The AdWords traffic is just too broad and "general public" and it's incredibly difficult because to get good CTR (click-through-rate), you actually have to find keywords that produce bad or irrelevant results for the searcher while being on topic, as otherwise the searcher will simply click the organic results and never even see your sponsored result (when was the last time you went to Google, did a search, got good organic results, and decided to skip that and just go to the sponsored link?).
AdCenter is a little better IMO, but niche websites are absolute killer since you're no longer screwing around, trying to filter out irrelevant traffic, trying to get the right keywords and bid prices, and making sure your landing pages have the right quality score. The moment you get a low CTR is the moment Google AdWords start increasing prices, stops showing your ads.
Go right to the source to test your ideas. It will take more money, but you'll get a confidence level of 95-99% for your validation, rather than something much much less that you'll get using AdWords. It will be quicker too; AdWords keywords can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to get right.
Their two main problems are:
1) Customer care for end users is admittedly lousy.
2) You really, really, really need to know what you are doing or else it's very easy to be taken to the cleaners.
Ignoring AdWords as part of your online advertising efforts is usually a bad idea. However relying solely on it is a dangerous proposition, too (case in point, you were banned).
Diversify by introducing media buys (as you suggested), other ad channels (like AdCenter, LinkedIN ads, Facebook ads, StumbleUpon ads, etc), and then prioritize based on ROI.
The question is, do you need all this to test out an idea? Probably not. I think that at this stage virtually anything targeted will help you gauge interest.
> AdCenter is a little better IMO, but niche websites are absolute killer since you're no longer screwing around and trying to filter out irrelevant traffic.
Don't forget that with AdWords you can reach niche sites, and even target them individually if you want to, so you don't need to commit to paying $xxx/mo for a media buy directly with the publisher (just to run tests).
That is true, BUT, since AdSense brings in pennies for the webmaster in general, relative to the other options, a lot of good/non-shit niche sites are not using AdSense, but are either using custom sell space or other targeted networks that payout 2-10X of what Google AdSense does.
IMO, if you are serious about running and monetizing a business, you will get as far away from being 100% dependant on the Google index and their ad network as you can.
So many people have been screwed this way. Imagine what would happen if you dropped a couple of pages down in the index tomorrow, or your AdWords account was banned.
Though I'll still admit there are a couple of sites I can no longer target, because they use AdSense ... but I have considered emailing each one and offering 2 or 3-times whatever they get with AdSense to get rid of it and put up my ads/links instead.
In many cases, someone may consider it worth excluding an otherwise potentially profitable idea if the sales cycle is long and the buying process is different from the "convert on the net" SaaS model.
I don't claim to know a better way to garner attention through advertisement than eye-catching (yet suspicious) claims, but I think the described method helps you determine the interest level in your product from a small subset (more trusting or naive, depending on your point of view) of your target audience, not your total target audience. Maybe there's a known "naive-to-total" extrapolator that I'm not aware of.
I just came back from running two days of usability tests on-site at a security software company. I wish everyone could see the test subjects' eyes glaze over the typical marketing text describing exactly how the thing works and conversely, how they'd light up about 20 minutes into it when I'd guide and moderate them towards the hidden nuggets of real tangible value, like "4x faster than Norton" or a chart showing that the memory usage was a tiny fraction of competitors.
In your example though, there is difference in that you're an actual person representing a reputable company on-site, not a random anyone-could-have-created-this advertisement on the anonymous web. From more trusted sources, I'd be interested in hearing the benefits and not necessarily the features. But in an environment where seemingly every third website activates my anti-virus software and I read about data hacks every week, I definitely don't trust Internet ads filled with hyperbole and exclamation points.
What is the story dberube? Inquiring minds want to know.
Not only do you know people are potentially willing to pay X dollars for your product, you can also do a multivariate test on different amounts or pricing schemes to see if they convert differently, giving you some rough idea how much your idea is worth to them. I always add a "Make an account for FREE" as well, as a baseline.
Even though, if you had priced it just $20 lower, everyone would have clicked it.
So by putting price in the mix before you even identify a willing market, you risk missing the ball completely.
Are you using unbounce to create unbounce alternative?
That is pretty badass.
So they sign up and get notification once you have the items ready to buy.
Consider your shipping methods carefully else this type of product might be tricky.
I do have some queries/concerns on the shipping front too. Have you worked on this type of farm/agriculture product or know any pointers where I can get more info?
ps: Updated my email in my profile (if you want to take this offline). Don't see your email ID in yr profile.
I personally have not seen a single doctor's office that does NOT make reminder calls or forgets to make them. Moreover virtually all of them also have a $50 fee penalty for missed appointments (which is never charged, mind you).
In other words be careful if you are validatng the idea just for the sake of proving yourself right. Especially when your landing page is so ambiguous in its message, that it's basically detached from the original idea.
The startup idea in the article isn't the focus.
