As all good marketers know, it’s vital to understand your audience. And as much as we might think we know them inside out, it’s important to constantly test and iterate to make sure your messaging lands correctly.
As the internet has matured, advanced tactics for learning and testing have emerged to make our lives easier.
Back in February 2000, Google engineers ran their first A/B test to find out the optimal number of results to appear on its search engine, learning how crucial even one tenth of a second of loading time can impact a user’s attention span.
Now, in any given year, Google might conduct more than 7,000 A/B tests on its search algorithm. Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and eBay also constantly test potential site changes on live users.
Using A/B testing, new ideas can be essentially focus-group tested in real time.
And it’s not just for website landing pages or paid marketing campaigns: your organic social marketing strategy or email campaigns can be A/B tested, too.
What Is A/B Testing?
Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a type of research where you test different variables against each other to determine what is most useful or resonant to a particular audience.
To perform such a test, you need to separate your audience into two random groups and show a different variation to each one. Gathering all the data based on chosen metrics, you can compare which variation was more effective.
When it comes to A/B testing, it is essential to test one parameter at a time. If you have to test multiple elements, you should conduct numerous tests.
That’s because by testing multiple variables at once, you won’t know which element impacted the results.
So, for example, you’d create one A/B test for your campaign visuals, and another one to test your campaign headline.
Remember that A/B testing is vital for creating more engaging content, improving customer experience, and optimizing the conversion rate.
Let’s explore now how A/B testing can improve your social media marketing campaigns.
How A/B testing can improve your social media campaigns
As with every marketing medium, testing and refining your social strategy is essential. Social media tests help acquire precise data because they’re structured and measurable. They allow you to decide what works for your brand through a data-driven lens, rather than relying on your intuition. This is great not only for winning new business, but proving the success of social marketing to key stakeholders.
However, before you begin with testing, knowing some crucial information is essential. This includes:
- The overall goals of your business
- Your current social strategy for each platform
- Social media personas and audiences per channel
- Overall current performance
- Ideas that need testing
Testing is not about improving everything at once. You need to focus on one variable at a time and run multiple tests. Start with the basics and then move on.
For example, A/B testing social media posts can help you understand how different images affect engagement of a certain post.
Once you’ve determined the winning image, you can take it further and test the accompanying caption. Or, you could experiment with different video lengths, or gifs versus videos.
Make A/B testing effortless
SmarterQueue’s Variations seamlessly include this A/B testing functionality into your social media management, making it completely effortless to determine the most engaging posts for your audience.
As a marketer, you should apply this logic across all your social media channels. A/B testing can help you determine which of your social media posts or themes to keep and which to change.
Keep in mind that you should perform different tests on each social media platform. Your audience on Facebook may not necessarily behave the same way as your audience on Twitter. Creating separate tests for each platform will help you avoid making assumptions about your social media marketing efforts.
Not only will these insights help you make decisions on your organic social media content, they will be invaluable when it comes to paid campaigns. You’ll have a deeper understanding of the content that resonates with your audience, which means you’ll make better decisions on paid campaign creative.
And that means a better ROI!
What can you A/B test?
Now that we have a basic understanding of A/B testing, let’s explore which components we can test.
Your text is the easiest element to test when it comes to social media optimization:
- The length of the post (number of characters)
- The post category (a quote, a key statistic, a question, or a statement)
- The tone of voice (formal, casual, active, or passive voice)
- Use of emojis and punctuation
Headline and description
The headline and description of your landing pages are highly visible: you should always think about where people will see this and how they’ll engage with them on social media.
Your headline follows the same principles as your post content, so you can apply the same test as mentioned above.
Another tip would be to test the headline in the link preview to differentiate it from the one on your website. You can add a digit or add a hook to encourage your readers to take action.
Call to action
Your call to action (CTA) is the element that will push potential customers to take action and is an essential part of your marketing efforts. Optimization is critical, so ensure to leverage social media A/B testing to determine an approach that converts.
For example, try to test a CTA with active verbs and a time frame versus more generic ones. Change colors, fonts, or even shapes of the buttons to make them unique and catch the user’s attention.
Use of image or video
Visuals play a significant role in how a post will perform, and research suggests that posts with photos and video usually perform better.
It’s crucial to test this assumption with your content and your audience to ensure that this strategy works for your brand too. Not only that, but you have to do that on every social media channel.
For example, you can test:
- Text posts versus content with an image or video
- GIFs versus photos
- Lifestyle or product photos versus infographics
- Video length
Craft your content marketing strategy and graphic design to have a diversity of content that will put to the test most of these parameters to understand what works best for your audience in each platform.
Nowadays, social media ads are a vital tool in the arsenal of every marketer. Testing different formats to understand which are more effective will help you achieve better results.
For example, in your Facebook advertising, maybe testimonial videos work best for product announcements, but a carousel ad is more effective when it comes to brand awareness.
Keep in mind SmarterQueue’s Variations, which can help you track a campaign’s effectiveness easier and have accurate data to improve your next ones.
How much impact can testing make?
Here’s an excellent video from a great YouTuber Veritasium. Derek shares lots of data about the A/B tests he’s done with his own titles and thumbnails, what kind of content works best, and how noticeable the difference is.
A/B testing is about changing small variations each time to make a significant impact in the long run. Don’t underestimate the details and try to understand what works for your business.
We can test almost every element of a campaign, and although we may have found a winning formula, we have to explore different ways to make it even better. Keep in mind that A/B testing takes time. Patience is key!
Take your time to explore the variety of options explained in this article and implement testing as soon as possible to make your campaigns the most effective possible.
Let me know if you have any further questions in the comments section, and keep testing until the next one.
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Alex is a content writer at Moosend. Coming from an architecture background, he took the leap of faith in the digital marketing world and never looked back. In his free time, you will find him taking photos in places around the world. Find out more on LinkedIn.