Wondering if paid social still works? The answer is yes — but you’ve got to invest in creative testing solutions. 

It wasn’t long ago that Facebook’s massive advertising success was attributed to its targeting capabilities. You could easily send individual advertising messages to hyper-specific demographics. Some of these bordered on creepy and intrusive, like when this professional sword-swallower began receiving ads personalised to his one-of-a-kind affliction: consuming small pills.

Things are a little different now. Apple’s iOS privacy policy update has allowed users to opt-out of personalised ads — resulting in a $10 billion revenue hit for Facebook. And Meta announced it would further limit targeting of certain sensitive parameters this year. 

Still, as marketers continue to ride the waves of change, paid social remains a powerful marketing tool. There’s just one thing…

Advertisers must double down on testing marketing creative as targeting and bidding options become more limited. 

Creative testing is your secret weapon to paid social ads that work, yet many marketers don’t have a consistent and strategic framework for A/B testing.

If you want to leverage paid social ads in your growth marketing strategy, then you must master creative testing in social media. Here’s how to do exactly that.

What is creative testing?

Creative has become the most powerful lever in a paid social account.” - Jonathan Martinez

Simply put, creative testing means analysing which images, copy, and ad formats produce the best paid social results. 

Anyone can throw up a handful of ads and hope they work — and waste a lot of money in the process. When you use results-oriented data to inform your ad campaigns, you scale only what works (and quickly nix what doesn’t.) 

That means more impactful ads, optimised Return On Ad Spend, and — most importantly — accelerated sales growth.  

A/B testing doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. Get started with this framework for creative testing solutions.

10 Tips for testing creative on social media

Start driving data-backed conversions that spur wildly effective results with these ten tips for creative testing solutions:

1. Conduct A/B testing on each individual platform

What works on Instagram may or may not work on LinkedIn. It’s worthwhile to repurpose ad copy and creative across channels, but always analyse individual ad performance on each platform. 

2. Know your paid social goals to understand your metrics

Are you running paid social ads to generate brand awareness? Capture more emails? Drive conversions to a specific service or product? 

Whatever your ad goal, ensure your entire team knows it so that you can test ad creative effectively. 

For example, if you want to drive post engagement, then you’re going to analyse your cost per engagement. If your goal is conversions, then your Cost per Conversion would be a key factor in ad creative performance. 

Know your goals to understand the metrics that matter — then test and optimise your ads accordingly.

3. Be OK with “failure”

Growth marketers don’t fear failure. In fact, they recognise that through failure, they can identify what works — and scrap what doesn’t. The same is true with creative testing solutions. Test on a small scale. Dismiss the duds. Iterate your successes. 

I know it’s scary to spend money on ads that might not work, but know that you’re saving money in the long-term by iterating small-scale wins.  

Pro tip: A safe criterion is to allocate around 10% of your ad spend on testing marketing creative.

4. Optimise your offers and landing pages

I don’t care how compelling your ad copy — if you haven’t gotten to product-market fit, nothing else matters. 

Similarly, don’t forget to optimise your landing pages. Otherwise, you risk driving paid traffic to your website, only to watch leads leave without taking action.

5. Utilise the Facebook Ads Library

Don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on testing ad creative? Most small businesses and start-ups don’t. So, leverage the research from larger companies who’ve done the dirty work for you — aka, use the Facebook Ads Library.

Facebook Ads Library is my go-to resource for researching ads running across Facebook and Instagram. Use it to see which ads your competition has been running the longest; these are likely their highest-performing ads and provide valuable information to inform your own campaign.

6. Encourage cross-team collaboration

Regularly get your designers, copywriters, and ad specialists in the same room to avoid unchecked silo mentality and ensure cross-team collaboration. You’ll break down inefficiencies between teams for streamlined communication and optimised results. 

Plus, cross-team collaboration is a vital component of any successful agile marketing strategy.

7. Only A/B test one creative variable at a time

It’s tempting to adjust multiple ad variables, especially when you’re tight on time or resources. However, for the most accurate A/B testing results, only test one component at a time. 

I recommend that you start by testing your big-ticket items: ad format, visual components, and overall ad copy. Then, you can zoom in on elements like the Headline and Call To Action. 

Pro tip: Ensure each ad is in its own ad set (optimised for the same audience.) Otherwise, Facebook will choose your “winning ad” from the ad set too soon, and you won’t get the proper data for each of your marketing creatives.

8. Ensure adequate time to measure results

Give your ads enough time to gather accurate data; don’t touch them for a minimum of 48 hours. After that time, you might be able to dismiss any ads that are obviously underperforming. Otherwise, wait a few more days so that the social media platform has enough time to optimise placement. Then, evaluate the data and move on to your next A/B test. 

9. Scale and iterate your winning creative testing solutions

Now that you know what’s working, you can scale and iterate your winning ad creatives. You can do so by:

  • Increasing your ad budget
  • Duplicating the ad and testing it on new audiences
  • Changing the objective of your ad

10. Never stop testing

Creative testing never stops — even when you’ve identified winning ad campaigns. Your audience will continue to evolve over time and so, too, will your offers and goals. 

So, continually test winning ads against new creatives. You might not overturn your champion ads, but you’ll know that real-time data is driving your campaign. 

Creative digital marketing isn’t an overnight solution to your paid social ad campaign; if you want to optimise your ad spend, you’ve got to be consistent with your creative testing framework.