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Prepping for Engagement Season? Start Testing Now to Put Social Ads on Autopilot

Tips for testing social media ads so you can be on autopilot for the holidays

With the holiday season upon us, many event pros are gearing up for a busy season of cheerful parties and catered dinners. Somewhere between the festivities, they’re also hoping to find time to relax and celebrate the season with loved ones after a particularly hectic summer of weddings and events.

With engagement season running concurrently, you might be wondering where it all fits in. Countless couples say “yes!” between Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, making late Q4 into Q1 an advantageous time for wedding pros to increase brand awareness and land new clients with social ads.

But don’t be concerned! You don’t need to sacrifice turkey dinners or family reunions to keep your brand front-and-center throughout engagement season.

By preparing and testing social media ads now, you’ll learn everything you need to put your ads on autopilot for the holidays and set yourself up for success in 2023. Here’s how you can start testing ads today.

What should you test?

You can’t put ads on autopilot until you figure out what wins your ideal client’s click. As you prepare for engagement season, focus on testing two elements:

Copy length
There is a common belief that younger audiences don’t read copy but it’s not true. While they may not read every word when browsing for inspiration, you can bet they’re paying attention to details once they’re ready to invest thousands of dollars. In many cases, they need more than a quick comment with an emoji to make a significant buying decision. Test short, medium, and long versions of your ad copy with a basic image to determine what hits the mark with your audience.

Images and videos are supposed to catch your ideal client’s eye as they’re scrolling through their feed, so testing helps you find the most “clickable” piece of content. Use the winning copy length (short, medium, or long) for all creative testing, switching up only the visuals. For a wedding planner, you may consider a portrait of a couple, a photo of décor details, or a video of a reception space. Use what you have!

If you want to further optimize, you may also test campaign types (e.g., traffic, lead, engagement) and audiences (e.g., geography, look-alike). However, if you are short on time, focus on copy length and creative elements.

Once you’ve collected enough data to discern the winning combo of ad copy and creative, you can set them up for automated success through the holidays and engagement season.

What can you ignore?

The digital ad landscape can feel confusing, even for those who know their way around a marketing funnel. There are many ways to set up ads for certain goals, but most businesses don’t need to concern themselves with every option. In particular, you can confidently ignore these two ad formats:

Interest targeting
While interest targeting worked well back in the day, changes to Meta’s Business Manager have limited its efficacy for testing purposes. When testing ads, your audience size should fall between one and three million. But if you’re adding audience interests to geo-targeting, you’ll reduce the size too much for accurate results. Instead, you’ll get better results by simply letting the Meta algorithm do its job with an appropriate audience size.

Brand awareness campaigns
Meta loves brand awareness ads because it makes their ads look cheap, but cheap eyeballs aren’t always the right eyeballs. Brand awareness ads are known as “remnant ads,” since they get the space left over after the highly-coveted spots are taken up by sales, lead, traffic, and engagement ads. If you want to attract action-takers instead of lookers, stick with traffic ads for testing.

How do you test?

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about the how. The idea is to identify exactly what works through the process of elimination, so make sure to change only one element at a time. If you’re testing copy length, keep your creative consistent. If you’re testing creative, keep your copy length consistent.

When testing, keep it running until you reach at least 1,000 people. With a smaller budget of $15–$25 per day, you’ll typically hit 1,000 people within a week. Once you do, evaluate the data to determine what works and start optimizing around those winning ad combos.

How do you measure success?

There are two key metrics to track for social media ad testing, especially when first starting out: your click-through rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC). Aim for a CTR of 1% or higher and a CPC of $1 or lower.

When reviewing insights in Business Manager, head over to the “views” section and set clicks to “outbound clicks” for the most accurate data. If the numbers don’t fall within the success range, keep testing with fresh creative and messaging until you figure out what resonates best with your audience.

An effective social media strategy is set-up for year-round success, from engagement season to the peak of busy wedding season. However, you don’t need to spend time or energy keeping it going every month.

With proper testing, you can easily put social ads on autopilot for a steady stream of inquiries without constant oversight.

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals’ brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference. Christie regularly shares industry insight in her Catersource column, as well as on, Wed Altered, Risingtide Society, WeddingIQ and NACE’s industry blog.

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