The Pros and Cons of Message Testing
28 Jun 2020

The Pros and Cons of Message Testing

Brand messaging is the brand’s voice. Accurate messaging allows consumers to understand the brand’s value (why it is useful/worthwhile) and what it stands for. Successful messaging will portray the brand promise and encourage purchase intent. Message testing research among the target audience is important. There are many advantages to this methodology and one disadvantage that you should be aware of. 


Quick Feedback

Using an online survey to test methodology is a quick process. The questionnaire is often standard and the research company updates it to incorporate the brand messaging that your brand is looking to test. Other methodologies in market research can take up to two months to complete. If brand messaging goes through the express route, a brand can have a preliminary report about the findings within 2 weeks of kickoff.

Nuanced Understanding

There are a few key survey techniques that allow for an in-depth understanding of your messaging.

Highlighter Tool

The highlighter tool will allow for participants to highlight the exact parts of the messaging that they like and dislike. Additionally, they can also include open-ended feedback to give further understanding for why they like or dislike a certain aspect of the messaging. 


Using a MaxDiff methodology will also allow the brand to understand exactly how much a message will lead to sales.  The MaxDiff is a trade-off analysis technique that can help determine which messaging or attributes directly influence the decision process. The MaxDiff is an alternative to a standard rating scale that often leads you to believe every attribute is essential. This questioning forces respondents to make choices between attributes, which results in a more robust data set.

Use this technique to prioritize which benefits/value propositions to incorporate and determine what messaging to include. A brand can test up to twenty succinct messages using this technique. 

  • Randomly present ~5 attributes (at a time) to respondents. This is where the Max Diff is utilized – this analysis predicts the response for each possible combination (there are 3.2 million possible combinations).
  • For example, the study could tell that a message is 2.9 times more likely to lead to a sale than another message.

Normative Data

In a message testing survey, respondents can assess the concept against a series of attributes such as learn more, innovative, etc. Compare these attributes against overall norms.

In market research, norms (also called normative data or benchmarks) are baselines established to compare your data against. It allows you to determine if the results are above or below par. They are particularly popular in advertising and brand testing and allow a better understanding of how brands and advertisements compare against the rest of the market.

Establish norms by creating an average aggregate of all the surveys commissioned by clients that ask the same questions.


Removes Polarizing Options

When you’re trying to please everyone, you can end up pleasing no one. Therefore, it is important to remember that polarizing messaging can be a good thing. It allows a brand to stand out from the crowd. In order to avoid this happening after testing, make sure that the messaging is unique and differentiating. For example, the winner of a message test is often low-cost or discounts – pick the next most popular message. Low cost is not differentiating. 

If your company is interested in content marketing research, please reach out to [email protected], and we will be happy to schedule a call to discuss the research objectives with you.

In addition, check out Provoke Insights research services here.

Read some of the latest blogs in the Pros and Cons Series:

  1. The Pros and Cons of Survey Research
  2. The Pros and Cons of Online Focus Groups

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