Many studies show that businesses fail because they do not take the time to validate “vet” their business idea by building a minimum viable product and gathering feedback from potential customers. To expand on this thought, business failures happen not because the founder didn’t have money in the bank to invest or because they didn’t have lots of connections. Business failures happen because they don’t validate their business idea before launching…just because you can start a business doesn’t make it logical to do so. You have to make sure there is market demand for the problem that your business concept idea solves.
In the past, I have posted several thoughts warning about common product development mistakes. I have also shared a product development roadmap to explain how physical prototypes can be used to evaluate the manufacturability and market acceptance of a business concept idea. Without market testing of the product or service, even an elaborate business plan won’t save you. This is where landing pages come in.
A landing page is a standalone web page built for the sole purpose of marketing. The test market logic behind these pages is simple. You create a single page, advertise the unique selling proposition (USP), and wait to see if your idea gains traction. The thing about landing pages is that anyone can create them and you don’t need to have a product or service ready to build such pages.
Now, if you are building a landing page without an operational business, make it a point to inform your visitors of an impending launch. Also, provide them with an opportunity to share their contact information. Beside being good manners, collecting email data helps validate your idea. Think about what email collection really means. A growing email database means your target market approves of your idea whereas a page that receives little to no sign-ups indicates a possible lack of demand. Remember: just because people are handing you their email doesn’t mean they’ll buy when you launch. This is why you must optimize the page for concept feedback and not email signups. To do this, make sharing of contact information a multi-step process and make it a point to follow up with these people.
Here are three thoughts about how to test a business idea using landing pages:
- Create your landing page — Obviously, you need a landing page and creating one is no longer limited to programmers and web designers. There are many software solutions available. For instance, if you are using the WordPress platform, landing page plugins like OptinMonster, WPForms and Leadpages are an easy solution. These tools let you design landing pages using a drag-and-drop interface. If design is a challenge for you, use pre-made templates. There are hundreds available online for free or a small fee. Don’t get caught up in the design part. Focus on advertising your minimum viable product or USP. Write content that communicates how your product or service will benefit your target audience. Then have them perform some action in order to share their email. For instance, hide your email capture behind a pricing page. This is beneficial because it gives visitors a vibe that the product or service is real. Then, if someone was genuinely interested in it, they would click on the pricing plans, which then leads them to the sign-up form. Because people have to be proactive, sign-ups that are received this way are more valuable.
- Direct traffic to your landing page using Google Ads — Now that your page is live, the next step is to attract visitors to your page. If you can’t attract traffic, you can’t validate your idea. There are a couple ways to go about attracting traffic. You can play the search engine optimization game, but that’s a time-consuming process. Waiting around for months for traffic to trickle through is hardly ideal. Another option is to run paid Google Ads campaigns. Google is better than social media ads because it processes 3.5 billion searches per day, making it extremely likely that you’ll find a potential pool of people interested in your business. Also, Google lets you bid on keywords that relate to your product or service offer. If someone searches for a keyword that is either an exact match or relates to what you’ve bid for, that person will see your ad. The trick then is to target keywords that have high commercial intent (the intent to buy) to draw people in. Remember that search terms carrying more intent receive more responses than terms that are merely informational. How do you pick the right keywords for ads without burning a hole through your credit card? Focus on what customer pain-point your business helps solve. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and target phrases they might be looking up.
- Follow up, refine and repeat — Once your page is live and the data on visitors response starts to come in, ask the following questions: how is your target market reacting your landing page; and are they signing up? If target customers are responding, it’s likely your business idea solves a problem. Follow up with these people to learn whether they will really use your product or service. If there is no doubt of their commitment, the email list can double-down as a pre-marketing list of customers when you actually launch. But if there isn’t a complete buy-in, you may have to refine your offer or target market and repeat this process until you get something that receives responses.
Validating your idea doesn’t have to be a complicated or costly task. Landing pages provide an easy and inexpensive way to validate the concept before you fully commit to an idea. There’s no reason to launch your next business without first validating your business concept!
For more thoughts on how to refine your business concept, view the free video entitled Roadmap For Starting Your Business and read a free sample of the new book “Small Business Thoughts Real-Time Strategic Planning“.
Copyright ©John Trenary 2022