In the Age of Storytelling, Is the CTA Still Viable?

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Marketers have always put calls-to-action in messaging, but research suggests that sequenced ads may be more effective.

Though today's increasingly inundated consumer may find static marketing wanting, they still respond reasonably well to engaging calls-to-action (CTA). However, considering the Web's transformative nature, perhaps there's a better way to generate conversions. One method with positive results is sequenced advertising, according to new research from social media advertising company Adaptly, Facebook, and fashion and style website Refinery29.

The study, which the three companies conducted during May 2014, tested sequenced versus CTA-based campaign creative among three treatment groups. These treatment groups were built by Adaptly using a Facebook Custom Audience based on Refinery29's best email subscribers. Facebook's lookalike audience of more than 2 million users was then split into the treatment groups, each of which was served different creative.

The sequenced group's creative was delivered evenly across 12 days, with the goal of walking customers down the brand funnel. The first creative was a top-of-the-funnel brand message, similar to a TV commercial that serves to introduce people to a brand's image and personality. The second creative mirrored the more product orientation of a brand website to spur middle-of-the-funnel consideration. Finally, customers received bottom-of-the-funnel CTA-based creative.

The second treatment group received three CTA-focused ads, each of which was delivered for four consecutive days. The third treatment group was the control group.

The three companies found that sequencing ads to move individuals down the marketing funnel generated 56% more conversions than a sustained CTA message delivered over the same period. The sequenced ads increased view-throughs by 87%.

 “Most people want to get the consumer on that first impulse, so they do a CTA,” explains Sean O'Neal, president of Adaptly. “This study shows that if you deliver marketing in a sequenced way that builds on the brand's story, then [customers] respond better than if you just do sustained CTA.”

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