3 Things You Must Test to Optimize Your Facebook Ads


In our last post in this series we discussed how to set up Facebook ads that convert well. Just like with regular ads and landing pages, we can’t just set it and forget about it. Facebook ads need to be split tested to find the ones that convert best.

The basic premise is to create a number of ads that are all the same except for one variable. We run all ads a number of times and the ones that perform best for that variable are our winners.

The problem with Facebook ads is that we can’t manually set how many times we run each ad. Facebook optimizes ads on its own, so we often get a case where one ad gets shown predominantly while others only a few times.

Fortunately, because of the way ad campaigns are structured in Facebook, we can work around this. Facebook optimizes ads within an ad set but doesn’t compare across ad sets. That means we can create multiple ad sets and run them till we’ve collected enough data points.

The number of data points is very important in any split test. Not only do we want to show each ad for at least a couple of days, we also want to create many ads, not just two or three. We can then say that the results we are seeing are statistically significant.

Finally we want to test each variable thoroughly, of which there are three.

facebook ads - placeit

Source: Placeit.net


The image is the first thing people see when your ad shows up in their News Feed. It’s what makes them stop and read on, which means it’s vital to get the image right.

Facebook allows you to upload 6 images for every ad you make and then automatically optimizes for the best images. That makes things easy because you don’t need to create separate ads to test images.

Here are some different ideas to try out when testing multiple images.

Be colorful

The standard Facebook colors are white and blue, so you don’t want your images to be the same color. Test different colors in your images to know what attracts attention.

Use a bright color in the background of your image or as a border. You need not stick to your brand colors if you feel they aren’t converting well. Depending on your message and the emotions you want to evoke, you might want to try out other colors. For example, red usually creates urgency while black is associated with luxury items.

Use humans

It’s been established that pictures of real humans are more effective when it comes to conversions. 37signals did a test where they added an image of a person to the background on their product homepage. This immediately led to an 102.5% increase in conversions.

Images of attractive women work especially well among men, while smiling babies are universally persuasive. Even if your service or product has nothing to do with babies, you can creatively introduce one in your ad. For example, a marketing consultant could use the image of a child with the caption, “Time to grow your business.”

Use animals

As with smiling babies, images of animals, especially pets like cats and dogs, are captivating. A cute picture of a little pup evokes the same emotions as one of a smiling baby.

Again, you don’t need to be a pet product to use pets in your ads. Enroll America used pets in their ads to get women to sign up for Obamacare, and it worked well for them.

Use brands

As we’ll see later, leveraging authority helps improve conversions. If you have a recognized brand, you could try using your logo as the image for a general ad. This will help you build more brand awareness.

You could also use client logos if they have respected brands. A collage of the top brands you work with will impress viewers and potential clients. It instantly builds credibility for you, and credibility is one of the oldest persuasion techniques in the book.

Be funny

Funny or quirky images always attract attention. Try combining this with some of the other ideas. A pet doing something silly is cute and funny and will make people want to read more about what’s going on in the image.

Use text

Facebook ads allow you a headline, sub-head and a body in your ad copy. However, there are word restrictions on them. If you’ve got something very compelling to say, but it’s too long, you can utilize the space in your image.


There are three parts to the copy in a Facebook ad. You start with a compelling headline, which is the first thing people see after the image. You then explain your offer in the text, which is the sub-header you see above the image. Finally, you add in more details in the description, which is the small text under the headline.

Your message needs to be consistent across all three parts, which means you can’t drastically change one element without changing the others.

AppSumo Facebook Ad Split test

For example, in this AppSumo ad, the headline is “Make a $ 1000 dollar business.” The text and description then go on to talk more about this hypothetical business. The ad wouldn’t make sense if the text and description were kept the same while the headline was changed to “Get 15% off on our course.”

Similarly, if the headline remained the same, changes to the rest of the copy would still need to reference the $ 1000 business.

