It doesn't take new inbound marketers long to realize one key (yet not immediately obvious) truth: you're not actually giving content away. You're trading it. Specifically, you're swapping the content for personal information that turns a visitor into a sales lead.
The interesting thing is that most experienced Internet consumers understand this arrangement, even if they don't know the marketing terminology. Giving away your email address or Liking something on Facebook means giving implicit permission to be marketed to. So, even for something as simple as "give us your email address in exchange for this eBook," you have to engage in real salesmanship to close the deal.
Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are the first stage in this process, but they don't do much on their own. You can have CTA buttons in place, and yet still fail to convert visitors into leads by simply not convincing them to give up their information.
Here's a quick guide to how to make sure your Call-to-Action is effective and lead to effective Landing and Thank You Pages.
Calls-to-Action: The Basics
Calls-to-Action are graphical elements scattered throughout your website that invite people to trade personal information for content. At their most basic, a CTA could be nothing more than a graphic that says "Click Here to Download Our Free eBook!"
In general, these are a few attributes of good CTAs:
Graphically distinct, standing out from the page.
High contrast colors and fonts to make them more distinct.
Iconographic elements (such as a downwards arrow for downloads) that further reinforce the action to be taken.
A short blurb that says what benefit the visitor will receive.
A prominent and unmistakable button to click to begin the transaction.
What Comes After the Calls-to-Action
CTAs are little more than a sign outside a shop, inviting a visitor to step in the door. It's what's inside that really matters.
The next step in the process is a Landing Page, which every associated CTA leads to. A Landing Page is, fundamentally, a sales page except that rather than convincing them to give up their credit card number, you're just asking for a few details about them.