A few months back, I published a post on LinkedIn on the two best ways for B2B startups to test their messaging (check out the post here). The post received great engagement, and hence I decided to write a full article on how B2B businesses in general (not just startups) can leverage various techniques to test messaging and communication before they go all in with their marketing campaigns.
As we discuss the 7 methods, we will also look at the tools and tactics you can use to implement them. So buckle yourself up for a value-packed read!
Why is it important for B2B businesses to test messaging?
We all know the key reasons why you should test your messaging. Your messaging is what communicates the value your product offers to your customers and prospects. The success of your marketing campaigns and GTM (Go To Market) activities will heavily depend on how good or bad your messaging is.
But there is a bigger problem if you don’t get your messaging right from a business standpoint – you will end up burning a lot of dollars unnecessarily.
You have decided to start investing in LinkedIn ads. On average to make it work, you need to spend a minimum of $2000 to $3000 per month. If you don’t nail your messaging in your campaigns, and the ads don’t resonate with your target audience, you are going to end up wasting tens of thousands of dollars.
This is the case with just one channel. Think about this happening across channels for all your products and services. Also, consider all the effort you put into designing a marketing or a GTM campaign. That also goes useless. Further, given that attention spans are going down, you lose your audience very fast with the wrong messaging.
You don’t want these to happen as a business. These are the biggest reasons why you should have your B2B brand and product messaging figured out before you go heavy with your marketing campaigns – especially paid ones.
7 powerful ways to test B2B messaging
Here are the 7 techniques using which you can test if your messaging and communication are relatable to your target audience or not:
- Google search ads
- Email marketing
- Customer interviews and surveys
- Conversational intelligence tools
- Social media
- Offline events
1. Google search ads to test B2B messaging
Google search ads are one of the fastest ways of testing messaging in B2B businesses. This is because:
- They are fast to set up.
- By using different combinations of titles and descriptions, you can figure out which ads are getting the highest CTR (Click Through Rate) and conversions.
There are a couple of ways in which you can do the testing.
First, try different titles and descriptions in the same ad group. The second method involves following a common pattern or theme for the copy within the same ad group while using a different theme for another ad group. The hierarchical nature of Google ads allows you to do the testing at different levels (If you have more questions about how to use Google ads effectively for your business, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com).
2. Email marketing
I consider email marketing to be very similar to ads. In both, you are using words, images, and videos to ‘hook’ your potential customer. The key differences here are:
- In email, you have more real estate to do testing such as the subject line, name of the sender, preview text, the hook, body content, and CTA (Call To Action).
- The content tends to be a little longer than ads in general.
To do testing, you need to send email campaigns to your list, preferably by changing only one variable at a time (that’s what A/B testing is), such as the subject line for example.
To make the testing less complicated, you can test 1 or 2 parameters in every campaign. Otherwise, you might end up creating too many email variants, and each segment might not have enough recipients.
Now let us come to tools.
A/B testing can be painful if you do it all manually. A major player in the marketing automation space HubSpot comes with the A/B testing feature. There are also other specialized email tools like Mailmodo that offer A/B testing as a feature.
Some of you might have another concern here. What if you don’t have a large enough email list already?
The workaround in such a case is to use a database like ZoomInfo or Apollo.io to download emails of your target customers and build a segmented list. A best practice here is to start with a few recipients (say around 250 to 300). This helps you in the following ways:
- Prevent your email sending domain from being affected.
- Safeguard your brand reputation by not performing too many experiments with your ideal customers.
You can also consider selecting your low-priority prospects as the test set if you prefer.
Note: Emails don’t have to be text or image-based alone. You can use innovative tools like Bonjoro or Vidyard to send video emails. This way, you can test the way you present yourself in the video as well. A newsletter is another type of email marketing you can experiment with where you can test messaging using subtle selling techniques.
This should have been first on the list, isn’t it? 😀
You probably know that a website is one of the best channels to experiment with your messaging. But maybe you didn’t know how to do it the right way.
The key of course is the copy. It should convey:
- What your product or service is all about?
- Who does it help?
- What are the benefits it offers your customers (including, if possible, a quantifiable ROI)?
- How easy or difficult is it to start using your product?
The next thing to ask yourself is, once you design your website copy covering all these, how do you test it?
There are a few ways to do it:
- Measure the number of button clicks. If you see that a few buttons are getting more clicks than others, it either means that the CTA text is better or the related copy (messaging) is of high quality.
