Hillsdale College

How a Tailored, Remarketing Headline Affects Clickthrough Rate on a Facebook Ad

Experiment ID: #7348

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 08/28/2017 - 09/06/2017

Hillsdale College recently launched remarketing Facebook audiences, targeting individuals who viewed their course signup pages. They wondered if tailoring the Facebook headline to these visitors would increase clickthrough rate. They created a treatment with the headline “Begin your first class now »” and tested it against their control headline “Activate your free course now »”. They monitored this test for a little over a week and documented the results.

Research Question

Will a Facebook headline that emphasizes beginning the first class in an online course increase clickthrough rate?


C: Control
T1: Treatment 1


  Treatment Name Click Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Control 3.5%
T1: Treatment 1 0.98% -72.0% 100.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 390 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 10,674, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    72.0% decrease in traffic
× 0% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

Hillsdale College found that the treatment version of this Facebook ad actually decreased clickthrough rate by 72%. There are couple of potential reasons for this sizable decrease in clickthrough.

First, it’s possible that the remarketing audience did not find the headline call-to-action as persuasive or relevant as the control version. “Begin your first class now»” may have increased anxiety in the viewer, who felt they didn’t have the time to take the first class then and there. Second, this remarketing audience already left the signup page for a reason, without signing up. It is possible that they have a lower motivation to clickthrough on an offer they have already been exposed to. This insight has prompted a similar remarketing experiment, testing for “same image vs. different image.”

Finally, this headline may have also not been specific enough to the remarketing audience. Further testing will be done with more pointed headlines, such as “Return and Activate your course now»”.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #7348

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