Master the topic, the message, and the delivery — Steve Jobs
Don't find customers for your product. Find products for your customers — Seth Godin
In this competitive market, with several brands vying for limited customers’ attention, digital noise is too high. As a digital marketer, it is your job to break through these noises and help your brand stand apart. You have to convey a clear understanding of your brand, product, and services to the consumer.
However, how do you measure how effective your copy is? You cannot gather feedback from each consumer – it’s tedious and a waste of time. This is where message testing comes in! It’ll measure how the audience responds to the brand message. With the help of this customer validation, the brand can equip itself with information to make better business judgments.
Read on to learn what the message testing is and how you can use it to nail your value proposition.
What Is Message Testing?
Message testing is a market research and analysis method that evaluates how the market responds to the brand’s message or language. Whether conducted through qualitative or quantitative means, it helps determine which message drives more leads or sales. It also plays a role in discovering new audience segments and markets.
Why is Message Testing Important, and Why Should You Care?
It is common for a message to fail among the audience, despite appealing to the company.
You and your company might be pretty excited and confident about a new product or a service. Self-evidently you might consider it a revolutionary and unique product under the niche. But this excitement might be limited to your company’s circle, and the language constricted within the stakeholders.
Any brand, while producing a new product or service, has to avoid limiting itself to this echo chamber. You can test whether the product addresses the pain points and needs of the consumers through product validation. Remember that a considerable part of your company’s success resides in these messages.
- Clear brand messaging would set the intentions straight from the start. For instance, Webflow’s landing page flashes “The site you want—without the dev time” to portray its position as a no-code development tool.
- It can help you understand the consumers’ values and needs. When you understand these and their pain points, you’ll be able to address them better. Problem validation would ensure that you work with a clearly articulated customer problem.
- By understanding problems at an earlier stage, you’ll be able to solve them with minimal financial drawbacks.
- Message testing also allows you to test your message’s viability against the existing consumer base and determine an effective strategy. With a strong value proposition resonance, you’ll be able to launch your product confidently.
But is message testing only theoretically feasible, or has it helped brands create effective messages? Let’s take a look.
Message Testing Examples: Real-Life Success Case Studies
GrowthMentor validated their idea through the traffic driven to their CRO-optimized prelaunch landing page. They tried to spread the message about the startup idea through Google Ads and posts on Reddit, Slack workspaces, Facebook, micro-communities, Indiehackers, LinkedIn, and cold email.
They got 75 conversions on the landing page, with an average conversion rate of 16.89%, which was a good result. The company also used these conversions to create a survey to ask the audience’s opinion about the product.
Based on the rates, they could conclude that their messages were of value to the consumers and could convert to sales.
Blueprint is an SMS marketing software. Before the launch, they tested the viability of their product and built brand loyalty through a waitlist.
They made a blog featuring long-form guides and blogs to capture the audience's attention. The company also hosted a podcast called ‘Work in progress’ to interview people and get feedback about the website and product.
They succeeded in this venture since the messages put forth for the consumers resonated with them, and they found value in the product.
So, now we know the amazing benefits that behold the message testing method, how do you conduct it?
How to Conduct Message Testing?
Message testing is conducted through two methods – qualitative and quantitative. While the former relies on non-numerical and observation-based research, the latter collects hard data through polls, surveys, and similar close-ended questions.
For instance, the qualitative method would work with questions like: “Do you like the product” or “Does it solve your problems?” Meanwhile, the quantitative methods would have questions like: “How effective the product is from a scale of 1 to 5?” and “How likely are you to recommend the product? Rate 1 to 5.”
Always start with qualitative practices to garner a deeper understanding of the audience’s pain point. It will get you a well-rounded context of their condition and help you deduce a more personal and effective solution. You should let the audience be the judge of what they want – you are not to guess their needs!
After gathering through qualitative means, use quantitative methods to shape your message and reach the audience.
Your qualitative and quantitative research needs to focus on these key dimensions:
- Relevance - Is your value proposition aligning with your customer’s needs?
- Timeliness - Are the messages creating a sense of urgency to take action fast?
- Consistency - Is the message tone consistent throughout the website?
- Clarity - How clearly are your messages being articulated to the audience?
- Value - Do the messages hold any value for the consumers?
- Differentiation - Does your value proposition stand apart from the rest?
Message Testing Methodology
The message testing methodology incorporates two different methods, namely qualitative and quantitative, to conduct its primary research. These methods are assisted by various tools that optimize the content based on the results produced by this research.
