November 3, 2022
Messaging

10 questions to ask your target audience in a messaging audit

Qualitative testing presents the opportunity to build messaging that resonates with your audience. Get inspired by 10 of the top questions to ask in an audit.

If you ran an email marketing platform for corporate businesses, you wouldn’t have a website headline selling email marketing to small businesses, would you? That would be an obvious messaging mismatch and you can already imagine how many potential customers you would lose.

Many brands struggle to define a clear messaging that appeals to their target audience and are losing valuable business as a result. A messaging audit can fix the issue.

What is a messaging audit?

Messaging audits offer insights into how well your value proposition and copy resonates with your audience. Done right, you can create more effective messaging and help customers understand what makes you different.

However, to get conversion-boosting insights you need to ask the right questions.

Asking the wrong questions provides surface-level insights that you’ll struggle to apply meaningfully. Choosing the right questions leads to messaging that resonates.

In this article, you’ll learn 10 effective questions to ask in a messaging audit and how to apply the insights they yield to revenue-generating messaging.

The benefits of auditing and testing your messaging

Many marketers trust their messaging to deliver results without testing it. They spend their budget deploying untested messaging. Naturally, it doesn’t always hit the mark.

After the initial campaign, they’re lost for what to do next. They don’t know where their messaging fell short or how they can make edits to improve its impact.

Message testing is the antidote to this problem. It provides a better understanding of how your target audience feels about your messaging, which helps to make it more effective.

However, not all message tests are created equally. They produce the greatest returns when they dive deep into the detail of your target market’s thoughts and preferences. 

Comprehensive message testing demands more than quantitative methods. Quantitative data is numerical, and therefore countable. It’s great at quantifying opinions but falls short of explaining the “why” behind them. 

Qualitative data is primarily concerned with the “why.” Unique answers to open-ended questions, although not countable, provide in-depth insights unavailable elsewhere.

They best reflect the opinions of your ideal customer profile (ICP) and are instrumental in understanding how your ICP sees your messaging. Most importantly, they can tell you what needs to change for it to have a greater impact.

10 messaging audit questions that will deliver high-value answers

There are an infinite number of open-ended questions you can ask a messaging audit panel. We’ve listed 10 of the best—each one designed to generate responses that can inspire truly valuable edits.

1. How clearly does the headline explain the proposition?

Nielsen found in an eye-tracking study that people tend to read web pages in an “F-pattern”. Concentration is focused on horizontal rows, beginning at the top-left of the page and skipping large sections on the way down. 

Screenshot of F-shaped Pattern Reading
Most readers scan content in an “F” pattern, so strong headlines are important

This method of scanning emphasizes the importance of headlines. They’re the first thing the reader sees and are suited to capturing interest. A good headline takes advantage of its prominent position to tell users why they should remain on the page.

That necessitates highly efficient messaging. Headlines need to clearly and concisely summarize the value proposition on offer. Every word is valuable and must contribute to the headline’s overall effectiveness. 

Qualitative insights delivered through a messaging audit make it easier to draft effective headlines. The feedback you get from respondents tells you exactly what information users get from your headline. It also tells you what’s unclear to them.

This helps you write headlines that are clearer, more value-driven, and better at capturing attention.

2. What would make the CTA more compelling?

Calls to action (CTAs) are like headlines in that the best ones are economical. Minor differences in messaging can have a large impact on how well they drive clicks-throughs. 

Hubspot data showed that personalized CTAs with copy tailored to suit the users’ stage in the buying funnel convert up to 202% better.

Screenshot of Hubspot data that shows personalized CTA’s convert more website visitors
Personalized CTA’s convert more website visitors

These effects can be maximized with CTA copy that has been tested. Panel responses can reveal how to improve conversion rate through minor messaging tweaks.

You may also be able to tell what the differences in CTA preference are across various segments of your market. This helps to make CTA personalization more effective.

