What is Content Testing: Benefits, Methods, and Tools
The digital world is full of content. In many cases, content is the first touchpoint of your customer journey – your prospects’ first interaction with your product. Therefore, it’s crucial that your content speaks to them. Content testing is how you ensure that your content is relatable and well-perceived by your audience.
Content testing is a form of user experience research that measures the quality and performance of content. By running regular tests and improving upon the results, you can boost your conversion and retention rates.
The purpose of this article is to introduce what content testing is, the methods of testing content, and a step-by-step guide to preparing and conducting your research.
- Content testing is a form of user testing where you measure the effectiveness of your site’s content.
- It’s important to prevent bad content, which affects user experience and leads to churn.
- What content should you test? Everything. From website copy to in-app messages. Content is everywhere in the user experience, and it all contributes to customer satisfaction and success.
- You should test content for readability, tone and voice, usability, searchability, and accessibility.
- Content testing should happen at every stage in your product’s journey – from idea to prototyping, to after it’s published live.
- There are five main content testing methods: A/B testing, task-based usability testing, five-second tests, card sorting, and cloze tests.
- To do A/B testing, write two versions of a piece of content for the same purpose. Send out one version to half your audience, and the other version to the other half. Check to see which one performs better.
- Task-based usability testing is when you set out a series of tasks for a user to complete and then watch how they complete those tasks. You can see if they’re completing the milestones you set out for them.
- Five-second tests involve asking testers to view a piece of content for only five seconds, and then asking them a series of questions to gauge their understanding of the content.
- Card sorting is a process where you ask users to sort your content into categories that make sense to them.
- Cloze tests involve taking a piece of content and removing every 6th word. Then, you ask testers to guess what word’s missing to measure how comprehensive your content is.
- To test content, you should first identify your goals and objectives. Then, choose a testing method and your test participants. Finally, conduct the test and analyze your results.
- Two of the top tools for content testing in SaaS are Userpilot and CrazyEgg. Userpilot is a product growth platform where you can test content and improve it with better in-app messages.
- CrazyEgg is a heat mapping software with recordings, surveys, and A/B testing. You can see how users interact with your content.
What is content testing?
Content testing is a method of user testing where you determine the effectiveness of your content. In content tests, you ask questions such as:
- Does the content appeal to your target demographic?
- Does it address (and fix) their needs and pain points?
- Is the content easy to follow?
- Does the content cause any user friction where they don’t know what to do next?
Why is content testing important?
Content testing is important to prevent bad content.
Bad content can negatively affect the user experience and lead to churn.
Content tests highlight issues in the content, helping you prioritize areas that need improvements.
What content should you test?
Short answer: everything.
You should be testing content across the entire customer journey.
You see content everywhere in the customer experience:
- Your website’s content (product page, blog post, etc.)
- In-app messages like tooltips and modals
- Knowledge base content
- Error messages
- Email marketing
- Social media content
Perform content testing on all of these areas to assess content quality. Ensure that everything makes sense and is effective for your intended audience.
What should you test content for?
What are you looking for in a successful content test?
Here are five areas to analyze when you evaluate content:
- Readability: Cut out the jargon and run-on sentences. Your content should be straightforward, easy to read, and scannable. Test the readability of your content with the Flesch Reading Ease Test, available in many content testing tools.
- Tone and voice. Does your copy sound like it’s coming from your brand? Make sure your content’s tone and voice are consistent across all channels you use. For example, if you come across as fun and casual on your website, don’t be too formal with your in-app messages. Pick a tone and voice and stick to it across the board.
- Usability: Can users easily decipher the goal of the message and then take action on it? Product copy can be hard to get right – messages are so short but so important. Run usability tests to get additional feedback from your team and your users to see if the content is understandable and actionable.
- Searchability. This is mainly to do with search engine optimization (SEO). Can people easily find your content when searching on the web? If not, it’s time to perform keyword research and identify keywords that you can add to your content. SEO is an important part of every content strategy.
- Accessibility: Make sure your content is inclusive of people with disabilities. You can add accessibility features, like audio versions of the content for the visually impaired, or subtitles on videos for the hearing impaired. Those are just a few of the many ways you can make your content more accessible for everyone.
When to test content
Content testing should happen at every stage of your product’s journey – before you create content, when it goes live, and then at regular intervals after.
Before you create content, a good starting point is to talk to your target audience and figure out what’s important to them. What are their pain points? Goals? Values? Then, write content in their own words to appeal to them. You can also do a competitor analysis to see what content they’re creating, thinking about what you like or don’t like about it.
Then, as the content goes live, you can run A/B tests to see which versions perform better with your audience. You can also ask for direct feedback from representative users to get accurate insights.
After you’ve gone live with content, check in every quarter (or more) to measure performance and see if any changes are needed.
