A/B Testing on FB and IG Ads

A/B Testing on FB and IG Ads

Trapica Content Team

Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 29, 2021

In recent years, it has become clear that we need to test in order to find the right formula with our Facebook ads. In an ideal world, we’ll create an ad, and it will set the world on fire, breaking all sorts of records along the way. Conversion rates will be high, conversion costs will be low, and the marketing team will solely babysit the campaign to keep up the strong performance. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, and we can’t just upload an ad and expect it to deliver the results we want or need. 

With this in mind, today we’re talking about the process of A/B testing. Rather than just talking about the basics, we’ll focus on the best practices for A/B testing, the elements you should consider testing, and how you can start A/B testing from the moment you’ve finished reading this guide. 

What’s A/B Testing?

Just to ensure we’re all on the same page, A/B testing is the idea of testing different ad components against one another. While most people think of testing creatives, it’s actually possible to test numerous components from CTAs to ad headlines and everything in between. Sometimes referred to as split testing, half of an audience is sent to option A, and half is sent to option B. After some time has passed, you review the analytics and see which performed better. 

In truth, A/B testing provides value to marketers of all experience levels. Just because you have decades of experience, doesn’t mean you automatically know the creatives, CTAs, and headlines that resonate with a particular audience. You might have a better starting point than most, but A/B testing helps you to optimize and get the best results possible. 

Some advertisers use A/B testing to compare different audiences; with different placements, you eventually learn the audience with more interest in your products/brand. Ultimately, A/B testing allows businesses and marketers to compare two variables to see which performs better. Far from being theoretical, the two variables are active in the ad campaigns, so you get real and reliable results. 

What Elements of the Ad Campaign Can You Test? 

We’ve mentioned a couple of ideas for testing, but the list is extensive and can be split into two (which seems to be a theme of this guide!). 

1. Ad-Related Elements 

On the one hand, businesses can test different elements of their own ad creation. For example, this includes: 

  • Ad headline 
  • Images 
  • CTAs 
  • Copy 

As we all know, one of the biggest problems with ads is that they’re subjective in nature. While some people relate to one image and copy, others won’t even respond to that same combination. Therefore, you can use A/B testing to find what works best for your specific audience. 

2. Campaign-Related Elements 

Elsewhere, you might want to test elements relating to the campaign. We mentioned your audience, but we can break this down further. Perhaps you want to compare the efficacy of your ad between two different age ranges or genders? Although we’ve focused on comparing two variables, some platforms allow you to compare multiple variables, so keep this in mind. 

In other tests, you may want to look at how your ad works on different mobile operating systems, in other countries, using different Facebook ad goals, interests, relationship statuses, or something else entirely. If you haven't used Facebook A/B testing before, the options are endless whether you want to focus on creatives, your audience, delivery optimization, placements, or any other aspect of the campaign. 

How to Start A/B Testing

When first starting with A/B testing, it’s normal to have a handful of different headlines, several images, and various CTAs. Therefore, the first piece of advice we have is to calm down and take a step back. Even if you have four of each, this means there are 64 different variations. After all the excitement of starting the testing, you’ll have to wait numerous weeks to get results worth reviewing (nobody’s idea of an efficient test!). 

Even as an experienced marketer, we would never encourage you to go away and make 64 unique ads. With this in mind, we believe there are three reliable solutions to the A/B testing conundrum. 

1. Experiments 

You can perform A/B testing in Ads Manager, and we’ll learn how in a minute, but we first want to explain Experiments. As many other marketers will tell you, Experiments is a better solution if you want ongoing results and an opportunity to fine-tune the test. When in your Business account, you’ll see Measure & Report with Experiments just underneath. (If you’re lost and can’t find any of this, just use the search bar and type ‘Experiments’.) 

When on this page, select A/B Test and follow the on-screen instructions. For example, Facebook will ask what you wish to test and other details such as: Do you have a specific run time in mind? How will you decide the winner of the test? Are you more concerned about cost per conversion lift or cost per result? 

With everything filled, Facebook explains the potential power of the test. For a successful test, Facebook recommends only proceeding if the power measures above 80%. 

2. Ads Manager and Duplicates 

Remember when we said about making 64 unique ads? Well, this isn’t necessary with Facebook because we can actually duplicate existing ads. Therefore, all you need to do is duplicate your ad and then change the component you want to test. Now, you have two ads - one with the original image, for example, and one with a second image. 

To get started, head into the Ads Manager, click on Campaigns, and select the appropriate campaign. Once you have the right ad selected, there’s a Duplicate option that should appear under the title. From here, you have the option to either create a new campaign or ‘Create a Duplicate to A/B Test’. 

With a second ad now created, Facebook will encourage you to change a component of the newer ad so that it can test against the original. Facebook is a brilliant advertising tool for beginners and the platform actually suggests variables to change on your behalf. If you have something in mind, you can obviously select this option and proceed by replacing the original. 

When you’re ready, Facebook will show the two variations alongside one another for you to confirm. If you’re happy with this preview, hit the green Publish button and the test will begin.

3. External Tool 

In addition to the two options on Facebook, you can also team up with a reliable third-party tool to perform A/B testing automatically. For example, our Marketing Suite will remove the bulk of the manual work involved in A/B testing. Using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, our platform automatically performs A/B testing and ensures that you have the very best combinations of components reaching the target audience. 

With minimal work, you should see the conversion rates increasing as a result. Our Marketing Suite does all the annoying and time-consuming tasks allowing your marketing team to focus on the big-picture ideas. 

A/B Testing Best Practices 

If you want to get the most from A/B testing, be sure to follow these golden rules: 

  • Choose One Variable at a Time - We know you’re excited about seeing all your different variables in action, but you should only test one variable at a time. The more variables you change, the less chance you have of identifying the impact of a single component. 
  • Experiment with Audiences - Remember, getting ads right is a balance of a few things - this includes the audience. In the past, we’ve seen lots of businesses spend months struggling to find creatives, CTAs, images, and headlines that resonate with an audience. Instead, what they should have done is recognize the importance of the audience in this equation. Don’t just stick with one audience, create variations of ads to reach different audiences. 
  • Choose Sensible Time Frames - Can you expect accurate results after allowing the test to run for 48 hours? Probably not. When running A/B tests through Facebook, you have up to 30 days available per test, and Facebook suggests a minimum of four days for reliable results.  
  • Use Significance Tests - How do you know if the results of a test are reliable and valid? Thankfully, there are now A/B significance tests online. Not only will these tools measure the reliability of your results, but they will also generate actionable insights from the data. 
  • Automate Where Possible - Finally, why make your job harder than it already is? Companies aren't spending millions of dollars on research and technological improvements for nothing. Take advantage of AI tools like the one from Trapica and automate simple tasks. A/B testing is much easier when you trust a platform to do the work for you. 
Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 29, 2021