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Social Media Marketing for Business

Brooks Tiffany


June 12, 2014

Split Testing the Facebook Call-to-Action Button: Should You Use It?

This past February Facebook rolled out call-to-action buttons that you can include on your organic or paid posts. Now that the new feature has had some time to work its way through Facebook’s system, we decided to put it to the test here at Heyo. Read on to find out the results of our call-to-action button split test.

This little addition by Facebook was meant to help marketers better reach their audience and increase click-through rates. We know that people respond well to a call-to-action; the question is, does adding one of these call-to-action buttons to your posts actually increase click-through rates? Let’s dig a little deeper into the call-to-action button and find out.

The call-to-action button can be added to the lower-right corner of a paid or organic post (you have to use Power Editor to add one to organic posts.) And, in case you haven’t seen it – this is what it looks like:

call-to-action button 1

There are five different variations of the call-to-action button: Shop Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Book Now, and Download.

Packaging a call-to-action in a small, yet powerful, button cleans things up nicely and gives marketers more breathing room when crafting a post. This is especially helpful when taking the 20% text rule within images into account. That space can now be used to deliver a higher quality image or message to your audience.

When taking all of these benefits into account, it would seem that adding a call-to-action button is a no-brainer, but that’s not necessarily always the case. Some initial split testing reported in a great blog post over at InsideFacebook back in March actually yielded negative results when using the call-to-action button.

How could a call-to-action button actually hinder click-through rates for a post? One possible reason mentioned in this report was that a call-to-action button might “tip the viewer off more quickly that they are viewing an advertisement, therein directly affecting the effectiveness of the ad itself.”

While the results of call-to-action testing can certainly vary, one thing is for sure: we can only benefit from more testing! Since the call-to-action buttons have been around for a while now, we at Heyo wanted to know how our own ads would fair with or without the button. Read on to see what we found!

The Call-to-Action Button Split Test

For this experiment, we decided to run a split test for one of our ads. Both posts were targeted at the same audience and are identical save for a “Learn More” button we added. The test started on Tuesday, June 3rd and continued for a week through Tuesday, June 10th. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the ads, with the control ad on the left and the call-to-action ad on the right.

call-to-action button 2

So which one do you think did better? If you guessed the one with the call-to-action button, you’re right. In fact, you’re very right! The call-to-action post outperformed the control post by a large margin. Here’s a quick overview of their performance.

call-to-action button 3

You can see right off the bat that our call-to-action button post has the highest number of clicks; that’s with a reach of 4,000 less than the control post.

Crunching these numbers yields quite a significant different in cost-per-click with the button post coming out to nearly 40 cents less per-click.

That means, for all intents and purposes, the post with the call-to-action button was 30% more effective than the post without it.

You can take a more detailed look at the progress of both posts over the course of the test week below.

call-to-action button 4


Notice that the call-to-action post averaged around 20 clicks a day while the control post averaged closer to 13 clicks a day.

call-to-action button 5

Analyzing the Results

Based on our results, the call-to-action button is the clear victor. Why were our results so strongly in favor of the call-to-action button? Is it because the call-to-action button is just that awesome? Probably not, there are some other factors to consider.

For one, our ad was very well designed and may have been designed in such a way that favored the call-to-action button. Our in-image message is in a chat bubble that originates from the lower-right corner as if its coming from the “Learn More” button.

In the control post there is, of course, nothing there. Drawing extra attention to the call-to-action button probably played a role in enticing people to click through.

Another reason the call-to-action post could have performed so well is because of our target audience, which was focused on entrepreneurs and others who are most likely looking for ways to use Facebook as a marketing tool and may be far more receptive to ads like ours with a call-to-action (as opposed to a different audience who may use Facebook primarily to connect with friends.)

Since it’s now been several months and marketers have grown more savvy with these buttons, it could also be that users now associate these buttons with professional, high-quality brands and trust clicking them more. We also used the softer, more inviting “Learn More” button as opposed to the more aggressive “Sign Up” button which might scare some away.

