Message Testing: Are You Getting Your Message Across?

Have you ever visited a horrible website and wondered about its purpose? Have you ever been turned off by a website’s color, music, or design? Chances are the company didn’t employ message testing. Message testing for online media allows companies to understand who is reading their content and how people are reacting to it. Indeed, this tool is critical to creating a successful media campaign and strong identity online. Further, how a company markets itself online is extremely important, especially for attracting new customers, and keeping current ones, so message testing is something that all companies should consider.

Survey research can help companies understand precisely how its message is being received by users. It involves deciding on a range of different ideas for how to market a company and helps them to dwindle it down to one that best gets the message across.

Message testing can be conducted several ways, however, there are a few key goals. The first aim of message testing is to ensure that the message is sticking with users. Is it memorable? Next, message testing should help companies understand if it stands out among competitors. If the company doesn’t stand out, it then knows where it needs to improve. The third goal of message testing is to help companies decide on a message that is an accurate reflection of its vision. The message should be all encompassing and broad enough target all potential audiences. Lastly, message testing should help companies develop a message that makes customers react positively—whether it’s a call to action or a conversion of some sort (buying a product or service).

While I haven’t had the opportunity to carry out message testing research on a grand scale, I can agree that it has the potential to help companies create campaigns or an online identity that will help them accomplish their goals. I think that one company that consistently has the same strong message each time I visit its website is Apple. The message is consistent, clear, and attractive and I always leave the website wishing I could upgrade to the latest iPhone or iPad (I’d say the message is a success!).

Questions to readers:

-What website has a strong message? 

-Have you carried out message testing? If so, how did it help improve your message?

-When is message testing most appropriate?

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A Closer Look: Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is something you may think you know little about. However, you may very well be a part of crowdsourcing and not realize it. If you contribute photos or illustrations to iStock or Dreamstime, design artwork for 99designs.com, write entries for Wikipedia, or write reviews on Amazon.com, you have engaged in crowdsourcing to some extent. Essentially, crowdsourcing is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a collective group of the public at large. Rather than hire an employee to do the work or outsource to another country, an executive can go online and find the right image he’s looking for, for far less than hiring a professional photographer, as was the case with one subject in this WIRED magazine article. The article explains crowdsourcing by demonstrating its devastating effect on one guy who had much of his work taken away from him. At the same time, crowdsourcing has provided an income for thousands of other people. Nonetheless, the article cites how hard it is for professional photographers to compete with $1-dollar-per-photo crowdsourcing websites.

Executives are not the only ones engaging in crowdsourcing. With the advent of the Internet, the media has begun featuring news produced by citizen reporters or “I-reporters”. I remember seeing plenty of online and TV advertising for citizen journalists both by BBC and CNN a few years ago. These media outlets, which are fighting to stay relevant, don’t have the budget and resources to hire reporters to go across the globe to cover a story. Instead, these outlets can call on residents to be the eyes and ears of a location and bring the story to the media. Indeed, the quality may not be amazing but it is one way to develop content for a struggling media outlet for relatively nothing.

Questions for readers:

-Are you involved in crowdsourcing? If so, elaborate. If not, why not? Are you considering it (this question goes especially to my classmates who have their Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, web design, and SEO skills down, and are in an ideal position to contribute their newly-acquired skills.)?

-Have you ever sought out a crowdsourcing company to get something done? 

Virtual Image: A Closer Look

Reputation management is something that every person can gain from. In today’s world where everyone’s information is online, managing one’s reputation and image is crucial. Employers who Google their recruits or locate them on social media networks are not unheard of. In some cases employers ask applicants for the credentials to their social network profiles so they can take a closer look at their potential new hire—which is illegal, I’m quite sure. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that researching an applicant’s background online is standard procedure in many HR departments both in the U.S. and abroad where I have been subjected to it.

What about in the business world? How does the ubiquity of the Internet affect corporate communications? Does it enhance a brand’s image or hinder it? This week’s reading included research on the topic. In “Drowned Out? Rethinking corporate reputation management for the Internet” published in the Journal of Communication Management, I gained a better understanding of the world of corporate reputation management. Essentially, as someone who has worked in the corporate communications field for a few years now, I am playing a role in helping to manage the reputation of the company I work for. However, like the study points out, the challenges of the Internet reinforce the value of effective corporate reputation management and the Internet has made good PR more important, not less. Basically, if companies want to make the most impact, they need to leverage the Internet as much as possible, and embrace it as a valuable new communications and reputation-building tool.

Questions to readers:

-As many of you work within the communications realm, are any of you taking part in corporate communication management? In what ways do you do this?

-How are you managing your own personal reputation online? Have you used www.beenverified.com? Have information online ever presented a problem in your life?