B2B Marketing Calls-to-Action: Best Practices by Channel
In B2B marketing, calls-to-action are not one size fits all.
Best practices are channel-specific. A powerful email call-to-action could make for a lousy social media CTA.
In this article, we’ll explore what works in four different channels – email, landing page, blog, and social. Plus, we’ll exhibit some great examples of CTAs and innovative conversion strategies to inspire your content promotion campaigns.
Email Call-to-Action Strategy
Email CTAs can drive readers anywhere. The keys are where they are placed and how they appear. They need to stand out. With a quick skim of any email, you should see what the goal is of the message because…
Using buttons is not the only way to do this. Generally speaking there are two types of email styles: a plain text email, and a graphic/ HTML email.
Plain Text Email
A plain text email is the kind that we most commonly send to colleagues and friends, featuring simple text. This type of email takes advantage of the familiar style we’re used to seeing in emails, offering a message that feels more personal.
This email from Neil Patel’s subscription list shows how simple CTAs, positioned correctly, can be used in a plain text email.
This may appear like a low-effort email, but the form and naturalness of the language stands out against more branded emails. And there’s no confusion about where to click for continuing on with the blog post.
Graphic/ HTML email
A more graphically designed email has several advantages including branding, image visuals, and the ability to guide a reader’s attention more.
If you have a substantial amount of content that you want to share in the email, but still need to make a clear path to a CTA, graphic emails are helpful.
Here, Oracle Eloqua promotes a study on retail shopping results and does a great job introducing the studies subject without distracting from the CTA. “Get Study” stands out within the first glance, and subheaders and bullets make it easy to read through what you’d like.
Similarly, Buzzsumo (below) introduces a study with a little less copy and graphics, but follows a similar layout.
Their CTA is even more specific, telling the reader exactly what they want to do: Read our recent study. No confusion there.
Both emails above, plain text and graphic, follow the same principles: simple and short copy that introduces the subject, even spacing that guides readers’ eyes, and direct CTA language.
Here’s a link with even more great examples.
Landing Page Call-to-Action Strategy
Like email CTAs, landing page CTAs can drive users anywhere. But for landing pages, the key is to have one linkable CTA.
The rest of the landing page—every graphic, line of copy, and image—should support your single CTA.
Why? It’s not always easy to get visitors to arrive on your landing page, so once you do, you don’t want to them wondering which action to take next.
Place that CTA above the fold and make sure its color contrasts with its surroundings. Eyeballs should go right to it.
Having subpages along a navigation bar is generally ok because of the landing page conventions that we’re accustomed to.
Landing page CTAs need to convey not just what they link to – but also the benefit of clicking. One word CTAs should be avoided.
Bad landing page CTA
Good landing page CTA
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In fact, a good practice is to imagine erasing everything but your landing page’s CTA. Someone who’s never seen it should still get the page’s purpose. Here’s an example of a CTA on our landing page.
A strong example of this tip is VWO’s landing page below with the CTA “Optimize Your Website With VWO.”
This landing page uses a GIF for accompany content. Videos are also becoming more popular on landing pages as a content asset that helps promote the CTA without being additional copy. The less actual copy there, the more the CTA stands out.
Blog Call-to-Action Strategy
There’s a good chance blog readers have arrived via search engine or social media. As they’re reading, they might not know, or care, what your company or product does. They are likely hungry for content – not a pitch. You have whetted their appetite with an informative post. Now, let’s serve the main course.
Provide a CTA that directs to another, perhaps more in-depth, piece of “thought leadership,” like an eBook, white paper, or video.
You can include a lead generation form that readers must fill out in exchange for access. Or, you could subtly transition readers to your company and product with a CTA driving to a case study or testimonial.
Great blog CTAs that lead to further content have a very strong link with the blog subject at hand. While offering unrelated content to the blog subject at the bottom is better than nothing, more connected content will almost always perform better.
Below is a recent blog title from HubSpot:
And the CTA at the end:
For experimentation, try using non-disruptive CTA’s throughout the body of the content, in between select paragraphs, as a test. This approach is seen widely in news publications for related articles. See if you get more clicks or more bounces and adjust accordingly. Different audiences will respond to different approaches.
Social Media Call-to-Action Strategy
The goal is for users to engage your content and then share with others. You might not think it, but simply telling people what to do works very well.
As Dan Zarrella points out, social media posts that contain the words “visit”, “comment”, “or “share” receive more comments, views, and links than those that don’t. They are powerful single action commands.
For example, if you are posting a blog entry on Facebook, include a CTA that encourages dialogue, such as: “Read the blog post, and then tell us what you think!”
Strong and highly shareable social CTAs ask visitors to participate actively with content. Usually this requires your content to have interactive elements to it.
Buzzfeed and other media publications have resonated so strongly with social users because they provide opportunities to engage, share, and compare their experiences with their content.
CTAs that rally engagement often look like:
- Take the quiz
- Rate yourself
- See where you stand
- Which are you?
Just glancing at Twitter today, I came across two examples of this immediately… and then continued to take the quizzes.
Apparently, I am a Book Hoarder, and am “Pretty Trill” in my millennial knowledge.
Optimizing Your Content Promotion
So, before you sit down to write and design a CTA, consider best practices for the channel in which you are working. Also, consider whether the content your CTA offers delivers on its promise.
CTAs that drive to interactive content—like quizzes, polls, and assessments—are particularly effective.