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How To Quickly And Cheaply Test Your Startup Ideas

This is your guide to creating a landing page for your business idea and figuring out how it stands the test of reality and if it’s worth building. It’s never been easier or cheaper to launch any business or product idea and quickly get feedback from real people.

This can all be done without previous business experience, a large network of contacts and even without knowing how to code. And it costs nothing or very little money.

Does your startup idea have a promising future?

It’s impossible to say if an idea will get traction with an audience. The concept of building a quick minimum viable product (MVP) is to answer questions:

  • Is my business idea worth it?
  • Are there people who need it?
  • Are they willing to pay for my solution?

And to do all this as quickly and cheaply as possible.

This is how it goes. You set up a landing page to collect evidence before building anything. You create a simple landing page for your idea and drive some traffic to better understand how the audience reacts and if it has any interest in it. Feedback from real people is worth its weight in gold.

According to the feedback you rework the idea, collect even more feedback before doing the actual development of the idea. This whole process reduces your risk, saves you time and money, and results in a stronger idea with a better product-market fit.

When working on an MVP:

  • You do not perfect and only then release
  • You do not spend months (or years) building something
  • You do not build without ever speaking to the actual target audience
  • You do not spend tons of time analyzing the market learning about what competitors are up
  • You do simply create a landing page or a prototype with a list of main features and benefits
  • You do (ignorantly) throw your basic idea into the world and get vital feedback from real people
  • You do figure out if there are people who are interested in your idea
  • You do learn about the exact problems they have and questions they want to be answered

According to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian: “It’s easy to have an idea. It’s easy to print out some business cards. Where it starts getting hard is when you actually start testing some version of your idea, getting it in front of customers, and then finding out they’re not willing to buy your product.

Your MVP will quickly get you to the place where you can figure out if people are willing to buy your product. Even before you invest much time in the actual development of it.

How to get ideas for a startup business?

Don’t start with a solution and then go look for problems to solve. Respond to a market pull instead.

You should do a bit of research before you decide to build a landing page for your idea. Find the right problems to solve. Problems identified by real people.

Put yourself in the shoes of the target audience. What question do they have? What are they wondering about?

  • Google is a great inspirational source. Search for keyword phrases and keep an eye on these areas of Google’s search results:

Google's autocomplete

Google's people also ask

Google's searches related to

You’re basically trying to interlink something you’d love to work on, something you have skills and experience in, with the demand from the market. It all looks something like this. For more ideas on this take a look at What Topic Should I Create A Blog About.

Your sweet blogging spot

The world is drowning in an ocean of SaaS startups. When a field is highly competitive, it can be challenging to get much attention to your business no matter how good you are.

You need to create brilliant solutions to the problems you have identified and break formulas of what’s already on the market:

  • Make boring topics exciting
  • Make complicated topics simple
  • Make intimidating topics painless
  • Be a faster solution
  • Be a cheaper solution
  • Be a more transparent solution
  • Give your users more choices
  • Give your users added comfort
  • Give your users greater control over their time

Picking a great name for your startup

The following characteristics of great names are very elementary, but they are essential for a memorable business name. See more here: How To Name Your Blog.

How to choose a memorable domain name

The essential elements of a perfect MVP landing page

A landing page is a stripped down and simplified page that you drive traffic to. It’s focused on one objective. The aim is to convince a visitor to sign up for your product idea.

Your landing page doesn’t have to be all fancy. Keep it simple, stupid. All the unnecessary elements that don’t aid the visitor into taking the action that you want him or her to do are removed:

  • There is no navigation menu that can lead the visitor to another page
  • There is no sidebar that takes the attention from the main objective
  • There is no large header image or expansive footer

What are the essential elements and the features of great landing pages that work and convert?

  • It needs a headline (your USP) that briefly explains what your product does
  • It needs to include key features and benefits users will get by using your product
  • (Optional) It needs a 1-2-3 step illustration on how the product works
  • It needs a CTA button to check the pricing plan or to sign up

And that’s it.

Your startup’s unique selling proposition (USP)

The first thing a visitor should see is a strong headline that explains why he or she should stick around and explore further. This is your unique selling proposition (USP) and it should be in focus and very clear.

Unique selling proposition is a brief description of few words on what you are offering. The focus is on the value that this offer will bring to users and what people will miss out on if they don’t go for it.

