Max CVR Test: Create Unique Variations for Audience Persona

Discover the personalized ad creative and learn to create unique variations. Master the art of high-converting, targeted ads with Marpipe's CVR test!
Jess Cook

If you show the same ad creative to all your audiences, you're doing it wrong.

Each audience segment has their own set of motivations for engaging and converting with your brand. To max out your potential for conversion, it’s important to build those motivations into your ad creative — creating unique variations for each audience persona.

On the latest episode of Resting Ad Face, Susan and I were joined by Marpipe's own Caroline Lowery, a customer success rockstar. The three of us spill the tea on:

  • why it's important to test your ads against your personas
  • what to include in your tests
  • customer examples we’ve lived and learned through

Here are some highlights:

The missing piece of the persona puzzle

Marketers spend a boatload of time understanding who their audience is and breaking them out into sub-segments and resulting personas. 

  • What is their life stage?
  • What are their pain points?
  • Where do they typically shop?, etc.

But there’s a crucial piece that’s traditionally been overlooked:

What do they like in their ad creative?

With automated ad testing tools, it’s now possible to understand — down to the headline, image, background color, and more — exactly what resonates with each of your audience personas. 

Top marketers are gleaning that information from their tests and capitalizing on it to build the most performant ads possible for every facet of their audience.

Ad creative isn't one-size-fits-all

There are two major downsides to showing the same ad creative to all your audience personas:

  1. Leaving revenue on the table

Post iOS 14, target audiences are naturally broader. It now takes for your ads to cut through larger, generalized audiences to the subset you need to reach. This slows your ability to convert and generate revenue.

To quickly reach and engage the right subset of people, your ad creative must be spot on. The key is finding the creative that calls to your demo as efficiently as possible with your spend. Perfectly tailoring your ad to the subset of people who will care and click is crucial.

Consider this scenario as well:

You use a discount message in your ads and show it to all your audiences. Your CVR is on par with previous campaigns, so you consider the campaign a success.

But what if a number of those audiences didn’t need a discount to convert? What if a customer testimonial would have caused that segment to convert at an equal or better rate?

Now you’ve missed out on revenue unnecessarily. And you’d never know it unless you employ proper ad testing.

  1. Sabotaging CPA and ROAS

The odds that the same ad creative will resonate with all your audience segments is low. For example, returning customers may convert more often when a discount is present. But a new customer may be more compelled by a lifestyle or sustainability message.

By showing the same ad creative to all your audience segments, you’re ignoring those nuances, potentially driving up your CPA and decreasing your ROAS.

Multivariate testing is an incredibly efficient way to pinpoint those differences so you can take advantage of them as you scale.

For more, subscribe to Resting Ad Face on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform.


[00:00:05] Jess: Hello, hello. Welcome to Resting Ad Face. I am Jess Cook. Head of Content at Marpipe and I'm here with my fabulous co-host, Susan Wenograd.

[00:00:19] Susan: Hey everybody. Nice to be back again.

[00:00:22] Jess: And we are also here with our good friend.

[00:00:26] Susan: There's a third face here today.

[00:00:28] Jess: Yeah, another Marpipian, Pipette. What do we call ourselves? Pipers?

[00:00:33] Susan: Pipettes.

[00:00:35] Jess: Pipettes. We are Pipettes and we have a fellow Pipette here. Our good friend, Caroline. Caroline is our Senior Customer Success Manager. She is incredible. And she's here today because we have a, a special topic that she has you know, first- hand knowledge and, and insight into.

[00:00:52] So hello, Caroline.

[00:00:53] Caroline: Hello. I'm so excited to be here.

[00:00:56] Jess: We're so excited to have you.

[00:00:58] Caroline: My first podcast experience.[00:01:00]

[00:01:00] Jess: Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Marpipe and like what you do and why you're so great at what you do?

[00:01:05] Caroline: Yes, absolutely.

[00:01:06] So, as you mentioned, I am a Senior Customer Success Manager here at Marpipe. So I am talking to all of our customers on a weekly basis getting to know what is their workflow, what are their workflow challenges? What are they looking to overcome? And that's kind of the building blocks. Okay. Where are we starting?

