Gini Dietrich

Eight Things to Consider When You Create Calls-to-Action in Your Content

By: Gini Dietrich | September 3, 2013 | 

Eight Things to Consider When You Create Calls-to-Action in Your ContentBy Gini Dietrich

Without really meaning to, I’ve created at three-part series on content marketing.

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how to create content without a ton of work. And, last week, we talked about how a fairy princess can become on-page search engine optimization.

Today I’d like to take a look at how to create contextual calls-to-action that drive sales, which are the best and most effective way to measure owned media efforts.

What do you want people to do after they’ve read, listened to, or watched your content?

  • Do you want them to download longer content?
  • Do you want them to participate in a free trial?
  • Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog?
  • Do you want them to request a meeting or proposal? Do you want them to hire you or buy your product?

The answer could be yes to all of those questions or it could be yes to just one or two. Know what it is you need to achieve and use your calls-to-action to help you get there.

Create Contextual Calls-to-Action

Let’s look at three different examples for building community, generating leads, or driving sales.

Build community. We have, what we call, the Facebook question of the week.

We sell our brains for a living. Like attorneys and accountants, our time equals money. So when someone asks me if they can pick my brain, it makes me go a little insane.

We were talking about this during a staff meeting one day, and the idea of our creating video was still on my mind, and someone said, “Why don’t you let people pick your brain through our Facebook page?”

And so Facebook question of the week was born.

Our goal is to do nothing more than build community and engage friends, clients, prospects, and competitors.

People “pick my brain” or ask me a question on our Facebook wall. I answer it in a less than two minute video, which I shoot using my computer’s camera, and upload to YouTube. Then the video is embedded onto the home page of our website, in the sidebar here on the blog, and is distributed to all of our social networks.

We measure not only how many questions we get, but how many video views, how many visitors to those pages on the website and blog, how many comments, how many social shares, and how many new likes we get on our Facebook page.

This also makes the person asking the question feel really special and important because they gain one minute of their 15 minutes of fame when my entire organization is talking about it that day, which leads to creating loyal brand ambassadors for life.

Generate leads. The very best way, particularly for business-to-business organizations, to generate leads is through content.

Think about your content in two ways: Free and paid.

The paid doesn’t necessarily mean money is going to exchange hands. Rather, they’re giving you something in exchange for your content. Something such as an email address or phone number.

Let’s say you want to have a monthly webinar that you’ll host for free, but people have to register to attend. This is both a free and paid model. They are paying you with their email address, which means they have given you permission to market to them, but they get to attend for free.

But how will you generate leads with one webinar? This is the fun part! You get to use traditional and new tactics to gain registrations. You’ll use media relations, email marketing, social media, direct mail, content, and advertising. In some cases, you’ll be marketing the webinar to people you already know, but they could be prospects who haven’t made a decision to work with you, former clients, or someone new entirely.

At this point, you can decide if you hand those leads over to your sales team or, if you have a lead nurturing program, if they go into your system for follow-up content to push them through the marketing funnel to a decision.

Drive sales. Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion, uses an eBook, “Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy” as his entree to prospects who want to hire him for consulting. The book is free and, when someone calls, inquiring about his consulting services,  he sends them the link.

He then tracks whether or not the person has downloaded the book. If they do, he gives them a few days to at least start reading it before he follows-up.

If they don’t download it, he knows they’re not a qualified lead for him and he doesn’t waste his time.

This is very scary to do.

But think about how you buy, particularly if it’s something you don’t consistently buy.

Things such as big ticket items (cars, computers, cameras, appliances), professional services (lawyers, accountants, PR firms), or gifts (my husband does this when I say I want something expensive such as pots and pans or knives so he can find the best price). What’s the first thing you do? You search online. You read. You do your research. You educate yourself. So the philosophy then becomes, if the prospect isn’t willing to do the research and educate him or herself, Marcus doesn’t have the time to do it for them.

That’s just one example of how to use content to drive sales. But what if you sell something that has a long sales cycle or is expensive or is purchased only once very 10 years? Then your opportunity for content increases dramatically because you want to be top-of-mind when your prospect is ready to buy. The best way to do that is to continually offer the most valuable content to help prospects begin to trust you, to build kinship, and to drive purchase.

