Three Ways to Test a Campaign

If you are like most marketers, you lose sleep thinking about the various ways your campaign could run amok, blow up or otherwise fail. Let’s face it, the list of reasons things could go wrong is nightmarishly long: wrong files delivered to media outlets, talent not showing up on time, legal team nixing the product name at the eleventh hour or the client accidentally ingesting drugs (yes, that really happened). There seems to be no shortage of new, innovative ways for the proverbial wheels to come off of your marketing machine.


Rest assured. You can control, to a great degree, the extent to which your campaign will resonate with your target using any of these three basic testing methods.

Focus Groups
Hold small, in-person focus groups–dyads or triads are best–with members of your target to hear feedback or to conduct A/B testing of potential campaign directions. Conduct at least three focus groups so that you can discard one; sometimes participants are just not very participatory. Ask questions such as: What is your first reaction to this? How likely are you to take the suggested action? How likely are you to talk about this campaign with a friend?

Online Testing
Conduct an online survey of 10 questions among the target audience. If you do not have emails for this audience (via client contacts, partners, friends or family), respondent panels can always be purchased online. Don’t be afraid to post images or links as part of the survey, but be sure to test it thoroughly. Take the survey in test mode several times and ask others to take it as well. Input different answers to make sure that all questions, branch logic and programming are working correctly. Don’t forget to delete your test “completes” before launching.

Non-Traditional Testing
Promotional events and tradeshows offer the perfect opportunity to test your campaign. Use your party, website launch or booth as the venue to solicit campaign feedback. In some cases, you may be able to test different messages or sales pitches. You’ll get more consistent, reliable results if you use documented, consistent questions or discussion points for each respondent.


  1. I love the idea of campaign testing. I think providing clients with options like these on how to test their campaigns makes it more likely to buy in to the idea- which overall makes the campaign more effective. And now I have somewhere to reference when I need to sell them on the idea. Thanks for the insight!

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