Posted July 15, 2014 4:23 pm by with 2 comments

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Facebook story adSign up now. Sign up now. Sign up now.

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According to a new survey by Adaptly for Facebook, there’s nothing to be gained by being a nag. In fact, the numbers say you’re better off telling a story and saving the call to action as your punchline at the end.

To test the theory, they ran two, 3 unit campaigns for Refinery29. They served them up to a lookalike audience then watched the responses roll in.

The first set, the sequenced ads, began with a general, brand awareness message. 4 days later they ran a product information ad, 4 days later a specific call-to-action with an email sign-up.

You can see all three ads here.

Note that even the first ‘brand awareness” ad has a Sign up now notation but it’s not as heavy handed as the final ad which clearly pushes you to a sign up page.

The alternative sequence of ads relies heavily on the sign-up call to action. Each ad says the same thing in a new way – want to stay on trend, sign up for our newsletter.

Drum roll for the results:

Facebook sequenced ad lift

  • Among those who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads, there was an 87% increase in people visiting the landing page.
  • There was a 56% increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads.
  • People who were exposed to all three of the ads in the sequence converted at higher rates than those who had seen just one or two of the ads. People who saw even just one of the ads converted at higher rates than people in the control group who saw no ads.

I see two things here. Not only did the sequential ad campaign perform exponentially better, it simply performed better overall. Even the first ad with the veiled call to action covered better.  So, it’s not really about building to the call-to-action, it’s about trusting your content over your sale pitch.

The sequential campaign used conversational language with words such as pretty, discovering, empowering. The ads also includes faces. The second campaign uses only cut-off body shots. If you ask me, the success of the first campaign lies more in the imagery and language than in the lack of call-to-action. I’m surprised, for the sake of the survey results, they didn’t use the same images on the ads in each pack.

The takeaway here is that, particularly on Facebook, storytelling will get you further than a pitch. Post as if you’re talking to your best friend and you’ll get ’em every time.


  • Ann Mullen

    Good article. I was surprised at the sequential series. I would never have guessed the conclusions in a million years. I have been just putting articles on Facebook without regard to story or CTAs.

  • ghettopriest

    Hmmm, this is very interesting. I have always wondered if the blatant call to action was not going to be taken as objectionable to some persons, compared to a more sustained, drip irrigation kind of approach.