There's a saying among experienced marketers that just about everything can be split-tested, and perhaps no other online venue provides as many opportunities for A/B testing as Facebook. According to 2017 statistics, 1.37 billion people worldwide use Facebook every day – and numbers like these have made Facebook a social media marketing phenomenon. Businesses worldwide consider Facebook the single most effective social media venue for marketers, and by 2018, Facebook's advertising revenue is projected to reach $19 billion in the United States alone.
For marketers, split testing is especially effective on Facebook because the site attracts such a diverse global audience. Likewise, the most common age demographic of Facebook users is 25-34 (29.7 percent of users), which is a prime target group for many businesses.
Here are five tips that can help you choose, define and test your variables for a successful A/B marketing campaign on Facebook.
1. Test One Variable at a Time
You'll be most successful if you test one element/variable at a time. Don't try to save money by using multiple variables in each ad – the only way to identify the most successful variable is to isolate it for each test. Once you've got the answer you need, you can then move on to the next variable.
For instance, if you're testing for text versus no text, don't add color variables as well. Instead, make the two ad creatives exactly the same, except for the presence or absence of text. Otherwise, you'll never know if the ad's success was based on the text (or lack of text), or the color difference.
However many variables you decide to compare, the important thing is to isolate one variable per testing ad – which leads us to the next tip.
2. Identify Which Metrics Will Define Your Success
Once you choose the variable you want to test – such as your call-to-action wording – you'll need to link that variable to a performance metric. For example, does one call-to-action phrase result in more click-throughs than another one? If so, then congratulations: You've just linked a variable to a performance metric, and in turn you've identified a measurable hypothesis and analyzed its results.
It's also important to test the elements that will give you the highest impact. Elements that provide the biggest gain can include placement, landing page links, text size, headline word count, call-to-action appearance and color. Speaking of color, you'll want to pay close attention to the next tip.
3. Imagery is Key
The numbers tell the story: Images are responsible for 75 percent to 90 percent of ad performance on Facebook. Imagery can involve a wealth of different elements – from the background color of a call to action to how many words make up your text.
You can't come up with too many variables when it comes to image testing. You'll want to test everything you can think of – from color combinations and "lights versus darks" to "text versus no text" in your ads. Another effective strategy is to test illustrations against stock (or original) photos to see which option your demographic prefers.
You'll also want to adapt your ads so that they fit in well with Facebook's general template and appearance. For example, if your ad has too many blue/white elements, it might fade into the background of Facebook's blue-and-white color scheme. Some advertisers use bold colors in opposite shades, such as red and orange, so that their ads will be sure to stand out.
Text is another important marketing component. You'll need to consider font style, text size and quantity of words. Statistics show that the most successful Facebook advertising headlines contain only four words.
You can conduct multiple tests on a single variable if necessary, but before you do, consider the next tip
4. Don't Overtest One Segment
The reason for this is simple: The more you test, the more money you'll spend, and the more profits you'll whittle away from your Return on Investment (ROI). Plus, multiple rounds of testing can get overwhelming. Testing just five multiple elements can involve the creation of 125 different test ads.
One way to streamline your testing is to pinpoint elements of your target market – such as gender, age, interests, purchase behaviors and educational level – and focus on these characteristics as you create your variables. For example, gender marketing can involve the use of color and image variables, while age or education-level marketing can involve text content and font size or style.
5. Time It Right
How long should you run each test ad on your page?
Facebook recommends running each test ad for a minimum of three days, with an overall length not to exceed 14 days. According to Facebook, three days might not be sufficient; while 14 days isn't budget-wise because a clear-cut winner should have emerged by then. Facebook also mentions that most people take more than seven days to convert after first seeing an ad; so in most cases, a seven-day time frame for each test is probably the best choice.
After all this, are you wondering how you'll know if your test results are accurate? Here's an extra tip:
6. Use an A/B Significance Test
One way you can gauge the success of your test results is by counting the number of visitors to your page and comparing it to the number of conversions. For example, if Test A had 1,000 visitors and 90 conversions, then it received a conversion rate of 9 percent. Do the same for Test B. If the conversion rate is higher for B, then you have your winner.
There are a number of other A/B significance tests you can conduct, but the bottom line is this: How many conversions is your ad getting? However you calculate it, your conversion rate will be your true measure of success.
Facebook has given marketers a unique (and unprecedented) playing field for A/B testing. By implementing the right variables and paying close attention to subsequent conversion numbers, you can leverage your test results into a successful ad campaign.