3 Ways to Generate Marketing Qualified Leads for a Sales Boost
What are you doing now to bring in marketing qualified leads for your sales team? Are your efforts successful? It’s not enough to collect just any leads. You want your leads to be ready for sales outreach. Do what you can now to get people who are interested in your business and offerings to convert.
When you focus your marketing efforts on bringing in leads that are likely to make a purchase, you give sales a big boost. These are three effective ways to do just that.
This is a rather thorough guide to generating marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for your sales team – over 8,300 words! I made sure to cover each technique in such a way that you have everything you need to get started in the right direction.
Use the content heading list below to easily navigate your way through the article.
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1) Highly-Targeted, Well-Written Advertisements
Advertisements have several key components you need to optimize to reach your most relevant, sales-ready audience:
These are the two best digital advertising platforms: search and social media. Let’s dive into each component for these platforms…
Search Engine Advertising
Search engines bring in a considerable amount of website traffic, so you have an opportunity here to generate those marketing qualified leads you seek. Although Google is the most common search engine for advertising because of its AdWords platform, you can and should consider Bing ads as well.
Both Google and Bing give you multiple ways to optimize your advertisements, but let’s pinpoint these three areas in particular: copy, targeting, and timing. For purposes of clarity, the below advice is focused on AdWords settings. You can find a bunch of information about Bing Ads in Neil Patel’s article: 21 Bing Ads Hacks That’ll Increase Clicks While Decreasing Spend.
*Disclaimer: The screenshots and descriptions in this section represent the initial setup when you’re just starting out with AdWords. The campaign setup looks different and offers more after you’ve created your AdWords account.*
Search advertisements have three parts you really want to write well to get a clickthrough rate with qualified visitors. First, there’s your headline. There’s also your ad’s main copy. You’ll want to optimize the other written elements of your advertisement, such as the display URL.
Your headline is where you make it clear what your landing page offers. It’s a short line of text with a restrictive character limit (60 characters in AdWords), so you’ll want to make your point quickly. Make sure you’re also using the target keyword you researched and selected.
Your main copy area is an important place for describing your value proposition. Why should people click on your ad? What will they get in return? Make sure your description includes actionable language and has a clear call-to-action.
The display URL doesn’t have to be the actual URL for your website. You can customize it to include the ad keyword or to clean it up and shorten it. When you optimize your display URL to be clear and simple, you give viewers more information about where the link leads to.
These are some quick tips for how to write search ad copy:
What makes your website worth visiting? Focus your copy on why your target audience in particular would benefit from clicking on your ad instead of any of the other search results.
Include your chosen keyword naturally in your ad copy to ensure it is listed and found when people use it in their query. Make it clear that your ad offers an answer or solution to your viewer’s question or need.
Make sure your ad copy matches the copy on your ad’s landing page. This helps with your visitor’s web experience, and they’ll appreciate the consistency.
Whatever you do, don’t lie or exaggerate in your ad to get people to click. If you’re offering a free trial, it should be free and available when visitors get to your landing page.
What are your competitors doing to show up using your chosen keyword? Pay attention to this because you’ll want to appear higher and more noticeably than them. Check their copy to see how you can stand out with your own ads. The better you differentiate yourself from them, the more likely people will choose to click on your ad instead of theirs.
Personalize your ads in AdWords by using Google’s Customer Match tool. This allows you to customize your ads for specific searchers so that your ads speak directly to them. For example, when someone who already bought from you once searches for something you offer, they’ll see a different ad than what a new prospect would see. It’s pretty handy.
Don’t restrict yourself to just one or two versions of your ads. Your ads can have different copy depending on other optimization factors, such as targeting and timing. Write copy that fits best for each scenario where your target audience might click through.
It’ll help when you A/B test different ad versions to see which ones perform best. Check for click-through rates but also check for which ads are bringing in the most marketing qualified leads. Testing is key for saving money and bringing the best results.
With paid search via Google AdWords, you have three campaign settings to help you target your advertisements. Those are: location, networks, and keywords. Google helps you out while you change these settings by telling you how your choices will affect your daily potential reach based on your set budget.
Locations: In this section, you can choose between the prompts Google suggests or add your own. You’re not restricted to just countries. You can target specific cities, regions, or postal codes too.