- Use a tool like Hotjar to do a heatmap analysis and see where people are spending more time or clicking more often. This will give you a sense of what website visitors are most interested in. If you are looking for a free tool to do this, try Microsoft Clarity.
- Use a webpage or landing page A/B testing tool like Optimizely, VWO, or AB Tasty. You can try different variants of messaging and copy on different pages and see which one works better.
- Use a personalization tool to dynamically change the copy based on the characteristics of website visitors. This will tell you whether personalized messaging is having an impact on your website or not. You can use any ABM/personalization tool like Kwanzoo, Demandbase, or 6sense to do this. You could also go with specialized personalization tools like Salesforce Evergage or Adobe Target.
4. Customer interviews and surveys for testing B2B messaging
The quality of the insights you get from customer interviews and surveys will depend on the questions you frame.
When you do a survey, it’s better to have more multiple-choice questions than open-ended ones. However, if you are doing 1-on-1 customer interviews, try to include more open-ended questions with an aim to get more qualitative insights, which you can then leverage to tweak your messaging.
You can use survey tools like SurveyMonkey to make data collection and communication easier. If you are already on HubSpot, consider using HubSpot’s customer feedback software.
Related article: How To Collect Customer Feedback And Integrate It Into Marketing?
5. Conversational intelligence tools
AI-based conversational intelligence platforms are gaining in popularity as they give key insights into what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to sales conversations and communications.
For example, check out the below video that explains how a VP of sales can use Gong effectively:
Now, how does this help with testing messaging?
Conversational intelligence platforms like Gong and Chorus AI (now acquired by ZoomInfo) analyze emails and calls to tell you what resonates with your customers the most. As you analyze more and more conversations, certain patterns will start to emerge as to why a specific messaging is working while something else is not.
You will also be able to spot risks associated with a particular deal to take proactive steps. Leveraging these key insights as a marketer requires you to work closely with sales to learn more about the language of the customers.
Related article : How conversational AI is transforming marketing (and sales)
6. Social media
For B2B, LinkedIn is by far the best platform to test your messaging.
But everyone knows how to post on LinkedIn. So, what’s the big deal?
While you can use posts on the company page or leaders’ profiles to get some sense of what is connecting with your target audience, you need to go one step further and look for more avenues.
Here are a couple of ways to do it:
- LinkedIn message/Inmail (instead of doing messaging manually, you can use a tool like Dripify to automate the process). And of course, you need SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) to work on this. In this case, the script you use while reaching out becomes the messaging.
- Polls: Polls work well if you are able to get 100+ votes since that would represent a statistically significant sample. Try to gauge the affinity towards different types of messaging from your audience using polls. The main challenge here is going to be limiting the number of characters of each option to 30.
7. Offline events
You probably didn’t expect this one to make it to the list. Give it a pause, and think about how events can help finetune your messaging.
There are different ways in which events can help depending on the stage of your business, the nature of your participation in the event, and the type of the event itself.
If you have a speaking slot in a conference to talk about your products or services, you will be able to see direct responses from the audience. If not during the session, you will be able to gauge this when people come up to you and speak post the talk.
The above is possible only in large events and conferences. Another way to test your messaging is to go to small gatherings and networking events. This works extremely well when you are in the early years of your business. You will be able to get candid feedback from the other participants on whether you have placed your product well enough in terms of the messaging. Here is an example of such an event.
Final words about B2B messaging
Arriving at the right messaging sometimes might need multiple sets of trial and error. In most cases, once you finalize a messaging, you run with it for a while until you introduce a new product or change the strategic direction of the business.
However, if you learn over time that your messaging is not striking a chord with your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), there is no shame in crafting a new one. What usually happens is that businesses learn over time and get better at understanding customers. With that knowledge comes newer thoughts and out-of-the-box approaches. That might encourage you to finetune messaging to connect with your target audience better.
There are a few channels I have excluded today purposefully. LinkedIn ads are an example. Given that LinkedIn ads are expensive, that’s a place you should go to once you have a fair bit of idea on what type of messaging works the best.
Another example is Google display ads. I didn’t recommend it because display ads cannot be associated with search intent as much as search ads do. Also, since creatives also play a role, it’s ideal to nail your messaging first using search ads and then expand to display ads.
About the author
Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.
Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.
You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.