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Testing the water: 5 tips for running a successful Facebook test campaign

Just to tease you, imagine you’re standing in front of the sea. It’s sunny, but the air is pretty fresh.

Unless you’re an enthusiastic child or a madman, you’re probably going to dip a toe in before you walk into the water. You want the satisfaction of a conclusive, “it’s cold” before you commit. It may very well be lovely. But a sensible person would test that theory first.

Testing the water can save you a lot of pain.

Clients often come to me and say that they’ve “had a go” at Facebook advertising before. They might have boosted a post, or even ventured into Ads Manager and had a go at doing things properly. They’re often frustrated; things just aren’t working.

When I get access to their account, I usually find they’ve gone boldly ahead and run one ad, to one audience, using the one image, with a lot of money behind it.

Whilst I admire their confidence, they’ve essentially run straight into the water and concluded that, yes, it’s bloody freezing!

If only they’d dipped a toe in first.

When it comes to running a successful Facebook campaign that’s going to get you leads, webinar sign ups or engagement with your brand, it’s no good to just dive in.

No two campaigns are the same. You’re working against variables of location, date, time and world events, to name a few factors. I don’t care if you’ve run a similar campaign before. Facebook definitely doesn’t; its algorithm will punish you for your naivety.

A well-monitored test period will ensure you don’t waste your time, patience and budget. Instead, it will provide you with the knowledge you need to run an extremely successful, evergreen campaign, no matter your objectives. Here are our 5 top tips:

1. Test one variable

If you want to test the success of your ad’s copy, don’t use different images. If you want to test the success of images, don’t use different copy.

Start small and change one thing. Within your campaign, create individual ads with just one differentiator, and ensure that each ad set is targeting the same audience (Facebook’s A/B testing tool is your friend here).

Unless there’s a compelling reason to test the success of your ad’s copy, I always recommend testing the images you use for your campaign first. Images have the potential to make or break your advertising efforts.  

2. Allocate a small budget

As tempting as it is to throw cash at your campaign in the hope that something sticks, it’s not going to do you any favours. You might get things completely wrong and waste your budget.

Now is the time for a bit of patience. Something good is coming on the other side (low-cost ads that you can scale!).

Allocate a small budget for testing. We recommend £10 a day for two weeks.

3. Leave things be

Don’t edit or mess with your campaigns. Don’t end things early.

Using Facebook’s A/B testing tool helps here, as it doesn’t allow you to edit a test when its running (make sure you proof that copy and get things right when you hit the save button!).  Allow it to work its magic and let the campaigns run for the full testing period.

4. Analyse

Facebook’s A/B testing tool will analyse the results and select winning ads based on the campaign objective you set out to achieve (whether that’s leads, web traffic, engagement etc.)

Download a report and analyse the results of each campaign you ran. Each will have a winning ad. You should also compare the winners against each other and analyse additional metrics too (engagement, cost per click, frequency of delivery etc.)

When you’ve put a lot of effort into an ad and it flops, it can be disappointing. Don’t be tempted to reanimate losing ads and change minor details. Follow the evidence and say goodbye!

5. Scale the winners

You’ve done the hard work; that’s the joy of the testing process.

After completing your tests, you should have found one or multiple winning ads that achieved low-cost goals. You can now add more budget to scale them, confident in the knowledge you’ve completed the necessary checks and have a campaign that works. Release it into the world!

Ready to test the water?

Whether you’ve tried advertising before with little payoff, or you’re looking to run a campaign with the help of an expert, we can help ensure your campaigns are set up for success. Get in touch with us at or call 0115 8965 300.

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