How to get started with message testing research
To get started with the message testing research, you have to go through these qualitative and quantitative methods:
- Qualitative research - Use the Likert psychometric tool to measure the consumers’ attitudes, values, and beliefs. While compiling the scale-based questions, focus on the key dimensions, i.e., clarity, relevance, value, timeliness, consistency, and differentiation.
- Qualitative questions - Create open-ended qualitative questions like “What do you think is the purpose of the message?” or “How do you feel about the message?”
- Reviews and surveys - To get perspective from a broader audience, you can mine reviews and surveys. You can also conduct website polls to get consumer feedback on your products or services. They can be open- and closed-ended message testing questions.
- Other tools - Utilize website heat maps to understand consumer behavior patterns and gather information about the places they spend the most time on. Gather insight from website analytics to understand how the users navigate your site.
Qualitative Message Testing Methods
1. Review Mining for crafting the right value proposition
Review mining is a qualitative method that helps identify common phrases and words that describe your product, discover insights, and recognize your website’s strong points.
The common phrases can be anything related to your company. For example:
- Responsive customer service.
- Quick delivery.
- Helpful website.
Scour through the internet for these online reviews and identify a common pattern. Based on these results, you can create a better website with an optimized landing page, ad copy, and blog post topics.
2. Likert Scale
The likert scale is another qualitative method that measures the consumer's attitudes, values, and beliefs. Usually, a typical scale would consist of five items indicating different values of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
The five items are:
- Strongly agree
- Somewhat Agree
- Somewhat Disagree
- Strongly Disagree.
Compared to quantitative scales, it is easier to answer and present actionable results. However, it fails to capture comprehensive reasons why the customer might’ve disagreed on a point.
3. In-depth Interviews (IDIs)
This method works in a one-on-one format that works with a skilled interviewer and a customer. The interview can be conducted online via virtual meeting platforms or face-to-face.
To conduct an interview:
- Determine your goal and connect with the consumers who have used the website.
- Prepare a comprehensive questionnaire that covers all aspects of your messages.
- Conduct the interview and transcribe the conversation.
- Weed out the highlights and understand where the messages are lacking.
4. Online Discussion Boards (ODBs)
This qualitative method involves an online discussion board forum. The members, usually ranging from 15 to 30, answer the moderator's questions regarding the website messages asynchronously.
Some advantages of ODB are
- It is asynchronous; hence the members can log in leisurely, promoting greater reach.
- Not limited by geographic area.
- More time to build up shared viewpoints or differences of opinion for productive discussions.
- Answers are unbiased since members do not have access to each other responses until later.
- Candid responses since the mode is anonymous.
Quantitative Message Testing Methods
1. Web Analytics
Website analytics metrics include tracking entire website activity and user interaction with the content. They help you see how the user navigated through your site, their most visited areas, and other requisite information.
Surveys are an excellent way to derive large volumes of data within a limited time period. You’ll also get the liberty to ask a variety of questions like rating, matrix tables, ranking, single or multi-select, and other typical closed-ended questions.
3. A/B testing
A/B testing is an empirical testing method that compares and tests two different versions of the same website. While it involves testing, it does not help in recognizing what appealed to consumers or how they interpreted the messages.
Best Tools for Message Testing
The best tools for message testing that will assist you in judging the performance of your message copy are:
Wynter is a popular user testing tool that specifically caters to copywriting and messaging. This implies that you can select your own panel of target audience and then pick out a page, section, or email message to test.
The tool will help you create effective message-testing questions. Afterward, the panelists simply have to go through the website, answer these questions, and give feedback about various parts of the marketing message.
2. Five Second Tests
FiveSecondTest is similar to Wynter, except its insights are more general and less targeted. As evident from its name, the tool recruits a panel of testers who are given 5 seconds to go through the website. Then, they’re supposed to elucidate what they think the website is about.
Hence, while Wynter works with factors like clarity, distraction, motivation, and hesitation, FiveSecondTest targets clarity.
On-site polls are an effective and easy way of procuring feedback from all the visitors to your website. Tools like Qualaroo help you gather this anonymous feedback by asking the visitors a question or set of questions.
However, while these answers are specific, you do not know whether the visitors are genuine customers. Moreover, not all visitors will fill out the survey. So, you’ll have to work with a small sample who may not represent the views of the entire mass.
Hotjar is a behavior analytics tool that creates heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys of your website. It shows how the visitors navigate your page, where they scroll, and which part they tend to stay the most at.
While this may not showcase the effectiveness of your copy, it does help identify unengaging copy. If you have a long-form sales copy, you can gauge where the content gets boring and most people stop reading. It is recommended to rewrite sections with sharp drop-off rates.
