More Than a Button: The Best CTAs for Paid Social Advertising (Based on $130M in Ad Spend)

Avatar photo
Abdallah Al-Hakim

A button with a simple phrase can be the difference between a meaningless impression on your ad and a click that turns into pipeline. We’re talking about calls to action (CTAs) and how they make or break paid social campaigns.

You might be asking this question: Which ones should I use on Facebook and LinkedIn?

We looked at data from $130M in ad spend to help you answer that.

What’s a call to action or CTA?

A quick definition for newer marketers in the room: A call to action (CTA) is a statement that prompts someone to do something. In the context of paid social advertising, a call to action encourages someone in your target audience to do something next, such as download an ebook, request a demo, or learn more about your product. Common CTAs on LinkedIn and Facebook include:

  • Download now
  • Learn more
  • Sign up
  • Request demo

What we found: lead gen vs. brand awareness campaign results

Before we dive into how CTAs performed on Facebook and LinkedIn pre- and post-April 2022, let’s take a step back and summarize our benchmark report’s overarching narrative. The overview will put the results into perspective.

We don’t have to tell you that marketing budgets took a hit this year, with average budgets falling from 9.5% of company revenue in 2022 to 9.1% in 2023. As your executive team asked you to maximize your smaller budget, your paid ad strategies likely evolved.

In the pandemic’s earliest days, everyone had their sights set on cost per lead (CPL), with spend-per-month averaging $35K. By July 2022, that number reached $40k before falling at the beginning of 2023.

Source: 2023 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Report

Why did it crash? Advertisers pivoted from contact-collection mode (lead generation) to pure brand awareness plays. Based on the data in our benchmark report, advertisers were using owned assets to reduce costs and drive website traffic.

From there, they’d retarget audiences across channels and run conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests to see what resonated best. These two tactics were typically more cost-effective than cold advertising.

This shift to brand awareness is front and center in our latest benchmark report, with top-funnel (TOFU) campaigns on LinkedIn becoming more affordable and, bottom-funnel (BOFU) campaigns trending in the opposite direction.

We won’t go further into the weeds here–you want CTA data—but the writing is on the wall: Brand awareness is all the rage, and advertisers are writing it in big, bold letters.

So, which CTAs performed best on LinkedIn?

We looked at five of the most common CTAs on LinkedIn and compared their performance before and after April 2022. We looked at the click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per lead (CPL), and cost per opportunity (CPO) for each.

It makes sense that CTAs promoting gated or lead generation efforts took a back seat; advertisers across the board are moving away from the aforementioned “contact-collection” mode (at least for now).

Meanwhile, CTAs promising content thrived, like “Download,” but also “Register” and “Sign Up,” which advertisers typically use to promote webinars or similar content.

Here’s what we found (along with examples of each CTA in action):

Download

“Download” is the overwhelming favorite on LinkedIn, mainly due to its starring role in both TOFU and BOFU campaigns.

Source: 2023 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Report

For context, this is the second year in a row that “Download” received the crown.

Source: 2022 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Report

Get Quote

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.43%0.47%
Conversion rate5.27%5.78%
CPL$1,516.94$569.10
CPON/A$21,378.29

Learn more

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.52%0.53%
Conversion rate2.95%3.68%
CPL$275.56$210.14
CPO$7,722.17$7,546.49

Register

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.51%0.55%
Conversion rate3.20%3.67%
CPL$217.71$139.46
CPO$8,330.22$4,869.48

Sign up

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.49%0.58%
Conversion rate3.34%4.37%
CPL$484.51$286.03
CPO$15,923.93$5,703.43

What about CTAs on Facebook?

LinkedIn may reign supreme in the minds of B2B marketers, but Facebook still deserves a seat at the table. The number of CTA experiments advertisers ran after April 2022 compared to before April 2022 on the “unconventional B2B platform” proves that.

Source: 2023 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Report

Even more telling of Facebook’s rising B2B status: 82% of responding B2B social media marketers said they used Facebook to market their business, while 84% said they used LinkedIn.

That’s a lot closer than you thought, right? Yeah. We’re right there with you.

Here’s the play-by-play, along with a few examples:

Sign up

“Sign up” is the winner, with an average CTR of 0.71%. “Sign up” also had the second-lowest CPL (behind Download), making it a solid choice for campaigns on Facebook at both ends of the funnel.

Learn more

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.55%0.69%
Conversion rate2.95%3.68%
CPL$256.70$157.50
CPO$5,206.68$5,557.48

Download

MetricBefore April 2022After April 2022
CTR0.52%0.55%
Conversion rate5.02%6.75%
CPL$160.06$112.68
CPO$2,887.33$4,892.92

Get quote

If you want to branch out, give “Get Quote” a chance to shine; it’s our sleeper pick. Despite the CTA’s high CPO—$$21,378.29 on LinkedIn and $4,630.98 on Facebook—it’s gaining steam.

