You’ve written the perfect blog post. It’s informative, engaging, intriguing, and provides value to your audience.
It’s a wonderful piece. But how do you end it? What is the grand finale to top off this piece?
We dove into the blogs of B2B’s most successful companies. We examined both the concluding paragraphs of blog posts and the other CTAs in the footer or sidebar.
We’ll look at the purpose of these articles and what CTAs were placed at the end as a result. This will give you a launching point to start thinking about how you can generate leads, provide value, and keep visitors on your website.
Hubspot built its brand on its content marketing, so it was a natural choice to start our list. As we looked through Hubspot’s blog posts a few trends became clear. They are:
- Conclusions — Most of HubSpot’s concluding paragraphs contain a soft CTA. This includes “work less hard” or “try these tips.” In some instances, where the content of the content is directly related to a Hubspot offering, the writers provide links to gated content and product pages.
- Lead magnets — Hubspot nudges users to its templates, which are one of its primary forms of lead magnets (and are gated).
- Repost/updates — All of Hubspot’s posts include the original publish date and whether the post has been updated recently.
- Sharing — At the end of each post Hubspot includes the statement “Don’t forget to share this post.”
- “Related Articles” — Hubspot includes three to six related articles at the end of its posts. It's hard to tell from the front end if these are curated by hand or otherwise.
Most of the CTAs included by Hubspot at the end of its posts are quite soft, though I did notice that as content got more specific (i.e. deeper in the funnel) the CTAs are a little more pronounced. That reduces friction.
There are also a lot of CTAs in the Hubspot blog posts. You can see that Hubspot’s blog is a primary source of inbound leads for the company. Here are some of the screenshots I collected:
This UK-based company is a good control for our mostly American-based list. B2B Marketing has the advantage of having the company name be the name as the industry it works within.
Let’s pull apart how this company concludes its content.
- Conclusions — From the examples I looked at, the text of the conclusions on B2B Marketing’s blog include soft CTAs. These are mainly gentle nudges towards executing the advice given in the article.
- Buy our report — B2B marketing has pushed a paid paper at the end of the articles I looked at. To me, this seems like a bit of a jump. I suppose this is a sort of splinter offer, but it feels a little aggressive.
- Related articles — these are included in a stickied sidebar, which is often nowhere near the conclusion of the article. I think that’s another interesting choice. They leave users nowhere to go at the bottom of an article except their paid paper. If users want to keep reading, they have to scroll back up to the top of the page to see the related articles there.
B2B Marketing seems to use its blog to drive “splinter sales,” which are smaller sales split off the main offering.
Its content is relatively absent of CTAs otherwise, which reveals a much different strategy than a company like Hubspot.
ClickZ has a very interesting blog format (especially at the end of the blog). Let’s take a look at it:
- Conclusions — ClickZ leans toward informative or gentle “follow these tips” sorts of CTAs. They don’t push for much beyond wrapping the article and nudging users to follow the advice in the post.
- “Also on ClickZ” — This seems to be a blend of the most recent and relevant content to what the user just read.
- Social sharing — there are three sorts of sharing options for users to click if desired. They are: recommend, tweet, and share (FB).
- Endless scroll — perhaps the most interesting part of the ClickZ blog is that the blog never ends. I have been using the “end” button on my keyboard to jump to the conclusion of the articles, which brings me down an article or two on this website. The endless scroll is a great way to keep users on the blog and reading.
ClickZ seems to use its blog mainly to entice users to stay and read on its website. There aren’t any real pushes towards gated content, just more free articles.
Salesforce is one of the biggest companies in the B2B space, with so many different offerings. That is front and center in the Salesforce blog. Let’s take a look:
- Conclusions — all of Salesforce’s conclusion paragraphs contain a CTA with a link. Some are towards causes (a good strategy in today’s world), but most point users to a specific Salesforce offering, channel, or lead magnet.
- Chat pop up — There is a chat window at the bottom of the page which offers assistance to those who would like it.
Salesforce is a huge organization. It doesn’t need flashy graphics to push lead magnets, offerings, social channels, etc. The blog is simple and streamlined. Salesforce knows its users are there for a reason. Users either want the offering or they don’t.
IBM is another massive name in B2B marketing. Let’s see how that manifests in its blog conclusions:
- Conclusions- like Salesforce, IBM includes a link to either an offering, channel, or lead magnet. These are pushed via in-text links. No flashy graphics here. IBM knows that users will recognize the value and click through, or not.
- Most Popular Articles — IBM does have a simple set of three articles at the bottom of its posts, directing users to what is most popular in a given section of the blog.
IBM has an extensive library of blog categories to match its massive and diverse set of offers. IBM knows that users land on a particular section of the blog for a reason, so the CTAs at the end of those blogs are simple, but hyper-specific to the topic being discussed.
I wanted to use Boeing as an example in this list because it is one of the biggest companies in the B2B space (which really shows how diverse B2B can be).
Let’s look at the blog:
- Contact Us — Boeing’s blog is limited and very simple. If there is a CTA, it is straight to the contact step.
- Case studies — most of the Boeing content is near the end of the pipeline. Companies don’t use Boeing for the quality of their content.
Boeing is a B2B company for engineers and airlines. That’s why they don’t need to have a content strategy that pushes for leads.
The way you conclude a blog post is entirely dependent on your goals, your audience, and your offerings.
The examples we include in this post are diverse. Companies like Hubspot walk the walk when it comes to filling content conclusions with CTAs. Companies like IBM, Boeing, and Salesforce aren’t selling content, they are selling a broad range of hyper specific offerings.
When you go to finish your own blog post, ask the following questions:
- What is the goal of my content marketing?
- What is the goal of this piece of content?
- What action would I like my reader to take next?
- Is there any content I would like to direct my reader towards next?
- What value did I provide in the content?
- How can I emphasize that value at the end?
If you don’t aim for something in your content, you’re aimless. That’s a waste of your time and energy. Use these examples from brands to become more conscious about how you finish your blog posts and how that fits into your overall content strategy.