Content testing is a critical tool that every savvy marketer should have in their arsenal. It helps capture any audience’s attention, spark engagement, and drive conversions.
Testing your content is the process of experimenting with different elements, from headlines to visuals and beyond, to discover what resonates most.
Still, it’s not about throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick; it’s a systematic approach to refining your content, making it sharper, more engaging, and ultimately more effective.
In this post, we’ll dive deep into what content testing is, why it’s crucial, and most importantly, how to do it right. With our practical strategies and valuable insights, you can transform your content into a magnetic force that draws in your target audience and keeps them coming back for more.
What Is Content Testing?
Content testing is a user testing process of evaluating and optimizing various elements of digital content, such as web pages, blog posts, emails, and other marketing materials, to improve their performance and effectiveness.
The primary goal of content testing is to determine what resonates best with the target audience, increases user engagement, and drives desired actions, such as conversions.
Content testing typically involves creating multiple variations of a piece of content and exposing them to different segments of your audience. By doing this, you can gather data on how users interact with each variation and which one produces the desired outcomes.
The results of content testing provide valuable insights into what aspects of your content are working and what needs improvement. By analyzing these insights, you can make data-driven decisions to enhance your content, boost user engagement, increase conversions, and ultimately achieve your content marketing goals.
Content testing is an ongoing process that helps content creators and marketers refine their strategies and create content that best serves their audience and achieves business objectives.
Why Testing Content?
When you perform content testing, you assess content quality and other factors. Content testing helps you identify what elements of your content resonate most with your audience and what isn’t.
By understanding what works and what doesn’t, you can optimize your content to perform better, whether that means improving click-through rates, reducing bounce rates, or increasing conversions.
Testing content allows you to create content that provides a better user experience. By identifying and rectifying issues or obstacles in your content, you can ensure that your audience has a more enjoyable and seamless interaction with your brand.
Content testing also helps you fine-tune your content to capture and hold your audience’s attention. This, in turn, can lead to increased engagement, such as higher time-on-page, more social shares, and better overall interaction with your content.
Whether your goal is to drive email sign-ups, product purchases, or any other conversion action, content testing can help you craft content that better persuades and converts visitors into customers or subscribers.
What Type of Content Should You Test?
When conducting content testing, it’s important to test various content types to determine what works best for your audience and objectives. The choice of content types to test will depend on your niche, industry, and the specific goals you want to achieve. Here are some common content types to consider testing:
Blog posts: Test different blog post formats, lengths, and topics to identify what resonates most with your readers. You can also test the use of images, videos, infographics, and other visual elements within your blog content.
Email marketing: A/B test email campaigns, including variations in subject lines, email copy, visuals, and CTAs to optimize open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
Social media content: Experiment with various types of social media content, such as images, videos, infographics, polls, and interactive posts, to determine what generates the most engagement and shares.
Videos: Test different video lengths, styles, and topics to find out which videos perform best in terms of views, likes, comments, and shares.
Infographics: Explore different infographic designs, themes, and data presentation styles to see which ones are most effective in conveying information and attracting shares.
Podcasts: If you produce podcasts, test various episode lengths, topics, and promotion strategies to improve download rates and listener retention.
Ebooks and whitepapers: For longer-form content, like e-books and whitepapers, test different cover designs, titles, and layouts to increase download rates.
Case studies: Experiment with case study formats, such as client success stories or industry-specific use cases, to find the most persuasive and engaging styles.
Webinars and live events: Test various webinar topics, formats, and presentation styles to maximize attendee registrations and participation.
Interactive content: Explore interactive content formats like quizzes, polls, and calculators to boost user engagement and gather valuable data.
Product descriptions: If you’re an e-commerce business, test different product descriptions to determine what encourages more purchases.
Surveys and polls: Test survey or poll questions, formats, and placements to increase response rates and gather meaningful insights.
Newsletters: A/B test different newsletter formats, content themes, and sending times to improve open and click-through rates.
User-generated content: Experiment with the inclusion and presentation of user-generated content, such as reviews, testimonials, and customer-submitted images, to build trust and credibility.
Guest posts and collaborations: If you engage in guest posting or collaborations, test different approaches to audience engagement and brand exposure.
Interactive microsites: If applicable, test the design and interactivity of microsites, which are standalone web pages dedicated to specific content campaigns or initiatives.
Ad content: If you run advertising campaigns, test various ad copy, visuals, and formats to determine what generates higher click-through rates and conversions.
The choice of content types to test should align with your content marketing goals and strategy. The insights gained from testing different content types will help you create more effective, engaging, and relevant content for your target audience.
What to Test Regarding Content?