Networks: Your ads will appear in search results, but you can also choose to have it appear in Google’s display network. This network is any Google content site and partner content sites that show ads.
Keywords: Your targeting efforts are highly dependent on which keywords you choose to include. You’ll have a better chance of success here if you use Google’s Keyword Planner first. Make sure you’re selecting keywords that are relevant to your landing page and its offering. You don’t want to be too general, and you don’t want to try to trick searchers.
The important part about paid search timing is this:
Do not start setting up and running your campaigns until your landing page and offer are good to go and ready for traffic.
That seems simple enough, but people often rush things when they get pressured or too excited. Coordinate this process with everyone involved in the offer’s development. Check with the graphic designer about the eBook you’re promoting. Ask the web developer about the eBook’s landing page. Also, confirm any dates or deadlines if the offer is time-sensitive. You need to have the green light from everyone before you even start setting up your advertisement.
For more information about Google AdWords and setting up your ads, these are the best resources to check:
Google AdWords Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide by Neil Patel
I highly recommend learning about AdWords via Google Partners’ certification program.
You can also trust Google itself for the best AdWords tips via their Best Practices series.
Social Media Advertising
Whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another network, social media advertising has great potential for generating marketing qualified leads. It’s all a matter of whether you’re creating ads for the right audience, in the right way, on the right network, and at the right time.
This article isn’t the place for explaining advertising best practices for every network that offers it. That is going to be my next eBook, so check back on my marketing resources page later… Instead of diving in too deep, let’s step back and take a more generalized approach.
Your social media advertisements can bring in leads that are sales-ready when you pay attention to these elements: copy, design, placement, targeting, and timing.
Regardless of the social network you’re using, you want your ad copy to fit with what social media is meant for: engagement. You want to write as a human speaking to other humans in a conversational manner. Your audience will prefer ads that have an upbeat, appealing tone, and your copy should reflect that.
One thing you definitely want to avoid in your ad copy is:
Don’t be sales-y or pushy. Focus on how your offer will benefit your audience instead of emphasizing features. Speak softly instead of forcefully because people don’t want to feel like they’re being pushed around. You still want to include actionable language, but avoid being bossy.
Lastly, you have a specific audience you want to target – those who will be likely to become marketing qualified leads for sales. Make sure your copy reflects the needs and pain points of those individuals.
Most social media advertising platforms offer the option to include an image or even a video. This is an essential step to making your ads work because it’s the first thing your audience will see. Our eyes are attracted to visuals before text, so make your imagery count.
Sometimes, if you have the funds, you can find stock imagery that’s not too generic or common. That can work for your ads. Shutterstock offers a lot of image ideas that don’t always look like they’re stock. You don’t want to create ads with generic or overused images because that can hurt your results. However, with smart purchases and handy collections, you can find pre-made images instead of having to create your own.
If you want your own images. you may need to hire a graphic designer to create eye-catching, professional versions for your ads. You want your ads to be high-quality and attractive, so that sometimes means hiring outside help.
On the other hand, there are several handy tools out there for creating your own images, too. I like using Canva because it’s almost completely free, and it offers extensive features for creating great images of your own.
Video is an increasingly popular and effective approach to content and social media marketing in general, so why not use it in your social ads when you can? With a short video clip in your ad, you can attract your audience in ways that text alone cannot. Just be prepared for it to not have sound. Also, on YouTube, make it stand out enough in the very beginning to not get skipped through.
Where you choose to advertise depends on who your audience is, where they are active, and what your budget is. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn have been the standard go-to networks for advertising, but don’t ignore Pinterest or Snapchat ads if they can work for your specific audience.
Facebook has long been the leader in social media advertising. Their advertising platform is comprehensive, and you have all you need to make ads that are cost-effective and bring results. Buffer created a thorough article specifically on the Facebook ads manager that can help you better understand the process.
If you have a B2C audience, Facebook and Twitter ads have great potential. On the other hand, if you have a B2B audience, you’ll want to consider LinkedIn ads either in addition to or instead of Facebook.
You should know your audience very well before you even start planning your advertising campaigns, and it’s that information that can guide you to your ad placements. In addition, if you have a more restrictive budget, you’ll want to keep that in mind. LinkedIn is far more expensive than Facebook or Twitter, for example.
