In an ideal world, we would create ads that capture our audiences and skyrocket sales on the first try. After all, you’ve done the buyer persona research thoroughly so you should know how to serve ads to them, right?

Well, it’s not always that simple. Part of successful marketing is to understand the psychology behind it. This is where many digital marketers (like myself) geek out on testing different variables.

There isn’t a magical formula for successful ads. However, combining solid strategy with multiple ad variations gives you a better idea of what is resonating with your audience. We know this as A/B testing.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing or multivariate testing, is a method of comparing two similar versions of an ad or landing page with the objective of measuring performance. A/B testing is essential to figuring out what clicks with your audience. Marketers that are serious about traffic and conversions will incorporate A/B testing into their Facebook ad strategy.

How does A/B testing work?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all A/B testing strategy. Testing variables is all about your audience and your objective with your ads. With that said, there are a few core tests that give marketers measurable results to work with. Facebook ads will let you test audience, delivery optimization, placements, and ad creative.

Audience testing: If you’re wanting to nail down your target audience for a particular product, you could A/B test the same Facebook ad against two different audiences.

Delivery optimization: If you want to see the difference between who clicks on your ad versus who actually converts, you can use the same Facebook ad but with two different delivery optimizations. From there, you can connect the dots on where the disconnect is happening for those who aren’t converting.

Placements: Even though we know how important mobile optimization is, there are still audiences that favor both desktop and mobile browsing. Or, if you are running Instagram ads, you will want to select “mobile only”.

Facebook allows you to use automatic placements, or you have the option to edit your placements so your ads only show up where you want them to. You can A/B test your placements to see where your ads are picking up the most speed.

Ad Creative: This might be the most fun part of A/B testing. Finding out what is visually appealing to your audience can be determined with an A/B test. You can really get creative here. You can test things such as video vs. single image, video vs. carousel, video with sound vs. no sound, two different photos with the same message, different calls-to-action — and a lot more.

Time it right

Keep in mind that the whole purpose of A/B testing is to see actual results, not small variants in user behavior. In order to accurately get a picture of what is working, you’ll need to measure successes over a period of time. The sweet spot for best results is between three and 14 days.

Don’t overdo it

One major piece of advice when A/B testing — keep it simple.

Though you can actually test more than two variables when conducting ad tests, you want to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. Testing too many variables hinders your performance metrics. You won’t be able to tell what actually got the visitor to convert if you change too many things.

Last but not least, why A/B test?

We can safely assume you don’t like mindlessly throwing money out the window. That is essentially what you are doing if you are serving ads without testing.

You may have nailed your strategy and you don’t want to mess with a good thing. Without testing, you can’t know for sure. Testing your Facebook ads helps you determine how your ad budget is best spent, and why. You will be able to determine the effectiveness of your ad efforts.

Even if you have the attention-grabbing copy and a visually compelling image, it’s wasted if it’s being served to the wrong audience. This is one instance of many where A/B testing can help you produce better ads. Bonus: it doesn’t cost extra to A/B test your ads. You will learn a lot about your audience by A/B testing your Facebook ads.