What I’ve Learned Running 25 A/B Tests on Ads for Buffer

Simply over a yr in the past, my function at Buffer shifted, and I grew to become a Progress Advertising Supervisor engaged on Buffer’s Progress Advertising group. This variation occurred at a time once we wanted to shortly scale how we run experiments to begin searching for enhancements to their efficiency.  

Experiments are an essential element in advertising and marketing groups and are a confirmed methodology for understanding the causal influence of a change and enhancing advertising and marketing technique iteratively and shortly. Not solely does working experiments assist us achieve a a lot better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, it additionally helps us drive significant influence on our key metrics in a managed, measurable approach.

For Buffer’s Progress Advertising group, working experiments is prime to the best way we work. It is unlikely we might make a change to our web site, emails, or advert campaigns with out first proving by way of an experiment that the change will result in extra conversions. We consider within the experimental methodology a lot that we’ve made it our objective to run 5 experiments throughout internet, e mail, and paid advertising and marketing each month. Inside paid advertising and marketing, we’ve carried out simply round 30 paid advertising and marketing experiments within the final yr alone, which have massively helped us make enhancements to our paid advertising and marketing channel technique, in addition to incrementally lower what it prices each time we purchase a brand new person.

I personal and drive our paid advertising and marketing applications throughout Meta, Google, and every other channels we validate. Thus far, I’ve run 25 experiments in our Adwords account. On this article, I’m sharing how I provide you with concepts for experiments and what I’ve realized thus removed from working these experiments.

The 4 phases of a profitable advertising and marketing experiment

For our group at Buffer, the experiment lifecycle course of if 4 phases. They're:

Analyze: Reviewing information for insights and alternatives throughout the funnel. Determine the place there are present friction factors that maintain again our customers from changing.

Ideate: Generate as many experiment concepts and hypotheses as potential that may clear up the newly discovered friction factors. Every concept ought to include the next particulars:

  • The core speculation, your assumptions, and studying targets
  • A short description of the experiment concept and of the variant
  • How we’ll measure success, and which metrics shall be affected
  • An ICE Score (extra on this within the subsequent level)

Prioritize: We assess all of our concepts by leveraging an ICE scoring mannequin. This helps us prioritize all experiment concepts in our backlog previous to committing to them. It is a vital step as there are actual alternative prices with what we select to check, as each experiment we are saying “sure” to means we are saying “no” to a different.

Check: Launch the experiment and let it run till we attain a big statistical distinction. We goal for 95 p.c confidence earlier than declaring a winner and normally let the experiment run for about two weeks (one cycle).

Then the cycle begins once more! Step one is to investigate the outcomes from the check and take away learnings that we will implement into our subsequent experiment.


There are a whole lot of varieties of experiments a Advertising group can use, however the most common one we use at Buffer is A/B testing.

A/B testing is a simple approach to check a speculation by evaluating two choices: possibility A, or the management, and possibility B, or the variant. It’s a randomized check the place 50 p.c of individuals see one possibility, normally no matter is at the moment working (management), whereas the opposite 50 p.c see one other new possibility (variant). The sort of check is particularly helpful for evaluating two variations of an advert, touchdown web page, e mail, or homepage.

My course of for arising with new experiment concepts

My group works in two-week cycles, which signifies that initially of every cycle, we plan and prioritize the duties that we have to full by the top of the cycle. Conducting an experiment matches up completely with that timeline.

On the primary or second day of the cycle, I analyze the information, jot down experiment concepts, re-prioritize, after which launch some new experiments.

At the beginning of the next cycle, I shut down the experiment, extract insights, after which use these learnings to provide you with extra experiment concepts. Then, we undergo the identical course of once more.

There are two methods I provide you with new experiment concepts:

  1. Analyzing the efficiency of the Adwords campaigns to search for friction factors.
  2. Extracting learnings from the earlier experiments and making use of them to new experiments.

Right here’s extra about every of those:

1. Search for friction factors

I usually like to check the marketing campaign’s efficiency with one another, in addition to the present time interval with the earlier interval, to see the place there have been will increase or decreases in both Search Impression Share, Click on-By Price, or Conversion Price.

When these efficiency metrics, I take a look at ratios as an alternative of absolute numbers as a result of they assist me perceive traits and adjustments in efficiency higher, plus they normalize information throughout campaigns of various sizes or budgets.

