Are your messages hitting their target?

Frustrated messages
How do you know if your message is getting out there? And how well do you prepare your message for your audience?

These are important questions for any marketing endeavor, be it advertising for brand awareness, website flow for conversions or any other method you use to attract sales.

Preparing your message

Let’s first discuss preparing your message for your audience. It is critical to first identify your audience, because audiences can vary greatly in what they respond to.  The report by Mazaheri, E. et al. in the Journal of Business Research, 2011 ,on Online consumer behavior: Comparing Canadian and Chinese website visitors, provides a good example of how different audiences react to different website techniques.  For example:

“pleasure was the most influential type of emotions for Canadian customers. On the other hand, dominance was the key type of emotions for the more task oriented customers and its influences on the other cognitive and affective variables were stronger for the Chinese than for Canadians. These findings suggest that website designers should use different techniques to increase visitors’ feelings of pleasure and likeability of the website for Canadian and feeling of control over the website for Chinese customers. “ (Section 7)

Now most readers of my blog do not have to deal primarily with international audiences, but the lesson is still on point.  Varying audiences respond differently to changes in presentation.  And this is something that can be maximized for effectiveness. Again, the first thing you need to do is identify your audience.  Next you should do research into your audience’s likes/dislikes and how they respond to different message presentations.  Some of this can be gleaned from research papers online, and some needs to be gathered by research of your own audience.

Surveying usersTesting your effectiveness

The next point of checking your message’s effectiveness is post-mortem (or if a long campaign in vivo).  After your campaign is over, take a sampling of your intended audience and find out:

  1. if they saw your campaign
  2. if they were moved by your campaign to action (purchases)
  3. how different demographics perceived and received the message

For example, Los Angeles County in the summer of 2012 ran some research to see if their message was hitting the target. The resulting paper Relationship Between Nutritional Knowledge and the Amount of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Consumed  (Gase.L, et al. 2014) was published in  Health Education & Behavior  2014 vol. 41.  In their research they tested to find out:

  1. how many people were aware of the daily caloric intake requirements of the average adult
  2. how their knowledge (or lack thereof) of recommended daily caloric intake affected their behaviour
  3. what demographics were getting the message

(I’ve remodeled these three points above.)

In their research they found that their target demographics were not all getting the message.  Which could then be fed back into their planning for the next campaign;  this time with greater understanding of whom they are missing.

And this methodology can be applied easily by businesses to improve message effectiveness.


If you were to test your message today, who would you define your target audience as?  Do you think they’re getting your message? Do you know what techniques they’re most responsive to?



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