Treat the entire ad copy as one element and try variations of it. Here are some ideas.

Talk about benefits

Focus on one big benefit of your product and talk about that. Writing about benefits makes for more powerful copy and converts better. Your benefit could be about solving a problem or fulfilling a need, so make it action-oriented towards that.

The AppSumo product is really just an online course, but they only mention what the product is once. The focus is on the main outcome, that’s a $ 1000 business, and getting people to take action by asking them to make one.

L’Axelle did the same thing with their sweat pads product page. After they changed their copy from a description of their product to one where they urged people to take action against sweat marks, they got a 93% bump in conversion rates.

Offer something

Everyone likes to save money and they like to get things for free even more. In fact, the word free has a strong effect on people. The Sims increased conversion rates by 128% by introducing the word, in all caps, five times in their web copy.

If you run an e-commerce store, you could offer a discount or a small free product with your main product. For SaaS businesses, try offering a free trial.

Invoke a sense of urgency

Implying that your product is scarce invokes a sense of urgency and gets people to take action.  Combining this with an offer works even better because no one wants to miss out on a good deal.

AppSumo does this on their website by displaying the number of “seats” left open in the course. Of course, since it’s a digital product, there are an unlimited number, but implying that it’s scarce gets people to sign up quicker.

Groupon is a perfect example of offering deals along with a countdown to get people to buy. They improved their conversion rates by 40% by essentially telling people that once the deal runs out they’ll never get it again.

Use social proof

In the AppSumo ad, you see that there are over 2,500 other people doing the course. If there are so many others using it, there must be a good reason. Surely they can’t all be wrong about the product.

When it comes to purchasing decisions, it makes people more comfortable to know that there are others out there using it, and that they like the product. That’s why product reviews, testimonials and social media stats are so important.

Betfair learnt this when they tested their CTA. They created three variations in their experiment, one of which used social proof, while the other two used a free offer and urgency. The social proof variation was a clear winner with a higher conversion rate of 7%.

Leverage authority

Associating your product with a highly influential person or brand builds credibility and increases conversions. That’s why so many TV commercials use famous actors and actresses as spokespeople.

The AppSumo ad uses the authority of Noah Kagan, as a successful entrepreneur, to increase conversions. It’s ironic because Noah’s success is derived from AppSumo in the first place.

Express Watches, a UK retailer of watches, increased their conversions by 107% by adding the line “Seiko Authorized Dealer Site” to their product page. Seiko is a respected brand so mentioning that they are directly linked to Seiko adds a lot of credibility to Express Watches.

If you have a SaaS product or services business, try mentioning your top clients. You may not have 2,500 clients like AppSumo, but dropping a name like Apple might be equally good or better.


Your ad image and copy depend on your audience. We covered different targeting tactics in the last post, but you still need to split them up and personalize your ad to each audience.

In truth, you’re not really A/B testing your audience. As a business owner, you should already know whom you want to target. That’s non-negotiable. What you’re really doing is testing ad images and copy based on the audience you’re targeting.

For example, the AppSumo ad is probably targeted at people who have jobs but have shown interest in starting their own business by subscribing to entrepreneurship blogs. Within this audience, they’ve tested a bunch of different ads and this is one of them.

However, they probably have vastly different ads for other audiences. If you look at their site, they also target consultants and freelancers. So they might want to test ads that talk about growing existing businesses, rather than starting a new one, for those audiences.

There are numerous ways you can split up your audience. Every single demographic, interest or behavior can be a variable. Create separate ad sets with different target audiences and test multiple ads in each.

Once you’ve done that, run them for a few days each. After a few thousand impressions on each ad, you’ll see some differences.  Some ads will have higher click-through rates, indicating that they are converting better. To go even more advanced, use a conversion pixel to track the performance of each ad in terms of final conversion to a lead or customer on your site.

Have you started testing your ads yet? What are some of your most surprising findings?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sid.

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