Split-testing, A/B testing, and multivariate testing are all methods used to improve the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to different testing methodologies with distinct advantages and limitations.
- Split-testing involves testing two versions of a single element to determine which performs better. For example, you might create two versions of an email subject line or a landing page headline and then send each version to a separate segment of your audience. You can then compare the engagement rates or conversion rates of each version to determine which one is more effective. Split testing is useful for identifying small but significant differences between two variations of a single element.
- A/B testing is a subset of split-testing that specifically involves comparing two versions of a single element. This methodology can be applied to a variety of digital marketing elements, such as ad copy, visuals, or landing pages.
- Multivariate testing involves testing multiple variations of multiple elements to determine the optimal combination. For example, you might test different variations of an ad headline, ad copy, and call-to-action simultaneously to determine the best overall messaging strategy. Multivariate testing allows you to test multiple elements at once and identify the best combination of elements for optimal results. However, this methodology requires more time and resources than split-testing or A/B testing.
Regardless of the testing you’re incorporating into your display ad testing, never forget to implement campaign UTM querystrings into each of your ad versions so that you can monitor performance through to conversion. Some modern platforms incorporate these automatically… so check with your ad platform and see if Google Analytics can be integrated so you can differentiate performance between ad versions.
Display Ad Testing Elements
There are multiple elements associated with any advertising campaign that can be tested, including:
- Ad Headlines: Test different versions of the headline that highlight the offer in a unique way.
- Ad Copy: Test different versions of the body copy that provide additional details about the offer and its benefits.
- Ad Call-To-Action: Test different versions of the call-to-action that encourage users to take advantage of the offer.
- Ad Design: Test different versions of the ad design, including the visual elements such as images, color schemes, fonts, and offer display.
- Ad Format: Test different ad formats, such as banner ads, interstitial ads, or native ads, to see which ones perform best with the offer.
- Landing Pages: Test different versions of the landing page that are tailored to the specific offer and messaging used in the ad copy and design.
- Landing Page Forms: Test the capturing of various data elements to ensure that you can prequalify your leads without losing them altogether with form abandonment.
- Targeting: Test different targeting parameters to see which audience segments, channels, or mediums are most receptive to the offer.
- Offer: Test different variations of the offer itself, such as discounts, free trials, or exclusive content, to see which resonates best with your audience.
- Frequency: Test different ad frequencies to see how it affects engagement and conversion rates.
Targeting Requires More Than Lookalike Audiences
The stage in the buyer’s journey is critical in ad split testing because the messaging and content that resonates with a prospect will vary depending on where they are in the decision-making process. For example, someone who is in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey may respond better to educational content that introduces a problem or need, while someone who is in the decision stage may be more interested in a promotional offer or a product comparison.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider an example of an advertisement for a software product that helps businesses manage their social media presence. Here’s how the ad copy might be rewritten for each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness stage: At this stage, the prospect is just beginning to realize that they have a problem or need. The ad copy should focus on educational content that introduces the problem and positions the software as a solution. For example, the ad headline might read, Struggling to manage your social media presence? Learn how our software can help.
- Consideration stage: At this stage, the prospect is actively considering different solutions and evaluating their options. The ad copy should focus on the benefits and features of the software, and provide social proof or customer testimonials. For example, the ad headline might read, Discover how our social media management software can save you time and boost engagement. See what our customers have to say.
- Decision stage: At this stage, the prospect is ready to make a decision and needs a final nudge to choose your product. The ad copy should focus on a promotional offer or a unique value proposition. For example, the ad headline might read, Make social media management a breeze with our all-in-one software. Try it now for 30 days free.
By tailoring the ad copy to each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can better engage prospects and move them along the funnel toward conversion. By split-testing different variations of the headline, copy, and offer at each stage, you can identify the most effective messaging for each audience segment.
Advertising Platforms With Testing Capabilities
There are several popular platforms for testing display ads, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most commonly used platforms:
- Google Ads: Google Ads is a popular platform for split testing display ads, as it offers a wide range of targeting options, ad formats, and analytics tools. With Google Ads, you can easily create and test multiple variations of your ads, and use the platform’s machine-learning capabilities to optimize your campaigns for maximum performance.
- Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads is another popular platform for split testing display ads, as it offers a large and engaged user base, as well as powerful targeting capabilities. With Facebook Ads, you can test different ad formats, targeting parameters, and creative elements, and use the platform’s robust analytics tools to track your results.
- LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn Ads is a popular platform for B2B advertisers, as it offers a highly targeted audience of professionals and decision-makers. With LinkedIn Ads, you can test different ad formats, targeting parameters, and creative elements, and use the platform’s advanced analytics tools to track your results.
- Twitter Ads: Twitter Ads is a popular platform for split testing display ads, as it offers a large and engaged user base, as well as advanced targeting capabilities. With Twitter Ads, you can test different ad formats, targeting parameters, and creative elements, and use the platform’s real-time analytics tools to monitor your performance.
- Display & Video 360: Display & Video 360 is a comprehensive ad management platform from Google that offers advanced features for split testing display ads across a variety of channels and formats. With Display & Video 360, you can easily create and test multiple variations of your ads, and use the platform’s powerful targeting and analytics tools to optimize your campaigns for maximum performance.
Designmaker: AI-Driven Ad Design
One technology that’s showing a ton of promise in display ad testing is AI-driven display ad design. This is an incredible advancement in ad testing because it can be used to design pre-optimized versions of ads to test BEFORE you start paying for the campaign to run. Designmaker uses AI to analyze your design requirements and generate thousands of variations instantly.
The platform can generate thousands of design variations, is easy and cost-effective, and can even instantly resize designs for all platforms. The Designmaker wizard is simple:
- Enter your information – input your information and select a dynamic design template.
- AI creates your designs – generates thousands of variations with recommendations of the best designs.
- Edit and download – customize with the smart editor and export your ad in multiple dimensions.
Disclosure: Martech Zone is an affiliate of Designs.ai and we are using our affiliate links throughout this article.