Where you place your social media ads depends on your audience, and you want to have control over who your ad reaches. You want to set your ads to reach people based on location, interests, and more, which is one reason why Facebook advertising is so successful.
You should know your audience to have the ability to target them effectively. Research the people who are most likely to become marketing qualified leads. Know their demographics and behaviors so that you can optimize your ad targeting.
Let’s come up with a hypothetical scenario:
You’re an ecommerce business selling arts and crafts supplies, and you want to advertise your new online rewards program. You have a landing page ready to go, and your ad has optimized copy and design set up as well. The ad budget is set, but now you need to decide who you’re targeting and how.
Let’s say you’re going to advertise on Facebook because they have the best targeting features. You want to know the basics: location, age, gender, and language. Thankfully, you’re able to choose more than one location and language, which helps you because your website serves a global audience. Facebook also gives you a section to narrow down your audience based on other demographics, or you can select specific interests and behaviors. While you narrow down your audience, check the Facebook Audience Size scale to make sure your ad isn’t reaching too broad a number. This’ll save you money and improve the quality of your leads.
As an ecommerce business serving consumers, you’ll want to advertise on social networks that let you sharpen your ads to reach a very specific audience. You want to use your budget wisely, and ad targeting helps with that.
The last part about social media advertising is your timing. Most social networks set the timing for you to optimize reach, but you’ll want to be careful allowing that. If you don’t monitor your ad timing, you risk controversy in one form or another.
Poor timing can cause negative reactions and maybe even viral complaints. If your ad is controversial or if it appears at the wrong time, you might damage your brand reputation. People will complain, and the more they do, the more likely your slip up will go viral. Before you set your ad to go out, check what’s happening in the world. Check the message you’re sending out in your ad to make sure it doesn’t cause an outroar.
Poor timing can bring the wrong audience to your offer and waste your budget. You want marketing qualified leads, and you’ll need optimized timing to get the right people to convert. If your target audience is on social media at 11am Eastern Standard Time and not on after 10pm, your ad timing should reflect that. If you have the option, set your ads to appear only at certain times of the day and only on certain days of the week. This’ll save your budget and improve your lead generation.
If you’re unsure about timing and want to use an automated feature that comes with the ad platform, that can work. The important thing to remember is: You absolutely must monitor your ad and whether it’s going out at the wrong time. Current events can mean your ad should be put on hold, so make sure you’re paying attention to your ad’s potential impact. Pause or stop your ad from running when you need to so that you avoid controversy.
Learn more about social media advertising by taking advantage of these great resources:
Social Media Advertising: The Complete Guide by Hootsuite
Starter Kit: Your Guide to Social Media Advertising by Sprout Social
That’s it for advertising advice! It’s time to move on to another great way to attract and convert marketing qualified leads. This time, the focus is on your own website and its content.
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2) Optimized Landing Pages with Valuable Offers
Landing pages are different from the rest of your website. They’re separate because their sole purpose is to bring conversions through a web form. Each landing page you create should have a corresponding offer behind it. When visitors submit their information, they get the offer in return.
Benefits of Having Landing Pages
Landing pages are how you attract and convert marketing qualified leads. Your advertisements from earlier should always bring people to landing pages. That’s how you acquire leads.
When you build landing pages that fit with an attractive offer, you can use them to draw people in and collect their information. By making your landing page and offer relevant and valuable to your target audience, you improve the quality of your leads.
Without landing pages, you will struggle to collect leads in general, let alone qualified leads. You may have access to people’s contact information by other means, but if they didn’t give you it themselves, they likely won’t appreciate your unsolicited outreach. Landing pages are how you get permission for further interaction to help prevent spam reports and bad reputations.
Types of Landing Page Offers
A landing page can hold one of many different lead generation offers. These are just a few of the typical content types you’ll see most often:
- eBooks or whitepapers
- Free trials
- Content upgrades
- Email subscriptions
Choosing an offer type depends on a bunch of factors, and most involve your target audience. What are their interests? Which content type solves their pain points? What are they actively looking for from your business or in general? You don’t want to put all the effort into creating an eBook just to find out it underperforms. If your audience prefers courses, focus on that content type. This will lead to more marketing qualified leads that you can pass onto your sales team.
