As a digital marketing agency, your clients expect you to deliver creative strategies and output that will help them meet their goals. Webinar registrations, ebook downloads, email campaigns, landing pages, you name it! However, ensuring that every single output is spotless can be challenging in a fast-paced environment. Quality Assurance (QA) testing should be a key component in your production process—but is often overlooked, underestimated, and rushed.

What is QA testing in marketing?

Quality Assurance (QA) is usually associated with coding and software development. When it comes to marketing, the QA process ensures that marketing collaterals are done as perfectly as possible. 

Effective QA prevents campaigns from going live with errors and flaws. Even if your team finishes projects quickly, something as small as an extra letter or wrong email can result in customer churn and damage your reputation.

Why do marketing agencies need external QA testing?

Missing punctuation marks, wrong email workflow, landing page errors… these mistakes can be easily overlooked. 

And while they may seem simple, the impact can be devastating.

Top-notch quality assurance, however, requires resources for it to be effective. 

For example, the World Quality Report recommends that the QA budget should make up 25% of development costs. Though this is more about software development, it shows how important it is to maintain a high standard of quality and how heavy the resource requirement is. 

Since QA can very tedious and time-consuming, external QA is a solution that agencies are starting to consider more.

Outsourcing QA testing has the following benefits:

  1. No additional hiring or training required. You won’t need to find resources and time to focus on hiring capable people. Instead, you can just offload to a credible and trustworthy team.
  2. Wide testing scope. Depending on your requirements, external QA testers can assist you in full, partial, or just hygiene checks every now and then.
  3. Unbiased testing and insights. When one person or an entire team looks at something repeatedly, the brain tends to fill in any gaps. External QA testers come from an external point of view, making them an objective party.
  4. Variety of skills that cover different deliverables. Outsourcing QA means having a wide range of skills and tools available at your disposal that can be used for testing different projects.

Automated testing vs. human testers? That is the question!’

Automated QA testing uses specialized software to run pre-scripted and loaded test cases. This allows testers to run hundreds or even thousands of tests simultaneously—effectively saving time.

However, is automated testing really the best direction for marketing QA? 

The truth: While manual testing is the most time-consuming activity in the testing cycle, human testers are far superior when it comes to the quality of testing.

Here’s why human testers are still better than automated testing:

  1. Humans save time and resources when testing unique and one-off scenarios.
    Automation works best for repetitive tasks and identical tests. However, marketing strategies and campaigns are rarely the same. It wouldn’t make sense to invest time in creating custom automation for a test that you will only run once.
  2. Humans take user experience and customer journey into consideration.
    Automated testing can verify if links are all working, or if each email’s trigger is correct. However, computers can’t detect if a landing page is easy to navigate. Or if an email looks aesthetically pleasing. Or if this specific retargeting ad will make customers click. When it comes to thinking and acting like consumers, human testers are way better than robots.
  3. Humans communicate and collaborate.
    Human testers can provide qualitative feedback and even collaborate directly with other parties involved. They can suggest different angles or even creative ideas—which automated testers cannot.

9 test use cases that need real human testers

To further elaborate on the importance of human testers, here are nine test use cases that really need a human perspective.

Use Case #1: Landing page testing

A landing page is a staple in most marketing campaigns and activities like webinars, gated content, or even events. In fact, almost half of marketers choose to create a new landing page for each new campaign. 

Subject your landing pages to rigorous testing to make sure everything is working fine and appearing correctly. Plus, know how you can best optimize your landing pages for maximum conversions. 

But while automated testing can scan your landing pages for bugs and tech issues, human testers can:

  • Identify images and videos that are not loading correctly
  • Review if photos and videos are appropriate for the campaign
  • Comment on the user experience
  • Test the landing page on different screens and devices
  • Test out interactive elements like form submissions and corresponding email workflows
  • Give feedback on the aesthetic and overall design and copy

Use Case #2: Website form testing

Every single form on your website should look good and work seamlessly. After all, these are the entry points for potential customers, and you can’t risk having something that might turn them away.

Here’s a list of what human testers can do for your website form tests:

  • Test responsiveness across different devices
  • Comment on the effectiveness of the form’s copy, error messages, thank you messages, as well as placement
  • Test the user experience from filling out the form to what happens after the form is submitted
  • Check formatting or design errors 
  • Review questions and fields if they are easy to understand
  • Test out different scenarios for forms with conditional logic
  • Test integrations with your existing CRM or other platforms

Use Case #3: Email campaign testing

The majority of marketers use email as part of their marketing strategies—and for good reason. Email ROI is $36 per $1spent. Some companies even achieve ROI greater than $70

The truth is, email is 40 times more effective at getting new customers compared to Facebook and Twitter combined. There’s one downside though—once an email has been sent, you can’t take it back.

Since emails are received by individuals, human testers are your best bet. That way, your emails can be tested to make sure there are no errors that recipients will spot. They can help do the following:

  • Check if the contact list and recipients are all correct
  • Review the personal tokens like first names, company names, etc.
  • Check the copy of the subject line, preview text, and body for any typographical or grammatical errors
  • Test how the email appears across different devices
  • Test all links in the email

Use Case #4: eCommerce store testing

According to Nasdaq, 95% of all purchases will be through eCommerce by 2040. What does this mean? It means that if you’re an eCommerce brand, you have your work cut out for you.

