What Is Message Testing, and Why Does It Matter?
Read time: 4 minutes
Are you describing your brand in a way that appeals to your prospects? How do you best position the product you’ve developed (or are developing)? How can you describe your service to a marketplace in a way that resonates with your customers and prospects?
When you are tasked with the challenge of thinking about how to differentiate your company from the competition, you need to make sure your marketing efforts are effective in targeting the right audience with the right message. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. You believe you know what customer needs you want to meet. Can’t you just go to market with that?
Not necessarily. Message testing research can better equip you with the insight you need to make the right decisions to optimize your marketing strategy and investment.
What Is Message Testing?
Message testing is a type of market research aimed at evaluating how a company’s marketing language around a specific product, solution, or brand resonates with an audience. More broadly, market research, whether conducted through qualitative or quantitative methods, may help you discover a new market or audience segment; message testing specifically will help you understand how to tailor a message to your target audience for maximum impact.
Why Conduct Message Testing?
All too often, a message that works for your company will not work for your customers.
Within a company, excitement often rides high. You believe you’ve developed a product or service that fits a unique niche. Your brand self-evidently stands out among your competitors. But this excitement can just be the result of talking among yourselves. The language you’ve developed is often limited to inside stakeholders. When your company is developing messaging around a new or existing product, solution, or brand, it shouldn’t do so in this echo chamber.
Message testing can help you avoid this mistake by guiding you to success in two ways:
- It can help you understand your customers’ values. What do they want and need? What are their pain points and preferences? When you consider all this, you’ll better understand how to address these points. It informs how you will talk to your target customers to achieve the desired outcome.
- It allows you to test your existing messaging against your exact target customers or users. It’s an opportunity to experiment with different versions of your marketing messages.
The goal of message testing research is to pinpoint messages that are clear, relevant, and compelling — and connect your brand’s story with what your customers care about. Being tactical with your messaging is key, as it helps ensure your message is being interpreted correctly and producing the intended effect. The right message will help compel your target audience to engage, ideally resulting in more leads or sales.
Message Testing Considerations
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to message testing research. It can be tailored to assess a variety of message types at different phases of development.
A message is essentially language used to communicate an idea about a company’s product, service, or brand. It can take the form of a marketing communication, an advertising concept or campaign, positioning statements, names, logos, etc. The type of message could vary, but regardless of what it is or where it is in development, it could benefit from being grounded in customer feedback prior to broader launch.
Messages do not always need to be fully developed before testing. If you are early in your development process, consider testing to explore, ideate, or develop your ideas in collaboration with your target audience. If you’re listening correctly, this can help you better home in on key themes.
Once you have developed initial statements or concepts with which to experiment, you can test to evaluate, refine, or improve your positioning, incorporating feedback from your customers.
Lastly, once you have tweaked your message, you might explore testing with end users to select, validate, or confirm your final approach before launching.
It is also important to remember that customer attitudes are dynamic and can change over time in response to shifting trends in the market and competitive landscape. As such, message testing should be revisited occasionally and refined over time to ensure your message continues to resonate and stay relevant amid the changing market landscape.
Message Testing Takeaway
Brand and marketing decisions can be influenced by a number of factors. But if influence comes solely from inside the company, it’s easy to fall in love with an idea that sounds great but isn’t right for the market.
If you want to stand out, it’s essential to deliver a message that matches your customers’ wants and needs. Message testing can help you find the clarity you need to make the right marketing decisions for maximum business impact.
To craft the best message and help deliver your intended business outcome, you want to align with your customer needs and brand values to effectively reach your desired audience. GLG’s data-driven approach to message testing helps corporate firms develop messaging, measure its performance, and enhance it with clarity and confidence.
About Lauren Bledsoe and Meaghan Bradley
Lauren Bledsoe and Meaghan Bradley lead experienced teams supporting GLG’s Professional Services Firm clientele and Corporate clientele in the Americas, respectively. Their teams provide customized qualitative research offerings with either panel-only (B2B) or full-service options. Engagement formats include SME (subject matter expert) placements/staff augmentation, focus groups, panels/ad boards, online discussion boards, workshops, and in-person in-depth interviews.
Lauren has more than 9 years of client service experience and Meaghan has more than 6 years of client service experience in a qualitative research context spanning both the United States and EMEA. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree after studying Public Policy and Business at Duke University. Meaghan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Manhattan College.
For more information, read our articles: How to Conduct Message Testing,
When to Conduct Message Testing, or Improving Message Testing.
You can also download our eBook, Message Testing Best Practices.
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