How to Optimize Your Landing Pages
Although I am going to dive into each element a bit here, you can get a more comprehensive guide to landing page optimization in my other article on the subject: How to Create a Landing Page That Leads to Qualified Conversions.
- Don’t include any navigation in your landing pages. You don’t want people getting distracted and leaving your page before converting.
- Add multimedia, either an image(s) or a video. Make sure the multimedia helps convince your visitors to convert. As an idea, make your image(s) a preview of the downloadable offer (an eBook, for example), when applicable.
- Include social sharing options to help spread the word about your offer. Set them up so that visitors don’t have to leave the landing page to share.
- Add social proof. When you add evidence that people have appreciated your offer or your business, you improve your conversion rate. People trust other people more than a brand.
- Keep as much content as possible above the fold so that everything is visible without scrolling down. If you need to include content below the fold, create a signal telling visitors that there’s more to see. A simple arrow might suffice.
- Check and recheck that your landing page appears properly on all mobile devices. Many of your visitors will be checking from a mobile device, so make sure your landing page looks great on both those devices and full-size computers.
There are several key components to your landing page copy that will either attract or bore your target audience. You want people who can become marketing qualified leads to visit and stay on your landing page. Even better, you want them to convert on your offer through the page form. To truly succeed, you need to write copy that keeps people’s attention and convinces them to act on your offer.
These are some of the top best practices for writing the copy for each landing page element…
- Your headline is the first thing your visitors see when they land on your webpage, so you want it to be compelling enough to keep people there.
- Get to the point with your headline. Make it clear quickly what the offer is and why people should care. Pack your headline with benefits and consider adding a subheading.
- Sometimes your headline will be the name of your offer. That’s why you need to create an offer title that attracts and retains interest.
- Include your target keyword in your headline for SEO value.
- Your description is where you add the necessary information missing from your headline.
- Use your description space to emphasize your offer’s benefits and value.
- You can make your description a bulleted list, a paragraph blurb, or both. You can decide on formatting based on what you’re saying and how your landing page is designed.
- Your description might not be just text. You might want to include a short video clip that explains the offer and its value. It’s still important to have a text description with your video for those visitors who don’t want to or can’t watch.
- When writing out your description, pay attention to its readability. Is it scannable? Do you get to the point quickly and concisely? Your description needs to be short and to the point because people won’t have the patience for long block text.
- The CTA is the wording that follows your form fields, usually in a button format. You need it to be persuasive and actionable.
- To attract marketing qualified leads, use CTA wording that attracts that audience. Focus on a problem they have that your offer can solve, and emphasize it in your CTA copy.
- Make your CTA a button instead of simple text to help it stand out from the rest of the form and landing page.
- Create a CTA button that stands out visually with different colors and a prominent font.
- Depending on your landing page design and form placement, you ideally want your CTA to be visible above the fold. This helps with your conversion rate because people are less likely to scroll down to find it.
- Experiment with your CTA wording to see what works. A simple, single tweak at a time is best for A/B testing success.
- When using WordPress, find a plugin, such as Yoast SEO, that helps you optimize your content for search engines. With this tool, you should be able to improve the ranking and visibility of your landing page and its offer.
- With each part of your search copy, include the keywords you want your page to rank for.
- Don’t stuff your keywords in a way that’s unnatural. Google will see it and penalize you for it. Instead, write your copy as if you’re talking to your human audience, emphasizing the benefits they care about. Add keywords where they fit naturally without affecting readability.
- Your meta description doesn’t affect search ranking directly, but it can help indirectly. When your description attracts people and helps get them to click through, Google will see the popularity and bring your ranking up as a result.
- Don’t forget to optimize your URL. This is a key component for search ranking when you include your target keyword. It also helps explain to searchers what your page is all about, so create a URL that makes sense to them as well.
For a more thorough explanation of how to write landing page copy to convert your visitors into leads, I recommend reading CoSchedule’s article on the subject: How to Write Landing Pages That Will Boost Your Conversions.
Your form is the most important part of your landing page when considering post-conversion success. These are a few important parts of your form to optimize for both conversions and follow up.
