5 min read

How to get the best results from your ad creative

There is no question that a successful advertising strategy is a critical part of any marketing action plan. However, creating effective and successful ads is a huge challenge. More often than not, you will create ads that perform well, but not as well as you’d like them to. This is actually a great opportunity for creative testing. One way to improve your chances of success is to conduct creative testing on the ad to determine what’s working and how you can improve it.

Creative testing can allow your brand to carefully fine-tune its messaging and visuals to identify what connects best with your target consumers. When you get a firm understanding of what works and what doesn’t, your brand will have a greater chance for success. When you know what your audience wants to see from your brand you can create more impactful advertising and marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate and engage your audience.

In a brand growth study conducted somewhere in Europe, we forget exactly where but let’s say it was France for conversational purposes, it was revealed that over 50% of marketers rely on their gut feeling to determine which ad works. Sacrebleu! (See what we did there?) This means that half of marketers go with their instinct – or fly by the seat of their pants, as grandma used to say – instead of relying on data or other research, when choosing which ad to use. No doubt there are some marketers who have a certain Je ne sais quoi – call it a sixth sense – that unerringly leads them to the right, top-performing decision. Yeah, sure it does. For the rest of us who lack superpowers, it could mean making costly mistakes.

With a comprehensive plan and strategy for creative testing, you can consistently identify the ad creative that is most likely to generate your results. With creative testing you can confidently identify and launch with the right creative based on real data, not guesswork. Here are a few tips on how to create more effective ads with creative testing.

Understand the Basics

You don’t really need to become an expert on the topic, but taking the time to develop a basic understanding of the principles in creative testing will help you get the most out of the process. Remember, creative testing isn’t just about figuring out which creative will perform best, it’s also about determining WHY the creative will perform the best to guide future decisions.

Begin your creative testing by formulating a clear goal for what element you want to test in your creative and why you want to test it. In the beginning, start by testing out simple questions like determining which headline will generate the most clicks. As you become more familiar with creative testing you can explore more complex questions, such as learning which elements of your graphic design are resonating the most with your target audience.

Once you have a hypothesis, come up with a series of test ideas that will help you confirm your hypothesis. Your test ideas do not need to be complicated, but they should be thoughtful and specific. Remember the goal is to focus on learning critical information that can guide your overall creative strategy. When you think of it this way, you can quickly use your tests to build a creative strategy that identifies which creative to use and how it can be used for the greatest benefit.

What Can You Optimize with Creative Testing?

Types of creatives can you test:

  • Advertising materials and campaigns
  • Email marketing messages and automations
  • Ecommerce product content
  • Social media posts, images, and videos
  • Websites, landing pages, online forms

Plan Your Creative Tests

A well-planned creative test can help you develop a reliable benchmark for the performance of your future creative. By testing your creatives before you launch them, you can avoid potential problems and save time and money.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

Make sure your test is realistic. If you’re testing a new product or service, try to create a realistic scenario in which it would be used. So, if you’re testing a new ad campaign, run it as if it’s actually being aired.

Be sure to measure results. It’s not enough to just test your ideas; you need to be able to measure how well they worked. Use quantifiable measurements to track results, such as sales, web traffic, or engagement. Pay close attention to the results of your tests, and use that data to continue to refine and improve your efforts.

Be prepared to adjust. Even the best-laid plans can go astray, so be ready to make changes based on your test results. If your test shows that a particular creative is not working – regardless of how much you personally loved that creative –  follow the data and abandon it and try something else.

By following these basic steps, you can make sure that your creative testing process is as effective as possible.

Types of Creative Testing: A/B, split and multivariate tests

There are a few key differences between the different types of testing formats that are commonly used in creative testing. We’ll start with A/B testing and split testing as they are the most commonly used tests. A/B tests are typically used to test one specific element on a page. On the other hand, split tests can test multiple elements at the same time. A/B tests are also usually run for a shorter period of time than split tests. Finally, A/B tests can be used to test pages that are not yet live, while split tests can only be used on live pages.

There is an additional creative testing approach, called multivariate testing, which can provide a more granular look at your creative performance. You can use multivariate testing to test every combination of copy, images, colors, offers, and more to determine which combination leads to the highest conversion rate.

Execute Your Creative Tests

OK, so you have some creative built on the basics of your creative strategy? Now it’s time to put your ideas to the test. Don’t rush your testing, or you’ll be wasting your time and resources. You want your tests to run between 30 and 90 days to get reliable data.

Analyze Your Creative Test Results.

Now that you have completed your creative tests, it is time to analyze your results. Remember when you created hypotheses before your tests? Now you can compare your objectives and the hypotheses you developed before the tests with real-world data. How well did your tests support or disprove your hypotheses?

Next, look at how your test results varied across the different groups you studied. What factors seemed to influence how well your creative performed on the tests? Did any aspects of your user demographics play a measurable role?

Finally, consider how you can use the information you learned to improve your next set of tests. What new hypotheses can you develop based on the results of this study? What changes do you need to make to your creative tasks to get better results?

Use Your Test Results to Improve Your Creative

Now that you have your creative test results, it’s time to put the data to use and improve your advertising efforts. Look at which creative scored the highest with your target audience and see what you can learn from them. Figure out what made them work so well and try to incorporate those elements into your own ads to confirm your theories.

Also, take a close look at the ads that scored the lowest. See if you can improve them based in what you have learned. Maybe your tests have revealed that the messaging did not resonate or the design was unappealing. Whatever the issue may be, try to fix it so that your ads are more likely to resonate with your target audience.

By using your creative test results to improve your advertising, you can create more effective and successful campaigns.