3. Is there enough product information included and what else would you like to know?

Comprehensive information is a leading factor in effective and resonant messaging. Syndigo found that the quantity of information on key landing pages impacts returns, cart abandonment, and brand trust.

When there’s more information about your product than will reasonably fit on one page, you have to make decisions about what to prioritize. Auditing the information you include on your key landing pages tells you whether you’ve chosen right. 

Your respondents can tell you whether there’s enough product detail for them to understand the value proposition. They can also provide guidance on what more information would add the most value. These responses are invaluable for large-scale edits.

4. How interested are you in the highlighted benefits?

“Features tell, benefits sell,” is a popular advertising adage. People don’t want your SaaS product, they want the benefits it offers. Resonant messaging factors this in—composed with a benefit-focus that appeals to the reader’s desires.

You will already understand the benefits your ideal customer is interested in if you have data-driven customer personas. What you might not know is which of those benefits are most important to focus on in your messaging.

Feedback on how the benefits you’ve prioritized resonate with your ICP’s needs can guide crucial edits. 

You’ll be more aware of what outcomes your target audience are interested in, whether you need to refocus messaging to build resonance, and what benefits you haven’t mentioned stand out as important.

5. How well do you feel the challenges you face in your role are understood and addressed?

Messaging resonance fundamentally comes down to how well your audience feels you understand them. Products exist to address challenges. Resonant messaging should make it clear that yours can address those your ICP experiences.

Using HR software as an example, a recent study showing that 98% of HR professionals feel burnt out highlights over-work as a key challenge. BambooHR focuses on this challenge in their homepage messaging. They lead with the idea that their product can free up more time. 

This is hugely resonant with their target audience. It addresses their challenge head-on and provides an instant resolution.

Screenshot of BambooHR Homepage
BambooHR’s homepage copy tackles their audience’s pressing problem

As with key benefits, building detailed customer personas is the best way to learn what these challenges are for your audience. Understanding how well your messaging tackles them is better achieved through a messaging audit.

The responses can help you make changes to your messaging strategy and build more resonance with your target market. Follow-up questions asking them what current challenges aren’t addressed will make the responses even more actionable.

6. What was the dominant emotion you felt while reading the page?

Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, claims in his book How Customers Think  that “95% of cognition occurs in the subconscious mind”. However, emotion isn’t a metric that can be tracked quantitatively. 

Qualitative feedback is a unique way of understanding how your messaging makes your audience feel. Understanding the emotions your messaging elicits explains how it influences your customers’ decision-making process.

This knowledge makes it easier to determine how you can change the messaging to achieve different outcomes. If the responses show that your panel felt excited or happy, you’re on the right track. If they felt confused or frustrated, you need to revise your strategy.

7. How could this information be ordered more effectively?

Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld laid out the four user needs information needs to account for on the web in their book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web:

  • Known-item seeking: Users looking for something desirable and known;
  • Exploratory seeking: Users looking for something desirable but unknown;
  • Exhaustive research: Users looking for more information about something;
  • Re-finding: Users looking for a desired known item for a second time. 

These distinct needs are highly applicable to SaaS brands aiming to improve the impact their messaging has on diverse users. 

Users at different stages of their buying journey have varying levels of brand familiarity. This means they’ll have different preferences on how information is ordered. The qualitative output from a messaging audit can tell you how well your messaging addresses each one. 

The answers you get in response to this question can give you critical insights into which users your messaging best suits. They will also provide guidance on how reordering your information can hook users and convey value more effectively.

8. What information feels redundant to you?

What information is omitted is just as important as what’s included. Information efficiency preserves people’s interest. Redundant messaging clutters user experience and dilutes value.

1Password’s homepage is a great example of product messaging that has no fat. There are less than 200 words in total. The product’s features and benefits are largely summed up in the first 30, all above-the-fold. 

