What Can I Do To Validate My Idea?
Although personal interviews are the most important way of getting feedback, additional input from bulk sources helps to validate that your initial results represent your target customers. To do this, you can drive traffic to landing pages and/or you can use survey services to get responses and comments about your ideas.
Advertisement Landing Pages
Hopefully, you’ve already put some thought into is a basic landing page with a marketing message. You can use one of these combined with advertisements to drive traffic and see how many people either sign up to get notified about your app, or better yet, pledge to purchase it.
I’m sure you’ve run across the typical coming soon landing page which allows the visitor to sign up for notifications or early beta testing. This is an effective landing page to grab email addresses for those people interested in the app, and they can be used for personal interviews in many cases. Here’s a landing page example for a fictitious app called “The Castle App“. It’s beneficial to pair your marketing tag line and short explanation with a large image to lend context to your text. The idea is to put forth a crystal clear message about what your app will do for the visitor, and focus on the benefits it will provide. For the example app below, the primary benefit is security and safety so we use the image of a castle sitting high atop a hill to convey that feeling.
Although basic landing pages are great to build email lists from interested parties, it’s even better to measure the number of people that would actually purchase your product. You can do this with slightly more complicated landing pages to walk the visitor through more information and a purchase decision. A common example used is from Buffer’s landing pages:
Page1 — explains the product
Page2 — presents pricing options
Page3 — collects email address with a coming soon message
This method has the advantage of gauging what people are willing to pay for a service or an app. Even if you only have one price point, it forces the user to make a decision about whether your app is worth paying for. This type of testing does require some additional marketing content, however. You need to be sure that your product is being well represented, and that the quality of the page is sufficient for the price you expect people to pay. It typically works best for dollar amounts that your target users consider trivial or low risk.
3rd Party Services
To create and publish your landing pages, there are a number services which feature integrations helpful to this process. From things like mailing lists and CRM connectors to built-in A/B testing, they have everything you need to host and track your landing page activity. I recommend using one of these services so you don’t have to host your own website with providers like Godaddy, Wix, etc. The learning curve is much less steep with services like the following:
We typically think of questionnaires when we think of surveys, but there are also “idea feedback” services which can compile results from participants as well. If you have a large group of people that are willing to fill out a questionnaire, then you can use 3rd party services to send a survey link and compile results.
There are also a number of services dedicated to finding target customers and testing ideas for you. They use techniques like Google Adwords or survey solicitation to get the job done, and can be a great way to get general reactions. These services ask you to fill out a form to explain your idea, and then recruit people to provide feedback. Make sure you focus on the problems and marketing message defined in your lean business canvas when going this route!
To create and expose your questionnaires, you can use a number of free or paid services like these:
Idea Feedback Services
If you prefer to check out some services meant to help with new ideas, then the following sites can be used to find people and get feedback.
- Seedling — good for target customers associated with typical search keywords. For example, if you’re looking for trail runners, those people typically search for trail running gear or apps using google. So, Seedling would be a great option there.
- Proved — good for app ideas that potentially apply to “everyone”. Although your target customer should NEVER be everyone, this service is useful for getting some feedback from the average joe.
- Google Surveys — a cross between idea feedback and surveys. You can choose a general audience or specific panels (although they are pretty limited), and then write a survey that has 1–10 questions. You’ll pay between $.10 and $3 depending on the audience and the number of questions. The service seems pretty good for mass markets or markets with standard demographics.
- Users Think — good for landing page feedback about colors, terminology, clarity, etc. This services works well if you have a landing page expecting to get email addresses or sell an early version of your app.
- User Interviews — this is a solid option for those people that struggle to book interviews with real people, but the service is fairly pricey ($10/person at this time). They do guarantee against no-shows, and this service differs from the others in that you get to talk to a real person.
- Survey Monkey — we’ve already talked about this one for writing and exposing surveys to a list of people you already have. They also offer a service to find a list of people for you using standard demographics. Pricing looks pretty competitive, and this option works well to get answers about behavior without getting opinions about the way your solution is presented.
What Methods Work Best?
We always encourage founders to go the personal interview route first. It’s the best way to learn about your target customer, which is the whole point. Once you have some initial conclusions from talking with people face-to-face, the bulk sources in this article can help make sure those conclusions are right.
Start with just one service that seems the most appropriate for your industry, solution, or personality. Add a second service a bit later to get some comparison data, and a third if you have the time and money. If results from these bulk sources don’t match what you’ve already learned, explore the possibility that your initial interviews did not tell the whole story!