From Call to Action to Lead Capture: Critical Tools for Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing requires many steps and can be a complex process. One of the most critical elements of this is the Call to Action (CTA). As a top San Francisco digital marketing agency, we’re no strangers to CTAs. Basically, when you invite a user to take an engagement action (signing up for a newsletter, sharing a post on social media, answering a survey question, downloading a file, or so on) that’s a Call to Action.
But how do you translate those CTAs into real business? How should your site repurpose that user engagement into real lead generation? That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Let’s take a minute and clarify a few terms.
- CTA – Call to Action, or an invitation to engage in a particular way with your content
- USER – a visitor to your site
- LEAD – that which makes a visitor no longer anonymous. (In our industry, it’s usually an email address)
- CONVERSION – When a user, who was anonymous, engages with your business directly (usually, a conversion is tantamount to a sale)
We’re not afraid to give you the run-down on the tools and strategies that our digital marketing agency depends on to convert user engagement to lead capture, for us and for our clients. Today you get a peek behind the curtain, but we don’t have a hidden motive. As well as being the top San Francisco digital marketing agency, we’re also currently the only B Corp-certified digital marketing agency in our area. We put our values ahead of our bottom line. We want everyone to do business the way we do it: without shady motives, or predatory practices. It’s to those ends that we’re keeping an open-door policy on our insider secrets. We don’t want to win, but we do want to make a difference.
With that said, read on and find all about the tools for inbound marketing that our digital marketing agency puts into regular use.
#1. Optimize A Website for CTAs
A good website will be full of content. That’s really just a given. But here’s the thing: if you have too much content, your CTAs might get lost in the shuffle. When everything’s great, and a user wants to engage in every piece, how will she know what to click? The paradox of good writing is that targeted statements don’t stand out.
If your website is strong, you’ll need to create CTAs that are even more vocal. Don’t just embed a link behind the passive phrase “my ebook”, but tag a header (an h1 Header with “Download My Ebook” with an imperative verb, and a clear invitation. Don’t hide even more of your strong content behind passivity and indirectness.
#2. Use CTA Images
The human eye is drawn to two things: movement and distinction. Your eye will light on the one red apple in the wide green tree the same way it will find the fox in the grass. If you want to make your CTAs stand out, leverage color. If your whole site is built on blues and yellows, Purple is an intensification of the theme, while red is more assertive. Depending on your branding you’ll need to take our your color wheel and figure out how best to identify your stand-out CTAs, whether they be set apart by changing your typeface or with a complimentary image.
#3. Have a Cohesive Lead Capture Strategy
Email Marketing is still the most effective way of converting people into customers. Having an incentive for people to give you their email address (a form of “lead capture”) is the easiest way to get users to engage with your content.
Why would they leave an email address without some sort of expectation?
Understanding your demographic (your personas, as we’ve described them) will help you determine what that incentive should be.
Whom will you target, and how? Will you offer an ebook or a coupon? Will you send a weekly newsletter? What should your follow-up email read like? These questions will depend on your business and your customers, so there are no universal right answers, but the value is in asking the questions.
#4. Have a Dedicated Landing Page for Lead Capture Initiatives
For any lead capture incentive or CTA, you should have a dedicated landing page. This is likely to take a number of different forms depending on your business, but here’s an example: a user has clicked on your “sign up for my newsletter” button. The page which loads next should explain the newsletter, thank the user for their interaction, and act as a jump-board for additional, related content.
Similarly, on the subject of dedicated landing pages, each newsletter (or email, or social media post, or other outreach) should link to a dedicated landing page that directly relates to the content from the linking post. Basically, our advice in this section distills down to the fact that you should have a dedicated landing page for each point of contact. It gives the user a sense of cohesion, and it helps you track your engagement (your site analytics, and more) with a greater degree of certainty. If you have a URL that is exclusively linked from an emailed newsletter, for example, then any user who arrives at that URL (any traffic to that page) not only read your newsletter, but clicked the link. And if you sent a hundred newsletters, but only ten users visited the landing page, then you have useful information about the efficacy or quality of your newsletter, as well.
#5. Incentivize Lead Capture
We talked about lead capture incentives peripherally, but let’s give it a closer look. What exactly are you offering? Is it a coupon on their next order? A newsletter full to bursting with useful information for your users? Whatever it is, be sure that you’re offering something that your users will actually want. Users who haven’t expressed interest in your products might find a coupon trivial, while first-time users might find a newsletter invasive. Incentivizing your lead capture initiatives will depend heavily on a deep understanding of the needs of your user base.
For our users, we have seen a lot of success by offering a free digital marketing strategy session.
#6. Leverage Data Analytics
Are you appropriately tracking the results of your lead capture initiatives? If you send a newsletter, are you following through on the impact it’s had?
By leveraging strong tracking and data analysis, you can see exactly which users have engaged with your lead capture initiatives, and how.
Imagine two users, A and B. A arrived to your site by organic search, on a mobile device, while B came by direct link (maybe a referral) from a desktop running Win 7, with the language default for the browser in French.
Which of those users is more likely to want a coupon, or a newsletter? (Check out our piece on Micro Moments for your answer, if you’re unsure!)
Now, if your incentive links to a dedicated landing page, you can track whether A or B (or ideally both) engaged with your remarketing media, and how. If the landing page shows a repeat visit from user B, for example, then you have very actionable data for that phenotype.
#7. Don’t Shy Away from Strong Automation
Once you’ve got an email address for lead capture, what do you do with it? Do you hand it off to an intern, and hope that a remarketing email arrives in a timely manner? Do you pause your own workflow, and email that user directly?
Or do you trust that your automation software has captured the address, and sent the appropriate email?
Automation software is a godsend for digital marketers since it’s endlessly customizable, but trustworthy to reply in real-time to new leads and contacts.
Any user who leaves an email (converts to a “lead”) should be sent an email shortly thereafter, which should contain elements to endear that user to your brand, provide options for further interactions (CTAs or conversions), an explanation of your newsletter or other emails in the pipeline (i.e., what to expect) and (and this is critical) an option to unsubscribe.
#8 Embrace the Unsubscribe
This sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.
We talked earlier about how we stand by our principles, and this is a very clear example of those values put into practice, and the kinds of benefits that come from thoughtful choices. Trapping someone in an email list, with no clear, actionable recourse, is a great way to get your newsletters autofiltered into “spam” and your brand blacklisted for a user.
Make it clear that a user can unsubscribe. It needn’t be an arcane process, but rather a simple hyperlink. Be friendly about it. Have a landing page that acknowledges the many reasons why someone might unsubscribe and which makes it clear that they’ll be welcome back if they ever change their mind.
Trying to push a user into a lead, and a lead into a conversion, will result in few of the former and none of the latter. It’s a self-sabotaging overreach. Don’t be that guy.
With that, we hope we’ve given you a deeper understanding of the dos and don’ts of lead capture and email marketing. The long and short of it is that you need to figure out what your people want, and to figure out how to give it to them. So long as you’re confident that your business is offering something of value, then you can be similarly confident that your marketing efforts are equally meaningful to your customers.
Good luck, and happy marketing.
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