Screenshot of 1Password’s homepage
1Password’s homepage copy is lean and impactful

The result is messaging that is highly impactful from the moment you land on the page. There is no wasted content. Everything that 1Password’s audience needs to know is easily readable and anything they don’t need to know is excluded.

Understanding what information your ICP feels is surplus to requirements helps you trim your page with low risk. This increases the prominence of the remaining information, removing distractions from the value proposition.

Knowing what information your audience feels is redundant can also guide messaging strategy elsewhere. The insights you get may factor into your approach to writing ads, blogs, and more.

9. What impression of the brand does the messaging give you?

Brand perception is key in a low-trust, high-competition market environment. Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer found that, in these conditions, 58% of people will buy from or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values.

It is critical to understand the impression your messaging gives of your brand. Qualitative insights can tell you exactly how your brand is perceived by your ICP and whether that perception aligns with your broader brand objectives.

The insights you get may guide minor tweaks to messaging or larger-scale brand positioning decisions.

10. How well does the formatting highlight key information?

Good design and formatting factor into all facets of website perception. Stanford University research found that 46% of people consider website design above any other factor when deciding if a brand is credible, for example. 

However, it’s most important when it comes to readability. Formatting and design should improve the clarity of the most important information and decrease the work users have to do to find it.

A qualitative messaging audit gives you a unique opportunity to understand how you can use formatting to better facilitate information discovery. The answers you receive can be directly applied in page redesigns that result in messaging that is more immediately impactful.

How to perform a messaging audit for revenue-generating insights

Although vital, questions aren’t the only factor to consider during a message audit. There are many other parts of the process that can be optimized to make the most of the test’s revenue-boosting insights.

Build data-driven ICPs

Before even planning to test your messaging, first research your target market and build ideal customer profiles. These are specific customer personas based on data. They reflect your audience’s needs, preferences, challenges, and aspirations. 

ICPs should be used to draft messaging in the first place. They can then serve as the foundation upon which you choose the audience for any messaging audits you run.

Draft messaging

This process should be guided by the data you’ve collected and compliant with the qualities of resonant messaging

These fundamental principles of creating effective messaging are applicable in practically all mediums. They are:

  • Clarity
  • A benefit-focus
  • Engagingness
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Expertise

Choose your audience

With messaging drafted, you can start to set up the message test. The first step is to choose and refine your audience to match the ICPs you generated through target market research as closely as possible.

Wynter has a proprietary panel of professionals across a diverse range of roles, seniority levels, sectors, and business sizes to choose from. 

Selecting an audience from Wynter’s wide range of professionals
Select an audience from Wynter’s wide range of professionals

Set up your test creative

Audience selected, you can choose which messaging to test. For website messaging, this is typically done on a full-page basis. If the page is already live on your website, you can paste the URL to import it. If not, you can upload an image.

With Wynter’s message testing platform, you can also highlight specific sections of messaging that you want particularly granular insights on. This is useful if you’re looking for detailed responses about your headlines, CTAs, or a specific section of copy.

Interpret the data and make edits

Once you’ve deployed your creative and received responses from your selected audience, you can move straight on to interpreting the data. Qualitative data is not as simple to collate as quantitative, but the value offered by the detailed nature of the responses outweighs this challenge.

Unpack and digest the thoughts of your respondents and consider how their opinions should influence edits. There may be consensus among them, which makes your job easy. Otherwise, you can pick and choose insights to steer your messaging in the right direction.

Use messaging audits to your advantage and get an edge on your competitors

Messaging audits are still severely underutilized. The practice is in its infancy in terms of adoption, as A/B testing was 20 years ago. Now, Builtwith estimates that over 40% of the world’s most popular websites use A/B testing. The same should be true of message testing in the near future.

For now, though, message testing can still be considered an edge. It gives you unique insights that can make the difference when you’re competing in a crowded market.

Adopt it for your next messaging rollout, taking inspiration from the questions above, and see how the responses can be used to inform edits. The end result will be messaging that is certifiably resonant with your target market.

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

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