Every audience behaves uniquely, which is why A/B testing is so valuable for advertising. In case the name didn’t give away the secret, A/B testing is where two variables are placed against one other during a test. While some users are taken to one variation, others are taken to the alternative. At the end of the test, the advertiser reviews the analytics to discover which performs best.
As you can imagine, this is valuable because we can compare audiences, budgets, creatives, and other aspects of an ad campaign. Most people know what A/B testing is, but not everybody understands how to use it to their advantage. In just a few minutes, you will be in the few with the knowledge that puts you above many in your field!
Why should you even pay attention to A/B testing? In the modern world, it feels as though everybody tells you to spend your marketing budget in all different areas. You need to invest in social media ads, Clubhouse, Reddit, live videos, eBooks, and a million other areas. So, why A/B testing in 2021?
If you’re like most people, social media ads are now integral to your digital marketing strategy. If you’re not like most people, you probably want to be with this one because social media is the place to be. With the right platform, you find the right audience and can generate conversion actions (whether this is sales, web traffic, engagement, sign-ups, or another action!).
The biggest benefit to A/B testing is that it helps you to optimize online spending on advertising both in the short-term and long-term. Every business wants to generate a positive ROI, and this can only happen if you spend cleverly…and A/B testing creates an environment conducive to success.
Over time, A/B testing improves the various aspects of an ad campaign and ensures that it resonates with an audience. Why? Because you keep the components that work and lose the ones that don’t. The creative gradually becomes more relevant, the message improves, meaning you’re always meeting the right audience.
With continual improvements, you have a chance to:
Like anything in the marketing world, it’s easy to waste money if you don’t quite know what you’re doing. Here are some ways to utilize A/B testing effectively rather than wasting those precious dollars in 2021.
Sorry, it’s not what some people want to hear, but A/B testing isn’t something you can do overnight. For smaller businesses especially, you need to allow the different ad variations time to build traffic and generate results. Pull the test too early and you won’t glean any information of use (and this is a sure-fire way to waste money!).
If possible, allow two weeks for the ad variations to generate enough traffic and spend enough money. The more time you allow, the more data you have to compare on the other side.
You’re having trouble with your washing machine, so you replace the washing machine AND the fabric conditioner - how do you know which solved the problem? It might be that all you needed was a new fabric conditioner rather than spending on a new appliance. The same applies to A/B testing - choose one variable to test at a time because this helps to isolate performance and really understand the components of the ad campaign.
We appreciate that you’re excited about all the different ideas you have ready for testing but deploying them all at once will only cause confusion. You’ll have no idea which components were responsible for the increase in performance and you’ll have less understanding than before testing.
Compare two CTAs, then two creatives, then two targeting options - over time, you’ll continually improve the campaign and learn what does and doesn’t work.
Test Power Words
Often, we see businesses testing everything except the wording of their ads. If you aren’t currently using power words, this is something you should test in 2021. Use some of the following to draw more attention to your ads:
These descriptive words tell a story (and encourage people to click through!). As well as adding power to a headline or CTA, these types of words provide context and build intrigue in readers.
In truth, this is one of the biggest best practices to remember because it has the potential to save your marketing team lots of time (and effort!). Many people reading this guide will worry about all the extra work that A/B testing creates. At a time where every second and dollar is important, the last thing you need is an inefficient process to come along and disrupt this objective. Fortunately, you now have access to online tools designed to assist with A/B testing.
Tools like Trapica automate the A/B testing process with your ads. You upload the creatives and the different variables, and the platform does the rest. Suddenly, you’re removing lots of the manual tasks and even making the analysis easier thanks to advanced algorithms and machine learning models.
All over the internet, you’ll find tools that automate the marketing strategy in some way. If you haven’t gotten started already, 2021 is the year. Eliminate wastage, give your team more time to focus on big-picture tasks, trust technology to deal with the menial tasks, and enjoy a positive ROI month after month.
Whether you do everything manually or use an online tool, A/B testing cannot work if you don’t define success. What does ‘success’ mean in this realm? What does one variable need to do or show to outperform another variable? Ultimately, this depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the ad campaign itself.
While some businesses will define success as clicks on a website, others will push for conversions. Be careful not to get swayed during A/B testing and forget what the campaign was introduced to achieve in the first place. With a very clear definition of success, it’s much easier to assess which variable wins any given test.
Get Qualitative Data
Looking at numbers is one thing but getting the opinions and feedback of real users is a great way to learn more about user behavior. For instance, some companies offer a short poll or survey for visitors about to leave a page. With one simple question, you learn why people did or didn’t click on a particular CTA.
With ads, you’re more likely asking why people chose to click on your ad. Eventually, you’ll learn what attracts consumers and can use this information to improve future campaigns.
You have the results, and it seems as though one variable outperformed the other…what now? Well, we recommend plugging the information into a statistical significance calculator. This will tell you the confidence level of your data and whether it merits a change in strategy. By the end, you’ll learn whether it’s better to stick with the original ad or swap for the better-performing component.
The world has changed dramatically over the years, but this doesn’t mean we should lose the very principles that allowed marketing to reach this point. For one thing, this means telling a story with ads and using this during A/B testing. Too many businesses are intent on selling their products and telling the world the greatness of their products. In reality, they should be talking about consumer pain points and how you understand their problems.
Often, storytelling helps customers to find the value of a brand by recognizing the company as the solution to their problems. Play around with storytelling during A/B testing and find the message that resonates with the audience.
Due to the apparent insignificance of the CTA (it’s only a few words, right?), lots of businesses test everything but this one feature. Yet, the CTA is designed to push people towards the next step. Therefore, it’s actually one of the most critical components of any ad campaign. Without it, or with a poor one, people don’t click through.
With CTAs, you need to remember both aspects - both the button and the text itself. With A/B testing, you use various designs and messages and should ultimately find the combination that best encourages users to click. Will ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Learn More’ get more clicks? Only A/B testing tells you the answer.
A/B testing has tremendous value in optimizing ad campaigns whether on Google, Facebook, or another platform. Be sure to use an automation tool to save resources and start on the testing journey this year to boost clicks, conversions, and ROI!
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