Track how someone found you: Do they subscribe to your blog, do they follow you on Twitter, did they download a white paper, did they attend a webinar, did they attend a live Q&A you did through Google Hangouts, did you meet at an event? Knowing that will help you determine the types of content they need next to make a decision.

Calls-to-Action in Content

Your content isn’t just about these three things. You also want to be thinking about:

  • A call-to-action on every piece of owned media you create. This could be social share buttons, a subscription, or requiring an email address for download.
  • Landing pages where people download your content. These help you to track the effectiveness of one particular piece of content.
  • Registration (i.e. email address and phone number) in exchange for some piece of content.
  • How to build your database.
  • How to continue generating leads.
  • How to nurture those leads with new and interesting content.
  • How to convert those leads to customers.
  • When to bring your sales team in and integrate your efforts with them.

If you’re able to create a holistic approach like this with all of your media efforts (paid, earned, shared, and owned), you’ll soon become the hub in the wheel of information and your communications programs will be an investment that has a pretty significant return.

A highly modified version of this first appeared in my AllBusiness Experts weekly column.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • John_Trader1

    Outstanding food for thought in how I can re-configure some of my calls to action on our corporate site to help generate leads and drive sales Gini. Thanks!

    • John_Trader1 This is partially a reminder for me, too, as we work on finishing the brand, new Arment Dietrich site.

  • rdopping

    Wow! More technical mumbo-jumbo to sort through. The on-page SEO was wayyyyy easier. This sounds like HARD WORK which is something that I am deathly afraid of….:-)

    • rdopping I know you’re afraid of hard work. You’ve gotten to where you are simply by chance, haven’t you?

      • rdopping

        ginidietrich rdopping don’t forget blind luck.

  • How utterly timely. I had a call Thursday with a marketing coach/consultant on a project I’m working on and in the course of that he looked at my website and just went on and on and on (okay, it was maybe 10 minutes, but it felt like forever) about my lame calls to action. So I spent my Labor Day weekend laboring on fixing that and creating some free content as in incentive.
    Marcus Sheridan’s landing page is great, right down to explaining exactly what will happen when people submit their email address, including a screenshot of the confirmation email they’ll receive and instructions for downloading his book. He really leaves nothing to chance. Very smart. 
    Lots of great food for thought—thank you, Gini!

    • RobBiesenbach I’m going to go check it out!

    • RobBiesenbach Whoa! You were busy! It looks fantastic!!

      • ginidietrich Thank, Gini! Glad you found it. I probably need a little professional help with the design and programming, but this is a good start.

        • RobBiesenbach I think it looks fantastic. Easy to navigate, clear calls-to-action, easy to understand where you have expertise.

        • ginidietrich Thanks, Gini, I got great help on the programming and design from Astek Consulting.

  • ginidietrich I think your lead reflects the most important part of the puzzle. WHAT do you want your content to accomplish? I always feel like the rest of it – landing pages, tracking, whether to prepare content as a white paper, video, or whatever, etc., just kind of comes together once you know what you wish to accomplish.
    Too many companies engage in content marketing or social media marketing or advertising because they think they are supposed to. The problem is they aren’t thinking about the end-game – what in the world that marketing is to achieve.

    • ClayMorgan That’s exactly how I approach it when I speak to groups of business leaders. What are you trying to achieve? Why are you sitting in this workshop? If you can answer that, we can get you where you need to go.

    • photo chris

      ClayMorgan ginidietrich Oh, I agree! So many times I’m sitting here asking, but WHAT do we WANT from this? WHY are we doing it? It often stalls the project.

