3

Background

I'm trying to follow the lean start-up methodology of validating a product. Following the instructions in the book UX for Lean Startups, I first validated the product by conducting interviews with several people from my target market (well actually those interviews made me realize that my idea was based on a non-existent problem, and so I "pivoted" and planned a product that solved a problem I found that all my interviewees complained about, a real problem that is).

Then second step was creating a landing page. According to the book:

OK, great. Now you’ve talked to some people, and you think you see a shared problem that you can solve. It’s still not really conclusive evidence, right? I mean, what if those were the only five people in the world who have that problem? Or what if lots of people have the problem, but nobody’s willing to pay you to help them solve it?

These are valid concerns, and you can address them long before you write the first line of code. The trick is to sell the product before you build it. Well, OK, technically that’s kind of fraud, so how about you just advertise the product before you build it?

By building a few one-page sites, you can get a ballpark figure of the number of people who are interested in paying you to solve their problem. And the great thing is, you can start doing this before you start building anything. This means if nobody shows any interest in using your product, you can keep looking for new product approaches very cheaply until you find something that people are interested in using.

To be clear, I’m not just talking about direct-to-consumer Internet products here. Although you’re using the Internet to advertise your ideas, you don’t have to be building the next Amazon.

Have a concept for a premium day spa for pets? Why not build a website for it first and see how many people try to make reservations for Poodle Pedicures? It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to build a landing page than it is to get salon chairs designed to fit a variety of dogs.

With landing-page tests, you can start to validate both your market and your product. By advertising a real thing (or several real things) that you are going to be selling, you’re getting the best kind of feedback that people are willing to pay you for what you’re making. You can also get a sense of which version of your product has the biggest potential market, which can be a huge advantage in deciding what to build first.

Klein, Laura (2013-05-02). UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design (p. 12). O'Reilly Media. Kindle Edition.

Problem

I created the landing page,

enter image description here

made a Facebook and Google Ad Words ad campaign, and put a text field that prompted the users to give me their emails. The conversion rate was terrible, like let's say 0.03% of my visitors gave me their emails. Which, according to the book, is fine, b/c this is what the lean people call "failing cheaply" and it would be a good indication that I should probably pivot my product vision yet again.

However, once I had a 1:1 usability test on my landing page website (where my question was simply: what does this page tell you?), the subject said: I have no idea what your product is all about. Which made me realize that perhaps my lousy conversion rates wasn't about a product problem, but more of a web design/SEO problem. So following unbounce's landing page checklist I went ahead and hired an animator from fiverr.com to create an intro video.

Question

I can keep on improving my website to increase my conversion rate using SEO and stuff from unbounce's check list. I can for example replace my "economy" animator with a heavy duty one and pay x10 the price "to get a better quality video".. I can put a lot of time into improving the design of my site etc etc. But at what point can I realize that my low conversion rate problem is a product problem, not a poor web design problem?


Discussion

This is in response to the points brought up in this answer:

Are you using the Lean Validation Board, the Business Canvas or some other quick prototyping board to crystallize your thinking?

No, but I'll look into it

What acquisition channels are you using?

facebook

I have started with facebook ads, and used this add:

enter image description here

But the response rate was terrible.. My conversion rate (ie the percentage of people reached to those that actually added their email was like 0.05%

enter image description here

someone advised me that google adwords was better than fb ads, so I immediately paused the FB ad campaign (I'm also running on a limited budget, that's another thing), and created an Adword campaign.. using this:

enter image description here

but the results weren't that much better:

enter image description here

so I decided to freeze both ad campaigns and start working on the landing page itself by working on an intro video.. which should be released soon.

As of now, this is my stats from google analytics:

enter image description here

The bounce rate calculation is not accurate I don't think, b/c This is the total people who have given me their email (I connected the form straight to a google docs sheet):

enter image description here

so I'd say the overall bounce rate is much higher than what's reported by google analytics.

Are those channels optimised for conversion or are they landing on your page cold?

I don't understand the question. How is a channel "optimized" for conversion?

