How to Do Ad Copy Testing

Ad copy testing is so easy, anyone can do it. But doing it right is important. So we wanted to put together this quick guide that you can use to begin conducting ad copy testing at your company.

First, let’s review why ad copy testing is so important:

Why Your Company Should Be Doing Ad Copy Testing

Ad copy, whether in search ads, Facebook ads, or any other digital advertisements, is the language you use to sell people on what you are offering. It is your opportunity to grab someone’s attention and convince them that they should click on your ad.

If your ad copy is not good – either because it’s not convincing or doesn’t give people a reason to click – your digital advertising campaigns are not going to be effective. What ad copy testing allows you to do is find out what language convinces the highest number of people to click through to your website. The more people you can get to click on your ads, the greater the opportunity to sell.

When done correctly, there is simply no better way to fine tune your messaging and improve your click-through rate (the percentage of people who click on your ads after seeing them).

Setting Up Your Ad Copy Tests

You may be testing with Google Ads or Facebook or any number of other digital ad platforms. So the actual set up will vary. But this guide is meant to be generally applicable to all platforms.

The first thing you need to do is a full audit of current ad copy and performance. Either using the platform or an external spreadsheet, identify all existing ads. Write the headline, the description, and the call to action. Next to each one, list the impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and conversions for the last 90 days.

You will use this same spreadsheet to track your testing over time.

What to Test

Once you have your existing ad copy performance, you need to identify those most in need of help. One easy way to start is to sort your ads by click-through rate, putting the lowest at the top. Those ads with the lowest click-through rate are the ones that could most benefit from being tested.

Another common starting point would be to list them in order of highest conversions. The ads that currently generate the highest conversions might be the ones that would add the most value if you improve the click-through rate.

Whichever method you choose, the next step is writing new ad copy. There is no wrong way to do this, but the key is to cast a wide net. Perhaps there are copywriters on your team whose job it is to write your ad copy. It is a good idea to get several different people to write ad copy suggestions for you, because different perspectives usually lead to new insights.

A good rule of thumb – one that both Google and Facebook recommend – is having at least three different ads running in each campaign at any given time. So you should aim to test at least two new versions of your ad copy against the existing one.

Try different headlines. Different ways of phrasing the same idea. Test pricing and discounts. Test a new call to action. A different benefit that isn’t featured in the current ad. Whatever you think will get more people to click.

How to Measure Ad Copy Test Results

Measuring the results of your ad copy tests is as important as what you test. This is how you will determine which ad copy works best and how to proceed.

Using the spreadsheet you created at the start, you can list each test out individually. Write out each version of the ad being tested along with the date that the test began. Update it on a regular basis (weekly?) with impressions, clicks, click-through rates, and conversions. (Ultimately ad copy testing is about getting higher click-through rates, but we track conversions where possible because we don’t want to do anything that is going to negatively impact that critical metric)

Give your tests enough time to ensure that the results of your test are statistically significant. This will vary depending on how many impressions and clicks your ads get. Here is a free online tool to measure statistical significance. Generally, once a result is 95% confidence or above, you have a completed test.

Again, the key is measuring which version of the ad achieves the highest click-through rate. Most platforms will allow you to spread the impressions evenly across all ads. This is the preferred method for ad copy testing, to ensure that each version gets a sufficient amount of impressions during the test.

Track and Refine

Each time you get a statistically significant test, it is time to take the next step. You want to pause those ads that did not win, ensuring the winning ad gets the widest possible audience going forward.

You may move right from one test to another, setting up two new ads to compete against the winner of the recently completed test. Or you may let the winner run awhile, during which time you move on to other campaigns to do testing there.

There is no rule about how many ad copy tests you have running at one time. Essentially, do as many as you can actively manage. The more you do, the more likely you are to find opportunity to improve your results.

By tracking performance over time and refining your ad copy with each round of testing, you are likely to discover new versions of your ads that bring a lot more prospective customers to your website.