B2B & B2C: Stop and Take Time to Test Products and Websites with Users and the Marketplace

I recently witnessed a Marketing professional make a statement about testing during a long running Marketing campaign.  It went something like this:  “We really should have tested it but we had to make the changes so fast, we couldn’t do it”.  Hmmm…  There will be times when it is more important to react and move quickly based on market shifts or internal pressures, but it should not be the norm.  Certainly, you can make changes to your messages, campaign tags, and websites without testing them, but ask yourself why you are moving so fast.  Would it hurt to do a side by side (A/B) test for a week or two?  In the current world of digital media, test response times are much faster than the past.  In a world of unforgiving consumers experiencing ineffective products and services (empowered by Social Media), can we really afford to put a product out without getting some feedback from our target users?

How can we know that the “compelling” changes we made to our Web page is better than the content presented on the page previously?  How do we know if our new “revolutionary” product is truly revolutionary for the target audience?  Does it work?  Are we hitting the pain points and/or filling a market need.  Do we know if the user experience is supporting our goals and not detracting from them?  All of these are questions better answered with testing and target user generated feedback.  The more capital we invest in a new product or service, the more revenue we expect from a new product or website, and the more important it is to our business model, the more important it is for us to do some testing and analysis.  Our users can tell important things about their needs and how our assets impact those needs, or not.

Below are a few things we as business managers and marketers can do to test the viability of our assets in the marketplace with impacts of time and cost noted. 

  • Simple Paper Prototyping (low cost and minimal time) – Products & Web
  • A/B & Multi-variant testing (low to moderate costs and low to moderate time) – Web
  • A/B testing for Lead Management (low to high costs and low to moderate time) – Sales
  • Internal User Acceptance testing (low cost and minimal time) – Products & Web
  • Internal Alpha Testing (low cost and minimal time) – Products & Web
  • External Beta Testing (moderate to high costs and minimal to moderate time) – Products & Web
  • User Experience Testing (moderate to high costs and moderate time) – Products & Web
  • Message Testing (low to moderate costs and moderate time) – Products, Web, Advertising
  • … and more

Keep in mind that user experience and acceptance testing should be happening during key developmental phases.  The bottom line is that there are many ways you can be informed about the receptiveness of the marketplace to your key business assets by your target users.  It could save the company millions in cost and reduce mammoth amounts of time/resources drains.  It is never too late to start and there are many ways it can be done.  Know that testing doesn’t stop once the asset is in the market.  It should be a part of the company culture.  Don’t go blind in the market.  I know we have smart people and we are smart, but there is always something to learn from our users.  For goodness sake, they have to use the product or respond to the message and offer.

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