Director, Account Management

Associate Content Marketing Manager

The Ultimate Guide to Multivariate Testing

We hear it all the time from our clients: “Social media ad creative is challenging, and we never have quite enough of it.” Because social media users are exposed to a vast variety of creatives and ad types on any given social media platform, they can develop ad blindness incredibly quickly— that’s why it’s crucial for brands to continuously refresh their advertising efforts.

The intersection of just-right timing and the correct messaging, however, can be tricky to achieve. Create your ads too far in advance, and you run the real risk of delivering messaging that just doesn’t resonate the same way you thought it would previously. Create your ads too late in the game, and you could end up scrambling for your next idea without having the proper proof of what will drive impactful results. So, how exactly do you curate an ad mix that positively impacts your brand goals, right at the moment it matters most? 

If you’re ready to take your paid social media advertising strategy and testing approach to the next level, look no further: This multivariate testing guide lays out the facts about how to integrate this kind of testing into your ad strategy, as well as the top considerations to keep in mind as you establish your own best practices for all things multivariate.

The Facts about Multivariate Testing

We know that long-term, incremental testing is necessary for driving the growth we want to achieve as marketers. Analyzing incremental results allows you to get a detailed picture of how your efforts are affecting the entirety of your campaigns, keeping you focused on what is actually impacting your bottom line. 

To gather this kind of data, marketers have historically relied on A/B testing to determine which ads performed best. And while A/B is great for comparing apples to apples (like two different text options for a CTA button, or the specific placement of a single element on an ad), it’s not enough to cut through the noise in an increasingly complex, cross-channel environment. 

For instance, what if you want to know which CTA and imagery combination in a consumer goods paid social campaign inspires the most engagement? Or, what if you want to compare and contrast which of several different ad layouts reduces your CPC the most? Enter multivariate testing

What is Multivariate Testing?

Different variables— like font, copy, and imagery— are used to create a set of ad variants. These variants can then be combined in multiple ways and tested to inform creative learnings and future strategic planning.

Multivariate testing optimizes how your target audiences are engaging with your ads by identifying the best-performing creative elements, and which combination of those elements drives the most maximized results. Check out this breakdown:

With a variety of elemental combinations all housed together in a single test, marketers can pinpoint the exact pairing of messaging and creative that resonates best— saving time and minimizing spend on lower-performing ads. 

The Path to Creative Intelligence

Knowing how to conduct a multivariate test is just one part of the path to paid social success: In order to properly integrate multivariate testing into your paid social strategy, you’ll need to establish a solid measurement framework and testing process. This will allow you to glean incremental insights throughout the lifetime of your ad campaigns, which will enable you to continuously capitalize on the specific ads creating the best results for your brand.

Here are the top three considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to leverage multivariate testing practices: 

1. Set an ad budget big enough to reach statistical significance. Without an adequate budget, the learnings you glean from your testing may not be applicable to your ad audience on a larger scale— which renders them irrelevant in the context of positively impacting your business goals. A budget that reaches statistical significance allows you to consider any learnings from testing as holistically accurate, which helps strengthen and future-proof your strategic and budgetary decisions. 

EXAMPLE: Use a reliable multivariate budget calculator to help you determine the most optimal campaign budgets to reach statistical significance. 

2. Determine a testing roadmap. A strong multivariate testing plan will involve continuous, iterative testing that is based on both your initial learnings and your ongoing analysis. This roadmap will allow you to test various advertising elements against one another throughout the campaign, and strengthen your understanding of what is successful or not. 

EXAMPLE: You’ve determined from your initial round of testing that copy variant #1 has the best value proposition for your new product line. You then use your pre-determined testing roadmap to plug-and-play that winning copy variant in combination with different imagery variations to see which drives the most powerful results.

To create the best roadmap possible for your brand’s goals, here are the questions we recommend asking yourself to keep your eyes on the prize: 

  • What elements am I looking to test? Do I want to test copy? Imagery? Call-to-action messaging? 
  • How long will it take for me to create and deploy each test? What will the timeline be from variant ideation, to creation, to implementation, and to performance measurement? 
  • How will I measure success along the way? Which primary KPIs (like CPA or CPC) am I leveraging to indicate whether I’m achieving my benchmarks or not?

3. Create an implementation plan. With a myriad of unique and valuable learnings under your belt, you’ll need a proper plan on how you’ll incorporate your winning variants into future messaging. This plan also allows you to anticipate how you’ll transform test learnings into powerful evergreen content, which synergistically promotes iterative testing throughout the current campaign and beyond. 

EXAMPLE: Your consumer goods brand discovers product-focused imagery drives stronger conversion than lifestyle-focused imagery. Your current evergreen campaigns are all centered around lifestyle imagery, so you plan to deploy a new product-focused evergreen campaign during your next designated refresh period, instead. 

With these top considerations in mind, you’ll also need a way to collect, analyze, and report invaluable insights as you execute your campaigns. Not sure where to get started? Meet Marpipe, Rise’s trusted multivariate testing partner! Its platform hands you the reins by automatically generating and testing large groups of advertisements. It then delivers a wellspring of insights that can help you shape the trajectory of your creative performance. 

PRO-TIP: Marpipe’s platform equips you with resources and tools that make establishing your measurement framework and implementing multivariate testing that much easier. For example: Want to calculate how much your testing efforts might affect your ROAS? Marpipe offers a specialized digital calculator designed to estimate the increase you’ll see in conversions and ROAS by investing in a proper multivariate approach!

Multivariate Testing for Mighty Results

Present-day social media advertising is notably nuanced— and your ad strategy should be, too! Responding to (and doing more of) what actually resonates with your audience on social media is key to a successful ad campaign. Multivariate testing allows you a detailed look at exactly which of your creative efforts is giving you the most bang for your buck, all while iteratively driving future strategic decisions. 

Ready to roll up your sleeves and get testing? Contact us today

03/08/2023 at 08:23