The importance of ad testing in search engine marketing (SEM) is an uncontended maxim among advertisers. Unfortunately, advertising professionals offer no unanimous recommendation on the most effective way to test ads. When properly executed, ad testing provides clear, comparative data on ad performance so you can see which of your ads is most successful. Additionally, productive ad testing allows you to understand why one ad is more effective than another so you can find and incorporate performance-best practices into your ad strategy. All too often, however, people ineffectively test ads and then incorporate campaign changes using the inaccurate results from these flawed ad experiments. The more familiar you are with your SEM campaign and the more specific you are with your ad testing goals, the more likely it will be for you to recognize legitimate and valuable results from your ad tests. Below, we have a few suggestions to help you get started on a custom ad testing strategy for your SEM campaign.
Before you begin ad testing, consider all of the factors that influence ad performance. Regardless of your choice of paid advertising platform, Google, Facebook, Bing, or similar, the structure of your account should support a healthy ad rank. After reviewing your existing account, examine your ad performance data month-over-month. Your best performing ads are the ones that most effectively contribute to your business goals. For example, if your goal is to drive website traffic, find the ads with the highest clicks and click-through-rates (CTR). Other key metrics may be conversions, conversion rates, cost per conversion, and other lead related metrics.
Next, determine the exact results you desire from your ad testing. You may be interested in implementing more persuasive ad copy, using a stronger landing page with actionable tools like a form and phone number, targeting more valuable audience interests, or localizing your ad copy for a particular geographic location.
Create multiple ads with identical parameters except for the component you are testing. For example, produce two ad sets with the same landing page and targeting features, but give them two different sets of ad copy to assess which one is more effective. Finally, you need to ensure that your ad tests run for an adequate amount of time. Four to six weeks is usually enough time for measurable data to incur for comparable results.
Many paid platforms offer automated features to experiment with different ads. These tools, however, still require initial test preparation as well as accurate assessments of the results in order to be effective. Consequently, automated ad testing still requires manual commitment.
There are a plethora of ways you can optimize your ad performance and understanding your goals and data is the first step in putting your best ad forward. Of course, if you have any questions about ad testing strategies, reach out to us!