The ABC’s of A/B Testing

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Written by Bridgette Weller Brown
on 13 Apr 2021

If you’ve spent any time in the digital marketing space, you’ve heard the term A/B testing thrown around before. In this blog, we will break down what A/B testing is and how you can use it to inform your marketing strategy.

A/B testing is also known as split testing; the idea is to test your ad creative, audience and placement to determine which strategy performs best and improve future campaigns.

We can serve ads to the same pool of people split into A and B groups on Facebook without them even knowing they’re test subjects. Think back to experiments on variables we did in science class, except now it’s testing our marketing materials’ effectiveness.

For example, say you wanted to test if videos on Facebook got more views with the title of the video in the thumbnail, showing one version of the video with text in the title to one audience and another without would be a great way to test this theory.

A/B testing helps ensure that your audiences will be evenly split and statistically comparable, while informal testing can lead to other external factors creeping in or overlapping audiences.

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Common A/B Tests Available

Standard options are available to test with Facebook ads (including Instagram) to learn about your audience and improve your advertising campaign’s performance.

Video length
Does your audience respond better to a 3-minute video or a 10-minute video? If you measure by video completion rate, a 3-minute video may be the way to go. Still, if you want to explain a subject thoroughly, people won’t click out of a video they find engaging and full of enriching information.

Call-to-action placement
If you want your videos to take action on your ads/ social media posts, you’ll want to test your CTA placement. For example, if you are running a video ad, do you put the CTA at the beginning or the end.

Copy length
Facebook and Instagram display the first 140 before it truncates the text into “… read more”. Depending on who your audience is, the more extended caption can get better engagement or reach, while others say the shorter, the better. A\B testing is the only way to know what works best for your audience!

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Design style
Do your followers prefer photography or graphic design? A lot of text on an image or minimal text? Bright colours or muted tones? Some of this might be dictated by your brand but there is so much you can test when it comes to design.

Ad format
Facebook, Instagram, and Google all have different formats and placements for your ads. The formats available include video, static image, carousel (multiple images), and more including what Facebook calls ‘experiences’. The odds are that there isn’t one format that works best for your audience and that you should test!

Ad objective
Facebook gives you the ability to “select an objective” when running an ad. They are broken up into awareness, consideration & conversion.

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For example, the ‘Reach’ objective is focused on showing your ads to the maximum number of people. The ‘Traffic’ objective is focused on sending people to a destination, such as a website, app, Facebook event or Messenger conversation. The ‘Conversions’ objective is focused on showing your ads to people who are most likely to take valuable actions, such as making a purchase or adding payment info, on your website, app or in Messenger.

Generally, you should choose the one that closely matches the goal of your ad. The full list of objectives available across Facebook/Instagram are:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App Installs
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalogue Sales
  • Store Traffic

Audience
If you want to test who resonates with your product or service the most within Facebook, you can target groups of people with different interests and/or demographics to help you hone in your campaign.

There you have it. You are now an A/B testing expert. For more digital marketing tips & tricks, make sure you’re following us on all our social media platforms and get in touch with us for any further questions.

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