Are You Testing Like You Should?

BY Celisa Steele


testingOr maybe I should ask, “What Do You Really Know About Your Education Market?”

The problem is I don’t know which question I should ask—unless I test which blog post title is most effective.

When we think about learning and education, testing inevitably comes up. Should we offer a pre-test and a post-test? How many self-checks?

But some folks in the education business forget they have to think about the testing that needs to happen beyond any assessments grounded in the content.

I’m talking about market testing.

A Testing Lesson from Content Marketers

Good content marketers know the importance of testing. If they’re working on an e-mail campaign, they split-test different headlines to figure out which gets the best open rates.

They work hard to come up with good headlines they think will work. But they don’t assume they know—they test their assumptions and base decisions on their audience’s behavior.

For those in the education business, there’s the obvious parallel to be drawn to the marketing of educational products. Whether you have a marketing team to lean on or have to figure it out on your own, testing which titles, which descriptions, which catalog layouts get the best results (sales, enrollments, whatever metrics are important to you) is critical.

If you’ve taken the time to build a good product, don’t skimp when taking it to market—or it may not matter how good the product is.

Testing as Complement to the Beta Mentality

The other lesson to learn may be less obvious: Remember there’s testing to be done even as you’re developing your educational products.

At the end of last Thursday’s post, I touched briefly on the idea of beta mentality. Don’t aim for perfection (it’s unattainable anyway). Instead, develop a minimum viable product, and take that to your market to see the response.

Maybe you got it exactly right. If so, you can invest in building out the product more fully, knowing there’s a market for it.

Maybe you got it totally wrong. In which case, you can scrap the product without the anguish of having wasted a ton of time and resources.

And maybe you got it somewhere in between, and what you learn from the market feedback can help you improve, or remove, the rickety-rackety parts and forefront the shiny and useful.

You can even go so far as to test multiple minimum viable products to see which shows the strongest. You could offer a Webinar on a topic and a miniseries of podcasts on the same topic to see which format flies.

Have the Courage of Your Testing Conviction

While few would argue testing is bad, it’s not done as much as it should be—I’ve heard it compared to flossing.

Maybe cognitive biases, like groupthink, hold us back (“But we’ve always promoted our education this way…”), or maybe it’s the simple fact that testing takes time and planning. Whichever the case, I think it’s worth cutting through our biases to see what testing can give in the long term. So here’s to having the courage of the testing conviction.

Celisa

P.S. Tomorrow we’re offering a free Webinar (thanks to the sponsorship of Meridian Knowledge Solutions) on Selecting a Learning Management System: Picking the Right Technology for Your Association’s Vision. If you’re free at 1 pm Eastern, fate might be telling you something.

Register for the Selecting an LMS free Webinar.

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