Marketing Tech for Next-Level Message Testing

The realities of the Covid-19 pandemic have forced brands to re-evaluate how they conduct message testing and secure consumer feedback. Marketers need to reconsider both the changes in how their consumers live their lives and the ways in which their teams conduct message testing. Though some of the changes that brands have integrated into their process can be attributed to the pandemic, there are several changes that will forever be considered as a permanent best practice. In particular, the marketers who have come to rely on digital message testing tools are realizing that these tools have vastly improved their processes and are here to stay.

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Where Traditional Message Testing Falls Short

Before exploring the types of technology that make marketers’ lives easier, it is important to understand the limitations of traditional means of message testing, in-person focus groups and written surveys.

Due to the pandemic, opportunities for in-person feedback were understandably curtailed. Insights teams could no longer depend on interacting with their consumer face-to-face. More importantly, focus groups often presented research teams with challenges they may not have previously considered. For example, in-person testing is often limited to small, localized geographic regions, potentially limiting the sample demographics brands could access. Additionally, asking participants to share their opinions in front of other participants may lead to groupthink and thereby lead to biased results. Furthermore, conducting message tests in a central location doesn’t allow for context around where and when the message is delivered, which can be an important aspect in certain studies.

Written surveys also offer marketing teams the opportunity to solicit feedback, though this method also comes with its own limitations. When conducted at scale, surveys can result in superficial answers that lack depth. Even if the survey goes beyond traditional ranked and multiple-choice responses, written feedback is limited, especially when compared to verbal feedback. Participants can find survey questions too restrictive, preventing them from organically elaborating on their answers. Finally, written responses can often strip valuable emotional context from a participant’s commentary. Written responses do not capture body language or the visceral reactions a participant may have. When considering how this experience might not be effective with participants who are much younger, the constraints are even more apparent. Children are often unable to complete written surveys or may feel uncomfortable sharing feedback outside of their homes in focus groups.

Where Technology Bridges the Gap

Going beyond traditional message testing methodologies, marketers need to leverage technology that can secure real time, authentic reactions to products and messaging that can create meaningful impact in a marketing team’s approach.

Marketers who may have previously relied on focus groups need to shift their thinking to organically securing real time, verbal and visual feedback when message testing with consumers. The first step in obtaining authentic feedback is meeting consumers where they are to develop a deep understanding of their habits, lifestyles and values. Practically, this means soliciting feedback on the consumer’s terms by engaging with them in their homes and on their schedules. Video-driven, mobile-based research platforms allow marketers an unparalleled glimpse into a consumer’s life.

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No longer restricted by geography, these digital platforms allow marketers to select from a larger group of potential participants and yield more diverse and authentic feedback. Instead of relying on written surveys or programs that facilitate this process, marketers need to prioritize securing verbal and visual feedback wherever possible. Equally as important for marketers is finding the right technology to help synthesize all of the feedback they’ll gather from these cutting-edge platforms. Marketers can and should embrace technology that provides them with facial coding tools. For example, in recorded videos, consumers can read messaging out loud, sharing their thoughts and body language in real-time. Capable technology can then examine participants’ facial expressions and tone, registering their sentiment and emotions, and logging and organizing their responses for easy access.

Relying solely on survey results provides limited context as quantitative data collection prevents marketers from capturing consumers’ initial, gut reactions when presented with new messaging. Comparatively, video-based message testing provides marketers with more in-depth verbal responses from participants as well as their tone, sentiment and body language. Having access to this level of feedback will allow marketers to ensure that they are developing insight-driven strategies and greatly increase the likelihood that their messaging will be well received by their consumer.

In addition to digital qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, marketers should also incorporate innovative technology that not only empowers them to secure authentic consumer feedback but also a platform which efficiently analyzes participant data. Ideally, both of these functions would be available within the same platform. The best platforms will allow marketers to quickly organize consumer feedback and take note of key phrases, sentiment, and responses to specific questions or stimuli. When marketers work with such a platform, they have the best chance of identifying their consumers’ most meaningful moments while interacting with and talking about their product or brand – which will be key in their strategy development.

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