Content testing is a type of research which allows marketers to find out whether their content is on point. In other words, content testing is a method which can be used to see if the content being produced in meeting the user’s needs.
Some benefits of testing your content include:
Everything linked to your product should be tested. This includes product descriptions, all relevant content marketing, product titles, and every word of content on your website. Even product filtering options and error messages should be tested.
Now that we’ve covered the what, let’s go through the aspects of your content we should be testing.
There are many different content testing methods out there, but we will cover four solid ones here that you could use before distributing your content to a wider audience.
This test is quite beautiful in its simplicity. In it, participants are given two (or more) highlighters, and their task is to work through the text, highlighting parts of the content that makes them feel positive about the product in one color, and parts that make them feel hesitant about the product in another color.
It’s a very easy and old-school method to give you a good idea of what is and isn’t working in your text. You can introduce other colors to the mix to represent other emotions about the product; just don’t go overboard to avoid overwhelming the reader (and the researchers).
The Cloze test is also very simple, which like the highlighter test makes it a cost-effective method for testing content. The Cloze test aims to see how comprehensible a piece of content is, like a fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) info sheet, for instance. You remove every fifth or sixth word from a text and ask participants if they can still understand what the text is saying.
If they can accurately guess the missing word 60% of the time or more, then the text passes the Cloze test.
The five-second test is a little different from the Cloze and Highlighter tests, as it relies on quick, first impressions. The users look at the content for five seconds, after which they’re asked a series of questions about the product.
Questions should start off general, such as “what is the product used for?”, “how would you describe the product?” or “who would use this product?”. You can then delve into more detailed questions, like “how much do you think this product costs?”, or “how easy is this product to use?”.
The questions would be tailored to the content you want to test, whether it’s five seconds of an advertisement, five seconds to look at a picture, or five seconds to scan through a description text.
A/B testing is our fourth content testing method. In this scenario, users are often not aware that their behavior is being monitored. Online services like Instagram, Amazon, or Netflix can use this method because they have a large sample size of users online, and they can easily make alterations to their content and measure the differences.
In A/B testing, two versions of the same content are given to users and how they respond to the content is measured and monitored. For example, Netflix could give some users live, automatic trailers when users hover over a movie title and give other users just the still image. Netflix can then measure which of the two groups is more likely to click through and watch that movie.
Through researching human behavior on such a colossal scale, these companies can hone in on what people most enjoy and are willing to pay for.
If you’re wondering “but what is a test plan?” we’ll delve into how to create one here.
The first thing we should do is define our goals and testing metrics. What is it we want to learn about our content? How much of it do we want to test? Perhaps we want to know if the content is easy to read and understand, or whether it’s useful for the intended purpose. Whatever we want to learn will dictate the method(s) we use.
With our goals decided, we now choose our method. This choice will depend on goals, the type of content, our budget, and sample size. Many content testing methods can be adapted for different formats. For example, the Cloze test can be used in videos where every fifth or sixth word is bleeped out rather than erased.
Next, you need to prepare your test. Get your content ready, procuring any equipment and office space for the test.
Next, you want to test internally. This will do two things; First, it will give your team the chance to identify any flaws in the test and method before you launch. Second, it will give you a framework as a foundation of expected outcomes against which you can compare your actual results from participants. This is a good way to identify our own biases when it comes to content.
Now, you can either advertise your test to find participants, ask existing users directly or simply prepare to monitor user behavior.
Once you’ve carried out your test, make sure to collate and organize the results in a format that makes them easy to read and disseminate. Use graphics for simple comprehension of the results, and write a report with your findings. Your report should include suggestions for improvements, such as the use of an empathy map to enhance the customer experience.
Content testing is essential for marketing, and with the advent of the internet and access to so much human behavioral data and affordable SEO services, conducting such tests and finding respondents has become really simple.
Content testing can be conducted by companies of any size, provided there are users to give their opinions. Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into how you can conduct your own content tests. For more assistance with this or for information on content marketing for your specific business, visit our services or training programs page to see how we can help. Alternatively, you can book in for a Free 30 Minute Discovery Call today!