Digital advertising has become a significant factor in the success of most businesses. With programmatic advertising being so crucial to growth and revenue, it’s important to make sure your ads are resonating with your audience. This ensures you’re getting the best return on investment (ROI) possible.
That’s why creative testing is so important.
Rather than simply creating ads and throwing money behind them, it’s a good idea to test various options on various platforms to figure out what works. Once you know what performs, you can invest a meaningful budget more confidently.
The Role of Creative Testing in Advertising
The role of advertising testing is relatively simple but important. Creative testing gives you the ability to maximize your sales when you spend advertising dollars by showing you what works, and what doesn’t.
The best time to start your creative testing is at the campaign launch before you spend a meaningful amount of your advertising budget.
Once you run a few creative tests, it’s time to ramp up your spending on the ads that perform the best and get rid of the underperformers. This saves you from wasting advertising dollars on poorly performing ads, and optimizes your budget by focusing spend behind those that produce the most revenue.
9 Tips to Kickstart Creative Testing for Your Business
Creative testing for your advertising campaigns may seem like a daunting process at first, but it’s surprisingly easy once you get going. Here are nine tips that will help you test and improve your marketing strategy.
1. Align Campaign Objectives With Your Marketing Funnel Goals
When considering your sales funnel goals, it’s important that your campaign objectives make sense. If your campaign and marketing funnel goals aren’t aligned, you could be throwing money down the drain every time you pay for advertising.
For example, if your ultimate business objective is to make sales, but you know the average customer subscribes to your mailing list for three months prior to making a purchase, it wouldn’t make sense to have immediate sales as your campaign objective.
Instead, in this scenario, your campaign’s biggest objective should be to build upon subscriptions. After all, you know that your average customer subscribes before they buy. Getting more subscriptions equates to more revenue down the road.
2. Understand How Your Audience Responds to Social Channels
Social media is an important part of just about any company’s marketing strategy, and for a good reason. Facebook has nearly 3 billion active users. That’s impressive when you consider the fact that the global population is just under 8 billion.
That means that, even with widely-reported slowing growth, it’s still the case that more than one out of every three people on the planet has and uses a Facebook account on a regular basis — and that’s just one of countless social media platforms online. With social networks offering access to such a large audience, it only makes sense to pay attention to how your efforts are going on that front.
Look into your social ads and make sure they’re aligned with best marketing practices. Also, take the time to scroll through your posts to see how your audience reacts to your messaging. As you learn more about your audience, you can create ads that cater specifically to them.
3. Align Your Creative Strategy Between Marketing Teams and Creative Teams
Marketing teams and creative teams are two separate departments in most cases. And the two aren’t always cut from the same cloth. In the online advertising world, when your creative strategy doesn’t align with your marketing strategy, your ROI suffers.
Make sure there are open lines of communication between your creative and marketing teams through the testing and complete advertising process. This helps ensure that the creative concepts your creative team creates align with the sales funnel goals your marketing team intends to hit.
Moreover, allowing your marketing and creative teams to collaborate on a project creates a more communal work environment. It can also help reduce turnover within your team.
4. Spend Wisely as You Experiment on Ads
It’s important that your marketing dollars are spent in a way that gives you the best chances of achieving your campaign goals. On the other hand, if your creative testing strategy eats away your entire budget, your chances of achieving your goals are slim to none.
That’s why it’s important to maintain a strict budget as you test your advertising assets.
Always start slow with a test. As data comes in, you’ll be able to see what’s effective and what’s not. The good news is that when you maintain a strict budget and start slow, you’re able to catch ineffective advertising early. That gives you the opportunity to get rid of poorly performing campaigns before they cut too deeply into your overall advertising budget.
5. Use Unique Creative Elements While Testing
Your audience has seen it all before, or at least they think they have. It’s your job to show them that they haven’t.
Take the time in the creative studio to produce truly unique creative elements for each one of your test campaigns. These elements may be visual, audio, or even contextual. But the important part is making sure that they uniquely portray the message you designed for your campaign.
Moreover, test these unique elements against each other. You may find that one small change to a background color increases your campaign efficacy significantly.
6. Launch Creative Assets for Your Target Audience
Your ads are important, but have you thought about why? The answer is simple, and it’s not because they drive revenue — that’s a given. The real reason your ads are important is that they invoke emotion within your target audience.
This emotion does a few things for you:
- Brand Awareness. Your audience becomes more aware of your brand and what it offers.