When deciding which fields to include in your form, consider your offer. Will your audience be willing to give you extra information in exchange for your offer, or is it better to keep your form short and simple? You’ll also want to decide whether all or just some fields will be required to receive the offer.
The typical form fields to include are name and email address. With the name fields, you want to have a separate section for first name and last, or you could stick with one field if you just want a first name. A name is essential for future outreach because email personalization, for example, does much better than generic campaigns.
With the email field, you want to get a business email address to ensure the person asking for the offer is legit and not a spammer. It’ll also help you determine the company or organization your new contact works for. Knowing this information through the email field will allow you to remove the company field and simplify your form.
The more information you can gather from your form, the better the lead will be for sales outreach. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitor or make the process time-consuming, but you do want to gather as much information as you can to speed up the qualifying process.
A few other form fields that may help you separate marketing qualified leads from curious visitors are: industry, website, location, and job title. Hint: you’ll know the website if you require a business email address.
A better way to ensure your new email contacts are interested and willing to engage with your blog content is to include a subscribe button in your form. It could be as simple as a checkbox with a short caption. Simply say: “Subscribe to blog content updates.” Although it’s not necessary, you might want to consider leaving the checkbox empty, allowing visitors to select it if they wish. When you have the box checked automatically, visitors won’t be as aware of it as they could be, so they might not like hearing from you later on.
You can find more great examples of landing pages in HubSpot’s collection article:
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3) Well-Designed, Relevant Blog Calls-to-Action
It’s not enough to have a compelling blog article, even if it’s laser-focused on your target audience. Every single article, even your blog homepage, should have a single main call-to-action (CTA). Secondary CTAs are an option but can often distract more than help.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. It’s important you understand what a call-to-action is in the first place…
What is a Call-to-Action?
If you’re looking for the best definition, look no further than at HubSpot’s version. They are the ultimate leader in calls-to-action advice. This is what they say a call-to-action is:
“A call-to-action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a ‘call’ to take an ‘action.’”
Let’s dissect and elaborate on that definition a bit.
- A call-to-action or CTA can appear as an image, such as a button or other visual, or you can simply hyperlink text.
- The purpose of CTAs is to convince people to take a specific action that you define within your text or visual.
- CTAs should be uniquely targeted for each type of audience viewing them. Make it relevant to visitors, leads, and customers in their own ways.
Now that you are familiar with what a CTA actually is, it’s time to learn the types that work best for blogs in particular…
CTA Types and Purposes That Work for Blogs
Call-to-action format and placement types:
1) Bottom of your blog post CTAs
2) Slide-in CTAs
3) In-line CTAs
4) Sidebar CTAs
5) Header bar CTAs
6) Top-of-page CTAs
7) Pop-up CTAs
- Subscribe for blog updates
- Leave a comment
- Social media account links
- In-post social sharing
- Download a file
- Sign up for a free trial
- and many other purposes depending on business goals…
Why Calls-to-Action Matter
A call-to-action is the most important element in any blog article when you’re trying to acquire marketing qualified leads. If lead generation is your blogging goal, every single blog page and post needs to have a call-to-action.
When you include a hyper-focused and relevant CTA in your blog posts, targeting your ideal prospects, you give your content purpose. Not only that, you give your audience something to do – a step to take to enhance their experience with your website. Without a CTA, your visitors will leave your website without doing anything to become leads. They won’t have directions for what to do next, so you’re not going to see them do anything more than just read.
Call-to-Action Best Practices
How Many CTAs Should I Use on One Page?
The ideal is to only include one main call-to-action, but you can and should still include social sharing CTAs in every blog post. The main CTA can be something like a free trial or file download where you can collect contact information. A secondary CTA could be in-line social sharing options or content upgrades that correspond with the article.
You want people to share your post with their own networks, so social sharing buttons and services are a must. My recommendations: use Click-to-Tweet to track your content shares on Twitter and Sumo for a sharing bar alongside your post.
Click-to-Tweet is a cool tool that lets you create a tweet link, customize the shared tweet text, and track the activity that stems from it. It has paid plans to receive all the features with its lowest plan being $4.97 a month, but the free part is a great starting point.