How to find CTAs that work for your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns

Advertisers got friendly with “Get quote” in the second half of 2022, increasing their experiments on the CTA by 862%, which is the perfect segue into the final section of this article: How do you pick the CTAs for your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns?

The answer: Experimentation.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and insights—maybe even surprising ones—are around every corner. If you’ve paged through our benchmark report, you know what we mean.

We open the report like this: “We hypothesized that the past year of paid advertising activity would be marked by reduced spend and lower performance metrics.”

We were flat-out wrong.

This is why it’s so important to experiment with every element of your campaigns. While experimenting with more prominent elements, like new ad types and audiences, often takes center stage, CTAs are still key to successful paid ad strategies.

Does an ad with “Download” perform better on Facebook than on LinkedIn despite everything else being the same?

Does an image ad with “Get quote” get more clicks than a video ad on Facebook?

Heck, throw our benchmark report out the window. While we found that “Download” performed best on LinkedIn, no one can predict how it will perform in the future.

Give “Learn more” a chance. Everyone’s audience is unique and will respond to CTAs differently. You won’t know until you test CTAs with your audience and see who bites at what.

But make sure you’re experimenting with more than just CTA lingo. You also need another huge piece of the CTA puzzle: Offer types.

Offer types to test on Facebook and LinkedIn

Your offer type—think demos, webinars, events, or other (brand awareness)—is what your target audience gets for their click.

In this example from MNTN, the CTA is “Sign Up,” and the offer type is “Demo” because someone clicking on the CTA expects the ability to sign up for a demo when they do so.

Here’s another example from us, actually. The CTA is “Get a Metadata demo. Get $50.” So the offer was both a demo and $100. In the ad copy, we’re pretty overt that our offer is only good for anyone who spends more than $20k/month on ads. This experiment was well worth our time, so feel free to steal the idea.

Figuring out which offer types to pair with your CTAs is all about experimentation, but we did dig into $42M in ad spend (in our 2022 benchmark report) to help you pick the right ones.

Here are the key takeaways from our article, The Best Offer Types for Facebook and LinkedIn Campaigns:

  • Ads aimed at conversions, like demos, webinars, and events, typically perform better on LinkedIn
  • Brand awareness, engagement, downloads and other “lighter-touch” ads do well on Facebook
  • Don’t write off Facebook as a valuable B2B advertising channel

Although our data showed that conversion ads shined on LinkedIn, it also showed that you could put yourself in a prime position if you can get people to click on your conversion-focused ads on Facebook.

Just look at the data for demos on Facebook and LinkedIn:

  • Facebook’s Lead to Triggered Opp %: 4.1x that of LinkedIn
  • Triggered Opp to Win %: 2x that of LinkedIn
  • Cost Per Triggered Opp Won: 82% lower on Facebook

The proof is in the pudding, people. You can’t assume anything about your paid campaigns, including the CTAs and offer types. Anything is up for grabs, including Facebook, which B2B marketers have shunned for far too long.

Experiment with CTAs and offer types with Metadata

Don’t guess which CTAs and offer types perform best on Facebook and LinkedIn. Experiment easily with all of them—across channels—with Metadata. Then, let Metadata automatically analyze the results and allocate your budget to the ads with the best-performing CTAs and offer types.

What’s not to love?

4 Advertising Strategies That Helped ClickUp Grow to 8M Users
How We Automate Paid Social Media Campaigns Using Metadata

See Metadata in action

You did your research, saw enough proof, and want to see the real thing.

Don’t just take our word for it

4.5/5
Quick design & launch of campaigns
Automated optimization & budget shifting. Clear visibility into key metrics & spend. Easy experimentation to help you course-correct quicker.
Tamara T.
Validated reviewer
Mid-Market(51-1000 emp.)
5/5
The advertising platform to rule them all!
Metadata has been the most efficient platform for managing LinkedIn and Google ads all in one place. I can easily manage audiences, ads, creatives, offers, and more. The budget grouping allows me to control how much spend to allocate by campaigns, geos, and more.
Verified User in Computer Software
Validated reviewer
Mid-Market(51-1000 emp.)
4.5/5
The ability to launch campaigns simultaneously across LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Ads is incredible
It saves countless hours of duplicitous work and provides unmatched visibility into the best-performing channels.
Maggie D.
Validated reviewer
Mid-Market(51-1000 emp.)
Excellent
4.5/5
4.6 based on 274 reviews