Going Beyond FREE—CTAs That Sell

Going Beyond FREE—CTAs That Sell

By John McTigueOct 18 /2012

calls to action that convertAt the core of inbound marketing is attracting your visitors to click on your compelling calls to action. I don't know the actual statistics, but it seems like the vast majority of CTAs are about getting something for FREE, usually a download or a free trial. Nobody would argue that free is bad, but if everybody offers something for free, how do we decide which button to click? Here are several examples of great CTAs that go beyond free and actually sell the goods.

a cta with value proposition from mindjet

CTAs That Deliver the Value Proposition

Here's a call to action from Mindjet that tells you what the product is and what the key benefits are in one sentence. Then it tells you how to get it and what the terms are. No credit card required, huh? That's different. This CTA is simple and elegant. Who needs a landing page?

value proposition call to action from salesforceHere's one from Salesforce that states the simple fact that it's the No. 1 selling CRM app in the marketplace. If you're looking for a CRM, that statement should be enough to grab your interest. They follow it up with a bit of detail explaining that it's on the Cloud and that results are compelling, but they could have done without that and simply placed the button.

Here's another from Yelp that gets right to the point. Want your business to show up in local search? Click here to find out how. This one has an interesting twist. It actually appeals to the users (people who search for local businesses) as a way of luring in the businesses themselves.

cta with good value proposition from yelp

CTAs That Appeal to Different Personas

multiple personas in a single cta from appdirectI am so going to borrow this idea. Here's a simple CTA from AppDirect that acts as a multi-mode lead capture device for two distinct buyers—Channel Partners and Developers. Most websites try to get the interest of different buyer personas through banners, tabs or separate web pages. This CTA is one of the first things you see, and it stands out. Each mini-CTA has its own value proposition unique to the target persona and a simple button to "find out how." Brilliant.

CTAs That Support the Value Proposition With Testimonials

cta helpscoutHelpscout offers a single, compelling testimonial that personalizes the "why" about clicking through on a 15-day trial. It's always a good idea to use the person's name and company, lending credibility to the quote. Again, no credit card required. This must be the new norm for free trials. Then, in small text, it gives you a second option to explore for more information. That covers all of the possibilities other than ignoring the CTA.

Zendesk does something similar, only in a slightly more subtle way. Here, you're invited to learn more (testimonials) about user experiences. It also identifies the top 3 buyer personas and gives them a face in the graphic. Nice. For someone just browsing the possible online support systems, this is a perfect entry point that can ultimately lead to a free trial.

cta zendesk

Keep it Simple

cta hubspotHubSpot has one of the best strategies I've seen, and it's dead simple. There are only 2 action buttons on the Home page. See the Software (in bright orange) and Request a Demo (in grey). It's pretty obvious what they want you to do. Yes, it's true that they want you to request a demo, but most visitors to the Home page are just getting started, so HubSpot gives them a more top-funnel choice to help them get to know the software first. Smart.

Develop CTAs That Sizzle With Value

It's amazing how powerful CTAs are if you create good ones. If they are simple and eye-catching enough and inform the visitor about the value proposition, benefits, target persona and desired action, they tend to work better than "Click Here" or "Free Trial." You can A/B test them to see which combination of elements, layout or messaging works the best. Have fun with your CTAs—they really are as important as anything else you do for inbound marketing results.

photo credit: kevin dooley

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn and Twitter.