Designing Calls to Action for B2B Marketing Content


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During my keynote at the B2B Content 2 Conversion conference on Tuesday, one of the questions the audience asked was about a slide I used when discussing how to create a content flow. To sum it up, I suggested that each “touch” should be based on three components:

  • The question your content will answer for a persona.
  • The answer to the question that becomes the content asset.
  • A call to action (CTA)

I was asked to elaborate on what I meant by a call to action.

The normal response to the “call to action” mandate is inserting a “have a sales rep call me” or some other version of pushing the sales conversation. But, this is not helpful during much of the marketing process.

Marketers need to reframe the way they think about the CTA, flipping it from what they ultimately want (qualified leads that will buy from their sales team) to what will be helpful to their prospective buyers. But what’s even more concerning is that much of the content used by marketing doesn’t even nod in the direction of a CTA – demonstrated nicely by a post written by Eric Wittlake — New Research: B2B Content is a Dead End — which he telepathically knew to publish today so I could link to it!

Calls to action should be used to build the best and most engaging buying experience imaginable. They can take many forms and accomplish the momentum needed to turn cursory attention into intentional attention directed toward embracing change to solve a specific problem.

Some of the benefits available from putting thought into designing calls to action:

  • Extend engagement by providing additional information about a topic the prospect showed interest in.
  • Showcase your company’s expertise in solving the problem.
  • Expose the prospect to content that they may have overlooked by linking to the previous touch in your nurturing program.
  • Differentiate your company’s expertise from the competition.
  • Build credibility for your company as a valuable resource.
  • Cement your ideas with prospects so they get used in conversations when your company is not “in the room.”

I’d say those are some pretty good reasons to give CTAs some serious thought.

An additional consideration is to make sure that you vary the types of content you’re linking together to create that interesting experience for your buyers. For example, all calls to action don’t have to be links to other resources. A call to action can also be an embedded resource within a content asset, such as embedding a video or slideshare into a blog post or article. If the prospect reads the post/article and views the embedded content then you’ve achieved that extension on attention.

One note of caution: Just because you can add CTAs doesn’t mean you should saturate every content asset with links, embeds and “see also” extensions. This is why designing CTAs takes thought.

What’s the one thing you’d like for your prospect to learn next?

Give them that with each content asset. If you do this, you’ll create connected pathways that thoughtfully engage prospects by offering them additional ideas that make sense given what they’ve just engaged with. Don’t overwhelm them with choices or it will backfire on you by increasing the effort to choose.

Calls to Action enable marketers to serve as the guide to the buyer experience. Go out and build a great one!

Below is my presentation from the B2B Content 2 Conversion conference. Slide 19 is the one I mention at the beginning of this post:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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