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How to Use Data-Driven Creative Testing for Better Strategy in Marketing

The traditional way for performance teams to see which marketing creative works best is to throw tons of volume into an engine, like Facebook, and allow the platform to optimize on their behalf. They wait to see which channels match with the best segments and leave the problem solving up to the ad platform. Not only is this expensive and wasteful, but nowadays, with App Tracking Transparency, it simply doesn’t work like it used to.

There’s a better way to see which marketing creative will be most beneficial for your company. At Ladder, we know that you need a separate strategic component, a creative team that exists to combine market research and competitive analysis to build actionable monthly testing plans. We call this creative testing.

What is Creative Testing?

Creative testing is a four part process to find the best performing ad creative for your company. By testing this way, you’re thinking more about your brand, the value propositions, and user segments to develop a portfolio of new creative concepts. The goal of creative testing is to validate the most efficient and highest performing creative concepts. Each concept and theme should be aligned to a value proposition and user segment.

Creating Testing Process

The four part process in creative testing is:

  1. Research and identify interesting routes for user segment and value proposition testing.
  2. Validate the highest performing concept.
  3. Using the highest performing concept, validate the highest performing themes behind that concept.
  4. Maximize efficiency as we scale with content amplifiers.

Why is Creative Testing Important?

Creating testing allows you to ensure that every ad you launch will be related to your original concept for your brand. So you end up getting data on performance of what’s working well or what’s working poorly, but you also understand why it’s doing that. You know why you launched that specific test in the first place.

Traditionally, the only companies who would do this were creating mock research and doing competitive analysis in a room for months on end, mocking up research for these concepts. In the end, it would take up time that most businesses simply didn’t have, which is why only large companies would do this.

That’s where Ladder is different. We’ve taken this creative testing right out of the marketing stack and created a dedicated team for it. But, we’re not spending months on end doing mock research. Instead, we’re creating and building new portfolios of concepts on a monthly basis, which we turn into measurable testing units to execute across separate channels. Which is what allows us to then scale.

How We Scale Using Data-Driven Marketing Tactics

The importance of creative testing is that it allows us to scale our data-driven creative marketing tactics across multiple channels. Once we’ve launched our tests with that creative, we can look at the benchmarks to see which pieces of marketing creative are performing well and approving the core efficiency of how a brand is communicating their products or services. We then continue to use this data to prove which concepts are working. Once our specialized channel teams have done this, they’re then able to create weekly launches of creative iterations. 


Scaling can be done in two ways. One is with technical optimizations. This is your budget change to drive volume up on best performing variations. This scaling is done during your Daily Health Checks and Weekly Execution Cycles. The second way scaling can be done is through iterations. This includes your audience scaling across relevant user segments, format or channel scaling by putting it on a new platform, and creative variations by launching a new variation of your best performing creative.

Why Scaling With Creative Testing is Important

When you combine creative testing and scaling of the creative iterations, you get this really great system of monthly strategic testing with constant feedback loops on why things work and why they don’t. Your creative testing will be done by the creative strategy team to really identify the winning concepts and themes. Then, the performance team will take over and do the scaling aspect, which is your technical optimizations, creative variations, audience scaling, and format/channel scaling. After this, the content amplifiers will happen, which will be done by the creative strategy team as well. You can see the process in the image below.


Creative Strategy in Marketing Example

To show you how the creative testing and scaling model truly works, we’ll take our client, a company called Readwise, as a shining example. Basically, they want to create eBook and article highlights that will allow people to actually learn and retain information rather than reading and not getting anything out of it. 

Step 1: Identify the main pain points

Readwise’s pain point is that their users want to learn, but they want to do it efficiently. Spending hours of time on reading to not retain that information is a waste of time. They want to work smarter and not harder.


Readwise’s readers are losing 70% of what they’re reading. This is an issue for those readers who are short on time and need to boost their efficiency. 


Though their audience wants to apply the things they’ve learned into their daily life, they can’t remember it. The knowledge is wasted.


The last pain point is that they need to practice reading, but don’t have enough time, especially when that knowledge is wasted.

Step 2: Identify ideas to fix these pain points


The important thing after figuring out your target audience’s pain points is to identify how your company fixes those. These are going to be the basis of your ad creative. Below, you can see how each idea will fix the specific pain point.

Readwise allows people to read but also allows you to retain the information you need to learn from it. This is the first concept behind one of your ads that you should creatively test.

The next idea is that Readwise allows users to actually retain the information by using things like visuals and infographics. This will be another thing you touch upon in your marketing ad.

Then, we know that their target audience wants to actually use the information that they learn. In order to do this, Readwise solves the problem by using less waste of mind resources.

The last way Readwise solves pain points is that Readwise is a way to exercise the mind, which keeps productivity levels up and also helps retaining information become easier.



Step 3: Draw up the mood boards


Once you’ve figured out the pain points of your target audience and how your company solves those pain points, it’s time to come up with some mood boards. Marketing mood boards can show different creative side by side, which allows you to see what really grabs your attention. 


We recommend creating a mood board based on each “concept,” which is the combination of one pain point and one idea of how the company solves this issue.

Step 4: Create ads

Once you have your concepts and mood boards, it’s time to actually mock up some ads based on each concept. Look at each motivation and barrier that target audiences may have. Below, you can see Readwise’s ad examples.



Once you’re happy with the actual ad and the copy on the ad, it’s time to implement it.

Step 5: Implement the ad


You then have to decide what the ad copy will be depending on the platform that you upload your ad to. Make sure your ad copy takes the motivation and barrier into mind in a simple way that breaks it down. In this ad, Readwise targeted the 70% loss of information that happens when regularly reading.

Launching Variations of Existing Marketing Ads

To maintain performance and leverage your winning ads, it’s important to keep launching new variations. So, you take your winning concepts and then create variations based on those. They don’t have to be extremely different, but each creative variation will be linked to a pre-validated concept or theme, which helps to keep success high.

Audience Scaling

You can also create variations based on your audience by scaling your best performing marketing ad to relevant user segments. Just be sure that the new ad is a variation based on the user segment. Though they may be similar to the original audience you went after, chances are, this user segment is a bit more defined and you can tweak your ad based on that. There may be several different ways to target these user segments, like paid social or paid search.


Launching On Different Platforms


Another benefit of this data-driven creative is that you can take your winning ads and launch them on different platforms. Once you’ve figured out your best performing content, you can expand the test to another platform with a simple image and copy resize. You should always start with just one channel for the best results. But, once you’ve figured out the best performing content on this channel, you can work with the creative team to scale it to other platforms. Keep in mind that launching on different platforms should always be iterations of existing high-performing content. This isn’t something new, but rather, an extension of what you’ve already done.




Though creative testing and scaling can seem like a daunting task for a small business, it is the most cost effective way to ensure that your marketing will work. If you’re not sure where to start with your marketing creative and testing, you’re not alone! That’s where Ladder comes in. We help businesses grow and scale through creative marketing tactics that work. Contact us today to see how we can transform your marketing into a data-driven success.


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