5. Google Analytics 4
GA4 needs no introduction. With this tool, you can calculate the performance of your marketing, content, and product. It deciphers the quantitative measurements of your page, including engagement and exit rates. So, if any of your pages have a higher bounce or lower engagement rates, the messaging isn’t up to par with the consumer’s expectations.
6. Adobe Target
Adobe Target is an enterprise-grade tool that provides A/B testing services. The tool easily integrates with Google Analytics to provide reports for user experience testing, changing market offers, etc.
Through Adobe Target, you can easily create different website variations and target audience segments based on the result.
A Quick Guide for Designing Your Message Testing Surveys
It is quite simple – the feedback you receive depends on the questions you ask. While conducting messaging tests, be sure to invest a significant amount in determining what exactly you want. Here’s how you can design your message-testing surveys:
- No matter what kind of market testing form it is – positioning statements, marketing communication, an advertising concept or campaign, etc. – be sure to root it in customer feedback before launch.
- Timing is extremely vital as well. If you wait to conduct the idea validation until the end of the product launch, you’ll be wasting a significant portion of the resources already invested. So, be sure to get insights at the beginning itself.
- Keep up with the new language trend. If you are appealing to new generations, you’ll have to change your vocabulary to suit their taste.
- Conduct thorough research on the market, competitive landscape, and consumer pain point. Market validation will help you decide whether the target audience sees any value in your product.
- Your messages do not have to be fully developed before the launch. You can test in the initial stages to evaluate, test, and develop ideas in collaboration with the audience.
- After your message is tweaked with the feedback, test with end users to finally validate the ideas. Idea validation will help you test the viability of a product and garner the audience’s response.
- The research can be especially helpful before the ultimate launch of the product/service. It’ll help gauge whether the messages produce the desired effect. Concept validation helps you assess the product's viability before massive investment goes into it.
- Finally, after the concept and idea are finalized, the brand has to fix a price. You can establish a correlation between price change and demand through price testing.
Sample Message Testing Survey Questions
Some sample message testing survey questions are:
- Describe in brief what this page’s message means to you.
- What is your impression of this page’s message?
- Based on the depiction of our services, which of these messages would you expect?
- After reading this message, what is your next action?
Message Testing Questions: Some Really Good Examples for Your Inspiration
Based on the LIFT framework, some good examples that you can use are:
1. Is there a demand for what you’re proposing?
Are the products or services offering any solution to the consumer’s pain point? It’ll help you decide whether they meet their needs and will it even see any sales. Using this data, you can create a unique value proposition that addresses the need and increases sales.
2. Is your website’s content resonating with your audience’s expectations?
This question demonstrates relevance. Are the website’s design and content matching the expectation of consumer built when they saw your ad/post?
3. Are the messages clearly communicating your value proposition and call-to-action (CTA)?
Clarity is another important aspect. The website should be able to convey the company’s values, and products offered clearly.
4. Does your website create a sense of urgency to take immediate action?
To derive sales, it is important to create urgency in the consumers. How well does your website convey this?
5. Is there any reason the audience might hesitate to take action?
By asking this question, you’ll be able to clarify which part of the message – copy or design – might be hampering the audience from taking any action.
First impression is the last impression is a saying that marketers live by – they only have a few moments to capture the consumer’s attention, or they’ve already lost. Message testing is an essential and vital way to ensure that consumers understand and interpret the intended meaning of the message.
With the help of qualitative and quantitative techniques, you can conduct primary research on your product/idea. Make sure to use various methods like review mining, surveys, qualitative questions, interviews, etc., to get a thorough and well-rounded understanding. Remember, it is extremely important to turn your customers’ eyes towards your message. If you’ve captured their attention, you already have a potential sale!
Here are some more in-depth guides for startup idea validation:
- Idea Validation: An In-Depth Guide with Examples, Action Plans, Free Resources & More
- Problem Validation: 5 Simple Ways To Validate Your Customers' Pain Points Based On Evidence
- Market Validation: All You Need to Know to Validate Your Target Market and Launch with Confidence
- Concept Validation: How to Validate Your Product Concept in 5 Steps [with Free Bonus Tips & Resources]
- Price Testing: Why it Matters, Proven Methods & 6 Surefire Ways to Validate Willingness-to-Pay
- Product Validation: Why It Matters, Step-by-Step Action Plan, Free Tools & Resources
- Customer Validation: Guide To Validate Your Customer Base, Along with a Suitable Go-To-Market Strategy