Whatever the reason, it seems to be working for us and there’s a good chance it’ll work for you too.

What Should You Do?

First and foremost, this is definitely something you will want to test out on your own. Your audience may be quite different than ours and yield different results. However, some cases are just a better fit for the call-to-action than others.

Consider using a call-to-action if you are selling products, registering people for an event, or driving people to a campaign.

If you’re looking for that extra edge to drive engagement, email captures, and sales, on the other side of that call-to-action button click here to sign up, and we’ll show you how to launch a mobile optimized campaign that converts at 10% or higher – make the most of those clicks!

Tell us what you think and we may quote you in a future article:

Does the call-to-action button make you more likely to click on an ad? Have you been using the call-to-action button for your brand? Did you run your own split test? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Brooks Tiffany


Brooks Tiffany is the Customer Engagement Leader and Technical Writer at Heyo in Blacksburg, VA. He's an Air Force veteran with a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech. He'll start pursuing an M.S. in Human Centered Design and Enginnering at the University of Washington this Fall.

  • Kristy Schnabel

    Thanks for this… good to know! So now we just need to figure out which CTA button works the best! Your next blog post? ;-?

    • Brooks Tiffany

      You’re welcome, Kristy – thank you for reading! Yes, finding out which CTA button works the best would make for an excellent sequel – It sounds like I have my next assignment 🙂

  • Stephanie Hanson

    I’ve been wondering about the call to action button as well and testing it out with my own company’s Facebook Ads. My results have been similar. Thanks for posting this article!

    • Brooks Tiffany

      Hi Stephanie – thanks for reading! I’m glad to hear you’ve been testing and getting similar results – that’s good to know!

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  • criegger

    Marge, Chris here from Heyo. I totally agree! For now, Facebook just gives you a few, pre-built options for the CTA button. But it would be nice to be able to customize.

  • criegger

    Greg, Chris here from Heyo. I’ll let Brooks weigh in on this one as well. But I agree that another split test where the control has a different CTA makes a lot of sense.

  • Brooks Tiffany

    Thanks for reading Max – I’d love to hear the results of your testing!

  • Brooks Tiffany

    You’re welcome Elmarie – thank you for reading! I definitely understand the apprehension when it comes to Facebook marketing which is why I love to do this kind of testing. Every test result helps fill in a little piece of the puzzle!

  • Brooks Tiffany

    Thanks for reading and if you ever get around to doing those split tests, I’d be very interested to hear the results. I look forward to seeing you back at my next post! 🙂

  • Brooks Tiffany

    Hi Andrew. When you’re going to be spending money on ads, it definitely pays to have a good amount of research in your pocket!

  • Brooks Tiffany

    Hi Brianna, thank you for reading and thanks for the comment! I think you hit the nail on the head with user intent – the kinds of things the audience is looking to click through to will largely determine whether or not they are ‘spooked’ by the CTA.

    I’m looking forward to do some more testing on this and fleshing out those different situations. I’d love to hear some of your results if you ever get a chance to share them.

  • Brooks Tiffany

    HI Greg, thanks for the feedback! I agree as well that another split test with the control post having a different CTA would be great, perhaps one with “click” in it – it would give it more of a fighting chance.

    However, in this case we wanted to purely test the effect of adding a CTA button. Both posts were identical, and both had calls to action in the post text and image “Sign up – Launch a Giveaway – Collect More Leads”.

    In any testing scenario (especially one that will require extensive testing), I think it’s best to start with the smallest step first. Since this was our first test of this feature, I think it was logical to start with the CTA button being the only difference.

    As we continue with testing, I’d like to test all the other buttons in the same manner. Then I think it would be great to move to another level of testing where the control post would have its own CTA in the image (as you said.)

    I don’t think any of the results here are conclusive and I do mention that more testing is needed (nor do I think my results refute the test I link to). However, I do think these results show that the CTA button has promise and can be very useful when used in the right situations.

    Again, thanks for the feedback, and if you ever run any tests of your own – I’d love to hear about them!