Product positioning: why you should AB test it

GrowthBy Gladys Gordon

Product marketing managers and CEOs often draw hypotheses about which product positioning is the best for their business. But even when based on great theoretical concepts and frameworks, there's no way to be sure about it.

While precious resources are on the line, the only way of not losing them is to run tests with smaller parts of the audience for just some weeks or even days.

You can test your positioning through ads, blog posts, and homepage versions: creating different versions of your home page for each positioning allows you to validate which one is the best before risking losing the company's money.

But before we get into product positioning with AB testing, let's talk about the need for product positioning in the first place.

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A book showing that variation A is the winner

Why is product positioning important?

Product positioning refers to the strategies used to differentiate your products from other alternatives in the marketplace. It speaks to how or where your product is placed in the mind of your ideal customer.

For a faster purchase, your customer should easily understand your product, why it is unique, and why it matters. In addition, your customers should be able to identify and connect with your brand.

This is where product positioning comes in.

It sets your product apart and above the general marketing and advertising noise. It shapes the way your audience perceives your product.

Before positioning your product, ask yourself these questions:

  • What audience are you looking to serve?
  • What problems are you solving for them?
  • Why are you better than the competition?

There are different means of positioning your product to understand how to best market and sell it. Some of them are through the product characteristics, advertising, channels advertised, product packaging, and product pricing.

Testing your product positioning

It's not enough to position your product using the different strategies available. You have to test your positioning to see what works and what doesn't.

You can test through blog posts, ads, or homepage versions. We did this at Croct: we customized our homepage so that in the same URL we would have three versions of it:

  • One where we positioned our product as a CMS for devs using Next JS,
  • one where we positioned our product as a geomarketing platform,
  • and one where we positioned our product as a CRO platform (for a broader target).

This was made possible by AB testing and personalization. Another example of a brand that uses personalization to run AB testing is Netflix.

Validating your product positioning with AB testing

Image showing product positioning with AB Testing
Product positioning with AB Testing

According to April Dunford, you can adopt different positioning strategies, such as:

  • Head to head: positioning to be a leader in a market that already exists
  • Big fish, small pond: positioning to win in a well-defined section of an existing market
  • Create a new game: positioning to win a new market you created.

But you can never be sure the positioning you are adopting is effective until you test it. One of the ways to test your product positioning is through messaging.

Messaging communicates your positioning with customers. It focuses on the main points you want your audience to know about your offering, its value, and its selling point. It captures the relevant information you wish to convey about your product, precisely what you want your customers to remember.

It may be clear how positioning and messaging are connected: while messaging makes your positioning clear to your target audience, positioning helps shape the message.

Like speaking Japanese slowly and loudly to a person who speaks only English, putting a bigger marketing budget behind confusing and unclear positioning doesn't work.

April Dunford

So it is vital to split-test your product positioning using different messages. For example, a product may have a primary target audience and a secondary target audience interested in it, maybe in a different way. You should tailor your marketing message to reach both audiences successfully.

How to keep your communication consistent

Once you have validated your positioning, the next step is to maintain the consistency of the message that communicates the positioning to the public.

Here's how to do this:

Communication across channels

As much as 95% of consumers use multiple channels while contacting a brand before settling on a purchase. Therefore, how your brand presents across channels is super important.

For instance, some consumers interested in an ad don't convert immediately. Instead, they remember the brand much later and try searching for it. Others start the process, get interrupted, and try to come back later to learn more about the product by searching for the brand.

If the offer on the ad and the home page is different, the user who was initially impacted by the marketing campaign gets frustrated and leaves the website.

To reduce user uncertainty about an offer and increase conversions, you should ensure that your communication is consistent by using personalization strategies as we did with Sem Parar.


Consumers these days expect brands to understand their needs and provide relevant and desirable information about their products and services. Personalization helps since it improves customer experiences, drives sales, and enhances brand loyalty by providing a unique experience for each user.

Personalization allows keeping your message consistent through every touchpoint of the user's journey, such as:

  • The first time they click your ad
  • Their first experience on your company's website
  • Browsing your products and services
  • The product selection and cart experience
  • Placing and receiving their orders.

