Anatomy of a simple social media ad marketing test

In January, I ran a social media advertising test for a client.  The goals of the test were as follows:

  • Determine which social media channels were best to target the brand’s demographic
  • Drive site visits to a specific page
  • Drive awareness of the brand in the local Atlanta market among the target demographic who were not already fans of the brand on social media.
  • Optimize use of the monthly ad budget.

The client had, on December 31, a following on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; however, we did not know which channel would be the most effective / receptive for running targeted ads. So, we decided to do a test. Here’s what we did.

  • Created 3 images, each of which was then optimized for each channel, giving us 9 total images.
  • Created 3 different headlines, to be used across each channel, meaning the same 3 headlines on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Created clear call to action. Again, the same CTA for all channels.
  • Setup & optimized the landing page.
  • Created 9 tracking URLs with Google URL Builder to accurately track the responses to each ad.
  • Divided up the ad budget for the month equally among the 3 channels.
  • Started the campaign on Jan 4, after the NYD weekend.

We decided to monitor the campaigns and report on a weekly basis to make adjustments, optimizations, tweaks, etc. After the first week, we could see some trends:

  • Instagram produced a lot of impressions but had a very low CTR and a very high CPC.
  • Twitter had a much higher CPC but also produced far fewer impressions and an even lower CTR.
  • Facebook produced a lot of impressions, though not as many as Instagram, with a higher CTR and the lowest CPC.
  • The image that garnered the most impressions on Instagram earned the 2nd most on Facebook.

After week 1, because of the results above, we decided to make the following changes:

  • Stop Twitter and Instagram ads
  • Move all remaining budget from Twitter and Instagram to Facebook.
  • Change Facebook from “Daily Budget” to “Lifetime Budget.”

The end results are very favorable. Our month-long campaign led to the following:

  • Facebook ended up with a 7.45% CTR and $.16 CPC, both of which exceeded expectations.
  • We now know where our most favorable audience segment interacts on social media.

We will continue to test Twitter and Instagram with small monthly budgets, but the majority of ad spend will be focused on Facebook, until such time as we are able to optimize performance on Instagram and Twitter to compete with the CTR and CPC results that we got using Facebook ads.

In the Digital Marketing class at General Assembly, we make sure that all students understand that the most core concept behind digital marketing success is that every day is an experiment, a test that we approach like the OODA Loop, to see what gets you the best results, so that you can repeat those things, and stop the things that do not produce good results.

What do you think about that?

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