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Facebook A/B Testing: How to Split Test Your Facebook Ads

Facebook A/B Testing: How to Split Test Your Facebook Ads

No matter how much you're spending on Facebook ads, the goal never changes: you want to maximize the returns you get for your investment.

However, it's not always clear-cut which ads will perform well for your target market.

Sometimes, an ad you assume will do well simply doesn't perform as expected.

This is where the magic of Facebook A/B testing comes into play, ensuring you become aware of what resonates best with your audience and enabling you to increase your results over time.

Using solid data, you identify exactly which elements of your ad capture the attention of your audience and drive results.

That means you can make decisions based on solid evidence rather than simply “gut feel”, and helps ensure your advertising delivers meaningful results.

In this post, we’ll talk about:

  • The importance of A/B testing on Facebook
  • Steps to execute A/B testing effectively
  • How you can reduce costs and maximize efficiency in testing

Let’s dive in!

What Exactly is Facebook A/B Testing?

Facebook A/B testing, or split testing, is a powerful strategy where you compare two versions of an ad to see which one performs better.

Both versions — version A and version B — are presented to similar audiences, with results compared to confirm which version performs more strongly, such as for engagement or conversions.

Facebook ads A/B testing

It means you can fine-tune your ads and make decisions based on solid data, rather than simply using guesswork..

Why Should You Consider A/B Testing?

Performing well in Facebook ads involves more than just setting up a campaign and hoping for the best.

It demands ongoing attention. That means continuously monitoring, testing and optimizing to ensure a positive outcome.

Here’s how running Facebook A/B tests keeps you ahead of the game:

  1. Unpredictability of Facebook—what’s effective today might not work tomorrow. The platform's algorithm can change on a dime, affecting your ad performance due to algorithmic tweaks or seemingly random shifts.

  2. Cost efficiencies—by consistently testing, you can learn what captures your audience's interest and what falls flat, allowing you to refine your strategy and decrease expenses.

  3. Reach every segment of your audience—different users react to different approaches. Testing various elements helps you effectively connect with all parts of your audience.

  4. Optimize ad elements—through A/B testing, you can determine the most effective elements of your ads—from the images and headlines to the call-to-action buttons. This enables you to craft ads that are more likely to achieve your desired outcomes.

  5. Enhanced content relevance—A/B testing helps ensure that your content is as relevant as possible to your target audience. This high degree of relevance can mean improved engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversions.

What Can You Test in Your Facebook Ads?

The possibilities for A/B testing your Facebook ads are practically endless.

You can test almost every component of your ad setup to ensure optimal performance.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of different elements you can test at each level of your ad campaigns.

Campaign Level

  • Objectives—are you aiming for brand awareness or conversions? Testing different campaign objectives can help you determine which aligns best with your overall goals.

Campaign objectives selection for Facebook ads ab testing

  • Budget optimization strategies—experiment by testing Ad Set Budget Optimization (ABO) against Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO). ABO allocates the budget at the ad set level, while CBO optimizes distribution across the campaign. Seeing which one lowers your cost per action while maximizing results can be a game-changer.

Facebook ad budget allocation Image Source: Lebesgue

Ad Set Level

  • Audience demographics—test different age groups, genders, or other demographic details to identify who is most responsive to your ads in terms of your audience targeting.

Audience targeting set for Facebook ads and AB Testing

  • Ad placements—do your ads perform better in the Facebook newsfeed, Instagram stories, or perhaps in the audience network? Experimenting with placements can have a significant impact on the overall success of your campaign.

Facebook A/B testing for ad placements

  • Bidding strategies—manual bidding vs. automatic bidding. Each has its advantages depending on your campaign goals and scale.

Ad Level

  • Headlines and primary text—tweaking the wording can dramatically change how people react to your ads.

Headline for Facebook ads before AB testing

Which headlines capture attention? Which descriptions drive people to act?

  • Creative aspects—this includes testing different formats (e.g. images versus videos), color schemes, and styles. Which visual format tends to engage your audience the most?

  • Call-to-actions (CTAs)—the right CTA can make a big difference. Should you use Learn More, Shop Now, or Sign Up? Each one can lead to different set of results.

Call to action for Facebook ads

  • Product sets for various ad formats—with Carousel or Dynamic Product Ads, testing different groupings of products can indicate what moves the needle most for your customers.

  • Landing pages—the page your visitors land on after clicking your ad matters. While not strictly part of A/B testing within Facebook itself, testing different designs, layouts, and content on the pages people land on after clicking on your ads is vital for improving conversions and overall results.

