You’ve been there, and I have too.
It’s that moment of sheer exhaustion when you finally put the finishing touches on that new ebook you’re going to give away, that audio recording you’ll sell, or that video series you’re using to launch your new membership site.
You’re done. Finally!
Except — and I hate to be the one to break the bad news — you’re not.
Because after you’ve put the finishing touches on that new piece of content you’ll offer for an opt-in or a purchase, the true final phase is running quality assurance tests (QA, for short).
Before we continue, let me make a confession.
I’m writing this post based on personal experience.
You see, sometimes I write the post I need to read. And this testing phase is one I’ve glossed over too many times in the past.
It hasn’t always been pretty. Thankfully, my readers and customers are — for the most part — lovely, patient people. When things haven’t worked as they expected, they let me know, I responded quickly, and I was able to remedy the situation.
Now that I’m part of the Copyblogger team and I see first-hand the time and resources we devote to testing our products before we release them, I’m inspired to make testing a crucial final step for every product I create.
That’s why you’re reading this post today. It’s for me, and it’s for you. Let’s learn together.
Customer experience: a pivotal point in time
Opting-in to your mailing list or pulling out a credit card to purchase something on your site is a make-or-break customer experience moment.
We all know it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to convince someone who has never bought from you to make a first purchase.
That’s why this crucial moment has to leave customers feeling like they can trust your business. They should feel like their information is in good hands.
Don’t miss the opportunity to make a great impression
If your testing has been haphazard or lacking, this post will give you some ideas for incorporating testing into your everyday activities.
We’ll talk about what to test for, and how to build testing into your production schedule so it’s a natural extension of the product creation process.
And we’ll be talking about how to look for a “test friend” to help you along the way.
Testing 1-2-3: the most important touch points to test
The cardinal rule of testing? Test all elements that affect the customer experience.
Wherever you ask for a transaction of any kind — whether it’s an opt-in, a purchase, or a form — you’ll ensure a smooth, pleasant experience for your users when you test every step of the way.
1. Test your opt-in process
The opt-in experience is rich with opportunities to impress your customers.
- Test your invitation to opt in. Does your invitation to opt in set expectations for what they’ll receive, how it will be delivered, and how often they’ll hear from you?
- Test your thank you messages. After opting in, most systems display a thank you page, and many include a “confirmation message.” This first message is delivered by email and asks for users to confirm their opt in.
- Test the content on your thank you page. Does the content explain that users must check their inbox and confirm their subscription to your email list (for double-opt-in email lists)?
- Test your confirmation message. The confirmation email message should reiterate what they’re signing up for, the information they’ll get, and the frequency with which it will be delivered.
- Test your delivery. Once the opt-in is confirmed, check to be sure the item you’ve promised in exchange for their email addresses is delivered in a timely manner.
- Test your follow-up messages. If your content will be delivered with an autoresponder or drip method on your website, make sure everything works as advertised.
2. Test your purchase process
Got buyers? Great. Now don’t turn them off by putting out a product you haven’t thoroughly tested.
- Test your call-to-action elements. When offering a product in exchange for a purchase, are you clearly describing what will happen when the customer purchases?
- Test your communication. Don’t stop after you’ve told them what’s in your product. Let them know what to expect throughout the buying process. Walk them through each step to eliminate confusion.
- Test your thank you messages. Thank your buyers on your thank you page and in any email message you send. But go beyond that — give them an easy way to contact you if they have a problem. Carefully monitor the email address where customer queries come in so you can respond quickly.
- Test your product delivery. How can you test the purchase process without running up your credit card charges? I like to play the “move the decimal” game. Decide on your pricing, set up your products, and then move the decimal over two spaces to the left. $247 becomes $2.47. $97 becomes $.97. Test your purchases from start to finish using a credit card, and verify that everything goes through as expected. Just make sure to move those decimals back into place before you make your product live.
- Test your follow-up messages. Most online products include some type of follow-up email series that happens post-purchase. You can use these messages to continue building relationships with your buyers. Offer support, bonus resources, and even additional products they might be interested in. As part of your testing, check these messages to be sure they arrive as expected and say what you want them to say.
3. Test your forms
Any time you ask site visitors to fill out a form, you’re asking for a commitment.
Whether it’s a simple contact form or a complex survey, your customers’ time and energy need to be respected.
That’s why I recommend you test your forms thoroughly before you make them live.
- Make sure form replies are being registered as you expect.
- Confirm that form content is being forwarded to the right recipient.
- Check that all the information you’re trying to gather is being collected properly in your form.
How to make testing fun: find a “test” friend
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with these recommendations, I don’t blame you. I’d much rather be creating content than testing it!
But because one bad experience can turn a customer off permanently, we can’t leave testing out of the product-creation process.
That’s where finding a “test” friend can help.
A test friend is someone who has an online business like you do. He or she is also interested in providing site visitors with a smooth customer experience.
When you’re getting close to wrapping up your product-creation process, alert your test friend. Let her know you’d like her help. Give her an idea of what you’d like her to test, and how much time it will take.
Line up her tests, and send her links and instructions for what you’d like her to do. Spell out what should happen so your test friend knows what to look for. Ask your test friend to note:
- Anything that doesn’t work as expected.
- Any part of the process that’s confusing.
- Anything that makes her hesitate or think too hard.
Build this time into your product-creation process. Plan to spend some time refining your offers based on test results.
And be ready to refund any purchases your friend makes in the name of testing. (It’s a good idea to test your refund process anyway.)
Of course, having a test friend means being a test friend. So make yourself available when your friend needs testing, too.
Out-test your competition for a better customer experience
A smooth, easy, reliable customer experience will lead to customers who trust your business.
It will build your authority. And you’ll create repeat customers who know they can count on you delivering exactly what you promise.
So get out there, find a test friend, decide what to test, and out-test your competition. Your customers will thank you.
Join us in Denver this May …
Pamela Wilson is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
Authority Rainmaker is a carefully designed live educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy. Immediately accelerate your business with integrated content, search, and social media marketing (plus invaluable networking).