Testing the impact of Facebook’s new call to action button

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Facebook began allowing page administrators to add a call-to-action button to the lower-right-hand corner of page post ads in February. Ever since reports of this feature first surfaced, we were excited about its potential impact and looking forward to testing.

Our digital team at Electronic Merchant Systems has been successful with paid social campaigns in the past. Facebook ads, in particular, have generated approximately 65 percent of online signups for our mobile credit card processing solution, EMS+.

When the call-to-action buttons became available, we believed it would help drive our conversion prices down on a per-ad basis. After running a series of initial tests, however, that hasn’t been the result.

To test this new feature, we kept the ad copy, imagery and targeted audience constant throughout a series of three separate Facebook ads. The first ad we ran did not include a call-to-action button. The next two did, featuring different variations of the messaging options available within Facebook.

We found that the call-to-action button didn’t necessarily hurt our cost-per conversion price but it also did not improve it, either.

Those results are illustrated below.

1.  The first Facebook ad we tested was without a call-to-action button.

!call1

The Facebook ad we used, pictured above, was targeted at a potential audience of 1,340,000 people, based on a custom audience similarity file of small business owners in the United States ages 25 and older.

Our goal was to connect with business owners who would ultimately “convert” by completing an online sign up form for EMS+. Shares of this ad, likes, clicks and referrals to our website are obviously great, too, but our digital team is measuring the effectiveness of each ad based primarily on cost per conversion—the cost per completed signup form.

After a 48-hour test, this particular Facebook ad—without the call-to-action—resulted in a cost-per-conversion of $40.

2.  Then we tested this same ad with the call-to-action button “Learn More”

!call2

Our next step was running this exact same ad with the call-to-action button “Learn More” to compare. The same ad copy, imagery and custom audience similarity file was otherwise used, as illustrated above.

For those who haven’t tested this feature yet, there are five call-to-action options available in a drop-down menu within Facebook: “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Book Now” and “Download.”

For our business model, specifically, we believe the two most applicable selections are “Learn More” and “Sign Up.”

We ran this “Learn More,” ad for a similar 48-hour test, spending the exact same dollar value as the previous ad. With this call-to-action version, however, we achieved a cost per conversion of $44.40

We expected this particular ad to be at least better than the cost per conversion of $40 we achieved previously—if not significantly better—but that wasn’t the result.

So we tested again.

3. The next ad we tested included the call-to-action button “Sign Up”

!call3The only difference with this ad was the call-to-action button, “Sign Up,” as pictured above. After a 48-hour test at the same dollar value as the previous ads, our cost per conversion came out at $42.10.

The “Sign Up” version performed slightly better than “Learn More” but still not as good as the original ad without a call-to-action button. That initial ad performed nine percent better in terms of cost per conversion than the “Learn More” ad, and five percent better than “Sign Up.”

Curious as to why the call-to-action button didn’t make the impact we expected, we reached out to 18-year Internet marketing professional Jim Kukral. Jim has been recognized as one of 100 top small business influencers online according to SmallBizTrends.com among other awards and accolades.

“Facebook ads work because they are highly targeted to personal interests and demographics and they are injected directly into the reading experience for each person,” Kukral said. “Also, and most importantly, they aren’t designed to look like ads; but rather “updates”. Perhaps we’re finding out that adding the new call to action buttons tip the viewer off more quickly that they are viewing an advertisement, therein directly affecting the effectiveness of the ad itself. One thing is for sure; the only true way to know is to do proper testing and monitor the results over time.”

As we continue to test and monitor we’ll keep you posted on our findings. In the meantime, let us know if you’ve used call-to-action buttons on Facebook Ads and how it worked for you!

unnamedBrendan Bowers is a Content Strategist and Social Media Manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland, Ohio. He can be reached via email bbowers@emscorporate.com and Twitter @BowersCLE.

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