How validating, research and collaborations can help make your projects better

I will share examples of how validating our campaigns at an early stage and put it in front of customers really helped me and my team see how we can make our marketing inputs better. Numbers were not perfect, sample size wasn’t perfect, however the transformation of before and after were enough to make me believe that every marketing team could use this.

I am not saying there is a perfect way to come up with a campaign. We perform usability test with the resources we had, the learnings we got were still valid.

And how my team of 3 was able to make 6 campaigns in a period of 8 months.

  1. Meet with people who know things you don’t.

Before you say this is my idea we took it from the, Example of 1st campaign adaptation of google sprint.

The books talks how you can come up with an idea and test an idea in just 5 days. But on the 1st day they suggest meeting with people in your company that you don’t normally talk to.

The problem that we had was that customers needed to publish 2 pages in 60 days.

We knew we wanted to impact customer behavior in some way. We interviewed, Jonas Director of CS told us that the main request they get from customers is How do I install my cname? So from there we decided to make that our first project.

Screen shot of our cname campaign that you can check out here.

My learning here, if we have never chatted with Jonas, he would have never pointed out that our no.1 ticket was about this issue. So we based an entire campaign to be about domains only. So our first campaign was about providing a guide for people to set-up their cname faster and have everything they need in one place.

2. Invite members of your target audience to tear things apart.

Being in your own bubble, with marketing understand we assume, we set up campaigns based on how we would go through them. We designed for ourselves instead of another person on the other side. We learned that you have to put your campaigns in front of your target audience before they get out of the door, they will point out exactly fails.

Screenshot of landing page we did for convertables launch pre-usability test.

The first thing that our customer told us was “I have no idea what this is” referring to the word overlays”.

We were so used to the language that was established internally that we assumed that everyone would understand.

Screenshot of our

Based on this learning to make it super clear we added an image in the header and try to explain as much as we could about what were overlays (which technically are pop-ups) before the fold. This was eye opening as we realized that how someone from the outside will really see our content. Removed call to actions as the evaluator is not ready to create an overlay yet. You can see the final result here.

3. Stop assuming what your audience wants from you.

For our skip ahead campaign we assumed that the evaluator would like to have the option to pick their own path. Again when we did the usability test and discovered that evaluators where quite overwhelmed in having the option of picking their own path and didn’t know where to start.

Screen shot of pre and after usability testing

Based on that learning we added numbers so evaluators could have some guidance on where to go first, and don’t have to think.

4. Your whole team needs to be part of the process.

You don’t believe feedback until you hear first hand. Your whole team has to be there.It is important to have everyone doing the test not just designers, in our case, the strategist, copywriter and designer were part of the process. They ran the usability test as well as prepped it. We came up with the questions as a team, and scheduled meetings and contacted our customers.

As a designer I am sure many of you can relate to this when you receive content from the writers; How many times, have you said, hey could you make this shorter? Or as a writer I am sure you can relate to asking the designer : Could you change the colour of this? If the person who wrote the copy sits at a usability test, sees how will the user interacts with their content and vice-versa with the designer or developer they will be more empathetic to make the changes down further down the line.

Screenshot of a page from our campaign generator pre-usability testing

For example, when we did our campaign generator, people said: “I would never read this, I am only reading it because I am doing this test”, because we were all in the same room and saw the pain points it was a no brainer to make the copy as concise and to the point as possible.

Screen shot of campaign generator after our usability test

5. Prototype then polish things up

Screenshot of our prototype we did for the cname campaign

Prototypes are a great way to see how your user will interact with your content. I am a fan of doing prototypes with just wireframes or black and white and gray content, is a great way for people to just focus on the content and structure and not get distracted by design.

In our case we build most of our prototype in Unbounce. Prototypes don’t need to be fancy, they can even be done with paper! The goal of prototypes is to validate your idea and see how the user interact with the content.

In conclusion, if you collaborate, validate, research and test, and everyone in the project is involved from day one (this to me has been the best learning), you will automatically get better quality work. And avoid fires. To re-cap:

  1. Meet with people who know things you don’t.

2. Invite members of your target audience to tear things apart.

3. Stop assuming what your audience wants from you.

4. Collaborate.

5. Prototype, then polish things up…

And next time you are running a campaign don’t blame time as an excuse for not doing usability test or validating your concept. As I described on the examples above is all about scoping it out, we were only a team of 3 with little resources, and if you can’t get external contributors doing an internal test is always better than none, and if you can’t get more than 2 or 3 doing 3 usability test is better than none too.