Test marketing

Test marketing is like a trial run for a new campaign, product, or service to see if people like it before committing to a full launch – a bit like testing the waters before diving in!

Marketing
Test marketing

Test marketing is an essential part of product and marketing campaign development. It involves a limited, small-scale release of a new campaign, product, or service to gather valuable feedback from customers and determine its potential success before committing to a full scale launch. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through:

  • What is test marketing?
  • What are the advantages of test marketing?
  • What are the disadvantages of test marketing?
  • What types of test marketing are there?
  • When should you use test marketing?
  • What are the best tools to conduct test marketing?

Let’s jump in.

What is test marketing?

Test marketing

Test marketing is a method of testing a new marketing campaign, product, or service in a limited release before introducing it to your wider market. 

It's a way to see how customers respond to your new offering and make any necessary changes before committing to a full launch. Think of it as a trial run to see if people like what you're offering and if it's worth the investment to bring it fully to market. This can save your company time and resources, and ultimately help you deliver a better end product. 

What are the advantages of test marketing?

There are several key advantages to using test marketing. The main ones include:

  • Reduce risks: Test marketing allows you to test your campaign, product or service on a small scale before committing to a full-scale launch, reducing your risk of failure.
  • Gather customer feedback: Gain valuable feedback from customers, which can improve your campaign, product, or service before the full launch.
  • Improve product development: By testing your campaign, product, or service before the full launch, you can identify and resolve any issues, leading to a better, more refined end product.
  • Lower your costs: Test marketing is typically less expensive than a full-scale launch, as it only involves a smaller target market and a limited budget.
  • Better understand your target audience: Gain insights into your target audience’s preferences and buying habits and use this to refine your product and marketing strategy for your full launch.

What are the disadvantages of test marketing?

While test marketing has a range of advantages, it also has a few disadvantages. These include:

  • Limited market reach: Because you’re only testing with a small market, you may not get a full understanding of how your campaign, product, or service would perform with a larger audience. 
  • Customer confusion: If your campaign, product, or service is test marketed and you then make changes before the full launch, it can confuse customers who were introduced to the original version.
  • Missed opportunities: If you don’t introduce your campaign, product, or service to the full audience quickly after the test marketing phase, it may miss potential sales and market opportunities.
  • Requires investment: While test marketing is less expensive than a full-scale launch, it still requires investment in resources, both human and financial. These costs can add up, and they don’t necessarily mean your final launch will lead to a successful outcome.
  • Negative impact on brand reputation: If your test marketing phase doesn’t go well, it may negatively affect your brand's reputation before the full launch. You can counter this by using a substitute brand in the test phase.
Test marketing

What types of test marketing are there? 

There are a variety of different test marketing options available. Let’s explore some of these tests now.

Types of test marketing

Concept testing

This involves testing the basic concept of a campaign, product, or service to determine if there’s enough interest to warrant further development. For example, if you wanted to test a marketing campaign, you could do a preference test and show your sample audience several concepts to see which one they prefer and why. These may be images, video, or audio files. From a product perspective, you could share specific product concepts and ask the audience which they prefer and why. 

Prototype testing

This involves testing a physical or working model of a digital product to determine its functionality and usability. This is a great option if you want to test something like a new website, or feature in an application. 

Prototype Testing
Prototype testing in UsabilityHub.

Limited release

This involves introducing the product or service to a few customers or in a limited geographic area, intending to expand the product's reach if it’s successful.

Email or direct mail testing

This involves testing the response rate to a direct mail marketing campaign. Other examples include testing onboarding messaging with a sample of your target audience to understand what resonates. 

Split testing or A/B testing

This involves creating two variations of a campaign, product, or marketing message and then randomly dividing your target market into two groups and testing a variation with each group.

A/B testing

Pilot testing

This involves testing the product or service in a real-world setting, typically with a select group of customers, to determine its viability. An example of this would be if you had a food product and you went to a shopping center to taste test and gather in-person feedback. 

When to use test marketing

It’s a good idea to conduct test marketing as early as possible in the development of your campaign or product. Doing this at the beginning of the development process helps you make any changes or pivot before you invest too much time or resources.

Conducting test marketing later in the process can be more expensive and less effective. By that point, you’ve already made a significant investment, and it may be difficult to make significant changes based on feedback from the market. 

