Facebook ads have made it relatively cheap and easy for small and medium-sized businesses to get their ads in front of thousands of people. Not just any people, either—the target audience. But are those ads performing as well as they could be?
Guest Post by Andrew Pressault on The Hootsuite Blog
Why you need to A/B test your Facebook ads
A/B testing (also called “split testing”) Facebook ads is the best way to find out which ads work well and which don’t. It lets you make decisions based on real data instead of using hunches, whims, or opinions to guide what your ads say and look like. When you continuously test your ads, you’re going to improve them. And when you improve them, you’re going to improve your bottom line, too.
How A/B Facebook tests work
The basic idea behind split testing is publishing two different but similar ads over the same time period to find out which one garners the most clicks, sign-ups, or conversions. The winning variation (which is called “the control”) is then tested against a different hypothesis or idea. The process is then repeated over and over again, and the winnings keep piling up. The Facebook ad platform goes a step beyond, so that if one of your ads isn’t performing well, they will give more impressions to your winning variation.
What you can test in Facebook ads
Facebook’s ad splitting tool lets you segment your audience by age or gender. To learn how effective your ads are with each group, create multiple variations of that ad. Be sure to pick one element to test at a time, and use Facebook’s ad reporting to determine which ad performed best during your test. Below are different elements that you can test in your Facebook ads.
Puppies or people? The image a consumer sees in an ad can have a dramatic effect on how they feel about it, and ultimately, if they click it or not.
What you say and how you say it can mean the difference between a click or a continued scroll.
Sometimes a button that says “Shop Now” is more effective than a button that says “Buy Now”. Sometimes it’s the other way around.
Do Facebook users ignore Right Bar (sidebar) ads and better engage with Newsfeed (native) ads? Or do they see it as advertising masquerading as real content?
How to use the Facebook ads tool for split testing age groups and genders
- In Power Editor, click on the Ad sets tab and select the ad set with the audience you want to split.
- Click the Split Ad Set button.
- On the Split Audience page, you’ll see the original ad set that you chose to split. Click Add an ad set to create a duplicate ad set where you can edit the age and gender of the audience for the ad set. You can create as many ad sets here as you need to.
- Click Create Ad Sets to finish creating the new ad sets in Power Editor.
- Make any further adjustments to the ad sets that you want, such as updating the budget.
- Click Upload Changes at the top of the page to save the changes to your campaigns, and begin running the new ad sets.
Important things to know about split testing Facebook ads
Don’t stop A/B testing once you’ve established a winning variation. You’re just scratching the surface of your ad’s potential.
Make room in your budget
While it’s not nearly as pricey as buying billboard space in Times Square, it’s important to leave room in your budget for testing. It’s a small amount that yields the biggest results.
Don’t let ideas get in the way of results
Sometimes your best ideas will fall flat and your so-so ones will produce amazing results. So don’t get attached to your favorite ad variation. Remember: it’s the results that matter.
Winning ads don’t win forever
As your ads are seen more often, they’ll start losing their impact. So it’s important to continue split testing on a regular basis; you’ll always have something that performs.
Managing your Facebook ads in Hootsuite
When you’re running multiple tests for multiple Facebook Pages, keeping track of all of them can get confusing. Hootsuite Ads is a new, free feature in your Dashboard that lets you manage and keep track of all your ads within Hootsuite’s social ecosystem. You can quickly and easily create and target your ads while controlling how much you’re spending on them in the same place that you manage the rest of your social media.
Reach more people with Hootsuite Ads in just two clicks!
Andrew Pressault Andrew is a copywriter on HootSuite’s Online Revenue team and regular contributor of content targeting small-and-medium sized businesses.