How iterative creative testing can maximise marketing effectiveness

Iterative creative testing lets you refine and refine your assets until they reach peak performance. Learn how it's done.

Creative testing is like an insurance policy, giving you peace of mind that your marketing campaigns will be well-received by your target audience. But do you go beyond getting the basic thumbs up from consumers to really optimise your creative assets?

With iterative creative testing, you can refine and refine your assets until they reach peak performance – as long as you avoid making classic creative testing mistakes. The process allows you to test what impact different elements of your ads, such as the call to action, tagline, font types and colours or music, have on viewers.

By adding or taking away a single element with each test, you can see the difference it makes to your metrics – and you might be surprised at just how big of a difference small changes can make to your return on investment.

That’s where creative testing tools like Attest come in!

At Attest, we’ve seen clients gain a significant uplift in things like brand recall, perception and purchase intent, just by tweaking a few words, changing the size of a logo or adding a jingle. So, while the process can add an extra step or two to planning your campaigns, it’s well worth it. Read on to learn how to get started.

How to Use Consumer Data for Smarter Campaign Planning

Discover how consumer data can improve every aspect of your campaign, from coming up with winning creative concepts to spending your media budget more wisely.

Get Your Copy Now

How to get started with iterative creative testing 

Iterative testing is the process of basing tests on data gathered from previous tests. This means that you only start once you have settled on your creative concept and the assets that you want to run with. 

Before this, you may have tested various different ideas in order to find the strongest. Or perhaps you’ve already done some ad testing for this particular concept, are happy with the overall feedback received, and now want to optimise it. Either way, you should have some baseline data to design your experiments around (if you don’t, start with a quick creative testing survey). 

Now you need to analyse your data and decide where you’d like to see improvements and how they might be achieved. For example:

  • Let’s say that 75% of respondents agreed they understood the message your creative was trying to convey. But when reading through the free text comments from the 25% who did not understand, you see that there’s a particular word or phrase that’s creating confusion. You run some copy testing with the aim of increasing understanding to 85%.
  • Let’s say that your ad scores really well for likeability, but 30% of viewers can’t correctly identify the name of the brand or product being promoted. You change the voiceover to include three more mentions of the name in order to push identification upwards.
  • Let’s say that 70% of your target audience say they’re likely to consider purchasing your brand after seeing your ad, but only 35% of those say they’re “very likely”. You want to improve this ratio, so you alter the call to action to see what impact it has. 

Don’t forget, while you might want to make multiple changes to your ad, each change needs to be tested in isolation. If, for example, you made all of the above changes to your creative and then tested it, you might find some metrics go up while some go down – and you wouldn’t be able to identify what it was that had actually shifted the needle.   

Setting up your survey for iterative creative testing

Watch our intro to creative testing for a beginner’s guide on how to make sure you nail your marketing creative ⬇️

When iteratively testing, it’s important that your surveys are sent to the same audience profile that was used for your original creative tests (i.e. your target audience). For example, if your baseline measurements come from millennials in the south-east, subsequent responses gathered from a nationally representative (nat rep) audience would not be comparable. 

But while you want to maintain the profile of the audience, you don’t want to ask exactly the same people each time you run a survey. That’s because they’ll be biased by their previous exposure to the ad and unable to respond neutrally to the changes you’ve made (even if they don’t consciously notice them). 

With Attest, you can reach an audience of 100m+ consumers in markets around the globe and precisely target who you want to talk to, based on a variety of demographics and custom qualifying questions. Because we have a huge pool of survey-takers, it’s easy to exclude those who have already responded to one of your surveys (just select which previous surveys to exclude in the dashboard).

When it comes to selecting audience size, you don’t need to worry about asking thousands of people every time. Usually, around 250-500 respondents will be enough for each survey. So, although iterative creative testing can involve sending out multiple surveys, it doesn’t have to be an especially costly exercise. 

Equally, it doesn’t have to take forever. A survey with a sample size of 250-500 people can fill in the space of a couple of hours, which means you can get pretty much instant feedback to the changes you make. 

How to Use Consumer Data for Smarter Campaign Planning

Discover how consumer data can improve every aspect of your campaign, from coming up with winning creative concepts to spending your media budget more wisely.

Get Your Copy Now

Knowing where to stop with iterative creative testing

The beauty of iterative testing is that it allows you to take a very strategic approach to designing your creative assets – we all know how easy it is to get carried away with ideas and sometimes lose perspective. 

Data removes subjectivity and lets you make changes that are evidence-based. It’s massively rewarding when you make a tweak that sends your metrics shooting up, but – like with any experiment – you won’t always get the results you want. You might implement a change that has a detrimental effect. On the other hand, you might make edits that have little or no impact at all. 

Trying to move the needle can become quite addictive, so it’s important to have a cut-off point. Be clear at the outset what you’re trying to achieve – choose one or two key areas to focus on instead of trying to shift every single brand awareness metric. And decide what the minimum acceptable uplift will be for each piece of creative or campaign.

Of course, you’ll never be able to get everyone to love your ad (or want to buy your product!) but making modest gains can still translate to increased sales or social buzz. And, remember, you’re not only gathering learnings for this campaign – you’ll be able to use the knowledge (like the fact your target consumers prefer the colour red to pink) for all your future creative projects. 

Try our new Concept Testing Template today.

Or if you want more strategies for supercharging your campaign planning? Download our free guide…

The Complete Guide to Creative Testing

Check out our free Complete Guide to Creative Testing and discover how easy it is to start testing your creative assets before you release them into the wild.

Get your copy now!

Elliot Barnard

Customer Research Lead 

Elliot joined Attest in 2019 and has dedicated his career to working with brands carrying out market research. At Attest Elliot takes a leading role in the Customer Research Team, to support customers as they uncover insights and new areas for growth.

See all articles by Elliot