4 Reasons to TEST your message

I came across a very interesting blogging contest today, with a deadline of March 13th (wow, that’s today.) It sounded like a lot of fun and has a great prize (8GB iPod Nano!), so I decided to contribute. The task? Write a post inspired by this cartoon:

Gas Car Wash

I started my career in e-marketing as a researcher / curriculum writer for the Comprehensive Guide to Successful Email Marketing one day course, teaching myself every aspect of marketing via promotional and newsletter-based emails. One major thing I took away from the creation of this course was to always, always test your message, and then test it again! And then, when you think you have it right, and still have a little time left before your deadline, TEST it again! Why? Because you’re way too close to the material to accurately determine what your audience’s response will be.

As in this cartoon…the individual may have spent hours trying to come up with the most effective way to get his point across in as little words as possible. What he didn’t do was test his message to see how people would read it.

The following are four, out of thousands, of reasons to TEST your message before pressing that SEND or PUBLISH button, or before sending the final product to your employer!

  1. Your message may offend others: this is especially important if you are marketing internationally. Certain words or phrases that mean nothing offensive in your language may have an entirely different meaning when translated.
  2. A similar, but different message may be more effective: switching two words may make a huge difference. “Free Car Wash with Purchase of Gas,” instead of “Free Car Was with Gas.” Be sure to use A/B testing to find your ideal headline, subject line, or promotional message.
  3. It may be interpreted into a different context (see the cartoon above): I just dealt with this a few days ago when writing some copy for a technical topic that I wasn’t extremely familiar with.
  4. You may have typos: Always have at least two sets of eyes, other than yours, check your copy for simple grammar or spelling changes. When you’re looking at copy over and over again in its development stage, the errors start looking like they belong.

8 thoughts on “4 Reasons to TEST your message

  1. Cute way to drive home a point with “The following are five, out of thousands, of reasons to TEST your message…” and then listing four reasons.

  2. @Dennis- thanks for pointing out that typo! Looks like I should practice a little more of what I preach by proofing twice instead of once!

    @Brad- testing is indeed a tedious task, but well worth the effort! I’m sure one main reasons companies don’t bother with testing is that “it’s just fine the way it is.” But even some internal testing would do wonders- test the message on all your employees. It’s a quick, free way for some testing!

  3. I agree with you in theory but I wonder if in reality overtesting leads to a very dull and bland message being given? I like content or messages or commercials or even blog posts that are edgy and fun like say the Axe body spray commercials.

  4. I don’t think you can overtest this sort of thing. Where you can get stuck is not getting others involved in the test. You might be beating your head looking for something and show it to someone else and they notice something that you miss all the time or think of a little better way to spin something. We have a mandate at work that a test message is sent out to a group of 15-20 core people a minimum of 15 minutes before it goes out. This allows a group of people to look and test it for problems. Many eyes are much better than one set. If nobody responds in the 15 minutes then you are safe to send the message out.

  5. I always have my wife read any email that I intend to send out to my database. She is not in my industry and does not “think” the way I do. We truly are 2 different people in many ways. She points out things to me that need clarification and they tend to be things I thought were perfectly fine. I guess that is an assumption I make to often, one that could help the message never be delivered.

    The Upfront Mortgage Broker
    Joe Bartolotta

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