Using Ad Testing & Experimentation to Scale Your E-commerce Campaigns

Scaling an e-commerce brand isn’t as easy as just launching ads on Facebook and watching the orders roll in. Instead, the fastest scaling brands are strategic and use ad testing & experimentations to continually refine and grow their campaigns.

“E-commerce companies that conduct ad experiments see two to three percent better performance per experiment run (as measured by purchases achieved per advertising dollar spent).”
Harvard Business Review

What is ad experimentation?

When we’re talking about ad testing & experimentation, we’re referring to systematically testing individual elements of the ad campaign to identify what was most effective for the brand.

Most ad tests and experiments follow the scientific method. The strategist creates a hypothesis, designs the experiment, executes the campaign, and analyzes the results. The more tests you run, the more you’re able to learn.

The ad platforms have identified that ad testing is critical to scale. Most have invested in tools and systems enabling brands to easily run ad tests.

Google has Google Ads experiments to allow you to split test things like geography, bidding strategy, and campaign structure.

Similarly, Facebook has its own experimentation tool with the ability to a/b test individual campaign elements or run brand lift studies.

What can you learn?

The reason you should be running ad experiments is to better understand how consumers engage with your ads and to identify the key levers for growth.

Consistently running campaign tests will help you more clearly define your best channels, audiences, messages, offers, discounts, and creative asset types.

As your campaigns become more sophisticated, you’ll also be able to run things like conversion lift studies and brand lift studies; to get a better sense of how your ads are incrementally impacting your revenue and brand awareness.

How can you do it well?

The most important thing when running ad experiments is to be organized and deliberate. You’ll want to make sure you have a process of identifying experiments, organizing them, and prioritizing them.

The goal is not to test everything, but instead to focus on the things that are most impactful for the campaigns.

Once you know what you’ll be testing, the next step is to make sure to appropriately design the experiment. You want to make sure that the ad experiment is focused on a single KPI, isolates variables, and follows testing best practices.

Poorly designed tests can give false results and potentially cost money and time in the long run.

Lastly, you want to be testing campaigns regularly. Just because something didn’t work previously, doesn’t mean it won’t work now.

Consumer behavior and the market evolves over time. People change and how they interact with brands changes too. You’ll want to make sure your ad campaigns are optimized for how consumers purchase now.

What’s next?

Your testing and experimentation plans should be regularly updated and refined. Creating a strategy or framework is the best place to get started. You need to have an understanding of what you want to test, how often, and why.

Our team uses a learning agenda to organize and prioritize our ad experiments with our clients. You can download our template below.