[00:01:28] Where do we wanna get? And I help them identify that path forward and help them create testing strategies and analyzing their test insights to pull out those little golden nuggets of, yes, this is amazing. This is why we come back to Marpipe in items like that. I am the day-to-day contact and lead on my accounts and really just the Marpipe guru here.

[00:01:57] Jess: Amazing. And so you have all the [00:02:00] behind the scenes knowledge and data of all the inner workings of our customers.

[00:02:04] Caroline: Yes. I get my hands very dirty.

[00:02:07] Jess: Love it.

[00:02:08] So you are here today to talk to us about testing to find your right persona, like.

[00:02:14] First let's talk about why that would even be important. And then I think we can get into like how we do it, or, or maybe some examples you've seen.

[00:02:24] Caroline: Absolutely. So I think a common knowledge and practice in the ad world is you create these targeting personas. So you have your Loyal Lola, your Tech Tom, your.

[00:02:39] Wow, very into alliteration today.

[00:02:43] Jess: I was like, what's she gonna say next?

[00:02:45] Caroline: Yeah. I'm like, OK, you have your family man. And your

[00:02:50] Susan: Frank the Family Man. We gotta keep it going.

[00:02:52] Caroline: Frank the Family Man. We have all these targeting personas that you build up. I mean, [00:03:00] hours upon hours are spent into deciphering who's our target audience?

[00:03:05] What do they do? Where are they at? But a big missing piece of this right now is what creative do they actually like? That has been the missing piece of the puzzle. And I think through creative testing, this is starting to be explored more. And we're starting to learn, okay, Loyal Lola, she is in it for the long haul. She is no longer just going to buy, you know, the black sweatpants.

[00:03:32] She's gonna explore, okay, I'll try this cheetah print since I know I like the brand, so I'm more willing to expand beyond the basics.

[00:03:42] Jess: So like, what would that mean for like Frank or Tom? Like how do those kinds of things change for those types of people and how do you learn that?

[00:03:52] Caroline: Yeah, so let's say Tech Tom is a new customer. He's, you know, looking for the next best thing. He's an [00:04:00] early adopter, but takes some extra convincing. So maybe let's start out learning from Lola. Okay. She's a returning customer. She likes these fun prints. She's more likely to expand, but this new customer, maybe they only are interested in

[00:04:20] entering at a discount. Are they only interested in this solid color sweatpants versus this louder color? Since they're not really sure if they're even gonna like it. So in order to figure out what this means, who likes what, let's start by doing a very general creative test targeting all of these audiences.

[00:04:45] So let's put. Family Frank, Tech Tom, and Loyal Lola all in this one creative test and do a variety of messaging and imagery and sticking with [00:05:00] this apparel example. Okay. Let's include a discount. Let's include a variety of colored sweatpants and let's see what each of these audiences migrate to.

[00:05:16] Through Marpipe we can see at the audience level who's preferring what creative and that's how we start those building blocks of who's liking what? Where are they migrating to? So we see, okay, Tech Tom, he is only purchasing when a discount is present. If we just include a customer review, that doesn't matter to him. He is solely clicking through on these discounts.

[00:05:45] So this leads us to believe when we're targeting Tech Toms, let's really focus in on this discounting message. And we also saw he's only clicking through on these solid color sweatpants. So moving forward, we're [00:06:00] only going to target ads with these solid color sweatpants, discount messaging, and anything similar to discounts. If we're not running a promotion at the time, what other messaging and tone of voice really resonates with this audience?

[00:06:18] And we build that out for all personas that you have. This allows you to have a more specialized voice to each persona. So what you started with was really just a target audience. Now, you know who they are, what they like and what actually

[00:06:35] is going to work.

[00:06:38] Jess: It's so interesting, cuz I think we've seen with some customers before, you know we talk a lot about like building a story from your ad to your landing page, right?

[00:06:47] Like through the whole journey. And sometimes the story really resonates with certain personas. Like, yes, I love this idea of me being the hero of like this lifestyle that I'm being shown in this ad. And then I'm shown that in the landing [00:07:00] page and some people it's like I just want the discount. The discount is a story enough. Right. And when I get to the landing page, if that discount's there, like makes me feel confident that like, I'm actually gonna get this discount and I'm, you know, I can make this purchase. And, and again, how would you know that if you don't test, right?