By looking closely at each of them, you can create a history for each customer and personalize their experience. It is also an excellent way to discuss communication within a product for a customer, besides market communication for a prospect.

Example of website performance for two different audiences, illustrated by a man and a woman.
Example of website personalization for different audiences

Language/Market Fit

Matt Lerner describes Language/Market fit as "finding the exact words to explain your product or service to your customer. Words that resonate with goals and struggles that are already in their brains. When you talk about your product, a lightbulb in their heads switches on that says, "That is EXACTLY what I'm looking for" — they feel like you've read their minds".

As much as it is essential to find a product/market fit, it is equally if not more important to find a language/market fit first. Changes to a handful of words result in staggering conversion differences and a better connection with your audience.

Here are some examples from the the First Round article:

CompanyOld phrasingNew phrasingLift
PopsaFast Easy Photo BooksPhoto books in 5 minutes4X
Peer MedicalLung cancer treatment data personalized for you."This is hope. This tool shows me other lung cancer treatments in case my current drug stops working."5X
MatchPintmake the most of sport in your pub. Increase footfall and save time with MatchPintGet more sports fans in your pub, more often. Reach 2.1M people looking for a pub showing sport nearby.6X

Effective messaging through language/market fit helps to:

  • Understand and size your market. With this, you can narrow in on what to build and validate demand
  • Generate traction. Building stuff that doesn't get any traction is an expensive mistake. So if you are not finding any product/market fit, it is recommended to start with language/market fit. Communicate your product to your intended market first, and check how it resonates
  • Provide clarity of your value proposition. When you can describe what your customers are trying to do in simple language, it is faster to create a product they would love.

Finding language/market fit can even be a way of finding product/market fit. If your company adopts more than one unique positioning, you can use AB testing for this purpose.

An example is testing ad clicks on Facebook or Instagram by running several copies of a simple ad design with different headlines to see which one performs better with your audience.

The importance of copy and image AB Testing

The message to pass across to your audience depends on how well they understand what you do. There is no hard and fast rule of when to go high using concrete messaging or go low using aspirational and abstract messaging.

The best way to know what works at the current stage of your company is by testing the messaging through copy and image AB testing.

An example of a company that experimented with different types of messaging is Uber.

  • In 2011, their messaging was concrete: "Everyone's private driver."
  • In 2014, their messaging changed to a slightly more aspirational: "Moving people: tap a button, get picked up in minutes."
  • In 2016, they went further down the aspirational messaging route: "Get there. Your day belongs to you."

If they had started in 2011 with an aspirational message like "Your day belongs to you", we would have been confused about what they were trying to say.

Now, you don't have to spend years experimenting to find the right way to communicate. Instead, a simple AB test of an aspirational and concrete message will help you understand which messaging works best.

By testing, you challenge your assumptions and ensure you are addressing the user in the right way, at the right moment.

Abstract messaging vs. aspirational messaging

How do you find the right words to deliver your message?

Matt Lerner discussed the framework for this. In his article, he points out some keys to unlocking language/market fit through four steps:

  • Uncovering the struggles, hidden assumptions, and goals via interviewing recent sign-ups
  • Drafting some test messages based on the interview transcripts
  • Validating comprehension qualitatively
  • Finally, testing the language quantitatively.

On the other hand, Andy Raskin focuses on the kind of questions you should ask your audience to know the messaging that will suit them:

  • Does it motivate your target audience?
  • Is it emotional for your target audience?
  • Will it align with everyone in your company?
  • Is it worded the way people talk?
  • Does it define a huge, profitable, differentiated category?

They both see communication from similar points of view, in which the end goal is to know how to deliver the message, which you can do through personalization and experimentation.

Testing the tone of voice

In addition to testing the product positioning and messaging, you can also test the tone of voice through personalization and AB testing.

The tone is a key element in communicating a message. A brand's tone of voice is reflected in words used to convey a message and the picture you create in the reader's mind with those words.

Through the personalization of the tone of voice, you can relay the purpose of the message to the actual recipient and communicate in the way you want the reader to picture it.

How Croct can help

Croct is a personalization platform.

With our personalization and AB testing engine, companies can identify the best strategies for validating their product positioning while gaining insightful data about their business.

If you need to validate your positioning, create your free account and explore our platform by yourself!

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