Do copy testing for the digital age

1. Develop your research goals and questions for testing your copy.

First, start with defining your research goals. Create a list of things you want to learn from copy testing. You can ask yourself: What is it that you want to know? Focus on uncovering friction and copy blind spots. Next, formulate your research questions accordingly. For example, you can ask questions about overall copy such as, “What doubts and hesitations do you have about this?” or a specific section of the page “On a scale of 1 to 5, how interesting is this?”.

2. Recruit between five and fifteen panelists to be part of your study.

Find people interested in your offer or your target audience, but are not customers yet to avoid bias. For example, for consumer products, interest-based Facebook groups are a good place to find people. For specific B2B customers, recruit from LinkedIn. Compensate the panelists for their time. The more niche or hard to get people are, the more you need to pay them.

3. Conduct qualitative research sessions with each of your panelists.

Run individual research sessions with each panelist. You can use any video conferencing tool with screen-sharing functionality to conduct your research. Ask the research questions you have prepared as the panelist reads the copy.

4. Create a spreadsheet to gather all your research data in one place.

Compile all the questions and answers you got from the panelists on your spreadsheet. Alternatively, use tools like Wynter to automate the research process for you.

5. Analyze quantitative research results to determine if your message is clear, makes people care, and makes them want to keep reading.

To assess how clear your message is, you can ask: Do users understand your headline? Do users understand your value proposition? Is jargon or awkward phrasing getting in the way? To assess how much people care, you can ask: Are you talking about the things that people care about?  To assess how much people want to keep reading, you can ask: How interesting is the copy that comes after your headline? Are you doing a good job of engaging your customers? To ensure the answers are quantitative, ask for either yes or no answers, or a sliding scale (1-5).

6. Analyze qualitative research results to find places where your copy is incomplete, unclear, or offensive to your audience.

Use qualitative research to determine the words that your copy is missing. Identify incomplete or unclear product information as this can cause consumers to abandon their purchase. For example, after running a copy test on their website’s primary benefit page, SwipeGuide learned that testers were skeptical despite highlighting real, ROI-focused outcomes. They corrected this by embedding details about who achieved those results using testimonials from real people at real companies and explaining how they did it.

7. Assess qualitative research to determine when the words and copy you choose, do not resonate with your audience.

Identify trigger words that really turn your audience off based on the feedback you get. For example, SwipeGuide catalogues both good and bad keywords revealed in their qualitative research analysis. Another example, CXL conducted qualitative research to identify words and phrases that did not resonate with their audience. CXL found that certain words, like “Badass,” negatively triggered their audience and were able to remove them from their copy.