Usability Testing Makes Killer Online Marketing Campaigns


Usability Testing and Online Marketing Campaigns

Usability testing
Usability testing in action

Usability testing is a tool typically thought of for use with improving web sites or web-based applications, but if you are responsible for online marketing here’s important news – usability testing can provide you with a killer online marketing campaign.

What you and your competing marketing managers may not realize is usability testing an online marketing campaign is an easy, fast and cheap way to increase conversion and increase the ROI of your marketing spend. Why? Because usability testing is all about improving tasks, tasks like;

  • Understanding the message of an online advertisement
  • Easily clicking through to a landing page
  • Quickly completing a landing page form
  • Efficiently entering data in a buy-flow to purchase a product

Usability and online marketing optimization

So why should you add usability testing as one of your online marketing optimization tools? According to Forrester’s US Interactive Marketing Forecast, interactive marketing will near $55 Billion, represent 21% of all marketing spend, and interactive marketing media will cannibalize traditional media to do it.

The money you invest in online marketing must not only equal traditional marketing results, it has to beat it, because your competitors are busy doing the exact same thing.

Reasons to add usability testing

There are several reasons why adding usability testing to your online marketing optimization mix is highly productive:

First: Usability testing is fast and easy

Usability testing doesn’t need thousands of statistically significant responses or multiple focus groups. To usability test a task like going through an online marketing flow, you don’t need a lot of time, effort or input. It’s fast and easy to quickly create a test and learn from it. This can come in handy when you are trying to make decisions about important elements in your future online marketing campaign, well before launch.

For example, while your online marketing campaign is still in development you could quickly use usability testing to determine how easy or difficult it is for your prospects to click through to a landing page, understand the message on the page, complete a form, and/or successfully navigate the order or sales path.  By watching just 7 usability participants try to complete your online marketing path, you’ll know instantly where there are problems in your task flow, and will probably have a pretty good idea of what to do to improve it.

Second: Usability testing is cheap and very low risk

Setting up a usability test, asking 7 participants to go through the test, observing their behavior and debriefing them at the end can all be done in less than a week for minimal cost, especially if you use remote moderated testing.

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If you compare asking 7 participants to try to complete an online marketing flow, versus conducting an A/B test where perhaps hundreds or thousands of real potential customers are going through the flow, usability is far cheaper because you’re not losing orders or sales due to a potentially bad version.  And usability testing is cheaper because you don’t have to test live production versions of a campaign, you can test pre-launch versions and not risk the potential costs involved in creating a bad live campaign.

Third: Usability testing uses your real target prospects

Testing with the actual people you are targeting means you get feedback directly from the people you want to engage.  Want to know what your actual prospects think as they interact with your online marketing campaign?  You can with usability testing.  By finding test participants who exactly match your typical online marketing prospect, you’ll be testing your campaign with the actual people who could be interacting with it.

By evaluating how easy or difficult it is for your online marketing prospects to interact with your online marketing flow, you’ll have credible feedback to help you improve the experience. This takes the guesswork out of trying to determine the ‘why’ of user actions, something click-stream, A/B or log file analysis simply cannot provide.

What to usability test?

Usability test a landing page
Usability test a landing page to optimize conversion

So what elements in your online marketing campaign should you usability test?  The possibilities are endless, but there are probably 3 or 4 critical elements of any campaign that would be simple, cheap and effective to test.  And the information you receive from the test can improve your online marketing campaign right away.  They are:

  1. Call to Action Function: Conducting a usability test of an online advertisement with a call to action button is a quick way to determine if your call to action graphic is doing what it’s supposed to.  Does the test participant see the graphic in context with other ads or content?  Does the button look like a button and stimulate response?  What does the participant expect to see after they click the button?  Usability testing will provide all those answers, and more.
  2. Landing Page Content and Information Architecture: Once your prospect is on your landing page, does the content meet their expectations?  What about the information provided, is it clear and easily understood?  Does the participant know where to go, and what to do next?
  3. Order or Buy Flow Form Function: Assuming you have a form on your landing page, is it easy to use?  Does the participant make any mistakes, or have confusion when entering data?  How long does it take to enter the data?  Are there too many fields, or not enough, from the participants viewpoint?
  4. Next Steps: After completing the form, does the participant know what will happen next?  What are the participant’s expectations? Does the participant receive their expected feedback? Are they satisfied with the experience?

Conclusion: Add usability testing to your online marketing and make it Killer!

Adding usability testing to your online marketing efforts can help you take your ho-hum online marketing campaign to killer marketing campaign status.  Usability testing does this because it’s all about tasks, not opinions, it is cheap and very low risk and it uses your real target prospects to identify where there are problems in your flow.

With the increasing use of online marketing in the overall media mix it becomes even more important to make sure your online marketing efforts are optimized for success, and usability testing is a tool you can use to accomplish that.

For more information on how to add usability testing to your online marketing mix just contact me, I’ll be glad to help you increase your conversion.


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