When conducting content testing, you can test various elements of your content to determine what resonates best with your target audience and achieves your specific goals.
Headlines and titles: Test different headlines or titles to see which one captures the audience’s attention and encourages them to click through to your content.
Images and visuals: Test different images, graphics, or videos to determine which visuals are most engaging and relevant to your content.
CTA (Call to Action) buttons: Experiment with different CTA buttons in terms of design, placement, and copy to see which ones drive the most conversions.
Content length: Test the length of your content (short vs. long) to determine what keeps users engaged and encourages them to read or view the entire piece.
Email subject lines: A/B test email subject lines to find out which ones result in higher open rates.
Landing page elements: On landing pages, test different components like forms, headlines, images, and trust signals to improve conversion rates.
Content format: Experiment with different content formats, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, or podcasts, to see what your audience prefers.
Tone and style: Test the tone of your content (e.g., formal vs. casual) and writing style to determine what resonates best with your audience.
Pricing and offers: On e-commerce sites, test different pricing strategies, discounts, or offers to understand their impact on conversion rates.
Navigation and user flow: Test different navigation elements and user flow within your website to improve user experience and reduce bounce rates.
Content personalization: Test the level of personalization in your content by delivering tailored messages to different audience segments.
Content placement: Experiment with where your content is placed on your website to find the best locations for visibility and engagement.
Social proof and reviews: Test the inclusion and presentation of social proof elements, such as customer reviews and testimonials, to boost trust and credibility.
The specific elements to test will depend on your content, industry, and objectives. It’s essential to have a clear hypothesis for each test and to use content testing tools to collect and analyze data accurately.
Remember that content testing is an ongoing process, and the insights gained can help you continuously refine your content marketing strategy to better align with your audience’s preferences and your business goals.
When Should You Test Content?
Content testing is an ongoing process that should be integrated into your content marketing strategy at various stages. Here are key points in your content marketing workflow when content testing is valuable:
Content creation and planning: Start thinking about content testing as early as the content creation and planning phase. Consider what elements you want to test in your upcoming content.
New content launch: Before publishing new content, conduct content testing to optimize elements like headlines, visuals, and CTAs to maximize engagement and conversions.
Regular content audits: As part of routine content audits, periodically review and test existing content. Identify underperforming pieces that could benefit from optimization.
Campaign planning: When planning content marketing campaigns, integrate content testing into the campaign strategy. Determine what elements or strategies you’ll test to achieve campaign goals.
Product or service launches: When launching a new product or service, consider content testing for product descriptions, landing pages, and promotional content to maximize conversions.
Seasonal or holiday campaigns: For seasonal marketing campaigns, test content variations tailored to specific holidays or seasons to align with the changing preferences of your audience.
Rebranding or redesign: During a rebranding effort or website redesign, test the impact of content changes on user engagement and conversion rates.
A/B testing for emails: Conduct A/B testing for email campaigns regularly to optimize subject lines, content, and CTAs, improving open rates and click-through rates.
After major content updates: Following significant content updates, such as a major website overhaul or an overhaul of your content strategy, conduct testing to ensure that changes have a positive impact.
Underperforming content identification: Whenever you identify underperforming content, use content testing to diagnose the issues and make improvements.
Feedback and user behavior changes: If you receive feedback from users or notice significant changes in user behavior, consider testing to address these concerns and adapt your content accordingly.
Remember that the frequency and timing of content testing may vary depending on your industry, audience, and specific goals.
The key is to make content testing a consistent and integral part of your content marketing strategy, allowing you to continuously optimize your content to achieve better results and provide a more engaging experience for your audience.
The Most Relevant Content Testing Methods
There is a wide arsenal at your disposal when running content tests. Each one offers a set of advantages and applies to specific objectives.
Task-based usability testing
Task-based usability testing is a qualitative content testing method that focuses on evaluating the user-friendliness and effectiveness of digital content, such as websites, applications, or other interactive platforms.
In a content test of this nature, participants are asked to perform specific tasks or actions on the content, and their interactions and feedback are observed and analyzed. This method helps identify usability issues and areas for improvement in content.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a quantitative content testing method used to compare two or more variations of a piece of content to determine which one performs better in achieving a specific goal.
It is a data-driven approach that helps content creators and marketers make informed decisions about what elements are most effective in engaging the audience and driving desired actions.
A/B testing involves creating multiple variations of a specific element within your content. This element can be anything you want to test, such as a headline, image, CTA (Call to Action) button, or content layout. You have a control version (A) and one or more variations (B, C, D, etc.).
This is a qualitative testing method used to evaluate and improve the organization and structure of information on a website, application, or other digital content.
It helps ensure that content is logically and intuitively arranged, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for and navigate the digital environment more effectively.
