Brands continue to churn out more and more content each year. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute found that nearly half of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2020. But many brands still aren’t producing blog posts that are optimized for conversions.
Should brands be pushing for a hard sale at the end of each blog post, or should they be offering more content in exchange for data? We’ve turned to content marketing experts to learn what makes a good call to action (CTA), and how brands can make their blog posts count.
What Makes a Good CTA?
There are many elements to a high-quality blog post, but when it comes to conversions, the CTA is critical. This is the chance to form a relationship with a new reader, or provide value to existing ones. “In short,” explained Mike Baker, marketing director at Lola.com, “the right CTA is the one that infers a reader’s intent and directs them to the next asset that will best satisfy that intent.” For example, if a reader came to the blog post looking for general information, the next step is probably more in-depth information. If the blog post is closely related to your product, then you’ll want the CTA to be a sales-focused asset, such as a demo or case study. “Deciding whether it should push to sales or another piece of content, hinges on that always crucial marketing concept, intent.”
Andrew Hatfield, director of product marketing at Portworx agrees and poses the question, “Where in the buying cycle are you?” If it’s earlier, he recommends CTAs that lead to educational content because there are likely many aspects of the buyer’s problem that they haven’t considered yet. “Be a trusted advisor and teach them something they didn't know,” he continued. It’s generally better to be helpful than to go for a direct sale at the end of blog posts.
“A good CTA is one that's naturally placed,” added Tihana Drumev, senior content marketing executive at Best Response Media. And that doesn’t mean just at the bottom of the blog post. While it’s a good idea to only include one next step, including the CTA throughout the post one or more times could improve conversions as well.
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Choosing a Lead Magnet
As the experts suggested, the best blog posts contain a CTA that points to a quality-lead magnet.
Consider the Sales Funnel
When choosing the content for a lead magnet, Baker recommends going more granular. “This means creating a full funnel of CTAs that map as bridges between TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content,” he explained. Each stage of the sales funnel should have its own lead magnet, as should each persona or target market. Having highly relevant CTAs is critical to increasing blog post conversions.
Identify the Target Persona
“All of your content should have a clearly identified target persona, pain they are solving, stage of their buying journey, and desired next step,” Hatfield added. He recommends asking, “What do you and the reader gain from this content?” This will largely determine the content and format that will work best as a lead magnet. Executives like brief whitepapers and fact sheets, while influencers may prefer infographics or checklists that they can easily share with their followers.
Don’t Overthink Formatting
Baker believes that content format doesn’t matter much. “The best lead magnet is the most useful and compelling content you have for a specific type of intent, regardless of format,” he said. He says he’s seen success with one-page data sheets and massive ungated pillar posts. “My best general CTA advice,” Baker added, “is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all CTA.’” That said, the content should be focused on this specific intent, and not try to cover too much ground.
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“The best lead magnets are the ones that help the reader,” said Drumev. For software companies, a free trial or demo may be the best way for a potential lead to understand your product. Digital marketers, on the other hand, would prefer free guides or eBooks that teach them something new. Offering value is the only surefire way to get readers to click through your CTA.
In the end, Drumev said a good blog post is “one that guides a visitor in the right direction.” Don’t overthink the format of your lead magnet or the text on your CTA button. Instead, consider the best way to offer value to your target audience and drive readers towards this through CTAs.