How are you collecting positive feedback / measuring success / activating customers? Email sign-ups?

Yes, a customer is "activated" on my system simply by giving me their email on the form. I also subsequently send them to fill another form.. but that's an auxiliary thing.. I'm not relying on that.

Click through tracking on a Call To Action (CTA) button?

Yeah that's done.. I've specified that as my conversion trigger on both Facebook and Google Analytics.

What is your bounce rate from the landing page? What is your time on site per customer?

answered above

What user behaviour occurs on the landing page?

Well I'm glad you asked this, I neglected to see the video recordings on my hotjar account.. But apparently they are all telling me the same thing! people are clicking on the field but nothing is happening.. I reckon this is a hotjar bug because this seems to only happen in recorded sessions.. you can verify yourself by trying to fill in your email on the form.

see these vids for example:

here is a vid of someone checking out the stuff, but simply not doing anything: - https://insights.hotjar.com/p?site=445583&recording=559108912&token=69836015b6c974bbb637f52242e2d90f

here is a vid of someone simply glaring at the screen and doing nothing for several minutes.. not sure what to make of it - https://insights.hotjar.com/p?site=445583&recording=565424901&token=d17976d16518b55e18a2bc9da49c5c3c

6

This is an excellent question and a refreshing change form the typical project management fodder we get here.

I am a former coach for Lean Startup Machine and a previous winner of Lean Startup London so I can offer you some guidance.

TL;DR

  • If customers do not click on your adverts then it is a target audience problem (Funnel Stage: Discovery) - find a new audience
  • If customers click on your advert but bounce from your landing page then it is a landing page issue (Funnel Stage: Consideration) - find a new landing page
  • If customers click on your landing page but don't engage with you then it is a business/product trust issue (Funnel Stage: Conversion) - find a new way to engage with and activate customers

If none of these improves then pivot to a new product offering based on user feedback.

Evaluating Your Results

You have correctly identified that there is a balance to be struck between optimising the landing page and optimising the value statement you are offering to potential customers.

Some oustanding questions:

  • Are you using the Lean Validation Board, the Business Canvas or some other quick prototyping board to crystallize your thinking?
  • What acquisition channels are you using?
  • Are those channels optimised for conversion or are they landing on your page cold?
  • How are you collecting positive feedback / measuring success / activating customers?
  • Email sign-ups?
  • Click through tracking on a Call To Action (CTA) button?
  • What is your bounce rate from the landing page?
  • What is your time on site per customer?
  • What user behaviour occurs on the landing page?

Evaluating the Funnel

Evaluating your startup value proposition varies depending on where you are in the sales funnel. There is an excellent guide to building a conversion funnel using Google Analytics here and the Survival Guide from Kissmetrics.

enter image description here

Define Your Target Customer

One way start-ups can start the process of identifying the target customer is through a qualitative process called a “day-in-the-life summary” for a potential customer. A day-in-the-life summary describes conditions before and after a target customer purchases your product.

“Before” describes the key issues/problems/pain faced by a possible end-user of your product. “After” focuses on the change in effectiveness of the end-user after purchasing and using your product. This change must affect the economic buyer’s main concern, which is normally associated with achieving one or more of the buyer’s strategic objectives.

This summary is also known as an application scenario. The outcome of an application scenario is a number of possible applications for specific niche market segments.

Create Customer Profiles / Buyer Persona Maps

You can find a detailed guide at Kissmetrics. The key is to draw a picture of an individual that represents the type of person you are aiming at. If you take two very different types of prospect, you can see that they will have very different needs, wants, values and opinions. And they will respond quite differently depending on the marketing method you use.

The very first step in your map is going to be the core information about your customer. Things like:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Job title
  • Job responsibilities
  • You can likely get that much from the data stored in your CRM.

I’d also recommend “humanizing” the persona with a name and image. Doing so tends to bring out more of our emotional, empathetic side rather than looking at the potential customer as a number to slot somewhere into a sales funnel like a puzzle piece.

Segmenting Your Customer Base for Advertising

I am going to assume that you are generating traffic from Facebook but if you are using another paid marketing source then you can find an equivalent guide such this one The Complete, Always-Updated Guide to Facebook Advertising.