How to Perform Facebook A/B Testing Effectively

A well-planned split test can drive results and increase ROI — by up to ten times.

Here’s a simple guide on how to conduct a successful split test on Facebook

1. Go To Facebook Ads Manager

First make sure you're logged into your Facebook account.

Facebook ab testing ads campaign dashboard for the ab testing

Click on Go to Ads Manager. Once on the dashboard, you’ll see tabs for Campaigns, Ad sets, and Ads.

For this example, we'll focus on the Campaigns tab.

2. Choose Your Campaign

Select the campaign you want to A/B test.

If creating a new ad, ensure the A/B test option is turned on within the ad creation process.

Otherwise, pick an existing campaign from the list on the Campaigns tab.

3. Start A/B Testing

In the toolbar, click A/B Test or the beaker symbol. If you don't see it, tap More and then select A/B Test from the drop-down menu.

Facebook Ads AB testing selection button menu starting the ad flow

4. Begin the A/B Test Workflow

A pop-up will appear.

The AB testing pop up workflow for Facebook ads

Click Get Started to begin. You can either duplicate an existing ad or choose one you've already made. For this tutorial, we'll select Make a copy of this ad.

Ab test making a copy for the Facebook ads

After making your choice, click Next.

Before proceeding, make sure you have already identified your goal.

Consider the following goals along with examples of how you might test for them:

  • Get More Leads—test a lead generation campaign against a traffic campaign that directs people to a lead-focused landing page. See which one gets you more leads for less money.

  • Improve Click-Through Rate (CTR)—test different ad texts with the same image. If the CTR is under 1%, it’s likely the appeal your ad has for your target audience could be improved, perhaps significantly. Try new texts or a new audience. The visual your ad uses is generally the lowest hanging fruit, as it’s what first grabs someone’s attention.

  • Increase Website Traffic—to attract more visitors at a lower cost, test one ad optimized for link clicks versus another that’s optimized for page views. See which approach reduces your cost per click (CPC).

  • Get More Video Views—if you want more people to watch the videos in your ads, test different video variations while keeping the ad’s text the same, as well as testing a single video where different texts are used within the ad. Which attracts more views, and keeps people watching for longer?

5. Pick Your Test Variable

Decide which element you want to test. This could include:

  • Campaign goals—what is the purpose of your ad?
  • Target audience—who are you aiming to reach?
  • Optimization methods—how are you planning to deliver the ad?
  • Ad details—look at the text, headlines, images, and calls to action.

6. Start Your First Round of Testing

To figure out which ad copy works best, launch 2-3 ads that are exactly the same except for a single element, such as the copy.

Testing more than one thing at a time means it’s almost impossible to determine which change has impacted the results, unless you have a huge amount of data to work with. So, unless you’re testing a whole new approach, always focus on testing just a single element at a time.

7. Monitor Results Using Facebook and Your Own Data

Monitor the data as your test runs, but allow things to settle for the first few days because the data can often appear to suggest a particular conclusion, but this can change radically once enough data has accumulated.

Before making any changes, make sure the ad set has left the Learning Period.

Facebook might start favoring one or two ads based on performance, but remember to check your own data, too.

For example, if Facebook seems to be showing one ad less often, but your data shows it’s getting more clicks or driving conversions at a lower cost, you might need to manually intervene (but only once you’ve got enough data to be able to confirm a particular outcome)! Trust the numbers.

8. Stop Underperforming Ads and Test a New Variable

Once your ads have accumulated enough data and run for at least several days, pause the ones that aren’t doing well. Then, decide what to test next.

For example, if you’ve been testing the copy, you might want to continue drilling down into exactly what type of language attracts the most engagement from your audience.

Or you might decide to start testing the visuals to see which combo drives the most conversions.

9. Keep Testing

Keep testing… but remember to just test one thing at a time.

The more we test, find winners, and tweak our strategy, the better Facebook rewards us — with lower ad costs and higher conversion rates.

To Conclude

Facebook A/B testing is vital for improving their performance.

Use the info in this article to start experimenting, testing different elements to discover what your audience likes best, and as a result drive up the returns you achieve from running your ads, potentially significantly.

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Steve Shaw is the founder of EverywhereMarketer, and has ran online businesses for over 20 years, serving over 13,000 customers in 137 countries. EverywhereMarketer helps you grow online visibility, attract more customers and grow your business across multiple channels.

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