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5 Unexpected Things You Can Learn from Facebook Tests 

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5 Unexpected Things You Can Learn from Facebook Tests 

We often think about testing as something that is specific to the medium that we are in.

For example, we do website testing to test and improve our website. We do email headline testing to improve the results of our email.

But what if we could use digital tests to improve other areas of our marketing?

Businesses of all sizes are already using digital testing to get real-time feedback to impact far more than their online marketing.

In some cases, businesses are using these tests to determine and validate almost every aspect of their business and marketing strategy.

Digital tests are powerful because:

  • They can be done for under $50.
  • You can get results in under a week.
  • They are easy to set up.
  • There is factual data vs. opinions.
  • They don’t require a research agency.

Here are some of the things that you can test using Facebook that you probably haven’t thought of.

1. Your Ideal Target Audience

Most businesses have some idea of who their target audience is – demographics, behaviors, needs, wants. But many businesses struggle to find their target audience online.

For example, we created a new product to help people starting their own social media business – we know what they need and want and who they are, but we aren’t entirely sure how to find and identify this audience online in a way that we can target them with ads.

For some businesses, especially B2B, finding the audience online can be one of the most difficult challenges. For instance, knowing that you need to target IT Decision-Makers is one thing, being able to find them and target them online is more challenging.

How to Set up This Test

Facebook is the easiest platform to use, but you could also do this in any ad platform. It works best because there are plenty of targeting options.

For this test, you’ll need some ideas of who your target audience is – are they interested in specific celebrities, magazines or other pages?

Identify 4-6 target audiences to start testing.

Steps to Audience Testing

  • Create a campaign with ad objective of reach.
  • Create an adset for each target audience that you want to test.
  • Use creative that has a clear call to action that you know your audience is interested in.
  • Make all elements of the ad the same, except for the target audiences.

What You’ll Learn

At the end of this test, you’ll know which of the target audiences you selected is most receptive to your message.

Analyze the results and look for trends across multiple KPIs including:

  • Relevance score.
  • CPR.
  • Clicks.
  • Engagement rate.

You should see a trend in metrics from target audiences that respond best to your offer.

2. Your Concept or Creative Idea

Today a business gets pitched creative ideas by their agency (or internal team) and typically the highest paid person in the room decides what they like best.

While instinct is important, digital testing can play a key role in the early stages of concept or idea testing.

How to Set up This Test

Create a Facebook post (preferably a short video) highlighting the concept for each creative idea. The goal is to use digital best practices to create simple creative that embodies each idea.

While it may be difficult to create a short, simple, low-cost social media video that embodies each concept, it can usually be done with some creativity.

Many agencies create mock-ups for the pitch stage, and these can be used in the test.

Steps to Creative Testing

  • Set up a campaign with the objective that matches your most common ad objective.
  • Create only one ad set.
  • You can use a budget as small as $20 per creative and get meaningful results.
  • Use the Facebook A/B testing tool to easily create this test – it will normalize all other aspects of ad delivery.

What You’ll Learn

At the end of this test, you’ll know which concept resonated both with people.

While the challenge is that the final result will largely depend on the creative execution, this gives you some data to understand how people are responding to your creative concepts.

Most businesses test creative at the optimization stage (see #5) not the concept stage.

3. The Validity of a New Business or New Product Launch

When you are looking at launching a new business or product, it is important to understand how receptive people are and if they will actually buy.

Digital testing can be an easy way to see how people respond to your business or product proposition – and you can do it without an actual product or even a website.

How to Set up This Test

To set up this test, you need a Facebook post (ideally a short video or a great image) and a clear idea of who your target audience is.

The idea is to essentially run an ad for your product (yes, even if it doesn’t exist) to judge the response rate.

Steps to New Business or Product Testing

  • Create a concept video or image for your post.
  • Setup the campaign as a click campaign – as clicks can indicate intent.
  • Create a quick landing page on Instapages or something similar and ask a few survey questions to better understand purchase intent.

What You’ll Learn

The combination of click data and survey responses will give you lots of insight into the purchase intent for your business or product idea. You don’t need the actual product to see what people respond to – the concept is enough.

4. Marketing Messaging

Marketing messaging is about identify the pain or benefit that your product is really delivering to your target audience.

I recently worked with a business that was about to plan a new campaign, but upon doing the message testing, they found that the message focused on the current benefit worked best.

Instead of a new message, they just needed to refresh how they were communicating the message.

How to Set up This Test

To effectively test marketing messaging you need similar creative for each message.

For example, if the message is product benefit a strong product shot with 3 – 5 words of the benefit would work. If the message is more emotional, similar quality and style of imagery for each message should be used.

The idea is to use creative that is as similar as possible so that the message is the only real difference. We know that the image is the first thing people see on ads, so the image must be customized to match the concept to get results.

Steps to Marketing Messaging Testing

  • Create similar creatives with each message.
  • Setup a reach campaign with the same target audience you typically aim to reach.
  • Either use Facebook A/B testing or for more control create different adsets for each creative.

What You’ll Learn

This test will help you understand which message matters most to people and causes them to act.

Look at all of the metrics together to understand the results from your test including:

  • Relevance score.
  • Clicks.
  • CPM.
  • Engagement rate.
  • Sentiment of comments (if any).

5. Content Optimization

Creative or content is the most important part of your digital marketing execution.

If your content doesn’t have “Thumb stopping power” you won’t break through the noise online and drive business impact.

Content optimization testing is focused on optimizing the details of your content to get the best result. This could be a button color, text color, image style, headline, or anything.

How to Set up This Test

To effectively test content optimization it is usually helpful to have a few ideas of what you want to test – or a hypothesis.

What are some of the elements of your creative execution that are likely to impact your results?

Consider testing image styles, copy styles (short vs. long), emojis, etc. Start with a hypothesis so that you know what you want to learn from the test.

Steps to Content Optimization Testing

  • Create your campaign with the relevant ad objective for the campaign.
  • For each ad set, use multiple variants of the creative.
  • Analyze the results afterward – note that Facebook will automatically push the budget towards the creative that performs best.

What You’ll Learn

This test will help you to understand the style, format, or creative execution that performs best.

For example, a diaper company may find that images with the entire family perform better vs. just the baby or just the mom.

A brand may find that longer text performs better vs. shorter text. These optimizations will grow your results over time.

Additional Tips for Digital Testing

Whenever you are running a test on digital, there are a few important principles to keep in mind:

  • Know what you are testing upfront and have a clear hypothesis.
  • Try to keep everything as similar as possible except for what you are testing for.
  • Set your ad objective for whatever objective you typically run ads for.
  • Look at multiple metrics together and look for a trend.
  • Have a benchmark – otherwise your best performer could still be mediocre.
  • Look for significant differences between results.
  • One test may lead to another – sometimes you need multiple tests to learn as you go.

More Resources:

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Krista Neher

Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital, a bestselling author of 5 books, international speaker and industry pioneer ... [Read full bio]

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