I use Sumo for my blog posts, and it’s handy because the tool rearranges button order for the different visitors to optimize share counts. You can also add buttons for adding content to social media management tools, such as Buffer and Hootsuite, and email is an option, too.
When you’re considering adding more than one CTA to your blog post, keep in mind what your goal is for visitor behavior. If you have too many CTAs in one article, you’ll confuse and / or distract your audience. They may not take the action you were hoping they would.
The most effective way at getting people to convert from your blog posts is to include one call-to-action for form submissions. Just don’t ignore the importance of fully-optimized social sharing tools for spreading the word.
Is There a One-Type-Fits-All CTA?
No. There really isn’t. You’re going to have visitors who are new to your website, but you’ll also have returning visitors. You’ll have visitors who know nothing about you or your offerings, but you’ll also have people who are well-aware. That’s why it’s so important for you to create dynamic CTAs for the different stages your visitors are in.
Dynamic CTAs are different versions of the same action, such as downloading a file. When you have a website that can support them, these CTAs can create a truly personalized and well-targeted experience for each of your visitors. They’ll be more relevant to your audience. As a result, you’re more likely to see people act on them.
If you’re using HubSpot for your website, they make it easy to use dynamic CTAs in your blog posts. You can use web traffic analytics to determine who your audience is and where they stand with your company. Setting up the custom CTAs should ideally be automatic from there.
If you don’t use HubSpot or don’t have the resources to create dynamic CTAs, you might be stuck. Thankfully, you can still make the experience work when you create compelling copy for those visitors who may become marketing qualified leads. Focus on the visitors who are likely to convert, and create CTAs that appeal to them.
How Do I Choose a CTA for Each Blog Post?
The best way to determine the call-to-action for each blog post is to look at the article’s subject matter first. Determine the theme of the post and look for or create a call-to-action and its offer that relates. You don’t want to add just any CTA to your posts. When in doubt, use a blog subscription CTA, but ideally, you want to have something to give your new leads, such as a downloadable file or free trial.
When you don’t have something to give your readers to compel them to convert, they are less likely to take the next step. If you don’t have a content upgrade or related eBook to go with your blog post, create it. Sometimes it can be as simple as a PDF version of your article. There’s a handy tool for that out there for easy PDF creation from web pages. With Print Friendly, you don’t have to do anything other than insert your blog post URL, and the tool does the rest.
Bonus: Print Friendly offers a browser extension and a button you can add to your website free of charge. I use the button in all of my blog articles to make it easier for you to access my content offline.
As long as your CTA is relevant to the blog post and valuable your target audience, you should include it prominently. You’ll acquire more marketing qualified leads if you create high-quality CTA offers that appeal to that specific audience.
What Should Happen After the Click-Through?
Where they should “land”
Your call-to-action should ideally lead to a designated landing page for the offer. That’s where people can learn more about the offer and hopefully convert through the form there. When you’re promoting a free trial or download, for example, you want to have your CTA bring people to a landing page. You can make the form appear on the blog page, but a landing page gives you an opportunity to ask for more information and explain the offer more thoroughly.
This also depends on where in the blog post you’ve placed your CTA. If it’s a pop-up or in-line version, a landing page isn’t necessary because people are still reading your article. On the other hand, if it’s a call-to-action at the end of your post, that’s a good opportunity for a landing page link. People will be done reading by then, so you won’t be disrupting that flow.
A blog subscription CTA doesn’t need its own landing page when you use certain formats in your post. For example, adding a pop-up or slide-in CTA asking for email addresses can give your visitors a way to do it without leaving the page.
Your follow-up responsibility
When you see people click-through on your CTA and convert on your offer, you have a responsibility to give them what they signed up for in a prompt manner. If they converted on an eBook offer, you should have automatic delivery either through a webpage or in an email (or both). Don’t make your new leads wait.
It’s great when you see that you’ve converted marketing qualified leads, but they won’t be qualified for long if you give them reason to disapprove of or forget you. Make sure your marketing and sales departments are communicating efficiently so that the latter can approach your new leads fast enough to still be relevant.
Creating an Effective Blog Call-to-Action
You want your blog to not only generate just any lead. You want them to be qualified leads. There are three elements of a blog call-to-action that can help or hinder this goal: design, wording, and placement.
