How to Run An Effective A/B Test on Facebook: 5 Things to Know

Facebook’s Ads Manager has a wealth of tools at your disposal if you choose to take advantage of everything the platform has to offer. One such feature that often goes overlooked is the split-test (also called A/B test).

This option allows advertisers to test out different creative, as well as targeting parameters, to help come to a conclusion regarding the most effective strategy for their particular goals. Though the concept of split-testing is nothing new, the value it can provide in terms of making efficient use of a marketing budget cannot be overstated.

In this article, I’ll go over how you can run a more effective A/B test on Facebook.


1. Create Two Distinct Ads

This one is pretty obvious, right? If you’re going to pit two ads against one another and see which one comes out on top, you’re going to want to make the creative different enough that it allows for a clear winner. Now, bear in mind that there will be times when performance seems relatively equal on both, but this is going to happen much more frequently if the ads are similarly designed.

Once you’ve figured out which ad your audience prefers, you can begin making smaller and more precise adjustments. This refining process should leave you with the best possible ad for the message you’re promoting.


2. Give It Time

Advertisers – specifically digital advertisers – are prone to overreacting to sub-par performance early on in an ad campaign. It’s only natural to feel the urge to make changes when monitoring a campaign that that you feel is underperforming. Unfortunately, making premature changes has several downsides that make it such that the risk is almost never worth the reward.

Though there are different philosophies in terms of how long you should let a campaign run before making any significant edits, most industry experts would say to wait at least a week before tweaking your ads. Not only do you need a good sample size to judge results, but Facebook actually goes through a “learning” phase where the platform’s algorithm works on finding the ideal audience for your ad.

Resist the temptation to swap out your ad if you notice performance isn’t doing well in the first couple of days. Constant edits means time and money wasted, and there’s no room for that in an efficient advertising strategy.


3. Try Different Targeting

Creative considerations aren’t the only component of your ad that should be tested. Facebook allows advertisers to experiment with different audiences because it’s not always easy determining which demographic might be most interested in your message. This is especially important for small businesses that need to maximize every marketing dollar available.

Whether you’re building different audiences based on purchase data from past customers, retargeting lists from email campaigns or web traffic, or simply taking a guess at who might be interested in a new product or service, you want your decision to be backed up by real data. By split-testing your ad based on target audience, you can be sure that you’re getting your name out in front of those who are most interested in what you have to offer.

Facebook provides advertisers with a number of different ways to find the right audience based on interests, location, Pixel data, and much more. Take advantage of these options and don’t be afraid to get creative with your targeting from time to time. Like I said, sometimes advertisers are surprised to see an unexpected demographic respond positively to certain ads.


4. Small Changes = Big Results

The first step in the ad optimization process might be experimenting with the “big” stuff like imagery, messaging, etc., but once those decisions have been made, you can start tweaking the details. On Facebook specifically, components of your ad such as the headline text and Facebook text copy (as opposed to the copy on your ad graphic) should also be optimized and tested. In addition, you should experiment with your CTA and landing page.

Because Facebook’s ad platform runs on an algorithm, it’s both an art and a science trying to nail down exactly what the platform and your audience are both looking for to create the most memorable experience. You can get everything else right, but if just one aspect of your campaign hasn’t been tested, you’ll never know if you could be doing better by making a minor edit. For example, If you’re getting clicks but not conversions, a landing page change could be a gamechanger for your campaign.


5. Determine Which Metrics Matter

Facebook allows marketers to determine which “objective” each ad should be prioritizing. From conversions to web traffic, brand awareness and more, you should be able to find exactly the optimization you’re looking for to help you accomplish your business goals.

With that in mind, remember that when you run your split tests, ads must be optimized for the same goal. If one of your options – let’s say “Option A” – has a specific message (“Purchase your ticket today!”) and option “B” has a different message (“View our concert schedule for the rest of the summer!”), your A/B results aren’t going to show you which ad is really most effective.

Though you should be changing the ad copy, CTA, image, body text, etc., the “end goal” of the ad should be the same when running an A/B test. If you do want to run ads that have different objectives (think of the example above), you must build it out starting at the campaign level.



Wrapping Up

Testing your ads before investing heavily is a great way to make sure you aren’t wasting your ad budget on something that simply isn’t going to work. Just be sure that you’ve set your test up in such a way that the results are conclusive and reliable. Facebook has made split-testing relatively easy, which means any marketer who takes the time to learn the process is capable of executing A/B tests that deliver valuable insights, regardless of budget or industry.

If your business needs assistance in strategizing and executing a Facebook ad campaign that gets results, get in touch today.