Typically, ratios associated to clicks, like Click on-By Price (CTR) and Price Per Click on (CPL), will let you know that there may be enhancements made to your advert textual content.

Buffer Running Paid Marketing Experiments 2

Ratios associated to your conversions, like Conversion Price and Price Per Acquisition, will inform me there are optimizations that may very well be carried out on our touchdown web page.

Identical as for advert textual content enhancements, I’d take a look at the touchdown pages with the best conversion charges to get inspiration for brand spanking new experiment concepts.

Listed here are another methods you'll be able to enhance your Conversion Price:

  • Optimize your touchdown pages by matching the copy and provide to your advert textual content
  • Make your provide extra compelling
Buffer Running Paid Marketing Experiments 1

Lastly, Search Impression Share tells you the share of impressions your advertisements acquired out of the full impressions they have been eligible to get.

When you've got a low Search Impression Share, it possible signifies that your advertisements aren’t aggressive sufficient within the auctions, your key phrases aren’t related, or your funds and bids is perhaps too small.

Listed here are some methods you'll be able to enhance your Search Impression Share:

  • Enhance your funds
  • Enhance your bid quantity
  • Optimize your key phrases by turning off those that aren't performing properly

2. Apply insights from earlier experiments to new experiments

Previous experiments can let you know a whole lot of tales about what's profitable and what isn’t–all you need to do is undergo the numbers to seek out these tales. I continuously undergo the outcomes from previous experiments to search for what we modified and the way it carried out.

This apply retains paying off. A couple of weeks in the past, we ran an A/B check for a selected marketing campaign the place I made updates to our touchdown web page and advert textual content to raised emphasize Buffer’s free plan. My speculation was that the Price Per Acquisition (CPA) would lower by 10 p.c with these adjustments.

The variant marketing campaign ended up outperforming the management marketing campaign, leading to a seven p.c lower in CAC and a six p.c improve in conversions.

I took these learnings and utilized them to a different marketing campaign and ended up with the variants successful over the controls as properly.

7 classes realized from working 25 Google Adverts A/B assessments

By all of this experimentation, I’ve realized a whole lot of classes. Listed here are seven key takeaways from my expertise conducting 25 Google Adverts A/B assessments:

1. Check advert textual content, key phrases, and squeeze web page copy concurrently ✅

I used to conduct experiments that solely A/B examined one variable, i.e. solely advert copy, solely touchdown web page adjustments, or solely key phrases. Proper from the beginning, I observed that at any time when I examined just one variable (i.e. solely advert textual content), with out making that change throughout the complete marketing campaign, the variant would typically lose out towards the management.

With time, I realized that when conducting an experiment, it’s greatest to check advert textual content, key phrases, and touchdown web page copy concurrently. Why is that? It’s key to match the touchdown web page to the promise of your advert, simply because it’s essential to make sure your advertisements match the intent of the person’s search question. Subsequently, by utilizing your key phrases in your advert headlines, advert descriptions, and touchdown web page copy, you present customers that your advert is instantly related to their search and that the touchdown web page is related to the advert they clicked on.

For instance, if you happen to’d prefer to A/B check the impact of including the sentence “14-day free trial” to your advert textual content, you also needs to embody that sentence in new key phrases, in addition to add that sentence to a couple locations in your touchdown web page moderately than simply add it to your advert textual content. This can make for a way more profitable experiment.

2. Keeping track of what your opponents are doing is vital ✅

Staying updated together with your opponents' adjustments and updates can expose new alternatives in your personal technique. For instance, on January 23, 2023, we observed a whole lot of chatter about Hootsuite on Twitter about the truth that they’ve determined to discontinue their Free plan on March 31, 2023. With Hootsuite’s removing of their free plan, we knew that it could lead increasingly more folks to seek for free, beneficiant options; we additionally knew that we have been completely positioned to draw these folks to Buffer.

With this in thoughts, it made sense for us to extend our budgets for our competitor marketing campaign, which particularly focused key phrases like “free hootsuite options” and “free model of hootsuite.” Along with this, we additionally started to check the efficacy of mentioning our free plan in our different campaigns and located success with that as properly.

You may also search for traits in your competitor’s advert copy and touchdown pages to encourage your individual experiments.

3. Use the highest-converting key phrases throughout your campaigns ✅

Analyzing our top-performing key phrases has given us essential insights into what phrases resonate with our viewers. This could be a helpful technique to information the creation of advert textual content, touchdown web page updates, and even new campaigns.