The competition will increase, so you have to stand out and give new and existing customers the best eCommerce experience they could ever ask for. 

When it comes to testing your eCommerce store, human testers can provide qualitative feedback and suggestions on how to improve the entire customer journey. This includes:

  • Responsive testing across all devices to evaluate the purchase experience on different screens
  • Trying out the signup process including the confirmation email and if new customers are enrolled in the new customer email flow
  • Trying the log-in process including scenarios like a forgotten password 
  • Checking if new registrations are synced to the corresponding CRM
  • Troubleshooting promos and discount codes
  • Testing all relevant workflows (cart recovery, browse recovery, post-purchase flow)
  • Reviewing product pages and checking if all images and descriptions are correct and attractive

Use Case #5: Presentation testing

Whether it’s a pitch deck, a webinar deck, or a sales deck, they need to be spic and span. Since all presentations are unique, human testers are important because of their ability to give qualitative feedback.

Checking presentations is important to ensure:

  • Content is accurate, informative, valuable, and appropriate for the target audience
  • Slides are complete and arranged in the proper order
  • Interactive elements work properly (links, QR codes, animations, transitions, etc.)
  • Embedded videos (if any) are working
  • Notes match the right slide

Additionally, human testers can ask potential questions that the audience might ask, preparing you for the actual presentation.

Use Case #6: Chatbot testing

Chatbots are now a must-have. On Facebook Messenger, there are already over 300,000 chatbots operating. By 2025, the global chatbot market is predicted to reach over $1.2 billion.

One thing though—if chatbots are not set up properly, online users will end up frustrated. Now, since chatbots are automated, the best way to test them is to run them through human testers.

That way, human testers can assess if the chatbots are really able to provide a great customer experience. Human testers can help with:

  • Evaluating if chatbot’s responses are correct and make sense
  • Testing logic and different chatbot options
  • Checking chatbots’ navigation flow if they are user-friendly and easy to understand
  • Testing if contact details are captured and imported into the database
  • Reviewing how error messages are displayed if the bot fails to comprehend the question

Use Case #7: Zapier integration testing

Zapier is an integration platform that helps non-technical users set up “triggers” and corresponding “actions” to connect different applications and software that don’t have native integrations.

Data shows that there is a huge increase in the usage of no-code tools like Zapier, especially in the last two years. Today, around 6 million people visit the Zapier website every month. 

Interestingly, even though Zapier helps set up automation, human testers are necessary to ensure that the integrations work. After all, each “zap” set up by individuals or agencies is different.

Human testers can act like your actual customers. They can recreate different scenarios to test the efficiency and reliability of the zaps—whether you’re setting up a WordPress form to Hubspot integration, or a NinjaForms to Google Sheets action. 

Use Case #8: Marketing workflow testing

Marketing and sales teams have different ways of moving their leads down the funnel. 

For example, some in-house marketing teams set up automated workflows so that leads are automatically qualified and assigned to a salesperson. Some teams set up a workflow that identifies a priority lead that will be assigned to the Sales Director or the CEO right away.

To test out your marketing workflow, you will need human testers who can test out each and every possible scenario of your customer journey, such as:

  • When a new lead fills out your contact form and receives a series of emails
  • When an unqualified lead fills out your contact form
  • How leads are assigned to sales team members 
  • How sales calls are scheduled 
  • How contacts are segmented depending on various criteria (ex. Inactive contacts, location, industry, etc.)

Use Case #9: First-click and 5-seconds testing

User experience is a huge deal today. In fact, its ROI is 9,900%. A lot of UX success banks on first impressions and how easy it is for online users to find what they need from you.

First-click QA testing, for example, measures how easy is to complete a task on a website or an app. The truth is, when people get their first click right, they are more likely to find what they are looking for. If they make the wrong first click, chances are they won’t find what they are looking for.

In first-click tests, human testers are assigned a specific task like “Buy this product.” Then they simulate what they will click on to be able to accomplish that task. At the same time, human testers can:

  • Provide feedback on the placement of visual elements, buttons, icons, and menus
  • Review the copy and the language used for the page, labels, captions, and even hyperlinks
  • Give different perspectives on overall UX 

On the other hand, 5-seconds tests are also about first impressions. These tests work by showing a user a screenshot or a photo of a design or a webpage for only five seconds. Then, that user is asked different questions about what they saw or got from the image.

Studies show that visitors only need a few seconds to assess whether they will stay and look around your website or bounce. With 5-second tests, you can get real feedback from real humans on whether or not they are receiving the message or image you want them to get.

TL;DR: Outsource your QA to actual human testers at scale

The truth is, while automated testing is fast and efficient, there are some tests that only humans can do. Specifically, any test requiring qualitative feedback, creative juices, and unique feedback will render better results if tested by humans. After all, you’re targeting real people and real customers.