Using Facebook Tests to Improve Your Ads

Using Facebook Tests to Improve Your Ads

As a business, you probably spend a good deal of time working on your Facebook ads.  You brainstorm the creative, study your page posts to see what your audience is responding to, and analyze results to figure out what’s working and what you need to change.  However, you can take it a step further and really make sure you’re getting the most out of your ads with Facebook tests.  Facebook offers a few types of tests that can help you gather more data about your ads, and really perfect them, from the creative to the placement to the audience and more.

Types of Tests Available 

There are two main categories of tests available through Facebook Ads Manager: Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) and A/B Tests.   

In an RCT, your audience is split into two groups: a control group and an experimental group.  You apply a treatment (ie. showing people your new Facebook ad) to the experimental group, but not to the control group (people in this group would not see the ad).  RCTs are experimental in nature, meaning that in these types of tests you will be able to determine a causal relationship between the variables you are testing.   With results from an RCT, not only can you say that two things are related (ie. that you saw an increase in sales after you ran a new Facebook ad), but you can say that the Facebook ad actually CAUSED the increase in sales.  

A/B Tests are a great way to directly compare two different courses of action to see which one yields better results.  On Facebook, this often means comparing two different ads you are considering running to see which one performs better.  For A/B tests, your audience is again split in half, with one half seeing one ad, and the other half seeing the other.  After a set period of time, you can compare results from the two groups to determine which ad worked better for your business. 

Benefits of These Tests 

Running tests on Facebook can help your business in a multitude of ways.  We’ll dive into some of the finer points distinguishing the types of tests from each other below.  However, across all of these tests, there are some shared benefits.  

Running a test is a great opportunity to determine whether your marketing efforts are working, or which efforts specifically are having the biggest impact.  You can try out multiple strategies, or compare to previous strategies, without needing to commit the time and resources to multiple full-blown marketing campaigns.  Tests will help you determine what is and is not working for you in a shorter amount of time.  And while all tests do require an up-front investment of time, money, and resources, they are usually well worth it.  A well-designed test can give you results that ultimately help you make more efficient use of your budget and time in the long run.  

By running these tests, you also have more control over certain variables than you would in a real-world situation.  This allows you to be more confident that whatever results you find are not influenced by outside factors, and are in fact attributable to your marketing efforts.  The more control you have in the situation, the more confidence you can have in the findings. 

Differences Between Them 

Conducting any sort of test on Facebook can be extremely helpful, but there are important distinctions between them to note.  Different tests will apply better in different situations.  

RCTs can help you answer questions like “Is my Facebook advertising working and driving sales?”, while A/B tests will help you address questions like “Which of my Facebook ads is performing better?”  So if you want to know whether your Facebook ads are contributing to your overall business goals, you would likely want to run an RCT.  If you wanted to compare your video ads to your static image ads and what kind of performance they each drove, you should go with an A/B test instead.  

Additionally, RCTs involve a control group, so they can tell you causation. A/B tests do not, so while they can provide very helpful and meaningful results, they cannot determine causation, only that there is a correlation.  

The tests can also require different budgets and lengths of time, depending what it is that you’re trying to determine.  It is important to research all your options extensively before committing your resources to one test or the other. 

Whether it be the RCT or A/B variety, running a test on Facebook can be a very smart use of your marketing resources.  These tests can help show you your strengths and shortcomings, and determine a more efficient use of your marketing dollars going forward.  Before committing to any test or experiment, be sure your business questions align with the outputs you will get from the test.  With sufficient planning and a strong design, these tests can help make your Facebook ads stronger than ever!

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