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February 8, 2023

Message Testing in 2023! The What, Why and How

User Research

What is message testing? Why should you care about message testing and what does success look like?

How do you know if you are describing your product in a way that makes sense to your users? You can certainly look at obvious metrics like website conversion rates, email conversion rates, revenue, or even customer satisfaction scores in the first 30 days of being a user. All of these metrics will give you some insight, but they won’t actually help you pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. That’s where message testing comes in.

Message testing is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of a message before it is released to a wider audience. The goal of message testing is to determine whether the messaging is clear, highlights your value proposition, and if it resonates with the intended audience. There are many different ways that you can conduct message testing, including focus groups, surveys, and individual in-depth interviews.

Why do we need message testing?

Message testing helps organizations ensure their messaging is effective and optimized for their product’s target persona. There are several steps involved in message testing, including defining the goals and objectives of the message, developing the message, testing the message, analyzing the results, making changes, and disseminating the message. Message testing is valuable for a variety of reasons. It improves the effectiveness of all go-to-market activities, builds credibility with your target persona, enhances public relations, saves time and resources, and avoids wasted marketing spend on campaigns that won’t resonate with the target audience.

What are the steps for message testing?

  1. Define the goals and objectives of the message
    What do you want to achieve with the message? What do you want your users to feel? Should they be motivated to take action? Should they be worried about wasting time or resources? Why does your product matter? Why should anyone listen or care?
  2. Determine the intended audience
    Who is the message for? Is it your target persona? Are you hitting on a specific industry’s pain points? Are there influencers that will see this message too?
  3. Develop the message
    Create the message using clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Are you describing your product with messaging that feels like your users’ own words?
  4. Build your prototype
    Sprig integrates with 12 prototyping tools
    including Figma, Adobe XD, InDesign and even Google Drive so you can test your message as it’ll look in the final design.
  5. Create a list of message testing questions
    The right questions are critical to getting actionable results. You should ask questions that address the LIFT Model. The LIFT model recommends that you test for value proposition, relevance, clarity, urgency, anxiety, and distraction.
  6. Run an in-product prompt to recruit participants
    Most of the time, the best way to recruit for your message test is to recruit users directly from your app or website and have them opt into the message test. This way you will optimize your message for the audience that is already using your product. If you are developing new messages for a completely new audience, you may want to recruit a panel of respondents that have never seen your marketing before, but look like your target customers.
  7. Launch a message test
    Send a browser-based test through your testing tool to participants who have opted in or your panel.
  8. Analyze the results
    Analyze the feedback and data collected from research respondents to determine the effectiveness of the message.

How do you conduct message testing for SaaS products and services?

There are a few different metrics that SaaS teams use when evaluating messaging, though the appropriate metrics to use for your test will depend on your specific goals and the objectives of that particular message. You may end up using a combination of qualitative research and quantitative methods to get a complete picture of the effectiveness of the message.

Here are a few of our favorite message testing metrics:

Recall: Measures how well the audience remembers the key points of the message. This can be assessed through recall tests and even surveys.

Comprehension: Measures how well the audience understands the message. You can measure this through surveys, focus groups, or individual interviews.

Attitude change: Measures whether the message has influenced the audience's attitudes or beliefs about the topic. This can be assessed through surveys or focus groups.

Behavioral change: Measures whether the message has influenced the audience's behaviors. You can gauge this through surveys or tracking actual behaviors through heat mapping.

Persuasion: Measures whether the message has convinced the audience to take a specific action or adopt a specific viewpoint. This can be assessed through surveys or tracking actual behaviors.

Types of message testing

Ultimately message testing is a type of concept testing. Message testing and concept testing are both methods of evaluating the effectiveness of a message or idea before it is released or disseminated to a wider audience.

So where are the differences? Message testing focuses on evaluating a specific message or communication that has already been developed, while concept testing evaluates an idea or concept that is still in the development stage. Often, concept tests will be used to decide which concept to move forward with.

Message testing often involves focus groups, surveys, and individual interviews to gather data, while concept testing may involve more open-ended methods such as idea-generation sessions or brainstorming. Pro tip: You can accelerate the pace of learning by running unmoderated tests.

Finally, message testing involves analyzing the results of the test to determine the effectiveness of the message, while concept testing involves analyzing the feedback and data to iterate and decide on a concept to move forward into building.

Both message testing and concept testing are useful tools for evaluating the effectiveness of a message or idea, but they have different scopes and focus on different stages of the development process.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to run Message Tests.

Test Messaging Concepts

Use this concept testing template to share potential messages and evaluate their effectiveness for clarity, relevance, and overall appeal.

Evaluate Marketing Assets

Use this concept test to share marketing content, ads, landing pages, and more with a segment of your users or website traffic to evaluate their effectiveness and clarity.

Test and Validate Feature Names

Use this concept test to make sure your new product or feature name resonates with your target audience.

What else can we test with these methods?

If you want to learn more about how you can build better messages the first time, explore concept tests. Start with a concept test to help focus your work, then move on to message testing, and, in the final stage, launch usability testing. With this trio, you’ll know you’re not wasting time on building concepts that won’t land with your users, you’re focused on the messaging that strikes a chord with customers, and, most importantly, it works.

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