How effective are Facebook’s call to action buttons?

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One of the most popular ad formats on Facebook right now is the call to action button, which allows a brand to make its pitch on Facebook accompanied by a button the user can click on or tap. On mobile, it can lead a user back into that brand’s mobile app to make a purchase or convert some kind of action, and on desktop, it can direct the user to sign up for more information or to shop.

Hussein Fazal, Founder of Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer AdParlor, spoke with Inside Facebook about how advertisers are utilizing call to action buttons for success. AdParlor published a study of these call to action buttons for three advertisers, comparing the clickthrough rate, cost per acquisition and conversion rates on ads that had the button compared ads without.

A fashion and apparel brand ran both kinds of ads. Those without the call to action had a CTR of 0.424 percent, compared to a CTR of 0.783 percent for the ad with the Sign Up button. The call to action also led to a cost per acquisition roughly that was roughly half of the CPA for the ad without the call to action.

Fazal took some time to talk about this study and how the call to action buttons have helped Facebook advertisers.

Inside Facebook: Are you seeing more brands utilize call to action buttons now that there are more options?

Hussein Fazal: Yeah. The key thing about call to action buttons is that they’re actually making a difference. The call to action buttons tell the user what they’re really getting themselves into. So you have a call to action button like, “Book Now,” or “Buy Now.” When the user clicks on the button, they know what they’re getting themselves into and that increases the conversion rate or whatever action you want the user to take. That increased conversion rate ends up in an overall lower CPA. So they’re working and there’s no additional cost, per se, to use those buttons. It’s just a little tweak and they’re getting good results.

IF: Do you feel that users are more apt to click “Sign Up,” rather than “Buy Now,” since they don’t feel the pressure as much?

HF: In a couple of test cases, we’ve seen that “Shop Now,” or “Buy Now,” has a lower clickthrough rate because people are a little bit scared to click on it. They think that as soon as they click on it, they’ve made a purchase. But in the end, the conversion rate goes up proportionally higher than the clickthrough rate drops. You end up with an overall, more effective CPA. To be honest, you only want people clicking on it who have some intention to make that purchase because that’s the reason you’re taking out the ad.

IF: What are some of the most creative ways that a brand has motivated a user to click on that button?

HF: Let’s take a step back. If you look at our business, we’re about 1/3 gaming, 1/3 direct response and 1/3 brands. What we’re seeing now is a lot of brands have direct response goals. So it’s starting to kind of merge together. One of our clients is MGM. MGM Resorts, well you can say, that’s a brand. They have branding campaigns, but at the same time, they have a direct response goal, which is getting people to click on an ad and book a hotel room. If you look at before the call to action buttons came out, it wasn’t really descriptive of what we were trying to do. We were still trying to get people to book a room. The objective was the same and the creative was pretty much the same, it was just the text on that button was inaccurate based on what we wanted the user to do.

Advertisers, or direct response advertisers, they have the same goals and the same creative, they’re just now leveraging a better call to action button and that’s making a difference. I wouldn’t say it’s changing the way they advertise, it’s just allowing it to be more effective when they have that direct response goal

IF: What verticals has this really affected the most?

HF: I think it’s been really effective for travel, especially when it comes to actually booking travel within an app. The call to action button can also be used for re-engagement ads. So let’s say, for example, I already have the Expedia app or the Orbitz app installed. With a re-engagement app, I can target the people who already have my app installed. I could theoretically use mobile custom audiences or website custom audiences to know what they search for. I could hit them up with a very specific ad, saying, “Discounted flights to New York next week — Book Now,” and they click on that, and it takes them to the right location within the app.

IF: Is the call to action button an answer to those who question whether or not Facebook can deliver direct response?

HF: We’ve actually seen that Facebook is delivering direct response goals. Not to say that every advertiser who advertises on Facebook gets better results than they do on Google, because obviously there’s some places where Google is going to be better because you have that direct intent, but Facebook is doing more and more to try and determine intent. With all these tweaks that they’re making — call to action buttons, page post ads, bidding on a CPA to offsite conversion, Facebook conversion pixel, Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audeinces — they’re building all these products.

A big focus for Facebook has been delivering direct response and trying to find intent without having to have someone explicitly search on Google.

Readers: Have you seen success with Facebook’s call to action buttons?