How to Use A/B Testing in Facebook Ad Campaigns

June 04, 2018

Using A/B testing for your Facebook advertisements will help you target the right audiences, which will increase interactions with your posts.

Crowdfunding is an amazing way to raise money for your app, film, or new product, but it is only effective if you can generate buzz outside of your social circle with a strong social media strategy around your campaign.

Our Kickstarter campaign for a documentary film initially saw a huge amount of media attention with blogs, magazines, podcasts, and an article by The New York Times, but what helped us most was the social media campaign and creative content we released over the 35-day Kickstarter.

Our Approach:

  1. Choose the appropriate crowdfunding site
  2. Establish a social media network (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  3. Generate initial buzz/donations through your own social networks (i.e., friends, family)
  4. Capture online media attention (blogs, podcasts, publications)
  5. Link to and sponsor media posts
  6. Create a paid social media ad campaign (e.g., Facebook)
  7. Split test ads and refine their messaging
  8. Retarget successful markets with new ads

A crowdfunding service is only the first step, and it’s necessary to augment that with a strong social media campaign. Facebook ads were an easy choice given Facebook’s worldwide reach and the granularity of its online advertising.

A/B testing compares two or more versions of an ad so you can determine which one performs better, which will help you maximize user engagement.

With more than 2 billion people on Facebook, it’s important to employ A/B testing with your campaign so you can target the right audiences and effectively spend your ad budget.

Initial Campaign Buzz

After our campaign went live, we relied heavily on friends and family to jumpstart donations and start sharing the link across their social media channels.

At the end of the first day, we raised nearly 15% of our goal and received a “Projects We Love” credit from Kickstarter because of the surge of activity our campaign generated.

A week after launch, however, we saw a noticeable slowdown in contributions and only raised an additional 5%.

There was a steep fall-off in donations once our inner circles donated and shared links with friends. Our initial Facebook ad campaign was generating very little click-through as well.

Kickstarter Launch and Initial Performance Graph

Going into the campaign, we were confident that we knew who we should target through sponsored ads.

It wasn’t until we reviewed our ad campaign performance on Facebook that we realized our perceptions were off and needed an adjustment.

This is when we deployed A/B tests on groups of people, their demographics, and the markets they reside in.

Who’s Your Audience?

Our documentary film is about two die-hard music fans from New York who first met at a Ramones show in the world-famous music venue, CBGB’s.

Forty years later, they have been to more than 10,000 shows and have befriended countless musicians around the world.

Going into our Kickstarter, we invested in ads targeted around Ramones fans and people within New York City. We thought this would be a perfect target market, but we ended up seeing very little response.

Casting too large a net actually worked against us.

Facebook’s algorithm displayed our ads in people’s newsfeeds, but those people might not have been interested in other details surrounding our ad. They might have liked the Ramones but not necessarily been fans of documentaries.

Huge groups of people were seeing the ads but not interacting with the content or clicking through to our Kickstarter page.

Facebook ad - large audience

We saw very little traction on our first set of Facebook ads. Donations and interactions were virtually nonexistent until we deployed A/B tests on demographics and markets.

We discovered the narrower our target groups, the more success we ended up generating.

We discovered the narrower our target groups, the more success we ended up generating.

After careful planning, we chose to run 10 different ads with slight variations on the creative in 10 different markets across the United States.

We tested everything including age, demographics, location, and shared interests. As the ads ran, we monitored their activity and shuffled funds from the poorer-running campaigns to more responsive ones.

A week after we refined our ads, we saw a 20% increase in donations and much more interaction with the ads.

This increase in interaction led to the ads being displayed in friends of friends’ feeds and expanded our overall reach.

Target the Right People

Once we set up our 10 ads and chose the markets the ads were going to run in, we created two variations of the ads with two different bits of copy to run in each market.

Doing this gave us great insight on which markets responded to which voice as well as what video content that group of people was interested in watching.

The Facebook Ads Manager also allowed us to link directly to the Kickstarter page when a video was done playing.

Facebook ad - revised

A/B testing helped us identify the right people to target. We saw a huge increase in donations with the revised ads.

With all of these components working together, we gained insight into who was watching the ads, what copy was working, how long people were watching our ads, and whether they were clicking through to our Kickstarter campaign.

After testing, the creative and copy we used in our revised Facebook ads were more appropriate and descriptive for a wider audience.

The A/B testing also gave us better insight to which geographic areas responded best so we could focus on those regions; Manchester, Austin, and Los Angeles were our best markets and generated the most interaction.

With all of this information, we were able to take the ad campaign one step further and retarget people who watched the videos but didn’t click through to Kickstarter. We slightly altered the text so the retargeting ad stressed that time was running out to donate.

As our Facebook ads saw increased success, we noticed more people following our official Instagram and Twitter accounts.

We decided to leverage the content that was cut from the film and created short videos so they fit the mold for successful social media clips. There was a huge increase in views, comments, likes, and shares across all of our social media channels.

Facebook ad - video clip

With all of the extra content we captured while filming the documentary, we repurposed footage into short social media clips to share across our social media networks. This kept people interested in the pages and drove traffic to Kickstarter.

With our reworked ads (creative, copy, and retargeting), we created a synergy across our social media channels. The ads were more effective, and the increased engagement meant our other social media platforms saw an increase in traffic.

The success of our paid ad campaign had generated a “buzz” and expanded our following. All of these successes meant an increase in donations for our project on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter Performance Post A/B Testing

Our revised ads connected with more people and increased traffic to the Kickstarter page.

Make Press Coverage Into Sponsored Posts

Once your crowdfunding campaign is live, it’s very important to reach out to blogs, podcasts, and publications that might be interested in your project.

A good number of media outlets were interested in our film because of our subjects’ rich musical history and the connections they made over the years with different bands.

Anytime someone reported on our film, we linked to the article on the film’s official Facebook page and sponsored those posts.

For example, The New York Times wrote an article about Dennis and Lois and published it online. We sponsored the post and directed traffic to the Kickstarter page.

Facebook ad - New York Times coverage

These boosts were very effective at generating traffic to the page as well as Kickstarter because we repurposed the successful target markets from our ad campaigns.

Doing this allowed us to keep the discussion going among those markets and increase traffic to our Facebook page and the Kickstarter donation page.

Kickstarter Campaign Performance

Once we identified our core target audience, we saw a quick bump in donations and interactions with the ads.

Because of social media, we received more donations to our campaign.

Campaign contributing sources

Social media was by far the biggest contributor to our crowdfunding efforts.

Create a Successful Facebook Ad Campaign

By thinking creatively and spending time researching and testing your target audience, you should see an uptick in donations, shares, likes, and overall interactions with your posts.

Our biggest advantage was performing A/B tests with compelling creatives and refining our ads as the results were generated in our target markets.


About the Author

Headshot of Jeremy WilliamsJeremy Williams is the founder of JMaverick Studios in Los Angeles. JMaverick Studios specializes in producing social media content for over 50 brands and agencies and has been acknowledged all over the world for its unique approach to storytelling. Collectively, JMaverick Studios has logged over 5 million views, shares, and likes across every major online social media platform for its clients.