So you want to maximize the conversion potential of your business blog, eh? Well, I don't blame you! Your blog can be a powerhouse when it comes to lead generation and reconversion, but you have to know how to use it. And when it comes right down to it, it's all about the calls-to-action (CTAs).
The CTA you choose can make or break the conversion potential of any given blog post you publish, just like CTAs can make or break the conversion potential of any given page on your website.
Knowing that, wouldn't you want to put careful thought into your CTA selection process so you can choose the perfect one for every single post you release into the blogosphere? Yeah ... we think so, too, which is why we wanted to share with you the step-by-step thought process we follow at HubSpot in order to pick the perfect CTA for every one of our posts. Read on if you want to start ensuring that every post you publish has the best CTA it can have.
The Blog CTA Selection Thought Process
First, make a list of all the marketing offers you have. What we're going to do here is gradually narrow down this list of offers, step by step, so you can pick the one that has the best lead generation potential for the specific blog post you're publishing. The following is generally the order in which we narrow down our list at HubSpot, but I imagine that, depending on the nuances of your business, industry, and any testing you do, this order might be slightly different for you. But even if the order is different for you, the following are all great considerations to make when you're choosing the right CTA.
1) Stage of the Sales Funnel
First and foremost, consider the stage of your sales and marketing funnel your visitors are in when they come to your blog. This will help you narrow down your list to only the types of offers that align with that particular stage in the sales cycle . For example, you probably wouldn't want to show someone who finds a blog post of yours for the first time via search (and knows nothing about your business) a CTA for your free trial, which is much better for someone who knows a bit more about your business, products, and services and is further along in your sales funnel. For that new visitor, a more top-of-the-funnel offer like an educational ebook or webinar is a much better fit, and thus, more likely to lead to conversion.
For example, at HubSpot, we know that about 60% of the monthly traffic we get on our blog is made up of new visitors , which is why our calls-to-action are usually for those top-of-the-funnel type offers like educational ebooks.
But what about the other 40%? Why, I'm so glad you asked! Because if you've built up a great blog with a large subscriber base and repeat visitors, there's a better likelihood that these visitors know a bit more about you and over time, may actually be ready for a more middle- or bottom-of the funnel offer like a product webinar or a free trial. This is where Smart CTAs come into play, and where you can really become a ninja in your blog CTA selection. We'll talk more about Smart CTAs as an additional consideration in your CTA selection at the end of this post. The main thing to keep in mind now is that the main, default CTA you choose should cater to the position in the sales cycle the majority of your blog's visitors are in.
2) Target Persona of Blog Post
Next, consider the audience – or buyer persona – you’re targeting in the blog post. For example, at HubSpot, one specific segment of marketers we target is nonprofit marketers. That’s why in our recent blog post, “ 5 Resolutions to Amplify Your Nonprofit’s 2013 Fundraising Strategy ,” we used a CTA for an offer specifically geared toward that particular audience .
If you don’t have specific offers targeted at individual segments of your audience, use your knowledge of that particular persona’s interests, needs, and problems as your narrow down your list of offers. Maybe one segment of your audience doesn’t care about a particular industry topic as much as another segment does. If this is the case, you probably wouldn’t want to feature a CTA for an offer on that topic.
3) Offer Format
The format of your offer (e.g. ebook vs. webinar vs. kit vs. template, etc.) is another important factor to consider in CTA selection. Does your blog audience generally prefer certain formats of offers over others? For example, we’ve found that on the HubSpot blog, our audience generally prefers CTAs for ebook or template downloads compared to those that promote registration for upcoming webinars. Take a look at your marketing analytics to look for patterns and trends in clickthrough and conversion rates on CTAs for various formats of offers to get a better sense of what works best for your audiences. If you notice one format of offer is always a CTA underperformer, you might want to steer clear of choosing CTAs for those types of offers on your blog.
4) Subject Matter of Blog Post
Your next consideration as you narrow down your list should be the relevancy of your offers in terms of subject matter or topic. Trim down your list of offers to include only those that are most relevant to the content of your blog post. Your choices here may depend on how large your arsenal of offers is, but the key is to be as relevant as possible so you can build off of what you know the reader is already interested in. For instance, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably interested in A) business blogging, B) lead generation, C) calls-to-action, D) dynamic content, or E) all of the above! An offer focused on any of these subject matters might make the cut here.
So let’s say you still have offers on your list for each of these subject matters. Your best bet is to keep all of these offers in the running as you make these next couple of CTA considerations ...
5) Skill Level of Blog Post
Does your blog cater to an audience made up of visitors with varying levels of skill or industry knowledge? If so, you might find yourself writing blog posts that are more geared toward readers of different skill levels. For example, if you manage a horseback riding school that caters to a whole range of horseback riders -- from beginners to seasoned, competitive riders -- your seasoned riders probably wouldn’t care about a blog post entitled, “5 Pieces of Equipment Every New Horseback Rider Needs.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish it! It just means that you should understand that the people who will want to read it are most likely in the beginner stages of horseback riding. This also means one of your offers geared toward a more advanced rider -- like your ebook on “10 Advanced Horseback Riding Tricks Every Competitive Rider Should Master” -- wouldn’t make a great CTA for your article geared toward beginner riders. Keep this consideration in mind as you’re narrowing down your list of offers.
6) Clickthrough & Conversion Rates
Okay, so let’s say you’ve done a great job building up your tool chest of marketing offers, and after narrowing down your list using the steps above, you still have multiple offers to choose from. First of all -- that’s awesome! Variety is the spice of life! But to make your final selection, you’ll need to refer to your marketing analytics . What you want to look at here are the clickthrough rates and conversion rates of your CTAs. Which of these remaining choices has the best numbers? If you haven’t already created and implemented blog CTAs for these particular offers, focus instead on the offers’ landing page conversion rates to make your final selection.
Voila! Now you should have your list narrowed down to the most perfect offer to use as a CTA on your post! If you still need to create a CTA for the specific offer you've chosen as the perfect fit, you can easily create one in PowerPoint using this step-by-step guide . Or, if you use HubSpot, make use of our handy CTA tools , which include a simple CTA generator.
But Wait ... What About Smart CTAs?
Remember that 40% of visitors we mentioned come to our blog who aren’t new visitors? Well, with the beauty of Smart CTAs (also called dynamic CTAs), we can make sure we’re giving them the best CTA catered to their needs, too. We can offer just those repeat visitors who we’ve already captured as leads in our database a different offer that caters to their specific stage in the sales funnel, or another set of criteria we set up.
In other words, through the use of a dynamic content tool -- like HubSpot’s Smart CTAs -- you’re not limited to choosing just one perfect CTA. You can pick the perfect CTA for a variety of different visitors depending on factors such as their lifecycle stage or any other piece of lead intelligence you’ve collected in your marketing database.
So while your brand new visitors may see the CTA you selected in our six steps above by default, you can also make sure you show different CTAs for the visitors you’ve already converted into leads … based on what you know about their specific interests, needs, or past behavior on your website. This makes it even more possible to personalize the offers you promote on your blog, and thus, increases the likelihood you’ll convert visitors and move them further along in the sales cycle. Powerful stuff! To learn more about how to implement dynamic, personalized CTAs, check out our comprehensive blog post on the subject.
Oh, the possibilities!
What else do you take into consideration as you’re choosing CTAs for your blog posts?
Originally published Jan 3, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 28 2018