[00:07:15] Like you might be really doing yourself, a detriment, putting discount on ads in front of personas that don't need a discount. And so you're missing out on revenue that you could otherwise be getting, had you known that, like they prefer you know, some type of emotional messaging or environmentally friendly messaging, right?

[00:07:34] Like, those are the things you have to find out to really improve performance and drive bottom line.

[00:07:40] Caroline: And at the same time, you're also sabotaging your CPAs by targeting the same creative to all your audiences. Since we can learn, okay, this audience is not going to react well to this messaging, this ad.

[00:07:56] Why would you keep serving it to them if it's not gonna work? You're just [00:08:00] gonna drive up your CPAs and your ROAS is gonna go out the door.

[00:08:06] Susan: I think that something that we encounter a lot, especially in the holidays, and In gifting seasons in general really is that the persona that you're used to testing for is sometimes not the same person that you're gonna encounter during that time of year.

[00:08:19] So, you know, if you have a brand which we do that caters to, to like the 25 to 35 year old female demographic, during the holidays, that's not who's buying it. I mean, some of the are they might buy 'em for their friends or whatever, but it's, it's a product that parents will gladly buy for them. So now all of a sudden, you know, what we do for 11 months outta the year doesn't really mean anything , it doesn't count anymore.

[00:08:42] And we have to talk to completely different people. So then it becomes a question of just testing and iterating quickly and just being ready to pivot fast because you're gonna be testing all these things in a short period of time. You might, you know, be able to keep some learnings for next year, of course, but that's a whole year away and who knows how [00:09:00] things will change or if you'll have the same products or anything like that.

[00:09:03] So that's, you know, the persona thing and the, the storytelling piece is definitely a bigger challenge during the holidays. And it's, it's a bigger challenge for Facebook itself, because it's used to optimizing for a certain type of buyer. So. Now you're like, okay, I'm just gonna completely jerk the wheel to the right and change who I'm talking to.

[00:09:20] And it's gonna still try and like show it to the normal people, especially if you're running broad. So it can be a little tough because you kind of have to hang in there until Facebook figures out what you're trying to do and who you're trying to reach for you to actually get any data. That's gonna be helpful.

[00:09:37] Jess: That's great. I think something that you mentioned to me not too long ago, was like, Hey, you know, take a look at your reviews. Are there reviews from people saying they bought this for someone or are there reviews from people saying someone bought this for me. And those are really powerful during this like holiday period, right?

[00:09:55] Where, yeah. You're getting that social proof that it was a good gift and that's what people want [00:10:00] to see.

[00:10:00] Susan: We utilize that a lot, especially because and you know, in a lot of cases, when someone buys it for a gift and they're not the end user, they might be less inclined to leave review because they're like, I don't know.

[00:10:09] I mean, they got it. They may or may not like it. I don't know. So searching through your testimonials for people that mention how they received it is, is usually a good idea. You'll usually find at least one or two in there where they mention that they got it as a gift. And so those testimonials are great because even though it's the, you know, your normal target demographic is saying it, they're acknowledging that they received it as a gift and that it was liked.

[00:10:31] Jess: Caroline, have you seen any examples of customers targeting like one single persona and then finding out like maybe they have a couple or, or changing creative based on that?

[00:10:40] Caroline: Yes, it, this is so relevant as we're coming up on the holiday timeframe in Q4, we're seeing customers start to test messaging messages.

[00:10:52] "Great for a gift," or "bought this for a friend" in different ways to reframe, okay, this is not only a product for [00:11:00] yourself, but a product you can give to other people in trying to narrow in on what messaging resonates with the audience. And, you know, sometimes we find certain target audiences aren't gifters, they apparently are not buying their friends and family.

[00:11:18] Jess: So that's the Scrooge demographic.

[00:11:22] Caroline: Yeah, we definitely have our holiday Scrooges in the mix, but then we see Loyal Lola, she is buying by for her family and giving them to everyone.

[00:11:33] So we start to see those kind of personas build out of who these gifters are. Are they gifting? Are they into the competitive gifting messaging? Are they shopping for gifts on a discount? So we start to see these build out. And as Susan mentioned, Facebook, sometimes doesn't know what to do with it. It takes some learning curves to figure out, okay,

[00:11:58] let's adjust our [00:12:00] target audience a little bit to maybe we expand the age range, cuz maybe we wanna target Lola's mom and get her to buy it for her. So it is a learning curve and figuring out that sweet spot takes time.

