A/B Testing Strategies for Impactful Ad Creative

A/B Testing Strategies for Impactful Ad Creative

December 7, 2023

The quest to capture your audience’s attention is never-ending. Thankfully, with the rise of new technology and generative AI, it’s easier than ever to develop engaging creative, but how do you know what will perform well? The tried-and-true method of determining advertising impact is A/B testing. By testing different ad creatives, you can better understand what resonates with your audience to refine your marketing strategy and achieve greater results. 

The importance of A/B testing ad creative 

Similar to email split testing, A/B testing ad creative is a data-driven strategy that helps determine which kind of ad gets the highest click-through rate. The most common way marketers A/B test ads is by changing the headline or CTA, but there are several variables you can test, especially when it comes to creative elements. The purpose of A/B testing is to determine what strategies drive conversions so that marketers make their ad campaigns more effective and can modify their strategies as needed. It can be tedious, but it’s a data-proven way to find what works, which will minimize lost revenue and resources in the long run. 

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Creative variables 

 

Images  

  • Experiment with different subjects in your images, testing the performance of people, products, abstract designs, and text-based images. 
  • Test different image sizes or orientations (landscape, portrait, square) to see which one performs better. 
  • Compare the performance of static images against animated GIFs or short video clips. 
  • Use images that evoke different emotions (happiness, surprise, nostalgia) and see which one drives more engagement. 
  • Test ads with real photographs against those with illustrations or graphics. 

Colors 

  • Test a single-color scheme against a multicolor one to see which attracts more attention and engagement. 
  • Compare the performance of ads with bright, vibrant colors against those with darker, more muted tones. 
  • Experiment with different background colors while keeping other elements the same to see if it impacts engagement or conversions. 
  • Test different colors for your CTA button or text. The right color can draw attention and increase click-through rates. 
  • Compare the performance of ads with gradient color schemes to those with solid colors. 

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Headline copy  

  • Experiment with different tones in your headlines such as formal, casual, humorous, or urgent to see which resonates more with your target audience. 
  • Test headlines that contain numbers or statistics against those that don't. 
  • Try using a question as your headline and compare it with a statement. Questions can provoke thought and might encourage more click-throughs. 
  • Compare the performance of direct headlines that clearly state what the ad is about versus indirect ones that hint at the content. 

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Descriptive copy  

  • Compare the performance of storytelling in your description versus direct, to-the-point text. 
  • Experiment with including customer testimonials or reviews in your ad copy to see if they increase trust and conversion rates. 
  • Test the inclusion of specific product details and features versus a more general description to see which performs better. 

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CTAs 

  • Test different phrases and urgency levels of the CTA to see what drives more clicks. 
  • Try different placements of your CTA within the ad, testing it at the beginning, middle, and/or end of your ad copy. 
  • Experiment with different button shapes - round, square, or rectangle to see which gets more clicks. 

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Landing pages and forms  

  • If you’re getting a high click-through rate, but not a high conversion rate, try A/B testing the page your ad drives to. Maybe one is less confusing than the other or more appealing. 
  • Test landing pages with more in-depth descriptions vs quick explanations. 
  • Change the formatting of the landing page or form to see if one drives more conversions than the other. It may be a clue that people are getting lost if they don’t follow through by filling out the form or making a purchase.  

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Best Practices 

Whether you're experimenting with headlines, images, or call-to-actions, A/B testing remains a powerful tool for optimizing ad creative. However, to ensure accurate results and meaningful improvements, it's crucial to follow certain best practices. First and foremost, it's essential to maintain consistency in branding and personalization. Your ads should always echo your brand's colors, tone, and personality to foster recognition and trust. Furthermore, ads should be targeted and personalized as generalized ads typically see less engagement. In the pursuit of data through A/B testing, don't compromise on personalization by deploying numerous ads, as this can negatively impact your overall ad performance. Instead, start with a personalized, branded ad and gradually alter variables from there. General guidelines to follow when A/B testing are as follows:  

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Timing 

Timing also plays a role when conducting A/B testing. Being aware of peak hours and time zones will help you maximize your visibility. For instance, if you're running a geofencing campaign, you would want to have your ads displayed during operating business hours. Depending on the industry and location of the business, this may vary. 

Additionally, it's imperative to let your tests run long enough to gather sufficient data. However, caution must be exercised to prevent them from running too long as this could lead to external factors like seasonal behavior shifts affecting your data. On average, it's recommended that tests run for about 90 days. This is typically an adequate amount of time to collect ample data and yield conclusive results, thereby providing a solid foundation for your A/B testing strategies. 

 

Conclusion  

When it comes to navigating crowded ad spaces, A/B testing for ad creatives is a key strategy. By relying on data rather than assumptions, marketers can fine-tune their ads, ensuring better results without increasing expenses. It's the pathway to standing out in the digital marketplace and making a lasting impact. 

 

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