  • There are a lot of things that drive you crazy, squirrels, people who ask to pick your brain etc… 
    I understand the need to qualify leads but there is an argument to be made for spending time with people because the content we use to qualify them isn’t always as clear as we think it is.
    Sometimes we spend so much time in the electronic bubble world we forget people don’t understand what we are talking about because what we think of as being clear still sounds like jargon.
    Furthermore people don’t like feeling stupid and you have to take them by the hand and gently lead them to where they need to be. I am not saying we shouldn’t produce tools that help streamline the process but I am saying they aren’t always as good as we think they are.
    It reminds me of an article I read in the WSJ last week about the need to pick up the telephone and speak with people:

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Did you see my new cover photo on Facebook? It’s a squirrel village! I really hate squirrels, but the village is priceless.
      I didn’t write this as a means for the only communication channel. I think we need to integrate it with in-person meetings and phone calls. We love the Google Hangouts here – particularly for clients who aren’t in Chicago. But there is a way to use content to qualify leads IF done well.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Well said, sir. I believe I get what you are saying. As a customer, I get a little put off by someone asking me to invest more of my personal time in them than they invest in me. If I email a company for information, and get an auto-reply…yeah, I won’t be clicking any links or pursuing more information. Even if my replies are 97% the same, I always craft my response to each email I receive personally- if they have already spent their time on me, I feel they deserve the same treatment from me. And yes, for about 97% of them, the standard sales funnel applies- they move forward and help themselves.
      BUT- I really make both my money and my own day off of the 3% for whom those traditional “qualifying” funnel don’t apply. The ones who won’t click on my links, watch my videos, heck, they often don’t even read my emails. And THOSE are the customers who, through a bit of personal attention, turn in to FANS. As in I spent hours on the phone, eventually speaking to a customer’s grandson, as he had pop-ups blocked and couldn’t open the document I sent. Had I simply looked to see that he hadn’t opened my link providing standard answers, I may have misread that as lack of interest. 
      About to read that article you referenced- thanks!

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes #Squirrel!

  • Samantha Hosenkamp

    Love this! Fantastic advice, Gini. I want to “pick your brain” pretty much all the time 🙂

  • I’m feeling very silly today so out of respect to your very well crafted post; I will defer my brilliant sense of humor for now and just leave my droppings so you know I was here……
    PS – I don’t like hard work; I just want to show up and have people pay me.

    • bdorman264 I’m still trying to get you money to your HeyPal account.

  • photo chris

    Ok- the post is great (yes, like this is a surprise…)  but I’m also a tiny bit excited to see your “blessing” of Marcus Sheridan. Going to see him *gasp* next  WEEK at the Content Marketing Small Business Seminar in Ohio- now Gini- how did this not make your rounds of public appearances?

    • photo chris I am in three cities next week so I couldn’t add one more!

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris Well, DRAT! Because that would have made it perfect! *sigh*

        • photo chris I’m thinking about having a Spin Sucks happy hour for those in the Chicagoland area. So all you’d have to do is come downtown.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich photo chris  AHHHHHH, how exciting! And, that is MUCH closer than Ohio! LOL. Can’t WAIT!!!!

        • ginidietrich photo chris YAY!

        • Word Ninja ginidietrich photo chris Spin Sucks Happy Hour??? When and where? Like Andy’s Long Bar Thursdays? When is this starting so I can plan my fall travel? I am not really kidding.

    • photo chrisYou are going to LOVE Marcus! I saw him speak at the Social Boom conference a couple years ago and he was amazing. I’ve been hooked ever since. Coincidentally, I saw ginidietrich speak there too. Shook her hand and gushed all over her. I’m hoping she’s blocked that memory and replaced it with memories of my thoughtful comments by now. 🙂

      • photo chris

        TaraGeissinger photo chris ginidietrich Tara, no worries, if she has happy hour in Chicago I will slobber/gush all over her like a happy Newfoundland just out of the lake with a stick, thus making you that much more thoughtful in your commentary, lol!

  • This post is very full of fabulous ideas, but I want to zoom in on this bit right here-
    “The paid doesn’t necessarily mean money is going to exchange hands. Rather, they’re giving you something in exchange for your content. Something such as an email address or phone number.”
    That right there is also my sales philosophy. It isn’t all about the “money exchanging hands” moment. Once someone has given you the right to follow up with them and provides you with their contact info, they had just given you something much more valuable than money- time and attention. My take-away from a call is rarely an on-the-spot sale. Instead, I leave calls with permission to continue the relationship- invaluable.

