How to Create and Analyze CTAs (Calls-to-Action) using HubSpot


The call-to-action (CTA) turns great content into an effective lead generation mechanism. Well written, unique, and interesting content generates traffic. Then, the CTA converts some percentage of that traffic into leads. HubSpot provides powerful tools for building and managing CTAs as a fundamental building block of your inbound marketing strategy. In this post, we’ll walk you through how to create and analyze CTAs using HubSpot.

What is a Call-to-Action?

A CTA is a friendly exhortation designed to get an immediate response from the person reading it. “Sign up now”, “Purchase here”, “Download now” and “Learn more” are examples of CTAs commonly used in web marketing. The idea is that some of your website visitors are really engaged by the content they are reading. These visitors are primed to take the next step - they want more. Your call-to-action tells them what that next step is. It could be the beginning of a relationship where the visitor gives you their contact information in exchange for a whitepaper, or signs up for a free trial. Or it could be taking that relationship to the next level, where a regular visitor decides to purchase something from your online store. 

Using strong calls-to-action (CTAs) within your website content is a fundamental best practice of inbound marketing. It’s important to draw in your potential customers with CTAs that use compelling language and eye-catching graphics. Using CTAs, you can invite your prospects to take a variety of actions, including: downloading ebooks, requesting free trials, making a purchase, or RSVPing to an event. CTAs must provide a clear directive like “Buy Now,'' “Subscribe to Our Blog,” or “Learn More”.

 Once your visitors takes action by clicking on your CTA, they are directed to a landing page, where you can gate your content with a form to capture valuable contact information. Only after the user fills in the form, can they complete the action. In this manner, the CTA is a transaction. Sometimes it involves money - as in a credit card purchase. But, more commonly it involves permission marketing. A visitor gives you their contact information, and permission to market to them. In return, you give them something of value like a whitepaper, free trial, or a coupon.

Developing Your CTA Strategy

The first thing you’ll want to do before starting to create a CTA is to nail down your action strategy. What action are you calling your potential prospect to take and why? In order to create an effective CTA, you need a clear direction. For the purpose of this blog post, we will use a fictional company called Danny’s Doghouses. We will walk you through the strategy behind Danny’s CTA, and how he creates it within HubSpot. Danny sells customized dog houses. His target audience (buyer personas) consists of current and potential dog owners who are in the market for new doghouses. He writes a weekly blog post, sends a monthly newsletter, and utilizes other inbound activities to draw potential customers to his site. 

Danny decides to use a CTA in the most recent blog post titled, “3 Tips for Choosing the Right Doghouse for Your Small Breed.” Danny decides that the strategy behind this CTA will be to offer 20% off the purchase of a new small breed doghouse in exchange for subscribing to his weekly blog posts. This way, Danny is providing an incentive for his blog readers to provide their email address and get a 20% coupon in return. By acting now, they receive a great discount, and Danny gets their contact information so he can send them regular blog updates and promotions - a win-win for both parties. Now that Danny has a game plan, it’s time to create his CTA.

Designing a CTA

A CTA should use language that draws in the customer and urges them to take action. A successful CTA helps to guide visitors to the next step in their buyer’s journey and should have the following elements: 

  • Has an action phrase like “buy now” or “download here” that urges the visitor to click.
  • Clearly illustrates the benefits and value of taking the action. Find a concise way to illustrate why the visitor would want to download a white paper, purchase a product, RSVP to an event, etc.
  • Is related to the content of the website page. For example, Danny’s Doghouses wouldn’t have a CTA related to large dog breeds on a blog post tailored towards small breeds. That would miss the mark. The copy on his blog post should support the CTA.
  • Piques the reader’s interest. A CTA should use language that provokes curiosity.

 Danny’s Doghouses has decided to offer 20% off the purchase of a doghouse in exchange for subscribing to his blog. We’ll walk you through the elements of design for Danny’s CTA: 

Subscribe to Blog CTA

 The ad copy above reads: 

  • (LINE 1) SIGN UP FOR OUR BLOG + RECEIVE 20% OFF YOUR PURCHASE: make it clear to the reader the value of clicking on your CTA. A subscription CTA is relevant here since you are asking the reader to subscribe to a blog that they have already shown interest in reading.
  • (LINE 2) ACT NOW! Offer ends 4/15/19: a deadline adds urgency.
  • (LINE 3) GET MY OFFER: a contrasting colored button pops out and draws the reader’s eye to the call-to-action.

 Now that Danny has designed his CTA, he needs to insert the CTA into relevant content pages to entice his readers to subscribe and receive 20% off their purchase.

Creating CTAs in HubSpot

The first thing that Danny does when creating a CTA in HubSpot, is to navigate to Marketing > Lead Capture > CTAs. From here, he clicks Create CTA: 


A new window appears. From here, Danny can choose to do a Custom Button or an Image Button. Since Danny has a nicely designed graphic, he chooses Image Button

 Next, Danny can either click upload or browse images (if he has already uploaded his CTA graphic). Danny uploads his graphic, adds the Alt text and clicks Next >

 Danny gives his CTA an internal name (which is for organizational purposes only, this is a name for that only the users in Danny’s HubSpot account will be able to see) and chooses where to send the user (the URL redirect type) when they click. 

