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A/B Testing Social Ads: A Guide for Small Businesses

Every B2B small business has likely tested the waters of social media marketing to bring in new business. One thing that’s often overlooked by marketers and business owners alike, is how they can get the most out of their social ads. They’re likely also held back when there’s no promise of results, only a promise of spending. A/B testing social ads can turn that around in a pinch.

Why you should consider A/B Testing

A/B Testing social ads can help optimize your marketing budget while generating high-quality leads for your business. That’s why testing is so important – really for any marketing activity – but especially when it comes to social media advertising. 

Here’s how HubSpot defines A/B Testing:

“A/B Testing, also known as split testing, is a marketing experiment wherein you “split” your audience to test a number of variations of a campaign and determine which performs better. In other words, you can show version A of a piece of marketing content to one half of your audience, and version B to another.”

A/B Testing allows you to understand how your customers behave online – leading to a lower cost-per-lead (CPL) while still attracting high-quality leads.

If you’re unfamiliar with how to set-up an ad on leading social platforms, check out these quick guides:

Top tips for A/B Testing social ads

  • Test one variable at a time.

If you’re running a LinkedIn ad campaign, create two ads with the same copy, CTA (call-to-action) and URL, but with two different images. Once you find the winning image, run the same campaign but with a different CTA this time. And so on, and so forth. As you continue to run A/B tests on different variables, you’ll end up with a great ad for each social media platform.

  • Ensure your results are conclusive.

Don’t draw hasty conclusions on an A/B test that has only been running for three days. Run your ad for at least a week (if not more) and put a substantial budget behind it. This will ensure it’s an accurate depiction of what works and what doesn’t. If you’re going to invest your time and resources into testing, make sure it’s done right!

  • Split your audiences equally and accurately. 

Split your audiences randomly and equally to ensure your results are as accurate as possible. Many marketing tools including Facebook’s built-in Split Test, will do this automatically for you.

What you should be A/B testing in your social ads

  • Creative

Testing creative is a great first foray into A/B Testing. Since many social media platforms favour creative with little to no text, this should be relatively easy to test.

As you continue to test different variables, you’ll end up with the optimal ad for each platform. That said, you should always be refreshing your creative to keep your audience engaged. Your ad will likely be shown to the same people multiple times, so don’t let them scroll past you this time!

  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

CTAs can have a huge impact on the success of your campaign as it ultimately determines whether you convert a lead or not. That’s why it’s crucial to test which CTA is producing the highest conversion rate on your ad.

Don’t forget! As you conduct these split tests, always keep track of what you’ve learned to avoid any rework.

There are typically a variety of options when it comes to the CTA that appears in your ad. But that’s not the only CTA you can test – you should also be looking at the CTA you include in the copy of your ad. If you’re offering up a free 30-day trial of your product, your headline might read something like ‘Get started with a free 30-day trial today’. Then, you can test ‘Learn more’ or ‘Get offer’ for the CTA button.

  • Landing Page vs. Lead Generation Form

Depending on the goal of your campaign, you can direct traffic to a landing page or a Lead Generation Form. While this variable may not lend itself to the perfect A/B test, it is worth taking the time to execute. Using the same copy, creative and CTA, only change where your users land – the first campaign to a landing page and the second, to a Lead Generation Form.

Another factor to take into account is user intent. Intent refers to how interested someone is in your product and/or how likely they are to purchase it. Users with higher intent are more likely to take that extra step to convert.

For example, it may be too easy for uninterested users to fill out a Lead Generation Form, thus, attracting lower quality leads. Whereas, users who click through to a landing page then scroll down to a form after reading up on key benefits, are educated enough on your product to understand what they’re signing up for.

  • Copy and Context

Context is extremely important to give your audience the information they need to make a decision.

For example, if you run an ad on Facebook with a Lead Generation Form, the user can only refer to the copy included in the ad. There’s no additional information available to them. While there are fewer clicks or a lower barrier to entry, that doesn’t always translate into higher-quality leads. In fact, quite the opposite.

Run a test with the copy on your ad and find the sweet spot between lowering your barrier to entry while also providing enough context for users to make an informed decision.


You should always be looking for ways to improve your content and optimize to reach your ad goals. Put these tips to the test and you’ll be surprised by how much you can improve the success of your campaigns!

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