Compartmentalizing your advertising campaign is critical.

A/B Testing

A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants (let's call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time.

A/B testing allows you to make more out of your existing traffic. While the cost of acquiring paid traffic can be huge, the cost of increasing your conversions is minimal.

Once you have segmented your potential customer base you should direct each segment to a different version of the landing page with different designs and value statements.

This will help you identify whether the value proposition needs improved, the website needs improved or your customer demographics need refined / further work.

Pitfalls

Pivoting too quickly. The startup ecosystem is awash with companies who lack conviction in their product and try to pivot continuously to a new business model (Quora is a prime example) without every truly maintaining conviction in the value of the service they are providing.

Zombie Startup. A company unwilling to jettison it's core business model despite lack of sales, customer engagement or growth.

Mistaking poor customer identification for poor value proposition. It's imperative thta you identify whether your business idea / revenue model is truly not scalable or simply whether you have not pitched to the right customer segment.

Personal Advice

SEO is not a great return on investment. Having your Landing Page indexed to a search engine will not help with user discovery and acquisition since you are driving them to your landing page using a Call to Action and a value hook. You are not waiting on them organically discovering your product.

Make liberal use of forums / content aggregrators. Engage Reddit, HackerNews, Lobster and other technical forums frequented by your target demographic and ask for advice on your product offering. Don't worry; no one will steal your idea.

Templates are your friend. You are in the business of getting shit done; not flexing your amazing design skills and hand-coding your perfect landing page. If there is a template; take it. If there is a plug in, use it.

Optimise for Mobile / Responsive. It is inconceivable that much of your traffic does not originate from mobile devices so make sure the landing page is converted for mobile.

Your most important metric is marketing cost. You want to validate your idea as cheaply as possibly so tracking your marketing budget and the acquisition cost of every customer is extremely important.

For example, if you are using Google Ad Words to drive traffic to your site, take a look at the following interactive spreadsheet. This example shows a cost per click of 50 cents, and the resulting website visitors converting to a trial at the rate of 5%. Those trials are then shown converting to paid customers at the rate of 10%. What the sheet shows is that each customer is costing you $100 in just lead generation expense. For many consumer facing web sites, it can be hard to get the consumer to pay more than $100 for the service. And this cost does not factor in the marketing staff, web site costs, etc.

enter image description here

Good Luck! I will def check out your landing page.

Results

This is the page I see when I visit your landing page using Chrome 56.0.2924.87 on desktop.

enter image description here

  • 1
    OK - I have some feedback. 1. You have two calls to action on the splash page. One email sign up and one feedback request. Get rid of the feedback request. As a customer it is not my job to optimise your sales funnel. I have not bought a product from you so I don't owe you any feedback and it deviates from your core CTA. – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 14:28
  • 1
    2. Your H1 doesn't actually tell me anything about the Product. "Take control of your software" does not solve any of my problems. It's not a vitamin or a painkiller. Controlling my software is not an issue. Product do one of three things - Get you paid, Get you laid, Get you made. Your Headline is doing none of them. – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 14:30
  • 1
    3. Your product ultiumately gets someone made. It lets a business show control of costs, sound project management and risk assurance. It also saves time from manual entry. All of these things are lost in the how it works. As a customer I am not interested in the magic. No one wants to know how the chicken nuggets are made. Simply say it can be installed in X clicks and takes less than 5 minutes per day to manage. << I am sold. – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 14:32
  • 1
    4. Have a look at the Paid for Stripe landing page. onepagelove-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/… It tells you exactly what it does and it shows a great image of it working with one clear Call to action – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 14:34
  • 1
    5. You talk about price on the landing page. That's a no no unless it's free. Price is negotiable and is part of the conversion. Mentioning price on the first page gives customers a potential barrier and reason to switch off. Remove that. Let them enquire. If they ask how much say the price. If they don't blink say "per month". If they are still calm add "per developer". – Venture2099 Mar 22 '17 at 14:36

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.