20 Tactics to Split Test Your Way to Facebook Ad Success

by Josh Barney

It’s the end of another working day…

…your usual route home is riddled with traffic. There’s an alternative, but you don’t normally take it because it’s always busy…

…which way would be the fastest route home?

No matter what the sat nav says, you’ll never know the answer for sure.

Unfortunately, when we’re faced with a split decision in life, it’s almost impossible to know if we’ve made the correct choice…

…but if we did, we’d be able to make future decisions based on those answers.

The same can’t be said of the digital world.

We can split test until we’re blue in the face, track the results and optimise our campaigns.

As an agency we spend over £3 million on Facebook ads every year. Unless you’re spending more, pick up a notepad, and take these 20 split test ideas on board.

Let’s do this:

facebook audiences ebook

20 Facebook Split Tests

1. Headlines

facebook ad split test headline

There’s no better place to start than with the title.

This is the first thing your audience will read when they see your post. And your first (and sometimes only) opportunity to tantalise them into clicking.

You should try running ads with at least two different headlines, testing one (or all) of these features:

  • Length
  • Power/emotive words
  • Use of numbers
  • Positive vs Negative headlines
  • Scarcity
  • Question v Statement
  • Swapping headline and description around.

2. Description

facebook ad split test description

The description is the text beneath your headline (usually in grey). It’s called into action when the headline has interested the reader, but not totally convinced them to click.

I suggest making descriptions one, or maximum two sentences.

Use these as SECONDARY HEADLINES. In other words, the headline you really liked but didn’t quite make the cut.

3. Ad Images 

split test images

It seems painfully obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses don’t run image tests.

The image in your ad is the attention grabber and it can generate loads more clicks.

We suggest running ads with 3 or 4 different ad images. If you’re short on ideas, come back to the Einstein Marketer blog soon, I’ve got an in-depth guide to ad images coming very soon!

4. Predominant Colours

split test colours

Another biggie…

…colours trigger different reactions in an audiences’ psyche.

If you’re struggling for ideas with different images, do something as simple as changing the background colour.

Decide on the objective of the ad, use our Guide to the Psychology of Colour and test the most relevant on your ad. 

5. Photo vs Illustration

Another nod towards the effects of your ad creative…

…photos can activate memories and make your product seem real.

But an illustration can make your brand seem friendly, fun and exciting.

Tests should be run on photo vs illustration, but only if you’ve got high quality versions of each.

6. Text in Images vs No Text in Images

split test text in images

If you’ve got some clear space in your ad creative split test that same image with text added.

Be careful with text size though. Facebook doesn’t like images with text that takes up more than 20% of creative space.

We’d suggest testing text like:

  • The headline
  • Description
  • Question (with YOU included)
  • Hyper-shortened angle on content
  • Value Proposition

7. CTA Button

split test cta button facebook

If you’re new to Facebook Ads, (we’ve all been there, don’t sweat it), CTA stands for Call-To-Action.

In this case, our CTA button is the clickable blue button at the bottom right of our ad.

Facebook’s Business Manager offers a range of different options, including:

  • Sign up
  • Contact us
  • Learn more
  • Download

Find at least two buttons that match your campaign goals and test them.

8. Social Proof

Social proof should be used at every opportunity.

But what type of social proof should you use? And how should you present it?

Run split tests on numbers vs percentages. E.g. 180 out of 200 people… or 90% of people…

Don’t restrict your social proof testing to just this though. Try:

  • Social media numbers vs (happy) customers
  • Reviews vs (quantitative results of) product effect

Learn more about social proof in our guide.

9. Angle

What’s the chosen strength of your product? And how are you presenting it?

This is your angle, and it can make or break your ad.

The angle should be pushed in every part of your ad, headline, ad copy etc.

To find your most effective angle, use your customer avatar to discover your target market’s biggest pain points and work from there.

10. Copy Length

split test copy length

Long v short? Descriptive v teasing? Simple v technical?

Copy length is super-important. Think about your target market, how long is their attention span? Would they be likely to read an entire paragraph? Is your copy length relative to your product’s price point?

I’d suggest running split tests between one sentence and paragraph copy…

…we’ve found copy length is very much product and industry dependant. If you haven’t found the sweet spot already, TEST!

11. Copy Style

split test copy style brand voice

Informative? Friendly? Chatty? Formal?

Your copy style should represent your brand, fit with your target market and TEMPT your audience into clicking.

Just with all our Facebook ad split tests, start with very different copy styles and narrow until you’ve found your perfect mark.

BTW: Discover how to design and write amazing FB ads with our complete guide to Facebook Creatives and Copy.