[00:12:16] Jess: And I think that just speaks to the fact of like how you, you really need your creative to be spot on then, because if it's gonna take that much longer to find the right people, like once you find them, you want it to work.

[00:12:28] Caroline: Yes. And I think we're seeing people test earlier for holiday messaging because come December, we don't want to be testing out the messaging.

[00:12:38] We want to know it works. Yeah. So we're having customers start holiday testing in September, October, so we can hit it hard in November and December, since we're also seeing people start to shopping, start shopping for holiday gifts earlier then rather than waiting till two [00:13:00] days before.

[00:13:00] Jess: Yeah. For sure. I have one more example in mind that I think is a really nice illustration of this.

[00:13:07] And I can talk about who this is, cuz this is actually like a case study on the website, but Taylor Stitch is a, a men's apparel company that's a Marpipe customer. And they decided they wanted to use Marpipe specifically for prospecting. So, you know, bringing new people into the fold, growing the business.

[00:13:25] And so the first thing they wanted to test was, well, they knew that discount messaging worked for current customers really well. And so they used that in a test for new customers. And what they found was actually new customers did not resonate as much with the discount as they did with messaging about the sustainability of their material.

[00:13:47] And I found that to be so interesting because you know, I think like you say Caroline, like there's kind of this risk of trying a new brand that you would think like a discount code would help someone kind of overcome. But [00:14:00] really it was the differentiator of this idea of being a sustainable brand that got new customers there and they, would've never known that and they would've given up revenue that they, you know, would not have needed to give up had they just stuck with that discount message.

[00:14:13] Caroline: Yes, it truly depends. And that's why it's so important to dive into what your audience likes creatively that will help you move the needle when you get stuck.

[00:14:25] I have another example too.

[00:14:27] Jess: Let's hear it.

[00:14:29] Caroline: Recently, we just had a customer of ours in a DTC company. They were targeting Midwest moms for this item. However, all of the creative was very much tailored to the west coast kind of surfer boy vibes. We ended up testing, randomly, we threw in a picture of the product next to a horse, and this image did so well.

[00:14:59] And we had [00:15:00] to take a step back. We were like, why is this horse doing so well? Who is this audience? Why is this working? And we're. Okay, this is a very heavy Midwest audience. This more urban country vibes make sense.

[00:15:17] Let's start to build more creative that fits this Midwestern persona. So through that, we've started testing, okay, is it animals? Is it dogs? Is it horses? Or is it just, let's get this creative to be more of these muted tones? Not so LA surfer boy.

[00:15:39] So through that, we're learning. Okay. Let's start to build out this. Midwestern mom, creative persona. And let's look at that and understand that a bit better and start tailoring our creative to this audience.

[00:15:54] And ideally, we're gonna see our CPAs go down and our return on ad [00:16:00] spend go up.

[00:16:02] Jess: As a Midwest mom, I can approve. Midwest mom approved. Yeah, I think that's so smart. And, and it's funny, like I'm sure that customer was like, why isn't this working? Like, you know, we have all the, this money behind it, we're testing.

[00:16:19] Right. And, and those are the things that you have to find out that you know, that doesn't necessarily your creative is not speaking to your audience.

[00:16:28] Caroline: They personally liked the surfer board boy vibe more because it was fun. It was very LA chic, but that's not your audience. So let's start making our creative talk to our audience.

[00:16:41] Jess: For sure. Amazing. Well, Caroline, thank you so much for joining us. You are gonna be a recurring guest. You're gonna need to be back.

[00:16:48] Caroline: Yes. Thank you for having me. I hope this is one of many shows that you'll see me on.

[00:16:55] Susan: So shall it be.

[00:16:56] Jess: Yes. We need you to come spill all the, the tea and [00:17:00] the data.

[00:17:00] Caroline: Exactly. All the tea.

[00:17:02] Jess: Amazing. Love it. Thank you all so much for tuning in. We will be back soon on Resting Ad Face.

[00:17:11] Susan: See you guys next time.

[00:17:13] Jess: Bye.

[00:17:13] Susan: Bye.

[00:17:14] Caroline: Bye.

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