However, it's important to note that test marketing is not a one time event. You can conduct tests throughout the campaign or product lifecycle to gather ongoing feedback and make any necessary tweaks. This iteration can help to ensure you develop the best solutions for your audience. 

It all depends on your project and the goals of your test marketing campaign. But overall, starting with test marketing early on is a smart move!

Best tools for test marketing

Test marketing tools

When it comes to test marketing, having the right tools can make all the difference. Here are some of the best tools for conducting surveys, focus groups, and A/B testing, each with unique features and capabilities to help you gather insights and make data-driven decisions.

Surveys and questionnaires

  • UsabilityHub: UsabilityHub is a user research platform that provides a range of test types, including preference testing, prototypes testing, five second testing, and design surveys, with a range of question types and image, audio, and video support. You can distribute your research using a shareable URL or test using a panel of over 530,000 participants, with a huge variety of demographic options available for audience targeting. 
  • SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is an online survey provider. They offer a variety of survey question types, and you can distribute the survey to your target audience through email or embedded forms.
  • Typeform: Typeform is an online tool that enables you to create interactive forms and surveys. They offer a range of survey question types. You can distribute the forms or surveys created on Typeform to your target audience through a variety of channels, such as email, or embedded on your website.

Focus groups 

  • Zoom: Zoom is a remote video conferencing platform that enables virtual focus groups. Participants can join the group from any location, making it convenient and cost-effective. Zoom provides features such as screen sharing, video conferencing, and virtual background options, making it an effective tool for focus group discussions. 
  • Google Meet: Google Meet is another video conferencing tool that allows groups to hold virtual meetings, including focus groups. With features like screen sharing, recording, and virtual backgrounds, it provides a secure and convenient platform for conducting online discussions and gathering insights from a remote audience. 
  • Dovetail: Dovetail is a qualitative research software that helps researchers collect, organize, and analyze qualitative data. It allows for collaboration and sharing of research data with team members, and its features can facilitate virtual focus groups, including video conferencing, screen sharing, and real-time commenting. Dovetail can help streamline the focus group process by allowing for efficient data collection and organization.

A/B testing

  1. Optimizely: Optimizely is a popular A/B testing platform that can help you test and optimize digital experiences. You can experiment with various design elements and make data-driven decisions by running split tests and tracking performance metrics. This platform requires you to deliver traffic volumes in order to reach statistical significance. 
  2. VWO: VWO is a popular A/B testing tool used to optimize website performance. You can test different variations of your website to determine which design elements drive the best engagement, conversions, and overall user experience. VWO provides features such as a visual editor, heatmaps, visitor recordings, and integrations with analytics tools, making it easy to set up, run, and analyze A/B tests. Like Optimizely, you will need to have traffic volumes in order to reach statistical significance. 
  3. UsabilityHub: Usabilityhub is a user testing and feedback platform that allows for A/B testing of websites and digital products. We offer a variety of testing methods, such as click tests, preference tests, and five-second tests, to gather insights and evaluate design variations. You can analyze and compare results to determine the best performing design. UsabilityHub helps to optimize user experience and increase conversion rates through A/B testing. If you don’t have audience volumes, you can test using UsabilityHub’s panel.

By using test marketing, you can ensure the success of your campaign or product, and deliver a better result to your customers. 

Once you're ready to start test marketing, UsabilityHub has the tools you need – try it for free.

Frequently asked questions about test marketing

What is test marketing?

Test marketing is a method of testing a new marketing campaign, product, or service in a limited, small-scale release before introducing it to a wider audience. It's a way to gather valuable feedback from customers and determine potential success before committing to a full-scale launch. It’s advisable to conduct test marketing as early as possible in the development of a campaign, product, or service.

What are the advantages of test marketing?

The advantages of test marketing include reducing risk, gathering customer feedback, improving product development, lowering costs, and gaining insights into the target audience's preferences and buying habits. 

What are the disadvantages of test marketing?

Test marketing has some disadvantages, such as limited market reach, customer confusion, missed opportunities, cost, and a negative impact on brand reputation. 

What types of test marketing are there?

There are several types of test marketing, including concept testing, prototype testing, limited release, email or direct mail testing, split testing or A/B testing, and pilot testing. 

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