magicianThe age of context is among us, folks. If you haven't been beaten over the head with this message yet, context marketing is all about providing the right content to the right visitors at the right time.

But according to a survey report from Yesmail Interactive and Infogroup Targeting Solutions, 39% of U.S. marketers don't use data such as demographics and purchase behavior to customize marketing messages by channel

What a shame.

Admittedly though, this can be pretty tricky from a marketer's perspective. It requires a combination of the right content and the technology needed to display it to the right visitors at the right time. But when executed correctly, the results can be very rewarding -- and also pretty magical.

As a result, I wanted to share a couple of little hacks I've started implementing on this very blog to make our visitors' experience much more personalized and contextual (in ddition to using Smart CTAs for lead and customer conversion). Hopefully it will get you to start thinking about how you can make your blog much more contextual and personalized, too. (Note: The tools I'm using for this are a combination of HubSpot's new Blog COS and Smart CTAs.)

The Magic Subscriber Call-to-Action (CTA)

A while back, I started adding a secondary CTA to our blog posts in an attempt to boost subscribers. It was great for two reasons. One, because it offered another opportunity for us to convert our anonymous visitors into contacts that we could nurture with blog content. And for visitors, it made sense because it was less of a commitment than filling out a much longer form for one of our ebook downloads, making it the most logical conversion opportunity for brand new visitors. In execution, it looked something like this at the bottom of a post:


This secondary subscribe CTA sent visitors to a dedicated landing page, which looks like this:


This worked well for us, but it wasn't as smart as we could make it. Why? Because visitors saw that secondary subscribe CTA regardless of whether or not they were already subscribed to our blog. Not the most contextual CTA if you're already an active blog subscriber, is it?

Then I realized that, with HubSpot's new Blog COS, we could make that secondary subscribe CTA dynamic, so that it only appeared if the visitor wasn't already subscribed to our blog. Brilliant, right? And sooo much more lovable, too.

I call it the magic subscribe CTA since it's a Smart CTA that you can only see if you fit certain criteria. And if you don't meet that criteria, you see nothing -- like magic!  Here's how I hacked it on this blog using HubSpot's tools.

How to Create the Magic CTA

First, design your subscribe CTA (HubSpot customers can either use HubSpot's CTA Builder or design it externally and upload it to HubSpot). Then upload this design as your default CTA -- the CTA that will get shown to everyone who isn't already a blog subscriber.

Next, add a list-based Smart CTA Rule, and add the lists of people you do not want to see the subscribe CTA. Think of these as the CTA equivalent of email suppression lists. They should be your blog subscriber lists.


Finally, create your blank CTA, so current subscribers see nothing in place of the subscribe CTA. To set it up, use HubSpot's CTA Builder, and select 'No styling' as the button style. Because HubSpot's tool requires you to fill out all fields in order to save your CTA, use the HTML code for 'space' (&nbsp) as the CTA text, and fill in a URL (it doesn't matter which URL you specify since this won't show up as anything anyway).


And that's it! Insert this CTA group in your blog post, and this is how it will look to subscribers and non-subscribers:


Magic Copy

Another great hack for Smart CTAs on your blog is within the copy of the blog post itself. Using this hack, you can show dynamic content -- different messages to different segments of your blog visitors -- all within the copy of your article. 

For example, when we launched HubSpot's new Social Inbox tool, we wanted to let customers know that they could immediately access the new tool in their HubSpot account, but it didn't make sense to show that message to anyone other than our customers. So using Smart CTAs, we created a special text-based message that was shown only to our customers. Here's how it looked to customers and non-customers:


The setup is very similar to our magic subscribe CTAs, but instead of using the HTML code for space in the CTA text, include your message here. Keep in mind that this will essentially show up as a long anchor text link in your blog copy, so try to keep it brief.

You can also use HTML here if you want to make any stylistic tweaks like italicized or bolded text (like we did in our example). Also keep in mind that in this case, the destination URL here matters. Then insert the CTA in the post in line with an existing paragraph of text.


Oh so magical, right?

Other Uses for Magic CTAs 

The above examples are just a couple of specific use cases for using dynamic content to create a more personalized blog experience. Here are some other ideas for how you can put this hack into action:

  • Show different messages to visitors based on their lifecycle stage (e.g. special offers to current customers, discounts to leads, etc.).
  • Show different messages to visitors based on personas (e.g. link to landing pages and web pages geared toward specific segments of your audience).

How else can you use magic CTAs?

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Originally published Aug 26, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


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