Testing Your Way To a Better Idea (Part 2)

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Last time we talked about the importance of a verified, evolving idea. We talked about how telling a story about your idea would engage users. Then, we talked about how to brainstorm our target users. Now, we need to take those ideas and thoughts and start applying actual data to them.

Research Through Ads

The first way to get started is simple: you dangle your line and see who bites. Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Workweek has a killer case study on this. He took his book title—six of them, in fact—and a variety of tag lines. He setup a week long Adwords campaign, spending about $200 in total, and discovered the winning title. With a little bit of market research, he found his product name and value proposition. Not bad.

Knowing what people are interested in about your product speaks volumes. It lets you choose a name, logo and style. It lets you choose a key feature to center around. And if done right, it also helps you learn about your audience.

With Google Adwords and Facebook Insights, you can learn about who’s interested in your idea, where they’re coming from, and what makes them tick. Heck, you might even get to know actual people. Crazy.

Conversion Testing

Now, you’ll want to know more about these people – that’s where my favorite tool comes in. Optimizely!

Demo time: go visit optimizely.com and see how it works in their sandbox mode.

When you get a user to click on your ad, you’ll want to send them to a well converting landing page. This tool allows you to tweak, test and adjust nearly EVERYTHING on your site without the need to write any code.

On your amazing optimized landing page, you’ll want to capture interested users to an email list. Those folks are going to become very important to you, so make sure you’re using a tailored email solution like Emma orMailchimp to speak to them in style. Here you’ll give them product news, thank them for signing up and stay in touch… infrequently.


After you’ve grown a small email list, it’s time to engage. Reach out to them with a survey. The easiest place is still SurveyMonkey. You can integrate this with your Mailchimp account and do some really simple, powerful things.

This is a place to further quantify your user. You might know about them from our ad targeting, but you don’t know their specific choices and habits yet.

Ask questions about their buying decisions. Why did they find your product interesting? What would THEY like to see the product do? How much would they be willing to pay?

Most importantly, however – you want to ask them for more of their time. Can you speak to them about the product? We’ll get to that more in a second, but this survey should help you identify the main features you want to focus on for your product.

Surveys and interviews are powerful tools, but they rely on what a person wants to say versus their actual behavior. Malcolm Gladwell has some great examples on how people speak about spaghetti sauce and coffee: ultimately, that what people say is sometimes not what they truly believe.

Part Three

So you get what makes a user tick. You get what they want…but is it really what they want? The best way to be sure is through usability studies. We’ll dig into these tools and approaches in Part Three of this series on “Testing Your Way To a Better Idea.”

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