    • RebeccaTodd Thanks for expounding on this great point from the post. (And giving me the opportunity to say ‘expounding.’)

      • Sometimes without even intending to, Gini puts the *exact* words to my thoughts. Writing up a sales training agenda, and I may quote this directly.

    • photo chris

      RebeccaTodd the “earn the right!” 🙂

      • YES!!!!! I adore you.

        • photo chris

          RebeccaTodd lol- I’ll send up a “like” to that, ha! I adore you too!!!

    • RebeccaTodd The two of us would be a force to be reckoned with in sales meetings.

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd You realize some day that will happen. Ooo want to be my wingwoman next time I am in Chi?

    • RebeccaTodd You are SPOT on with that. Too often clients think that the end result of their landing page or call to action is going to be a sale. It simply doesn’t work that way! It’s much more realistic to have a goal to gather a prospect’s email so that you can follow up and build rapport. If you do it right, that email is just as good as a sale — perhaps even more valuable.

      • TaraGeissinger RebeccaTodd Right on Tara! And I believe that mentality leads to feeling beaten down. People ask me how I deal with “rejection” in my sales role, and honestly I rarely face it, as my take away is first the permission to stay in contact.

    • RebeccaTodd I agree. 
      Too many people think about an exchange as money where in reality it doesn’t need to be. 
      As you mentioned, it could be contact information or something else. Once people realise that, their call to actions may get better.

      • IpjRobson RebeccaTodd Yes that’s it! I am in sales, and my goal for the call is not an immediate sale- it is to start a relationship and “earn the right” to follow up with them in the future. Really, I think this strategy is self-serving- really, I very rarely experience flat out “rejection” in sales calls, as I structure my “provides” to be about things other than a purchase. Thanks for replying!

  • ginidietrich Excellent post Gini! Many great ideas to put in practice. Thanks.

  • Gini Dietrich

    YOU can because it’s always accompanied with wine and peanut butter.

  • Samantha Hosenkamp

    I like the way you think 😉 Wine bars should start making peanut butter treats as an amuse-bouche a thing.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I’ll bet we could open our own!

  • Samantha Hosenkamp

    I’m all kinds of in!

  • ginidietrich

    proofbranding Thank you!

  • SpinSucks

    RHatheway Thanks Richard!

  • SpinSucks

    JustInTheSouth Hey Justin! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • JustInTheSouth

      SpinSucks Hola! And you know it.

  • This is a great tutorial Ms ginidietrich  
    But this is part of the process. I actually sign up for a ton of email from brands to news to causes….and yet I bet my open rate is less than 0.01% in total.
    You can succeed in getting initial responses then fail if you don’t live up to expectations. Great examples are FB and Twitter buttons that take people to your unused network that you rarely post or visit. Or that email newsletter with nothing compelling.

  • RobinatRibit

    tinashakour I appreciate the favorite, it called me to thank you!

    • tinashakour

      RobinatRibit awesome!

  • As always, you provide me with a lot to think about. Thanks… good tips.
    –Tony Gnau

  • Pingback: MYF Approved weekly Aug 6: Clear value proposition, adding value, and the balance of marketing - Marketing Your Farm()

  • hullsean

    AnnTran_ ginidietrich leaderswest 2cre8 now that I know what a “call to action” is I’m getting a *ton* of value from this post. Thx Ann!

  • SpinSucks

    AllyK4 YES!

  • Pingback: Last week on Research: second screens and big data meets advertising | whatsweb()

  • We are getting there! We now have the re-platformed corporate website, so we’ve embedded a contact form in a few places (without being invasive and interruptive). As we have bloggers wrap up series, we will have a summary post with links to each of the posts in the series…and a more specific call to action for that type of reader (interested in data integration…project management…social analytics…etc).
    I’m also working on better understanding of Google Analytics, so I can see how people navigate the site as well as the top keywords they use. I’m having fun because I finally believe we have a platform to best represent what we DO for a living!

  • Pingback: How to Write Non-Salesy Sales Copy by @lpscribe1 Spin Sucks()

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: September 3, 2013 « TLC Niche Marketing()