As I explain each element, consider this example from HubSpot’s article on their marketing blog. They are truly skilled at making CTAs work for specific audiences, which is why I refer to them here. Use them as your inspiration, and you’ll increase the likelihood of your lead generation success.
Your blog visitors are naturally drawn to a call-to-action’s design, especially when it’s done correctly. If you optimize the design for the right audience, you’ll see an increase in marketing qualified leads converting.
These are all important parts of effective CTA design:
Look at your blog’s background. Is it white or a shade of gray? What color is your blog post text? Does your blog sidebar have a specific color(s)? These are all questions that you need to ask before determining which colors you’ll use in your call-to-action.
You want your CTA to prominently stand out from the rest of your page and not just the post itself. Pay attention to the whole webpage when deciding on the CTA color scheme.
On HubSpot’s blog, they often use bright colors, such as red or orange, to attract readers’ attention. They also do something else very important. They change the color for the actionable text. Even though the entire image is clickable, they make the “Try it now” text look like a button on its own. This helps people see the call-to-action text in a way that lets them know how to act.
While it does depend on your CTA’s size and placement, adding a visual to it can make your efforts more successful. When people see a sneak peek of the offer, such as preview pages or a screenshot, they get a feeling for what the offer is and whether it’s worth converting on.
Sometimes you can’t show a cover image or preview pages because, say, it’s a webinar or free trial offer. In those cases, you still have options for visuals. With the webinar, consider the subject matter. Can you include a visual representation of that topic? With the free trial, show a screenshot of the product in use.
There are always ways to include some form of image in your calls-to-action. In HubSpot’s CTA example from earlier, they show a mock screenshot of the offer (product) in use. In the screenshot, they emphasize how the tool can increase leads generated. The image says “20537 new contacts in the last…” It implies that the tool will boost the number of leads over time. It may not be a real screenshot, but it still makes a valuable point to further attract visitors.
Font and text size
Your CTA needs to be easy to read no matter where people are or what device they’re using. You’ll want your text to be clear yet distinct from the rest of your blog. Avoid using fancy fonts that take extra time to mentally process because your visitors won’t have the patience.
When you have a call-to-action that looks like a box, similar to HubSpot’s example, you have more opportunities for text size. Consider creating a CTA with two to three text sizes. One for your main attraction text. Another for descriptive text. The last for your call-to-action text itself. The HubSpot CTA above shows you this approach, and it works.
Your call-to-action can come in many shapes and sizes. Think back to when I showed you the different CTA examples. You have slide-in preview boxes, pop-up messages, top-of-page offers, and much more.
To determine your CTA’s size, you need to know placement, which I’ll cover soon. You also need to know how many CTAs you’re going to include. It’s one thing to draw people’s attention, but if you bombard them with offers, you disrupt the reader’s experience. They’ll be more likely to leave your site than convert on your offer. Keep this in mind when deciding on a CTA’s size and shape.
HubSpot uses a box CTA at the bottom of all their blog posts. It’s big enough to get attention, but it doesn’t overwhelm the reader. CoSchedule adds CTAs within their blog posts, offering content upgrades for their readers. The CTAs are big, but the offer’s value makes up for it.
When you place your CTA at the end of your article, you have more flexibility than if the CTA is a slide-in message. Also, if your offer is valuable enough to the reader, you have more freedom to make the CTA larger and more prominent, even if it disrupts the reader.
Your call-to-action copy is where you can customize your offer for a specific audience. When you know your target audience, especially their needs and interests, you can create CTA copy that attracts them and gets them to convert.
Let’s look at the HubSpot CTA again. They have plenty of text to learn from here.
- They use power words, such as “free” and “now.” “Free” appeals to people because it emphasizes value. “Now” gets people to act immediately instead of hesitating.
- The offer’s benefits are clear and prominent in each layer of text.
- HubSpot takes full advantage of the available space to add compelling copy, including plenty of benefits and power words.
Switching focus: if you want more information about what wording to use in calls-to-action, look no further than at this visual by CoSchedule:
When you’re creating your CTA, always take plenty of time working on your wording. It’s the best way you’ll attract and collect marketing qualified leads instead of just about anyone.
