A/B testing, sometimes referred to as split testing, is a method of testing that is commonly used in direct mail marketing, but in recent years, has also become useful for the purpose of maximizing internet marketing efforts. A/B testing occurs when a control sample has one variable changed at a time; for example, two ads with the same copy, but two different images. This is helpful in finding the combination of factors that best resonate with the chosen audience.
Similarly, multivariate testing uses the same concept as A/B testing, except that multiple factors can be interchanged. In online ad creation, the most commonly modified factors are copy, image and targeting parameters, and the most common channels for online advertising are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.
So how do you conduct successful online ads? If you’re looking for a magical formula, you might as well stop reading here. AB testing is simply a way to test different variables to find success through trial and error. Because advertising situations vary so greatly, one call for action may work brilliantly with one target audience, yet receive no clicks whatsoever with another.
So how do you go about setting up an online ad campaign using test variables? At October 17 Media we like to use a spreadsheet to get all our ad variations in order. For example, a simple spreadsheet that tests images as the variable factor:
The key is to monitor your live ads closely. Both Facebook Ads and Google AdWords have detailed dashboards from which you can view common statistics such as CTR (click through rate) and number of impressions, although going into the details is another blog post in itself! Only after examining ad performance will you notice which ads are receiving the greatest response, and tailor your campaign based on these findings.
Some general words of advice for ad success:
Even if a particular ad variation is successful, do not replace all ad variations with this one version and consider it done. You’ll find that ad fatigue will set in, and your ads will receive exponentially less clicks once it has hit its peak. Be sure to switch up the copy, images and targeting to keep it interesting.
Ads with strong calls to action receive the greatest response, so lead your ads with clear and concise instructions, for example “Like our page to...”,
“Browse our selection of...” or “Enter to win...”.
Be sure to direct your ads to a page that is informative and easy for the user to navigate. For example, if you are a footwear retailer promoting a sale on women’s athletic shoes, the ad better direct users to the exact page they can find these deals, rather than the homepage or somewhere equally as generic. Unless the user is led to the deal promoted, you will have wasted the cost of a click on someone who will leave your site immediately for lack of finding what they were looking for.
All in all, AB or split testing is a great way to learn what resonates with your target audience(s), and that experimentation will ultimately uncover the most effective ways to capture the attention of your audience. Yes, it can be quite time consuming. That's why lots of people will hire a social media agency like ours (October 17 Media) to create, execute and report on their social media ad buying campaigns. If you need some help getting your own online ad campaign off the ground, we’re more than happy to work with you to create a successful online ad campaign! Feel free to give us a shout; we’d love to chat with you!
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