Red pill and blue pill a/b tests

The most critical component of every content asset you create isn’t the asset at all, but the promotion of that asset. Without a paid media budget, your content is the proverbial tree in the forest. It might be exactly what someone is looking for, but it goes unfound. If you’re going to use a portion of your marketing budget for paid ads (and you should), you might as well gain some valuable information about your audience while you’re at it, right? The way to do that is by running strong A/B tests.

Enterprise companies use a/b testing to improve results on everything from landing pages to ad CTAs. Successful companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook perform more than 10,000 controlled A/B tests every year. When run correctly, they can dramatically improve results: In one example, Dell reported a 300% increase in conversion rate from A/B testing. Still, many marketers struggle to execute proper A/B tests. In fact, 56% of marketers don’t know the proper methods for A/B testing and 52% said they don’t have enough time to A/B test.

A/B Ad Sets Per Content Asset

The number of ads you create depends on the type of content asset you’re promoting. Shorter content, such as an infographic or a blog post, might only warrant 2-4 ad sets, while longer form content such as an eBook or interactive quiz will benefit from additional ad sets. I typically create one ad set per chapter or section, plus an additional set for the entire asset. So, an eBook with 6 chapters might have 7-8 ad sets. An “ad set” is two versions of the same ad: an “a” and a “b” version. The purpose of the test is to uncover critical information about your audience and gain a better understanding of what drives them to act.

The single most important rule for creating an a/b test is that you test only one element per ad set. This way, you’ll quickly be able to identify what your audience responds to and what elements are inconsequential. If you’re creating two sets of ads (2 “a” versions and 2 “b” versions), be sure you’re testing different elements. You won’t learn much if you continue testing the same thing over and over again. And lest you think you’ll quickly run out of tests, here are 28 a/b tests to get you started.

Image Tests

  1. Image: photo vs drawing
  2. Image: one person vs. group of people
  3. Image: person looking at camera vs. person looking down or away
  4. Image: background color
  5. Image: static vs. animated
  6. Image: person vs product
  7. Image: graph vs. text

On-Image Copy Tests

  1. On-image copy vs. no on-image copy
  2. On-image stat vs. on-image ratio
  3. On-image question vs. on-image statement
  4. On-image text color
  5. On-image CTA button color
  6. On-image CTA vs. no CTA
  7. On-image CTA button vs. CTA link

Post Copy Tests

  1. Post copy short vs. long
  2. Post copy question vs statement
  3. Post copy: audience call-out vs. generic
  4. Post copy: stat vs. ratio (90% or 9 in 10)

Title Copy Tests

  1. Title copy: CTA vs. no CTA
  2. Title copy: question vs statement
  3. Title copy: short vs. long

CTA Tests

  1. Soft vs Hard (discover vs download)
  2. Top vs bottom funnel (learn more vs. buy now)
  3. Timely vs open (download now vs. download)
  4. Formal vs Casual (register vs. save your seat)

Gate Tests

  1. Gate: landing page vs. LinkedIn form
  2. Gate: pre-download vs. pre-results
  3. Gate vs. no gate

What to Look for in Your A/B Tests

  • Consistent results across multiple ad sets means you’ve uncovered important information about what your audience responds to.
  • CTRs that are significantly different between sets means you’ve learned something new about your audience to use in future ads.
  • a/b versions with insignificant differences (.02% or less) means your audience likely doesn’t have a strong opinion on what you tested. Choose a different test.

Remember to report your findings not only to your leadership team and/or clients but to the content creators! The writers and designers should be using your a/b test findings to craft stronger copy and images that earn results.

Need some help managing a/b tests or your LinkedIn Campaign Manager account? Give me a shout! beth@agencyab.com.

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