there is an art to how you present it.
Give your prospects what they want
CTAs can take many forms but I want to focus on using CTAs within content to generate new leads. The first thing you need to do is come up with an action that you’re confident your prospects will feel compelled to take. To this end, you need to present them with something they really want. That can be access to a report, a white paper, an eBook, webinar or conference, or just a solution to a problem.
Like your content, whatever you’re offering in your CTA should be free or heavily discounted at least: the ‘price’ is their contact details. A free consultation is a common CTA but is that compelling enough? Judge carefully.
Let’s look at a recent CTA from HubSpot. It appeared within a piece on blog post analysis, in which the topic of driving up traffic was addressed. Readers were invited to click a link to download an in-depth guide on internal linking for SEO, which led to a form with a good number of fields. In order to download the guide, you had to fill in the form with some personal details, as well as some broader information such as company name, company size, biggest marketing or sales challenge, and the CRM you currently use. In return for a one-off guide, HubSpot was thus gathering some very valuable information for its sales team.
Another example I like is from the Content Marketing Institute, which presents links to a series of ‘how-to’ guides on the right hand side of its content pages. By clicking one of the links you are taken on a journey that will give you richer and deeper information about content marketing and then, depending on how far you choose to go, you may land on a page where you can sign up for a free trial of the CMI Online Content Marketing Training and Certification programme. The goal is for you to sign up for the full programmes, at just under USD 1,000.
The content and CTA dance
With your content marketing, what your audience sees day-in and day-out, and what they consciously take away, is the quality and usefulness of the information you are providing. At the same time, less consciously, they are getting a clearer understanding of what your company does, the authority you bring to the business, and how your products and services can benefit them.
Your expertise is on display with each piece of content you produce.
With the building of that audience of content consumers comes the opportunity for you to invite them to share their personal details with you so you can get in touch and offer them even more. It is not pushy nor overly promotional; it is like a polite invitation to dance. You are merely helping the customer to get what they want or need. If they don’t want it, they can ignore your offer. By offering something for nothing, you are making it easy for them to say yes and move to the next step.
Content marketing and CTAs
The growing importance of content marketing is teaching businesses of all types (especially B2B) to view their main digital property as an ever-evolving publishing machine, which has as its main function the task of driving sales. Whatever other goals you may set – such as building your brand – it is still all about doing things that will drive up revenues through increased sales.
Your CTAs are the part of that publishing machine that serve as a subtle or direct means for inviting some of your audience to become prospects. As long as you place them in the right place at the right time – which means understanding your audience and what motivates them – your content marketing will be a major contributor, if not the major contributor, to your new business.