The user clicking on a CTA can be redirected to any of the following: 

  • External website URL - any URL outside of the company’s website domain.
  • HubSpot page or blog post - a page created in HubSpot - e.g., a landing page, a website page, or blog posts.
  • Meeting link - a CTA can connect with a calendar so the reader can schedule a meeting with someone at the company.
  • File link - upload a PDF or other type of file and have the CTA link directly to that file. Instructions on how to upload files in HubSpot here.

Danny links his 20% off for subscribing CTA to a landing page that he creates specifically for this promotion. We recommend choosing the “open in a new tab” option whenever redirecting a visitor to another page so that they don’t lose their place. The landing page that Danny creates has no navigation and the form has only one field: email address. He wants to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to subscribe to the blog, and too many fields can overwhelm or discourage a person from entering their information. Once the visitor enters their email address and submits the form, they will receive a discount code. Here is the landing page for the Danny’s Doghouses promotion: 

In addition to specifying the redirect URL, the width and height of the CTA can be adjusted. Once Danny is happy with the CTA, he can click Next. From hereca, he cnn choose to either 1.) Finish 2.) Create a smart version or 3.) Create a multivariate test. 

1.) Finish. By clicking finish, the CTA is now ready to use. Danny can access his CTAs under Marketing > Lead Capture > CTAs:

 To quickly access to his CTAs settings, Danny can simply click Actions as seen below: 

2.) Create smart version which is a customized CTA button for each visitor based on their contact record (stored in HubSpot) or based on “information known about their device type, country, referral source or preferred language.” In this manner, HubSpot allows the creation of different CTAs based on a visitor's contact record. For example, Danny’s Doghouses may create a smart version of their CTA for those contacts in the database who are already members of the blog subscriber's list. These contacts have already taken the action of subscribing, so the CTA he’s offering of 20% off for subscribing would not be applicable to those people. In this case, Danny might want to create an additional CTA specifically for existing subscribers. 

3.) Create a multivariate test. A multivariate test allows HubSpot users to A/B test two different versions of a CTA to see which performs better. HubSpot suggests: when running an A/B test, it is recommended to only change one variable between versions so that you can more easily determine which factor caused more visitors to click on the CTA. For example, Danny may choose to A/B test two of his CTAs by changing the color to see which color receives the most clicks. In variation B, we’ve changed the color palette: 

Stay tuned: we discuss the ins and outs of smart and multivariate CTAs in next week’s blog post.

Creating a Custom Button vs. Image CTA


To create a custom button vs. an image CTA as we mentioned earlier, the steps are very similar. For a button CTA, enter copy and change the color as shown below:


There are also Advanced options to add padding, a custom CSS class, or custom CSS: 

After selecting Next, HubSpot displays the Options screen where the same options are available as with the Image CTA button described above: 


Inserting the CTA Into Content Pages

After creating his CTA, Danny can insert it into multiple content pages. He can even insert his CTA into emails! Danny decides to insert his 20% off CTA for subscribers into his 3 most recent blog posts. Below, we show how he added it to his latest post titled, “3 Tips for Choosing the Right Doghouse for Your Small Breed.”  

He chooses Insert > Call-to-Action, and sees all of his CTA options in a new window on the right-hand side of the screen, including the 20% off your purchase for subscribing to the blog: 

Tip: if you need to edit or create a new CTA, you can do it directly from this screen.

Now that Danny’s CTA has been inserted into his blog post, he can begin to track results and analyze its performance. Danny actually has multiple CTAs and he can track all of them to determine which CTAs are most effective. 

Analyzing the Performance of a CTA

To track performance, Danny heads over to Marketing > Lead Capture > CTA again, to view his CTAs. On the CTA dashboard, he can see:

  • Name: the internal name chosen for the CTA
  • Views: how many visitors have viewed the CTA.
  • Click Rate: the % of clicks from views for the CTA.
  • Clicks: the number of clicks on the CTA.
  • Locations: the number of places the CTA lives within the content: blog posts, landing pages, web pages, emails, etc.
  • Last Modified: the last date that the CTA was edited. 

The drop down menu at the top of each column can be used to sort by Date Range, Campaign or Type and also sort by highest to lowest name, views, click rate, clicks, location and last modified as well: 


The dashboard above provides more of a birds-eye view of overall CTA performance. To drill down to see the performance of each individual CTA, click the name of a single CTA: 

The graph can be adjusted to show Views, Clicks or Submissions and specific date ranges: 


It is also possible to see All Time views, clicks submissions and placements here:


Notice the percentages between views and clicks and between clicks and submissions. These percentages indicate the % of clicks to views and the % of submissions to clicks

NOTE: Under the Call-to-Action placements section, you can toggle between All, Page, or Email to see the overall performance on ALL or the CTAs performance on specific Pages or an Email. 


Now that you know how to create and analyze your CTAs in HubSpot, it’s time to start using them to increase conversions and drive visitors further along in the buyer's journey. Call-to-actions are a foundational tool for building out successful inbound campaigns and are a quick and easy way to gauge your visitor's interest. The number of ways to utilize CTAs is endless and your visitors should be able to clearly understand your offer and the value to them for clicking. Using a comprehensive tool like HubSpot allows you to design, utilize and analyze CTAs with ease.

Written by The Rare Karma Team