Strategy

How to A/B test a social media ad campaign

Some best practices increase the chances of a social media campaign succeed. You can do market research to get to know your clients better, create business personas and target your campaign to specific audiences. Still, there is no absolute certainty your campaign will be a hit. That’s when you can use A/B testing.

A/B testing is a way of comparing two different versions of an ad to determine which one performs better. Let's suppose you want to test different calls-to-action to learn which one is more effective. You can create two different versions of an ad and run both at the same time to test which one generates better results on social media.

Why should you do an A/B test?

The benefit of A/B testing in advertising is that it reduces a lot of that uncertainty involved in making and promoting ads. Advertising mistakes are often very costly and taking the necessary steps to prevent them is highly recommended. Besides, testing which type of campaign resonates better with your audience can increase your revenue.

When you invest in advertising, you expect to maximize the return on ad spend and generate significant results for your brand. A/B tests are a way to eliminate the guesswork from your routine and guide the decision-making process through data.

Say you are writing a Facebook campaign for your company. You want it to be absolutely perfect and free of any potentially embarrassing double meanings or unclear messages. You also want to use the right tone to engage your audience and understand what is the best day of the week to share your content.

Your A/B test would consist of different versions of the campaign to be published on Facebook to determine which one generates the best results according to your goals.

Here is an example of an A/B test performed for a recent campaign to promote our free e-book Mastering TrueView.

Mastering-trueview-campaign1

We created two different calls-to-action to test which one would drive the best results. We also tested two different images, headlines and subtitles.

Trueview-campaign- version3

A/B testing helps you refine your social media skills over time and ensure that your strategy will produce positive results.

How to do an A/B test for social media

  • Figure out what you want to test. Identify your goals and understand what type of content you will test: headlines, hashtags, photos, video ads, etc.
  • Make a list of the variables you’ll be testing. This can be things like the location of the ad, the best time of the day for posting a campaign, length of your ad, etc.
  • Know what you’re looking for. Scientists don’t go into the lab without a clear idea of why they are performing their research. The same goes for A/B testing. Have an end goal to judge the effectiveness of the test. Will you test the impact of an ad in different locations to target your campaign for specific audiences? Or do you want to test two different calls-to-action to see which one drives more engagement?
  • Design a strategy. To minimize the margin of error you have to develop the right strategy for your A/B test. If you are testing two versions of the same product to understand which one has the most impact, you should test both simultaneously to avoid any variations in timing. The exception, of course, is if you want to test precisely what time of the day your campaign is more successful. Then, your strategy would be to test the same ad different times of the day for a few days in a row to understand how your audience behaves.
  • Consider if you need new software. Depending on the test you need to perform, you might need to use software. While you can easily test two different messages on social media, you will need to use software to create and test different versions of a landing page for your website. When it comes to advertising, an interesting way to improve optimizations is to use multivariate testing, a technique to test multiple variables for targeting at a time. To perform a multivariate testing successfully you might consider using an AI-powered software or hiring an agency specialized in performing those tests.
  • Analyze the results. After you've concluded the A/B test, analyze the data to figure out which better suits your desired results. It is important to note, though, if there was statistical significance on the results before simply going for the best version. It prevents you from jumping to the wrong conclusion. This online calculator helps you analyze the statistical significance of your test manually.

Turn your test into success

A/B testing is the best way to perfect your company’s social media presence. Given its scientific approach, it allows you to see how your campaigns perform in real-time and adjust as necessary.

Whether you think you are presented with a social media ad challenge or not, it is worth it to give A/B testing a try and see how it can help your company improve its own marketing efforts.

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar is a Content Specialist at Strike Social and holds an MS from Medill. She was born in Brazil and has traveled the world, from Silicon Valley to Seoul, to cover tech.