July 18, 2016

Marketers, Build Your Content Strategy Around CTAs

When it comes to content marketing, I tend to be more transaction-focused in how I approach my content development strategies. Sometimes I hear from other marketers that when it comes to building content like blogs or newsletters, the focus should be less on conversion and more on building quality pieces that in turn will cast a wider audience. I understand the argument, but don’t necessarily agree.

The Content Marketing Institute (yes, there’s an actual institute. I was surprised too) defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” I like that definition, it’s succinct and fair. The CMI basically states that the purpose of content marketing is to use content as a way to curate a specific audience to generate brand exposure and ultimately sell your product or service.

So if that’s true, why wouldn’t you take a transactional approach to content marketing? Perhaps the misconception lies in the idea that if we focus too much on converting, it means the quality of the content takes a hit — which shouldn’t be the case. There’s no reason marketers should ever jeopardize quality in anything they put out. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. As marketers, we’re paid to produce, so it’s important to always have a conversion strategy in mind as you work through your content development.

So with that in mind, let’s discuss three different types of calls-to-action (CTA) and how they could be utilized in specific content channels:


This is the most straight-forward of the CTAs, but I wanted to touch on the importance of considering each element that goes into a successful lead gen CTA.

Last week Amazon held its “Prime Day” and helped remind me that, in my opinion, no one does conversion design better than they do. is the king of conversion design.

Every button you see on Amazon’s interface has been carefully thought-out and tested, and you should approach yours the same way.

Personally I’ve found red or green buttons with an icon perform the best, thanks to scores of painstaking A/B testing. But that doesn't mean the same might be the case for you. Work with your design team on different options and test against each of them to find your best possible combination.

​When it comes to content, you should have a plan for inserting CTA buttons in posts to ensure you give yourself the best chance capture new users who might have clicked through from an outside source like a social post or search engine. Have a section that breaks up the post to spotlight services or a large CTA at the bottom of a post to ensure you get the most traction possible.

If you don’t have a designer on staff, Hubspot has produced a handy powerpoint download that allows you to customize and use over 50 types of different CTA buttons.


Now that you’re capturing new leads, it’s time to nurture them through email campaigns. A common issue I see with email campaigns is asking a user to click to a landing page and fill out a form to convert.

Why? If you have the information you need about a lead in your database, all they should do to let you know they're interested is simply raise their hand and let your sales team do the rest. Instead, when you’re building your email content, focus more on inserting clear-cut buttons in your email that let users click and trigger your marketing automation to do the rest.

One-step CTAs are clear and concise. 

I’ve had success using buttons with language like “I’m Interested” or “Have Sales Call Me”. Yes,  you may be risking more on the 1-step action, but in theory the clear-cut copy should cut-down on risk and make it much easier to identify who in your email campaigns is ready to be pushed to your sales team.


When producing content — be it an email newsletter, blog post, whitepaper, etc. — it’s critical to maximize reach. That’s why leveraging your consumers’ networks is so important.

Think of creative ways to get users to share your content with their followers, aside from just having social share icons at the top of each post. Services like Click to Tweet give you the ability to link to a call that opens a Tweet composer window with a preset tweet you created already populated. All the user has to do at that point is hit “send”.

These types of CTA’s are great if you insert them within posts, similar to what Medium does in its interface.

Medium embeds social CTAs directly into its posts.

Again, this doesn’t mean producing blogs or content with transactional undertones but using different transaction tactics to tie to your content. There’s a huge difference.

Have other tips and tricks around CTAs or building conversions through content? Tweet them to me at @TweetsByJMiller


Justin Miller is a marketing consultant for startups and small businesses. Follow him on Twitter: @TweetsByJMiller

Image via Unsplash