What is message testing?

Messaging is the most important part of your marketing. But what is message testing exactly?

Ten years ago, average website usability was poor. Few companies were doing user testing and the only place you could read about it was in nerdy blogs. Now, everyone's doing it and average website usability has much improved.

Today, few companies are doing message testing or know what message testing is. So, 10 years from now, everyone will be doing it.

What is message testing?‍

Message testing checks how your messaging resonates with your target customer. It's a form of qualitative research.

With message testing you can check how your web page, outbound emails or sales pitches (whatever the medium) land on people that represent your ideal customer profile (ICP). What do they find clear or unclear, what's boring or interesting, what resonates or turns them off.

So, in other words, if you're asking yourself "what is message testing," you're basically asking yourself "does my target audience get me?"

What is message testing in B2B?

In B2B message testing, you're looking for professional criteria, such as your prospects':

  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Company size, and so on.

All these will tell you not only what specific users think of your messaging. They will also allow you to make improvements and projections based on qualitative data.

What is message testing in B2C?

For consumer products, your targeting attributes should be focused on the individuals. Attributes like level of education, income, gender, interests, age, etc. will allow you to test your messaging based on your target consumers.

But what do you use message testing for?

If you want to learn the problems your customers have, conduct jobs-to-be-done research. To discover usability issues, run user testing. And if you want to learn how to improve your product, do another user research.

To land more customers, now that you know what is message testing, run it to improve your marketing.

The most important part of your value proposition is the offer itself, but work hard to find the best way to convey the message.It's impossible to know in advance what will work the best - hence testing.

Trying to improve your go-to-market messaging without message testing looks something like this:

What is message testing?

You wouldn't pitch your target customers in a way that doesn't work, would you?

The reality is that 30-50% of your messaging is not resonating with the audience. And some of it actually turns them off.

You just don't know. Do message testing and find out which parts suck.

The purpose of a business is to make a customer, and you do that through communication. You're messaging something to the customer through whatever medium. The problem with communication of course is the illusion that it happens.

If you tweak your messaging and increase signups, you still have 2 problems:

  1. You don't know 'why', all you have is guesses
  2. It takes way too long to learn that way (long  feedback loops)

Someone signing up for your thing after consuming your messaging is the effect.

You can't impact the effect directly. Instead, you need to work on the cause. To understand what makes messaging work, you need to distill it down to components: clarity, relevance, value, differentiation, and brand.

All of these need to be presented in the right information hierarchy - the most important bit first, then the second most important bit, and so on.

With message testing, you will learn how your messaging performs in these 5 areas:

  1. Clarity: do they get it? After reading everything, what's still unclear? What questions do they have? A confused mind doesn't buy.
  2. Relevance: does it align with their priorities and challenges at hand? If the message is not about what's important to them right now, it won't work.
  3. Value: do they want it? Effective message increases user motivation to take action. Don't just describe things and hope for intrinsic motivation. Make a case of how your thing adds the value they seek.
  4. Differentiation: why choose you? Is it clear why go with your offer instead of competing solutions? Don't talk about yourself as if you're the only one doing what you're doing.
  5. Brand: Are you coming across the way you want to come across.

For each heuristic, do a Likert scale (1 to 5) as well as qualitative, open-ended questions. Ideally, you do this section by section, so you know exactly where the problems are, and you can fix them.

Open-ended questions to ask:

  • What's your first reaction when you read this?
  • What specifically is unclear?
  • How exactly does it (or not) align with your priorities?
  • What makes you want a demo with them (or not)?
  • How does this seem different or better than other options out there?

How long does message testing take? When you do this as a project manually, and it'll typically take a week or two. Or if you don't want the hassle, can get the answers with a couple of clicks and ~24 hrs with Wynter.

Why does messaging matter?

Companies often struggle with making it obvious how awesome they are. Convincing customers to buy is testing not only how a product solves a customer’s pain, but also how its value is communicated. Product/market fit does not exist without message/customer fit.

Most people have no idea how hard it is to get their messaging right. If you never conduct message testing, you'll never find out about all the friction in your copy.

People think their product messaging is totally solid - until they test their messaging with their ICPs and find out it has 99 problems.

What creates good messaging?

Your marketing and product messaging exists to communicate something to the customer. Yet so many companies are not testing how the message is received by the intended recipient. Is it clear, relevant, compelling, and differentiated?

Effective messaging is effective marketing.

If your mom doesn’t understand what problem your startup solves then likely potential customers don’t either. Keep your messaging simple and clear.

To win at messaging, you need 3 capabilities:1) know what the people you're selling to want via qual research2) crafting effective messaging 3) know how what you're saying is landing on them through message testingAll of this in the context of saturated markets.

What is message testing? Certainly not A/B testing.

The word "testing" in message testing is like "testing" in user testing. You check in how your messaging lands on the intended recipients.

A/B testing is not the same as message testing. A/B testing is a measurement methodology. It does not tell you what the problem with your messaging is, or what the customers really care about, or how they think about the problems you solve.

Message testing gives you rich qualitative data on where your messaging falls flat, and what parts resonate with the target customer. Armed with this data, you can improve it.

That's why message testing is actually the better way to go for B2B.

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

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