- Connections. If your ads invoke the right type of emotion within your audience, they can create lasting connections and lifelong customers.
- Sales. Notice that sales are at the bottom of this list. There’s a reason for that.
When you focus on your target audience in whatever creative testing method you use, you’re likely to produce far better results. So, get to know who your audience is and produce creative content with messages for them rather than to them.
7. Create Audience Segments and Experiment Your Ads
Keeping on the trend of focusing on your audience, it’s important to understand the different segments within your audience. After all, if you typically serve customers between ages 18 and 65, different ads will be more effective across different age groups.
Keep in mind, age groups are just one segment of your audience. You should think about other audience segments when building a creative campaign, including, but not limited to:
- Level of income
- Relationship status
Those are just a few. The simple fact is that the more you learn about your audience segments and how they interact with your ads, the more effective your campaigns are likely to be.
8. Adapt to Advertising Frameworks That Perform Well
It’s important that you use a well-supported framework when you test and launch your ads. Your advertising framework gives you the tools you need for your campaigns to be successful. If it doesn’t, it becomes that thorn in your side that does more to limit your growth than anything else. The best frameworks include tools for:
- Prospecting and Retargeting. Learn how to access your target audience and stay in touch with them.
- Data Analysis. Quality advertising platforms let you dig into your click-through rates and ad spending and make it easy to use the data as a means to measure your success.
- Planning. Your framework should make it easy for you to plan future tests and campaigns.
If your advertising framework doesn’t include the features above, you should strongly consider alternatives.
9. Leverage Tools Like Google Ads Manager to Measure Results
There are several tools you can employ in the real-world testing environment. Google Ads Manager is one of the best options, but far from the only one. These tools can make your life easier with features like:
- Consolidation. A quality tool can consolidate your ads across all channels so you can view and manage them all in one place.
- Access Third-Party Networks. Some ad managers give you the ability to tap into audiences you may not have had access to in the past.
- Complex Reporting. Finally, a quality ads manager should have complex reporting that gives you data on a granular level. The more data you have available, the more ad optimization opportunities arise.
Different Ways to Test Ad Effectiveness
There are three common ways to go about testing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. The option you choose largely depends on the factors you’re interested in testing and how many different assets you involve in the tests.
Your three best options for testing include:
1. A/B Tests
A/B testing is the primary testing method in the marketing world. The concept is to test one option against another in real time. For example:
Say you’re working on optimizing your landing pages for your ads and you want to make sure your changes are working. Instead of sending all ad clicks to one or the other, split the clicks evenly between the two options:
- Option A. The A in A/B testing is typically the original asset, whether it be an ad copy, or in this case, the original landing page.
- Option B. The B in A/B testing is typically the new asset, or in this case, the new landing page.
Once enough clicks take place, you’ll be able to clearly see if Option A or Option B performs better.
2. Split Tests
Split tests are so similar to A/B tests that they’re often considered the same thing. When you run a split test, you compare advertising options to one another. However, the difference between a split test and an A/B test is that you can include as many options as you’d like.
For example, say you’d like to find out which of seven different ads results in the most meaningful experience for your target audience. Rather than running an A/B test, you can perform a split test. This means splitting your advertising dollars evenly across each of the seven options to determine which ad or group of ads works best.
You can run split tests on any aspect of the advertising process, using any number of assets you’d like to split your test ad dollars between.
3. List Test
A list test is the ultimate way to determine which ads are best for specific audiences. Essentially, list tests give you the ability to test ads in specific segments of your audience.
For example, if you’re trying to figure out which ad will be the most likely to result in sales among active individuals ages 18 to 25, you can run a test that specifically targets that segment of your audience.
You should run a list test on all segments of your audience to determine which ads work best for each different segment. Once you do, you’ll have all the information you need to develop an effective overall marketing strategy.
Refine Your Advertising Using These Creative Testing Methods
The creative testing solutions above have the potential to send your sales on a serious upward trajectory. That’s especially the case when you make your audience the core focus as you execute each of these tips.
If you don’t have the resources to develop and test your own creative in-house, a partner like AUDIENCEX can provide the partnership you need to develop, test, and optimize your creative. With our integrated strategic and creative teams, we work with detailed data to develop, implement, test, and optimize stunning and impactful creative for any campaign, spanning visual, interactive, video, audio, and more, throughout the full digital landscape.To learn more, schedule a free consultation today to speak directly with our team and explore how our solutions can be tailored to increase your marketing performance.