As you now know, you have several options for the kind of call-to-action to use for your blog. Let’s go over the value for each of them based on their placement. It’ll give you a better idea of which placements will work best for your own blog.
These CTAs show above your blog post and quickly get your reader’s attention. Your audience won’t be able to continue reading until they either exit the pop-up or complete the form. While you shouldn’t make the pop-up difficult to remove, you still want it to be value-rich to compel readers to convert on its offer.
If the pop-up is too disruptive or difficult to remove, you can get a Google penalty and also lose your web visitors. It’s important to find that balance between getting attention and maintaining the reading experience.
These small notifications appear without disrupting your audience as they read. However, they can still attract your readers when the offer’s value is clear, but that goes back to design and wording.
You can make the slide-in appear at any time, but you might want to consider having it appear after readers have scrolled down a certain distance or have been on your page for a few seconds. It’s all about optimizing its appearance for the best conversion rate, and it requires experimentation to find the best approach.
Top of page
When visitors come to your blog, this CTA type is the first thing they see. It appears above the article itself, requiring visitors to scroll down to start reading. This can help with getting people to convert on your offer because of its prominent placement.
On the other hand, this placement can also cause a higher bounce rate. People came to your page to read an article, and if they have to scroll down to see it, they may choose to leave instead. It can help to make sure the blog post title is still visible above the fold, despite the CTA, so that readers know the article is there. They’ll be more likely to scroll down to see more.
This header bar call-to-action can follow the reader as they scroll, or it can stick to the top of the page. Either way, this bar CTA is a great place for gathering blog subscribers because it usually only has room for one or two form fields.
Adding special effects to your header bar can draw more attention. Neil Patel has a header bar with buttons that shake. You can make your button shake or change colors or anything your tool offers to make your header bar stand out even more.
Does your blog have a sidebar that shows something like advertisements or blog promotions? If you use a sidebar, it’s a great place for adding your main call-to-action or one that attracts the right audience.
Sometimes, a sidebar can distract your visitors in a way that isn’t helpful for conversions, which is why you sometimes see blogs without it altogether. Although it’s a risk, a sidebar with one targeted call-to-action can help when you optimize its appearance and purpose.
This call-to-action type is handy when you’re offering a content upgrade that corresponds with your blog post. If you have a checklist or PDF version of your article, for example, you’d likely use in-line CTAs to get people to sign up for the download.
When you place this CTA in your article, make sure it adds to the flow of your post instead of disrupting. Introduce the offer within the article’s text before adding the CTA itself. This placement strategy will help you gather contacts based on the article’s topic, letting you know more about their interests.
Bottom of page
You can and should add a call-to-action to the end of every blog post. It should ideally be relevant to the article topic, and it usually appears as a box instead of hyperlinked text. You want it to stand out, and a colorful box is how you’ll do that.
When adding a CTA to the bottom of your post, make sure you don’t have a bunch of other CTAs nearby. Asking for comments is different, but promoting a secondary offer near your main offer will limit the conversions on your main CTA. Your primary CTA should get the conversions at the bottom of your article, not anything else.
Helpful Call-to-Action Tools and Resources
Features: lead generation tools, including forms and landing pages
Cost: free for 1 site; $6.30/month for 3 sites; $13.30/month for 5 sites; $34.30/month for unlimited sites
The free plan includes MailMunch branding on everything.
Features: creates PDFs of your content and places a button to download it to incentivize visitors to join your email list
Cost: free plan with branding; $29/month for 1 site and 5,000 monthly visits; $59/month for 3 sites and 50,000 monthly visits; $119/month for 9 sites and 500,000 monthly visits…
Features: lead generation with forms and contact management
Cost: Free with HubSpot branding
These are templates for creating your own calls-to-action buttons. They are offered through HubSpot, and they’re handy for those of us who aren’t design-savvy or for anyone who wants to create CTAs quickly.
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You now have a rather thorough understanding of three effective ways to generate marketing qualified leads for your sales team, and it’s time to take action.
But first, what questions or comments do you have about this article and its topic? Leave a comment with your input!
This article is one of many I’ve written for my own blog and as a guest writer. If you want to be notified of new marketing content, subscribe for email notifications now!