12. Time of Day

What time are you running ads? Are your budgets running continuously all day?

If you’re on a tight budget, it might be worth pushing all your budget into certain times of day.

But what times?

That depends on your industry, product and target audience’s working hours and leisure time…

…so, split test!

If you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve created a Social Media Posting Planner that explains the best times to post on the world’s biggest social networks (including Facebook) go check it out!

social media posting planner

13. Days of the Week

If your budget is thinly spread over 7 days, why not pick certain days of the week instead?

Your target audience’s usage will vary all week, depending on a ton of different factors…

…try measuring weekends against weekdays or Monday’s against Fridays, one day can make a big difference.

14. Video 

facebook split test video

Video marketing is just too big to ignore…

…and it’s still growing.

Facebook loves videos because they generate high levels of engagement from their users, keep people on their platform longer and are widely shared. This means that video views can be achieved for an incredibly low cost (when running ads).

Sounds amazing right?


Getting videos right isn’t easy, especially if you’re selling a product.

If you’re new to videos, try split testing your videos against image ads.

See what comes out on top and go again.

15. Emoji vs No Emoji

split test facebook emojis

To winky face, or not to winky face, that is the question…

…a modern-day advertising Hamlet would surely ask himself.

And you should follow suit. Emoji’s have become so popular, they’ve established themselves as a crucial part of our language.

And they’re universal.

Emoji’s catch the eye and trigger emotional reactions from your audience…

…but they can also look cheap and very informal.

Split test copy with and without emojis.

16. Ad Type

split test ad type

Facebook has more than 10 different ad types.

That’s a lot to choose from.

If you’re running one type just because you know it and you’ve never tried anything else, it’s time to split test! You might find an extra few %’s in conversions that you never thought possible.

This is especially relevant for those who run tons of ads, and have got lazy, using the same one time and time again.

BTW: Find out how you can appear as the top ad in the FB newsfeed with our guide to the Facebook Ad Algorithm.  

17. Instant Experiences

facebook instant experiences

Facebook’s latest ad update, Instant Experiences allows advertisers to create a landing page that is hosted natively on Facebook.

This feature is only targeted at mobile users, with the promise of preventing visitors loss due to slow load speeds.

The best thing about Instant Experiences (previously known as canvas ads) is that they’re completely trackable and fully customisable.

If you’re currently running the same ads to all devices, try a split test with Instant Experiences and see what affect it has on your CTR and conversion rates.

Never heard of Instant Experiences? Check out our guide to setting up your first ads with the new feature.

18. FOMO 

split test fomo

FOMO stands for ‘fear of missing out’, and it’s a powerful advertising technique that you should definitely adopt in your marketing strategy.

If you are already using FOMO in your advertising copy, headline, description or image, try split-testing it against a different type.

For example, you might be running a limited time offer that ends at a set deadline, instead of this you could try running the same limited time offer on the first 100 orders.

Switching the angle of your FOMO can make a huge difference. Trust me, I’ve learnt this the hard way! Try a couple of different types and see what happens.

19. Positive vs Negative 

It’s the age-old battle, good vs evil, light vs dark, yin vs yang…

…and when it comes to Facebook ads, you’d be surprised about the results.

When it comes to headlines (particularly) negative often draws more clicks. For instance, if I ran an ad with the headline ‘Follow This Diet To Get The Body of Your Dreams’, it almost definitely wouldn’t do as well as ‘You’re Putting On Weight Because You Aren’t Doing This!’

The focus of the first headline is positive ‘body of your dreams’, whilst the second is negative ‘putting on weight’.

You should look at the focus of all the elements of your Facebook ads and try split testing positive vs negative.

20. People or No People

facebook ad split test people

The use of people in your ads can make a huge difference. When you use somebody with distinctive features or looks, it can draw the eye and make your ad stand out in the newsfeed.

If you are using photos in your ads, test the difference between an ad image with and without people…

…or split test different people (if they’re your friends, just make sure you don’t tell them!).

Facebook Ad Split Test Ideas

facebook audiences ebook

Whether you’re just starting out on you Facebook Ads journey…

…or you’ve been doing it for ages it’s CRUCIAL to run tests.

We don’t suggest running all 20 split tests at the same time (unless you’ve got far too much time on your hands) but running one to three tests can give you invaluable results.

When you’ve got these answers, test the next part of your ad until it’s perfect.

Every industry, product and brand has its own advertising sweet spot because they’re all targeting different audiences. There are no exact guidelines that will work for everyone.

You need to find yours, split-testing is how you’ll do it!

Want more Facebook Marketing Goodness? Check out:


Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the www.joshbarney.blog. He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

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