What are the main content testing methods?
Here are five of the main content testing methods for you to try:
A/B testing is an effective quantitative testing method that puts two versions of content in a battle head-to-head to see which one performs better. Here’s how it works:
You create two different pieces of content for the same purpose. Then, you divide your audience in half and send each half a different version.
Then, after a set period, you review the performance based on your chosen metric. For example, you may choose to see which content version led to more conversions. Normally, you then send out the winning version to your entire customer base from that point forward.
One way to use A/B testing is to test different in-app messages created with different UI patterns and CTAs and see which results in higher product adoption.
A/B testing is great for gathering quantitative data on what’s working and what’s not, so you can be successful by doing more of what works.
Task-based usability testing
With task-based usability testing, you can evaluate whether the content is clear and enables people to use the app successfully.
How? Just watch if users are taking the right actions after interacting with the content.
You can perform visitor recordings by having a user engage with content without any prompting on your behalf. Just observe what they click on, how they engage with the content, where they go next, and any areas where they have difficulty with the task at hand.
You can break one big task into several mini-tasks and track how users are completing the milestones.
The step where they get stuck will point out what part of the content isn’t performing well.
In these kinds of tests, users don’t have time to read anything in-depth – this reflects how most people scan content on the web.
Here’s how they work:
Users are given five seconds to review the content. Then, they’re asked questions about the content to see if they generally understand the message after only five seconds of scanning.
This method can be used to test user interface content, landing page copy, and more.
Ask them both general and specific questions for well-rounded feedback. The fastest and easiest way would be to collect their feedback with in-app surveys.
Card sorting is an effective content testing method since it helps you group content into categories that make sense.
It involves asking users to categorize your content based on how they see themselves interacting with it.
It’s a helpful way to understand how you should label and group content for the most user-friendly experience.
Do you remember “Mad Libs” where you create your own story by filling in missing words? That’s a cloze test, and it’s also a useful way to test content.
In the context of content testing, you take a piece of text from a web page, and then take out every 6th word. Then you ask your testers to guess what word is missing. It sheds light on how informative your content is.
To run such a test, you’ll need a piece of text, for example from your website’s homepage.
A step-by-step process for testing your content
Here’s the six-step process content strategists can use when evaluating content:
Identify goals and objectives
The first step to any content testing strategy is to define your goals and objectives. Why are you doing this content testing? What do you hope to achieve with it?
You also need to work out the logistics, such as:
- What content are you testing?
- What method are you using to test content?
- Who are your research participants?
By setting goals and a detailed plan, you’re more likely to get helpful results from your content tests.
Choose a testing method
While there are multiple ways to test content, choose a method that’s appropriate for your goals and the type of content you’re testing.
Your timeline and budget are also important factors to consider. Some tests are cheaper and faster than others (but may not give you the most detailed or accurate results).
Do an internal test
Ask your internal crew for feedback before going live with more public user research and testing.
Turn to your colleagues, friends, or network for their thoughts. Maybe they’ll give you a helpful tip that’s worth implementing before you run an official content test with your audience.
Recruit test participants
Recruit people that represent your target audience of future or existing users.
If you are targeting several groups of people, get a handful of participants from each demographic or psychographic group.
To do this, you should create user segments in your product that represent each audience.
Then, trigger a personalized in-app message with a modal or slideout, inviting the relevant users to participate in the test.
You’ll get more accurate results if you focus your tests on specific user segments, so you can contrast and compare between them.
Conduct the test
Now that you’ve prepped everything for your content tests, it’s time to perform them. If you’re going the moderated route, take a backseat approach, and don’t rush your test participants. Explain that it may take some time to formulate their opinions – give them the reassurance, space, and time that they need.
Analyze the results and create an improvement plan
Now that your responses are in, you can analyze the results. Create a detailed report to organize and make sense of the data. Then, take actionable steps to improve your product content by recognizing areas that need improvement, or successful areas that you should double down on.
2 of our favorite tools for content testing
Here are two of the top content testing tools in SaaS:
Userpilot is a product growth platform that makes it easy to both test content and then make improvements to that content.
You can send targeted in-app messages to different segments of users and use different UI patterns to craft your messages with a customizable design.
You can set goals and run A/B tests to determine which in-app message pushes users toward the goal.
Plus, track how customers engage with your content – do they click the CTA, watch the video on it, or complete the recommended action?
CrazyEgg is another content testing tool with heatmaps, recordings, surveys, and A/B tests.
You can test your product’s accessibility, UX, and ease of use by watching how real users interact with your product.
Content testing is an essential step for creating content that converts. Whether you’re writing blog posts, in-app messages, or UI elements, put a plan in place to constantly test and iterate your copy.
Want to get started with content testing? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can create and test in-app content, code-free.