For instance, just a few months in the past, I sorted our prime key phrases by lowest Price Per Lead (CPL) and located these key phrases to be the commonest:

  • scheduler was present in 12 of our prime key phrases
  • tiktok was present in 9 of them
  • free was present in seven of them
  • Instagram was present in six of them
  • instruments was present in 5 of them
  • viral and hootsuite was present in three of them

Based mostly on this discovering, we ended up working a collection of experiments that A/B examined the addition of the phrase “free” in key phrases and duplicate. This was a significant discovering for us as we have been in a position to massively improve our Conversion Price just by selling our free plan.

4. Make the advert extra relatable by mentioning the nation they're positioned in ✅

We observed that by including country-specific references in our advert copy, we made our advertisements extra relatable and fascinating, which led to higher-quality advert rankings and elevated impressions and clicks.

For instance, in considered one of our A/B assessments for a marketing campaign in Australia, we added Australia-specific references. The management marketing campaign had no references to Australia, whereas the variant included Australian references within the advert textual content, URL, headline, and buyer testimonial.

Right here is the touchdown web page of the management:

Buffer Running Paid Marketing Experiments Screenshot 2023 06 16 at 4.44.23 PM

Right here is the touchdown web page of the variant:

Buffer Running Paid Marketing Experiments Screenshot 2023 06 16 at 5.38.40 PM
Buffer Running Paid Marketing Experiments Screenshot 2023 06 16 at 5.39.04 PM

By constructing the advertisements round a selected nation, we elevated click-through charges and conversion charges, which signifies that we have been in a position to join higher with the folks seeing our advertisements.

5. Comply with an iterative course of for A/B testing ✅

Working advertising and marketing experiments is an iterative course of, with every check constructing upon the outcomes of the earlier check. The truth is, even a failed check is a chance to grasp what went mistaken and guarantee these errors aren’t repeated. By making use of the insights of your experiments to the following ones, you’ll be rising the probability that your subsequent experiments will succeed. I do that by writing a abstract of the outcomes inside the transient on the finish of every experiment, which features a conclusion and suggestions for follow-up experiments. I additionally prefer to preserve a working doc of insights from the entire experiments we’ve run. It’s useful to have the ability to return to that doc to extract new concepts for upcoming assessments

Lastly, don’t preserve all this information simply with the folks you instantly work with. I typically share my learnings with different groups, particularly the Product group and the Product Advertising group, as they'll apply a whole lot of the insights to their very own experiments, campaigns, and product options.

6. Leverage Responsive Search Adverts ✅

With Google’s responsive search advertisements function (RSAs), you'll be able to create an advert that adapts to indicate extra related messages to customers. This function makes use of machine studying to find out the best-performing mixture of headlines and descriptions to current to a selected person.

I discover this function to be extremely profitable as a result of it takes the burden of testing off of the advertiser, permitting for extra effectivity and extra time saved. That is additionally steered by Google, as they point out that RSAs “might enhance your marketing campaign’s efficiency.” Probably as a result of Google makes use of machine studying to find out the most effective mixture of headlines and descriptions, which ought to, in idea, improve advert relevance and efficiency.

The opposite wonderful thing about responsive search advertisements is that Google will present headlines and descriptions which are extra related to the person’s search question, thus providing a extra customized expertise.

7. Embody “Jobs To Be Completed” and benefit-focused copy throughout your advertisements and touchdown pages ✅

We have discovered that utilizing copy that focuses on the advantages of our product and on the “Jobs to Be Completed” framework performs properly in each advertisements and touchdown pages.


'Jobs To Be Completed’ is a framework used to raised perceive what prospects' particular objectives or “jobs” are. To study extra concerning the framework, take a look at this video that includes Clay Christensen.

The sort of copy instantly addresses buyer wants and speaks to how our product can clear up their issues.

In my expertise, information factors in advertising and marketing are extra than simply numbers; they inform a narrative, revealing insights and classes that may information strategic choices. As entrepreneurs, our function includes studying this information, extracting these narratives, and regularly testing and refining our methods.

We’ve been in a position to attribute a few of Buffer's current development to this experiment-first strategy. The extra we check, the extra we perceive our viewers, thus enabling us to repeatedly refine our advertising and marketing methods for fulfillment.

I hope these classes will help you with any paid advertising and marketing or experiments that you just implement into your individual advertising and marketing methods.

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