Content Marketing
4 Calls-to-Action Proven to Increase Lead Generation

4 Calls-to-Action Proven to Increase Lead Generation

August 10, 2021
5 min read

Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are everything in B2B marketing. They direct your audiences’ next step in the buyer’s journey and determine the success of your campaign.

Well-crafted CTAs encourage prospects to click and convert to a marketing qualified lead (MQL), or possibly to a sales qualified lead (SQL), depending on which type of CTA you present. The first step in developing any marketing campaign is to determine its goal and this includes pinning down the action we want our audience to take.

Is this an awareness-stage campaign that will encourage our audience to learn more about us? Are we targeting leads in the consideration-stage who are comparing and contrasting solutions and might benefit from downloading a case study?

Or are we engaging with well-nurtured leads who are ready for a demo? Determining the campaign’s goals, who our audience is, and where they’re at in the buyer’s journey will reveal the type of CTA you’ll need. Then, it’s all about making it as strong as possible.

What Makes a CTA Strong?

A strong CTA will elicit a response from your audience by creating a sense of urgency and trust. This comes from mastering four critical elements in your CTA: copy, design, placement, and optimization.

  • Copy: The text of your CTA must include strong action words. Start with a verb, followed by an adverb or subject. For example, Download Now, Get Details, Read the eBook, or Request a Demo all tell the visitor exactly what action to take—making it very clear what will happen once they click. This predictability is what creates trust. Vague or “too-creative” CTAs can actually deter conversions.
  • Design: The CTA button or text must stand out from other elements on a webpage, landing page, or ad through eye-catching design. Use colors, fonts, and imagery that draw attention. Most brands with a formalized color palette will have secondary or tertiary colors reserved for this purpose.
  • Placement: The location of your CTA needs to consider the user experience of the channel it’s on. If it’s a webpage or landing page, you’ll want your CTA above the fold (meaning, it’s visible without the visitor having to scroll down). If the page is more than a few panels long, include the CTA on the side and towards the bottom to ensure it’s always visible and accessible to the visitor.
  • Optimization: Continuous optimization is critical to getting the most from your campaign. Use A/B Testing (also known as split testing or bucket testing) to experiment with different CTAs. This strategy will compare two versions of the same webpage, landing page, or ad, but with one variable (in this case, different CTAs) to objectively measure their effectiveness. Once the data starts revealing the highest-performing CTA—adjust your campaign to do more of what’s working!

Now that you know what makes a CTA strong, let’s see some examples! Here, we’ll look at CTAs proven to generate clicks and improve your lead generation strategy for B2B marketing campaigns.

4 CTAs Proven to Perform

We can break down top-performing CTAs in a variety of ways. We can look at them by industry, buyer’s journey stage, personas, and marketing channel, or we can break down the tried-and-true CTAs that have increased lead generation for B2B companies time and time again. Here are our 4 favorites:

1. Start Your Free Trial

Here’s why it works: “Start” is an actionable word that tells a user something will happen right away. “Your” personalizes the CTA, capturing attention and interest, and “Free Trial” implies a low-risk, no-obligation action. It’s clear, relevant, and promises to deliver instant gratification. This is a popular and effective CTA for companies like business services or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

This CTA is great for leads who are nearing the decision-stage of the buyer’s journey. At this point, they know what type of solution they need and have compared and contrasted their options. Now, they’re looking for a reason to act, and this CTA might be what tips the scale in your favor.

Variations could include Sign Up Free; Start for Free, Start Free 14-Day Trial Now, or Begin Free Trial. 

2. Download eBook Now

Here’s why it works: This CTA tells users that they can access something valuable right now. “Download” is a predictable, low-effort verb, and “eBook” clearly explains what the users are getting in exchange for their information. This minimizes risk, uncertainty, and anxiety, while “Now” drives urgency. It features strong action words and is a CTA that most B2B companies have come to rely on.

This CTA works well at the awareness- and consideration-stages of the buyer’s journey when leads are researching the problem they’re looking to solve and assessing the options out there. You might write an educational eBook, Whitepaper, or Guide about a trend or gap in your industry—which will not only answer your lead’s question but position your company as a thought leader and viable partner.

Variations could include Read eBook Now, Get eBook Now, Unlock eBook Now, or Access eBook.

3. Watch/Book Demo

Here’s why it works: For B2B companies that can produce a demo of their product or software, a CTA that tells people to “Watch” or “Book” a demonstration is a much lower risk than directing them to “Speak to Sales” or to “Contact Us.” This lets the user continue gathering information on their own time, rather than handing the baton off to sales which is a much larger ask.

This can be a consideration- or decision-stage CTA, depending on the nature of the demo. If it’s more of a product/solution overview demo, you’ll serve it to leads who are still considering their options. If it’s a more technical or detailed demo that discusses how your product/solution might integrate with existing systems and reports, you’ll cater this CTA to decision-stage leads.

Variations could include View Demo Now, Schedule Demo, I Want a Demo, or Request Demo.

4. Learn More

Here’s why it works: We know it sounds standard and maybe even dull, but there’s a reason you’ve seen this CTA so many times. It works! Possibly the lowest-risk CTA of the bunch, “Learn More,” directs a user to a next step where their commitment is simply to learn, discover, read, and explore. It’s important to be careful with this CTA, as to not mislead a user into thinking they’re just getting more information when really, you’re telling them to contact you. It’s important for other language surrounding the CTA to clarify what they’ll learn more about and in what format they’ll learn it.

This CTA is ideal at the awareness stage when a lead is just learning. You can direct them to learn more about an industry trend or problem, the types of solutions available to solve that problem, or about your particular product/solution.

Variations could include Discover More, More Details, Find Out More, or Get Information Now.

Bonus Tip: Uplevel Your CTAs with Personalization

New data from HubSpot tells us that smart CTAs, also known as personalized CTAs, convert 202% better than basic or multivariate CTAs. Personalized CTAs will adapt to a user’s behavior, pulling in data from the location, browser language, or stage in the buyer’s journey. Learn more about personalized CTAs with HubSpot now. See what we did there?

Lead Generation, Commence!

You know that CTAs are the critical path to marketing and sales success—and now you know the key elements to crafting a CTA that wins clicks and conversions. Use the quick tips and proven examples provided here to build an effective marketing campaign. For more information on increasing lead generation, learn about all the ways Sagefrog can help.

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Mark Schmukler

Mark Schmukler, CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, brings more than 30 years of global marketing and consulting experience to the agency, leveraging his B2B background to lead brand strategy and business development. Headquartered in Doylestown, PA with offices in Philadelphia, Princeton, Boston and Washington, DC, Sagefrog is a top-ranked B2B marketing agency with specialties in healthcare, technology, industrial, and business services. Founded in 2002, Sagefrog’s mission is to accelerate client success through branding and strategy, websites and digital, content and inbound, and traditional marketing services. Visit or call 215.230.9024.

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