Tell visitors what they need to know and tell it to them right away. Tell them what you do and how you will fill their needs or they will click on the “Back” button and leave.

  • Revolut is “Better than your bank account“.
  • Buffer is “A better way to manage your social media“.
  • Slack is “Where work happens“.
  • Coinbase helps you “Buy and sell digital currency“.
  • Instacart is “Groceries delivered in as little as 1 hour“.
  • X.ai is “AI scheduled meetings for smarter work days

You get the idea. Say what your product is, what people will get and how this is better than competing offers.

Do explore some of the other startups too for more inspiration. AngelList is a good source of startups who have raised money.

Work on the high-converting copy

You can’t make a visitor buy the product in the first sentence, but you can lose him or her right away. Landing pages are the playground of words and copywriters. The copy of the page is what your offer depends on so get inspired and test things.

  • Write as the omniscient narrator (3rd person). Selling points, information, and humor are all usually stronger in this voice.
  • Don’t assume familiarity with the reader. When the 2nd person is used with a voice that assumes too much familiarity with the reader it can sound like traditional marketing copy.
  • Don’t antagonize the reader. E.g. “Get fit, fatty!” “Take a shower hippy!,” “Eat a burger hipster!”.
  • Don’t overuse hyphens and avoid exclamation points.
  • No schmoozy marketing copy. You need to be credible and trustworthy. Avoid traditional marketing clichés like positioning the product as the obvious solution to the reader’s imaginary problems. EX: Do you have this problem? This is the solution!
  • Avoid unsubstantiated superlatives: Worst/Best. Thing. Ever. Superlatives and overly generous adjectives will not only fail to sell—they’ll kill your integrity and trustworthiness.
  • Avoid broad, unsubstantiated claims like “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. Same reason as the above.
  • Never write unsubstantiated, opinionated selling points. Just present the verifiable, objective facts in a fun, engaging, way and let the readers decide for themselves if it sounds like something they want.
  • Avoid abstract words that don’t mean anything. Adjectives: unique, great, perfect, interesting. Verbs: optimize, enhance, utilize, maximize, all the -ize’s. Corporate speak: proactive, efficient, productive, innovative, ideation, etc.
  • Avoid repetitive use of the imperative. The reader doesn’t want to be told what to do. Just describe things without insisting that the reader does anything in particular. If they like how you describe it, they’ll figure it out on their own.
  • Don’t list vague, generic selling points that could be used for any business in that industry (i.e. “relax and relieve stress” for massages). Highlights should be aspects unique to the business. Make people want your product.
  • Concrete details are stronger than vague ideas like “makes a great gift.” They’ll be reading “makes a great Valentine’s gift” on every ad they see for weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, so this has the potential to be more marketing noise.
  • You must be creative and intuitive. Follow your heart. In your heart lies the answer to the question “why would someone sign up for this?” Ask it to yourself. Answer the question in language that relates to your target audience.

A very strong and prominent call to action to collect leads

A call to action is focused on information capture. Call to action is normally a prominent button that asks people to subscribe to a mailing list, buy a service or a product. Such as this “Get started” one from the earlier example.

X.ai landing page CTA

Again do take some time to explore how other startups do this and what copy they have on their CTA buttons. This research is very useful in opening your mind to the different possibilities that you can try and test.

And what should happen if visitors click on the CTA? As you don’t have a finished product or anything to sell yet, you should try asking for an email address first.

Getting this smaller commitment from your lead is a great first step towards creating a great relationship with a future customer. You can show a message such as this to encourage them to sign up:

“Hello! You caught us before we’re ready. We’re working hard to put finishing touches on the product. It should be ready to help you soon. If you’d like us to send you a reminder when we’re ready, just put in your email below and get on our early access list. If you do jump on as an early access participant, we’ll make sure you get a great deal.”

