compassAdmit it, it’s happened to you. You go online with the intention of reading a news article and, half an hour later you find yourself watching YouTube videos or looking up obscure information on Wikipedia. You’re not alone.

The ease with which web users can click around the wealth of online content, shifts users’ attention in countless different directions. One click is all it takes to jump from one topic to another. And every web content provider – publishers and media outlets, businesses and non-profit organizations, entertainers and bloggers – is competing for that click.

Visit Google and you’re told to “search.” Go to the New York Times’ website, it will invite you to “become a digital subscriber.” If you are new to Twitter, the social network will prompt you to “join today.”

Business owners and B2B marketers need to learn how to survive in this new attention economy. Calls-to-action are the tools to make it happen. The call-to-action (CTA) gives online marketers the power to grab people’s attention and direct it toward new topics in order to convert anonymous website traffic into qualified sales leads.

What is a CTA, anyway?

As the name suggests, a call-to-action is an image or text that prompts a website visitor to take an action, such as subscribe to an e-newsletter, download an eBook, or request a product demo. A CTAs should direct people to a landing page that contains a form to collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for a valuable marketing offer. In that sense, an effective CTA results in more leads and conversions from your company website.

The path from a click on a CTA to a landing page is the ideal process of lead generation. In order to increase visitor-to-lead conversion opportunities, you need to create a lot of calls-to-action that are optimized to appeal to people searching for different sorts of information, and distribute them across your web presence.

How to integrate CTAs with your website

The CTA is arguable the most important trigger for successful online marketing that converts anonymous website visitors into leads. To maximize visitor-to-lead conversion, you should create a variety of CTAs that appeal to your website visitors who are in different stages of their buying cycle.

A visitor who is just beginning their online research is not likely to click your “request a quote” button, but may be happy to provide their contact information in order to download an informative whitepaper you’ve created to help them in their decision making process. The more CTAs you build that focus on different buyer personas at different phases in the sales cycle, the more opportunities you create to convert visitors into leads.

What’s more, the sheer quantity of calls-to-action provides you with valuable marketing data about their performance and the visitors’ intentions on your website. Collect these insights using your website analytics or marketing automation software like Hubspot, then optimize your inbound marketing strategy to maximize lead generation. Here are a few ways to create effective CTAs.

1. Create CTAs for well-performing offers

Check your website analytics to find out which of your offers are downloaded most often. This will tell you how many of the people who saw your landing page decided that it’s worth filling out the form to get access to the resources it provides.

2. Create CTAs for high quality offers

If your company website already generates a fair number of leads, you can probably identify trends. Some offers, like whitepapers and videos, are low-commitment – they drive a lot of low quality conversions. Other’s, like product demos and sales consultations, are less compelling, but more valuable in terms of generating qualified sales leads.

3. Create CTAs based on behavior

Create CTAs based on the previous behavior of your website visitors by using the information you know about your prospects, such as which other pages they’ve visited, or other offers they’ve downloaded. You can then make educated guesses about what they want to see next. In this way, you can engage them further with other relevant offers and keep them on your website, or enroll them in a lead nurturing campaign. Most importantly, such intelligence helps to better qualify prospects and turn them into sales ready leads.

Highly targeted CTAs are an essential tool for successful website visitor-to-lead conversion. They are what allows an inbound marketing campaign to direct anonymous website visitors to landing pages that present a valuable marketing offer and capture lead information.