Both articles from this week’s reading explore the concept of message testing to determine how different strategies and tactics work across different audiences. Online consumer behavior: Comparing Canadian and Chinese website visitors studied and compared how Canadian Students and Chinese Students (both in Canada) and how different emotional factors influenced how the two demographic groups interacted with and preferred their online information.
Developing Media Interventions to Reduce Household Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption was about a public health campaign to educate the Philadelphia area about the dangers or high sugar consumption in sweetened beverages. This campaign was started with a study of what kinds of messages were most effective for their target audience and then built the campaign based on the study’s findings. This study and campaign were not focused on internet user behavior, where the first one was.
I believe that understanding your target audience in every way possible is the key to persuasive communication efforts, whether it’s advertising, public interest, or otherwise. That way you know how to craft your message to obtain the desired behavior from your audience. This is also true for political campaigns. I think that’s a good example of where a lot of money, talent and effort goes into researching target audiences and addressing what they want to hear. For example, Barack Obama is on social media now…. Why? Because the entire nation is on social media. It’s to reach and engage followers because that appeals to them.
Studying an audience and testing the outcomes of different messages is valuable because you understand how they view your issue, which makes it easier to identify opportunities and challenges and how to approach them. Also, media planners or researches could be incorrect about what messages will be most effective, so it’s important to test them. This can provide insights on how to further improve messaging and audience understanding. For example, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage study found that people were less likely to respond to images of obese children than other messaging tactics. It is important to understand and confirm these things to maximize the effectiveness of the campaign.
You can also apply this to advertising campaigns by running tests of different kinds of copy, creatives, media inventory, etc. to see what works best for the current campaign. Clients usually find those insights helpful, too.
1) How much do you research target audiences in your current role?
2) If so, do you think your organization puts too much or too little priority on audience understanding?
3) Do you have any experience with studies or campaigns that use split-testing or message testing as part of their efforts?