How to create your landing page

Don’t worry about building anything yourself. There are many simple solutions. These are two examples of landing page builders:

Use one of the many tools available on the market to get the other things done quicker:

  • Placeit to create digital mock-ups of your product and give users a better idea of what it’s about
  • Kapa99 to get unlimited images created for you for a small fixed price
  • Typeform to collect data using lead generation forms, feedback and contact forms
  • Prefinery to encourage users to share your idea with their friends

Or simply use WordPress as a free and open-source all-in-one solution:

  • Allows you to use one of the many beautiful landing page templates without any design or tech know-how
  • Allows you to add any functionality that you wish using one of the many plugins
  • Allows you to collect data in any shape or form using forms and other calls-to-action
  • Allows you to extend your landing page into a full site when you’re ready to actually launch your product

There are several landing page plugins that you can try to work with in order to figure out the one that fits your needs best:

  • Parallax Gravity – Landing Page Builder: This plugin allows you to add multiple sections to your landing page. For each section you can set a background, add any type of content more.
  • WordPress Landing Pages: This is an advanced option that is definitely worth a look. It gives you the ability to monitor and track conversion rates, run a/b and multivariate split tests and much more.

See how to get started with WordPress.

Launch your MVP with a marketing push

This is where the hard work starts. Getting your landing page launched is simple compared to getting real people who are interested in what you’re doing to find out about you and to visit you.

Here are some ideas on how you can go about getting traffic to your brand new landing page:

  • Spend a bit of money to run ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google to get your initial visitors. Start small and aim to spend no more than $ 1 per click
  • Use a site such as Userinput.ioto get actionable feedback from real people in your target market
  • Submit your idea to startup sites such as Product Hunt, Betalist, Seedproof, and Betafy. Here’s a longer list.
  • Reach out to people who you think will be interested in your product. Use a service such as Snovio to find any email address
  • Do you have an audience already on your blog or on social media? Share it with them and see if you can get some interest from your existing audience
  • Are you an active member of relevant forums, Facebook Groups and other communities? Share it with them and see if you can get some traffic from there
  • Can you create some useful and interesting content relevant to this topic? Syndicate it on some of the biggest sites in your field and include a CTA to sign up for your product naturally within the content
  • Here’s a list of 40+ places where you can promote your startup

Marketing is difficult and it takes a lot of time and effort. You simply need to get comfortable with talking about yourself and your ideas. You need to take steps every day in order to drive traffic to your landing page.

It’s useful to set some smaller goals such as 100 unique visitors or 10 subscribers per week and take steps to reach them.

This is a big topic and I have the full guide here: Ten Lessons From 1,000 Days Of SaaS Startup Marketing.

Learn from your visitors

Now it’s the time to get real feedback from the visitors to your landing page and use that feedback to fun experiments and come up with even stronger unique selling proposition and a product-market fit.

Track site visitors and how they use your landing page

Get some first-hand behavioral data by installing a visitor recording tool that shows you how visitors use your landing page, how they move their mouse across the screen, and what they click on.

Review each and every recording to figure out things you can improve on your landing page. Seeing real people use your site helps a lot. Some things become very clear after watching few of these recordings and it’s easy to see the frustration and write down a list of things to fix.

Hotjar and FullStory are great tools for heat maps and visitor recordings. Both also offer free tiers in their pricing plans.

Get real feedback from real people on your “early access” mailing list

You need to start approaching people and get their feedback too. Hotjar allows you to survey and question your visitors while they are on your site. You can even recruit user testers using it too.

An alternative would be a live chat tool such as Drift through which you can message and talk to your visitors.

You should also set a welcome email to your subscribers using a platform such as MailChimp. New mailing list subscriber welcome email series will let you learn even more about your audience.

Connect with them and ask questions. You could send something like this as the welcome email:

“Thanks for getting on our early access mailing list. I want to make a better product for you and would love to learn more about you and how we can provide value. Will you help me do that? Just click here and answer some quick questions. It won’t take you more than few minutes. We would really appreciate it.”

Some questions you can ask:

  • What are your pain points?
  • What happened that made you look for a product like this?
  • What are you hoping our product will do for you?
  • What task are you looking to accomplish on our site today?
  • What is the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
  • Do you currently use a similar competing product?

Here’s more on How To Start An Email Newsletter.

Experiment with everything and build the knowledge about your target market

Be 100% free of assumptions and experiment with every element of your marketing, your landing page and your mailing list. Some examples of things to test:

  • Which USP gets more people interested to sign up?
  • Which copy on the CTA button gets more sign ups?
  • Which subject line gets more email opens?
  • Which question gets the highest response rate?

Results from these different experiments will help you make even better experiments with even richer insights. A series of experiments will gradually make you understand your product idea and your target market better.

You will figure out what exactly they need and what makes them respond and take action.

All this knowledge comes together in your improved product idea (or even a pivot) but also in your future brand and marketing strategy that will help you sell better when you launch.

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