On this method, you start by preparing a set of content items or topics that you want to evaluate. These could be navigation menu items, content categories, or other parts of your website or application. Then, invite participants to take part in the card sorting exercise -they can be actual users, potential users, or team members.
Each card represents a piece of content, category, or menu item. You can use physical index cards or digital tools designed for card sorting. Ask participants to group the cards into categories or sections based on how they think the content should be organized.
There are three types of card sorting testing:
- Closed card sorting: It uses prefefined categories.
- Open card sorting: It allows participants to create their own categories and category names.
- Hybrid card sorting: It combines elements of both closed card sorting. It allows for a flexible approach in which test participants are provided with some predefined categories while also habing the freedom to create their own categories.
The five-second test is a content testing method used to assess the first impression and initial impact of a web page or design on users.
It helps evaluate how effectively a webpage or design conveys key information and whether users can quickly understand its purpose and content within a very brief timeframe—typically in five seconds or less.
The five-second test is valuable because it simulates the brief attention span of typical internet users. Users often make quick judgments about a webpage and decide whether to engage further or leave within just a few seconds.
This test provides insights into the clarity, visual hierarchy, and impact of content and design elements.
By conducting the five-second test, designers and content creators can make adjustments to enhance the initial user experience, ensuring that key messages, branding, and content are immediately noticeable and engaging to users.
The cloze test is a content testing method used to assess the comprehensibility and effectiveness of written content, particularly text passages or documents. It involves removing certain words or phrases from a passage and asking participants to fill in the missing information.
The test evaluates how well readers can understand the content and accurately complete the missing parts.
The cloze test is valuable for content testing because it helps gauge the readability and comprehension of written content. It provides insights into how well users can understand the content without certain words or phrases and whether the message remains clear and coherent.
The highlight test is a content testing method used to assess the visual hierarchy, readability, and effectiveness of written content, particularly on digital platforms like websites or applications. It focuses on guiding users’ attention and helping them quickly identify key information.
The highlight test aims to ensure that important information within the content is easily identifiable and effectively conveys the intended message.
It helps content creators and designers evaluate the visual hierarchy, organization, and user-friendliness of content, especially when it comes to guiding users’ attention to key points.
Preference testing, also known as preference testing or preference evaluation, is a content testing method used to determine user preferences and gather insights about which version of content or design elements users prefer.
This method helps content creators and designers make informed decisions about which options are more appealing to their target audience.
Readability testing is a content testing method used to assess how easily readers can understand and comprehend written content, such as text passages, documents, websites, or other textual materials.
The goal of readability testing is to evaluate the readability level of content to ensure it is appropriate for the target audience and conveys the intended message effectively. Allow people to summarize the key takeaways in their own words.
How to Test Your Content
The content testing process requires critical elements that need to be taken into account. To test content, you should mind the following.
1. Set Clear Objectives
Start by defining your content testing goals. Determine what you want to achieve through testing, whether it’s improving readability, enhancing user engagement, increasing conversions, or other specific outcomes.
2. Select the right content
Choose the content pieces or elements you want to test. This could include webpages, articles, email campaigns, ad creatives, images, or other types of content.
3. Identify the testing method
Select the appropriate content testing method(s) based on your objectives and the type of content. Common methods include A/B testing, usability testing, card sorting, open card sorting, closed card sorting, cloze tests, preference testing, highlight testing, readability testing, and more.
Choose the method that aligns with your goals.
4. Participant Selection
Identify and recruit participants who represent your target audience. Ensure that the participants have the characteristics and demographics relevant to your content.
5. Prepare the test materials
Prepare the content for testing. Depending on the method, this may involve creating variations of the content, highlighting specific elements, or adjusting the content’s structure.
6. Conduct the test
Administer the chosen content testing method. This may involve showing content to participants, having them complete tasks, or asking them to provide feedback.
7. Gather data and feedback
Collect data and feedback from the participants as they interact with the content. This data can include quantitative metrics, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, or readability scores, as well as qualitative insights from participants.
8. Analyze data
Analyze the collected data and feedback to draw conclusions about the content’s effectiveness. Identify areas that need improvement and gain insights into user preferences and behaviors.
9. Implement changes
Implement the necessary changes based on the insights gained from the content testing. This could involve making updates to the content, design, or user experience.
10. Iterate and monitor
Content testing is an iterative process. Continuously monitor the content’s performance, gather user feedback, and make ongoing improvements based on user behavior and preferences.
Usability tests, user research, and prototype testing. There are many concepts in the glossary of user testing. But content is also a critical element of user interaction with your brand, and needs to be tested for great results. In this guide, you’ve learned the types of content testing and the basic principles to test your content ideas!