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User Testing for Agencies: Make Your Next Pitch with an Army Standing Behind You

| November 3, 2014
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Today’s post is an excerpt from our eBook, How Agencies Can Get Clients (and Keep Them Happy) with User Testing. We’ll also be hosting a webinar on November 11 with Jeremiah Calvino, founder of Blend Integrated Marketing, about how agencies can benefit from user research.

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Being an agency has its own set of challenges. How do you write a convincing proposal without access to a prospective client’s analytics? How do you prove your concepts when your client’s opinion always trumps yours?

User testing can become your secret to getting clients and keeping them happy.

Create more convincing proposals for prospective clients

Whether you love or hate the sales part of agency work, you know it’s challenging. For starters, you don’t have access to a potential client’s analytics to find out where they’re hurting the most. You also have to constantly consider how much time you’re investing into the proposal; you need to make sure you nail it so that you don’t throw your time away. How do you build a convincing proposal with limited access and a limited budget?

Imagine how powerful it would be to approach a client with third-party research in hand—significant and undeniable usability issues demonstrated by real, unbiased user—as a backdrop to your proposal.

The “your baby is ugly” message is important, but it will be better received from a customer than it will be from you. After all, when clients see someone in their target market trying to do whatever the key action is and the user can’t figure it out, is confused, doesn’t trust them, or never even finds them, it’s hard to argue with the need for a solution.

Suddenly you’re not an annoying critic getting the proverbial door-in-the-face; you’re the first person in line when they become ready to listen to proposals.

And all you needed were some usability studies.

What kind of usability studies? Ones that test every aspect of a client’s online presence: trust, landing pages, mobile, competitive tests, social, etc. This “usability audit” can become the foundation of your proposal for your entire scope of work.

Get new work from existing clients

Similarly, you can run a usability audit for pitching to clients you already have. Sometimes you can get in a rut with a client and need to generate some new ideas—simply to increase the amount of work you’re able to deliver for them or to broaden the types of work you’re doing for them. A usability audit can also help you discover problems that you and your client didn’t even realize were an issue and give you more opportunities to provide greater value.

Find problems and solve them

It’s not good enough to just solve problems. You have to be able to find problems in the first place. Agencies are hired because they can not only provide solutions but also find problems. If you become nothing more than a solution-provider that never uncovers new issues and opportunities, you limit the scope of your utility and risk becoming a commodity that the client can consider replacing. Usability testing can be a great tool for revealing hidden problems and finding the causes behind the problems. Analytics can tell you where a problem is, but usability testing can solve the mystery of why the problem is happening.

Get buy-in and additional resources for your project

Have you ever had trouble getting client buy-in or budget for important projects? User testing might be the solution for reaching common ground on priorities and budgets. For example, you know that mobile is important and very different from the desktop, yet clients are sometimes slow to understand just how desperate their mobile situation is—making it difficult to convince them to spend thousands on solutions for mobile. So consider letting users make the case for you. Nothing opens up the purse strings faster than a CEO seeing a smartphone user struggling during the checkout process.

User testing can help build consensus internally, too. Your clients’ employees may not pass around a report, but a highlight reel of customers struggling with the company’s app or site will make the rounds and get the discussion going.

To learn more about how to leverage user feedback in your next pitch or project, sign up for our upcoming webinar today!