How to Conduct a Marketing Test Online

As the name suggests, a marketing test is a type of research that provides an opportunity to marketers to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and marketing campaigns. The process of conducting a marketing test online is not very different from that of a regular offline marketing test. The key difference is the format – instead of a paper-based questionnaire, online marketers can use automated systems that send out surveys to potential respondents, or they can use specialized tools that automatically tag and track website activity, or monitor social media conversations.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that not all marketing tests are created equal. The type of test you run will depend on the goals you have in mind. If you’re looking for broad benchmarks that can be applied to your entire industry, choose a test that has a large sample size. For more specific and advanced metrics, look for a test that uses a specialized tool or that requires human interaction during the data collection process.

The Many Forms That Marketing Tests Come In

Just like with any type of research, there are many different types of marketing tests. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Pilot Testing (Pilot Testing): With this type of test, you don’t need hundreds of respondents to be able to draw meaningful conclusions. The reason is that you can use a small sample size (i.e., between 5 and 10) and gain valuable insights that can be applied to a larger population. These types of tests are common in industries where making a product changes frequently (e.g., apps or websites), or where there is a limited amount of data to go on (e.g., medicine).
  • Usability Testing (Usability Testing): With this type of test, the main goal is to determine how easy it is for people to use a product or service. Therefore, you test the usability of a product or service by having people interact with it (e.g., via click-throughs, keystrokes, or phone calls) under controlled conditions (i.e., in a lab or over the phone). Usability tests are popular because companies want to know if their customers can successfully use the product or service; they don’t necessarily care about the actual results of the test.
  • Advertising Trials (Advertising Trials): With an advertising trial, you test the effectiveness of various types of adverts (i.e., paid announcements that promote products or services) by running them sequentially in separate blocks of time, and then comparing the results. An advertising trial provides marketers with valuable information about which adverts perform best under which conditions, as the sample size is relatively small (i.e., only a few hundred people are usually required). Popular types of advertising trials include:
    • Online Shopping Experiments (Online Shopping Experiments): You can use online shopping experiments to see if people are prepared to purchase a product or service after viewing several types of adverts for that product or service. For example, if you’re looking for shoes, you might test different types of adverts for men’s or women’s shoes, and then see which ones cause people to click through to a specific online store that sells shoes.
    • Email Marketing Experiments (Email Marketing Experiments): You can use email marketing experiments to see if different versions of an email campaign (i.e., a series of emails to promote a product or service) perform differently. For example, you might want to compare two different email campaigns: one that uses a simple email template (i.e., an email that is the same from one email to the next), and one that adds a few lines of text at the beginning and end of each email to give it more personality.
    • Display Advertising Experiments (Display Advertising Experiments): You can use display advertising experiments to see if different types of adverts (i.e., banners on websites) perform better or worse. The reason for this is that there are several different ways in which a visitor can interact with a banner – they can either click on it, scroll down the page, or close it (i.e., click on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the banner). Each of these actions has its own set of metrics that you can track – e.g., how long does it take for someone to click on a banner, how far do they scroll down a page, and how long do they stay on a certain page once they’re there.
    • Social Marketing Experiments (Social Marketing Experiments): With social marketing experiments, you test the effectiveness of different types of social media campaigns (i.e., a series of posts on social media sites such as Twitter) by measuring how many people you can reach with a certain type of post. For example, if you’re looking to promote a product or service that is related to travel, you could use Twitter to see if a series of travel-related posts (i.e., #vacationupto1000feet, #travelwithkids, etc.) performs better than other types of posts. Or, if you want to test the effectiveness of a hashtag, you could use that hashtag for posts related to your product or service, and then measure the performance of those posts compared to those that did not use that hashtag.
    • Product Trials (Product Trials): Product trials simply test different versions of a product or service, and then compare the results. You can use product trials to see which version of a product or service is the most effective at achieving specific goals. These types of tests are popular among marketers because it’s relatively easy to measure the results of a product trial (i.e., how many orders did you get, how much money did you make, etc.).
    • Content Trials (Content Trials): With a content trial, you test the effectiveness of different types of content (e.g., articles, videos, or infographics) by comparing the results of those that use different types of content to achieve specific goals. For example, you could compare an infographic about your product or service to an article about the same product or service, or you could compare a video about your product or service to another video that promotes a different product.
    • In-House Market Research (In-House Market Research): Finally, we have in-house market research. With an in-house market research project, you try out new products or services developed by your company, and then compare their results to those of products or services you’re already using. The only difference is that with an in-house market research project, you’re not looking for generalizable results (i.e., you don’t want to compare your findings to the rest of the world), but rather, you’re looking for results that can be applied to your specific audience. You can use in-house market research to validate the overall strategy and approach of a new product or service, or you can use it to test a specific hypothesis about how this product or service will perform.

    How Do I Conduct A Marketing Test?

    To begin the process of conducting a marketing test, you will first need to identify the specific type of marketing test you want to run. Once you have that figured out, you can move onto the next step to design your study.

    To choose a tool for online marketers, you should first consider what you want to track – is it conversions (i.e., actions that lead to purchases), website traffic, or social media activity? There are a number of online tools that can be used to measure website traffic, but few that provide comprehensive analytics tracking conversions. The good news is that there are a number of tools specifically designed for web marketers, and these tools can be used to track important metrics such as visits, page views, and conversions. Some of these tools are free, while others come with a paid premium version that provides additional features. Do some research before you make a purchasing decision, so you can find the best tool for your needs.

    Step 1: Gather Your Materials

    Before you begin your marketing research, you will need to put in the effort to gather your materials. This includes everything from webinars to podcasts (i.e., anything that might be used as a medium to spread your message), as well as an internet connection, a computer or laptop, and a printer to create hard copies of your materials. Some materials might be more accessible online (e.g., websites that you can access from any computer), while other materials (e.g., recorded webinars) might require a physical copy to be made. It’s also important to have a place to go back to once the test is over – you don’t want to leave any traces behind online that will expose the test, or allow others to stumble upon it.