Tips for Creating Powerful Calls to Action That Convert Software Buyers

December 12, 2022
Contributor: Natalie Boyd

To maximize performance, place calls to action (CTAs) in your campaigns according to where your target buyers are in the buying journey.

As a B2B software marketer, generating leads is essential to your business. But if you’re delivering lower-than-expected engagement or conversion rates on your campaigns, you could be adding calls to action (CTAs) that are not relevant to your buyers’ needs. 

Not all CTAs are equal. For a CTA to be effective, it should be relevant to where a target buyer is in the buying journey, offer something of value in return, and inspire action. “Schedule a demo” and “contact us” CTAs, for example, are highly popular CTAs among marketers but simply don’t have the pull with unaware buyers who are in the early stage of buying. They are most effective for already-interested visitors looking to evaluate your product. 

In fact, according to Gartner’s 2022 Technology Marketing Benchmarks Survey, CTAs offering content assets, such as videos or case studies, perform better than those requesting meetings, such as “Contact Us.”[1]  

A CTA is a promise of offering something valuable (say, a white paper or eBook) in return for buyers’ action. Here are some tips for creating CTAs that get results and when to use them, along with some examples.  

Best-performing CTAs

Choosing the right CTA depends on where buyers are

Purchasing software is an act of change. To drive this change for their organizations, buyers need more information in the context of their buying journey. Offering CTAs with little alignment to what buyers need to know at a stage can leave them confused or abandon the purchase altogether. 

Create your CTAs with three broad buying journey questions in mind: 

  • Why should they change? (Explore activity stream)
  • What are their options for changing? (Evaluation activity stream) 
  • How do they execute that change? (Engagement activity stream) 

Present the answers in various forms, such as webinars, free trials, sales interactions, and demos. Using the right CTA at the right moment in the buying journey will maximize the relevance of your content and lead to more conversions and engagement. 

Align CTAs with buying activity streams

Most common CTAs and best practices for using them

1. Free trials are an effective CTA in the early stages

Buyers find the offer of free trials or freemium plans most helpful in deciding whether to include a software solution on their shortlist. In Gartner’s 2022 Technology Marketing Benchmark Survey, 13% of respondents said free trials were the best-performing CTAs to acquire leads[1].

Placing free trial and freemium plan CTAs during the exploration and evaluation stages drives buyer awareness and demonstrates the value of your solution. That said, if your marketing campaigns are heavily dependent on free trial offers, place additional CTAs to further engage trial users to become paying customers.

2. Provide demo offers once buyer interest is established

A product demo makes the most sense when a buyer’s interest and the relevance of your solution to them have been established. Thus, use demo-related CTAs for repeat website visitors instead of new prospects who are still exploring the market.

Demos can be as hands-off as a pre-recorded video that a buyer watches or as hands-on as a live demonstration. For both, it's important to follow up via phone or email. Understanding the types of demos that influence buyers the most will help you accelerate their buying decisions. 

Pro tip: Demo and free trial CTAs work best for buyers on Gartner Digital Markets’ network of software review sites—Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice—as they are typically at a point where they are already interested in purchasing a software solution and evaluating different software options.

3. Use content assets for top of the funnel

As software buyers begin their purchase journey, they prefer to take a content-first approach to explore options. Content marketing assets in written or video form continue to rank as the highest-performing CTAs at this stage.

Use thought leadership content, such as trends for the buyer’s industry, functional role of technology, to highlight their business challenges, trigger the need for your solution and generate buyers’ interest in discovering new software.

Content assets such as eBooks and case studies lay the ground for deeper engagement with buyers where they look for more information on product compatibility, support and results.

Pro tip: At the early stages of engagement, provide a CTA that is a lower time investment. This ensures that the knowledge gained by a buyer is considered valuable enough to engage in an exchange.

For example, a one-hour webinar would require too much time to digest as compared to downloading a case study, which is just about right at the beginning when relevance and interest are being established.

Three rules to creating a compelling CTA copy

Here are a few rules to improve the look, feel and essence of your CTA buttons to increase your chance of converting prospects.

1. Keep it simple and intentional

Your CTA should be worded carefully. The best call to action is short, sweet and to the point. If your CTAs are long, complicated or loaded with information, your prospects will glaze over and move on. Remember, CTAs aren’t the small place you get to sell your software—you are simply trying to prompt your audience to the next step. Optimize your product landing page for conversion and lead it up to an appropriate CTA. 

One trick to keep it simple is to limit your pay-per-click ads, social ads, landing pages, emails or other communication to a single CTA that you want your audience to focus on. The advantage of a single CTA is that it is a low-commitment action and creates a binary situation of “yes” or “no” for buyers. That said, if a prospect is further along in the buyer journey and wants to engage with your sales team, they will find a “contact us” button more useful.

2. Use action words

Your CTA should use compelling language that indicates you want buyers to act. For example, a good action button for a CTA might say "click here," "download now" or "sign up for our newsletter." Avoid phrases such as "learn more" or "read our blog post" unless you're specifically directing your audience to those pages.

Also, be clear about what happens when your prospect hits the CTA button. It’ll make them more confident in taking that desired action. For instance, if you say, “submit a query” in a CTA text, the buyer may not be sure what’ll happen when they hit “submit;” on the other hand, if they hit “get a demo,” it’s clear that they’ll get a demo at some point.

One way to make what happens after buyers click on a CTA button clear to them is to include a benefit. For example, if your CTA button says, "get your free eBook," supplement it with a subtitle or one-liner near your CTA button saying, "get more leads in less time with a download of this eBook!" It will show prospects what’s in it for them.

"Get your free ebook" CTA button example

Pro tip: Use action-oriented words such as “get” (for example, “get your demo”) vs. “request” or “book,” which imply more work on the prospects' part or that there are additional steps beyond filling the form. It’s a minute difference, but it makes a strong CTA and ensures that the buyer focuses on the benefit they will receive rather than what they will need to do to get it.

3. Make it look clickable and place it logically

You want your CTA to be visible and visually appealing so the potential leads can’t miss it. As you do that, don’t make it too flashy that it defies your brand personality or puts people off.

A good rule of thumb for CTA placement is to include it above the fold, i.e., the upper half of the page, where it’s impossible to miss. To increase your conversion opportunities, repeat your CTA depending on the page length. 

To make it more appealing, use color, white space and images to make a CTA pop. Another good way to grab attention is to use first-person pronouns, such as “I,” “me,” and “my,” which make your CTAs more personal and relatable; for instance, “start my free trial,” rather than “start your free trial.”

Pro tip: If you’re unsure about a CTA, the best way is to select an idea that you think can fit, create samples of it, and spend time testing it with A/B tests. A/B tests will help you test your message, content, offers and visual elements to know what you can change to boost conversions

Examples of CTAs for SaaS conversions

Examples of CTAs for SaaS conversions

Ready to launch your marketing campaign?

Creating an effective call to action is essential for any software marketing campaign to convert visitors into paying customers. Remember to keep it simple, use actionable language, include a benefit and make it visually appealing. With well-written calls to action, you will craft campaigns that convert.

Reach millions of software buyers and convert your traffic into leads with our landing page experts at Digital Marketing Services

Natalie Boyd

Natalie Boyd is a Manager on the Marketing Services team at Gartner Digital Markets. She leads a team of CRO Designers and helps software companies fill their sales pipeline. She has over a decade of marketing experience and a passion for helping businesses succeed online. Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn.



  1. Tech Marketing Benchmarks Survey 2022: Demand Generation Insights, Gartner
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