Upon getting a name and email address, it would be quite valuable to present the new subscriber with some form of survey. Be it short and multiple choice, but instead of JUST seeing if there is interest, you may be able to find out what aspects of your product bare the most importance.
ie If you create a landing page for a new shopping cart product, you may want to ask: Will you be selling digital goods? What country are you in? etc.
Not too difficult to do.
I think the HN effect has taken their site down, though!
Didn't expect to hit the front page.
I'm hosting it on the smallest linode instance going with nginx caching responses and I'm serving almost no images so that worked perfectly for me.
I'm not seeing quite the success in selling online like the feedback I got offline.
No sure how I would have tested this concept before printing because its a niche market i'm targeting.
Now i'm confused what is wrong
- Is it the site design
- copy on the site
- Am I over explaining
- Is it not clear if its ia deck of physical cards
Can i take the site down and do a teaser like it is going to launch? and then sell it?
The site is too red.
Edit: If you want people to take you seriously, you should take yourself seriously. I am sure the game is great, given the offline response, but online we judge you by your website.
Maybe this is a a really stupid question.
How would one go about testing the waters for 'mass market' applications like Twitter, Google+ etc where the end customer is potentially everybody? I cant see how an ad like 'want to keep in touch with your friends?' would convert at all. Any insight anyone?
Many technical founders like building products, but those products will fail without the majority of energy directed toward getting traffic. So if you can't get a couple hundred email addresses of interested customers, you can save yourself a lot of time by not going further.
I have used same method to collect beta tester for one of my idea. Google adword has given amazing reults so far. Thats why i am interested to know if cost factor the only reason to choose microsoft adcenter over google adwords ?
Does it give more ad impressions for less price + better click through rates?
I actually have better CTR on adCenter compared to AdWords for the same ads on the same keywords (marginally better).
So it's really come down to cost for me. In my experiences it's consistently double or more for the top keywords in the bunch.
I've personally never run a massive campaign to drive tens of thousands of visitors to a site through either service. My guess is, if you need high volume of people quickly, you need AdWords.
Cool idea though. Definitely works for immediate user solutions. Not sure it would work as well for innovations.
"People don't know what they want..." -SJ
First, if Google find out that you are advertising and collecting email addresses for a product that does not exist - they will ban you. PayPal will do the same if you are collecting any sort of payment information. There is just too much that can go wrong and it can be easily mixed up as being a scam or spam (which it sort of is, if you think about it).
You don't want to be banned from Google (or PayPal) - they carry that against your name forever, even if you later signup as a company or with a different account.
Second, this can only help you in a market where your potential customer knows what their problem is and knows to look for a solution. In so many cases of successful products this would not have worked. Not for Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, iPhone, iPad or most any large and successful product.
It can also lead to false hope, or worse, an assumption that a product may not work. Twitter started out as a messaging system for cyclist couriers. If Jack had read Tim Ferris, took his idea to test the market with search engine ads, he may have come away unimpressed and believing there was no room for such a product - without even realizing the broader possibilities for such a messaging system.
It has become a bit cliche to quote Steve Jobs, but from his bio:
> At the end of the presentation someone asked wether he thought they should do some market research to see what customers wanted. "No," he replied, "because customers don't know what they want until we have shown them"
The better way to test the market is to actively market (as opposed to passively market - ie. having the market find you) - ie. go out and find your potential customers, the influencers in the market, analysts that cover the market, etc.
The whole idea behind minimal viable product is to lower the risk involved in testing a market - so get the MVP built and then promote it, but not just with search engine ads (the part of the market that knows what it wants, likely to be the smallest part) but also by actively reaching out.
The post suggests a budget of $20-50 a day just to get some leads, when with that sort of budget ($500-1000) you could just get a first version of the damn product built.
You can also find out how many people are searching by just using Trends or a similar product (keyword analyser). The PPC part just means you are paying $10 per email address - contacts that you may never end up using
I would like to see that similar posts to this one proposing this idea stress that results from search engine marketing are not the be-all and end-all. The language in this post suggests that the results of search engine marketing for a non-existant product conclude the viability of such a product:
> If you weren’t lucky enough to have a high conversion rate you can scrap the idea or rinse and repeat this process and tweak or pivot on the original idea.
This should say that your market may not be people searching for the product, not that you need to pivot the idea. This isn't how you validate startup ideas or products, it is how you validate part of a potential marketing strategy for a idea and product.
(Edit: and thinking about it, as a customer, I would hate this. If I were searching Google and comparing products that I need for a solution for and bumped into your product and gave my details, after your website suggested that the product exists - only to later find out that it * doesn't exist* - I would be very very pissed off about it. Especially if I needed a product right now and was falsely lead to believe that a solution exists).
 Tim Ferris is cited a lot as being one of the first to do SE testing (in '4 hour work week'), but I also remember Josh Kopelman writing a blog post about it a while before that as well. IIRC, Ferris suggests that you do this when you already have a product, to test potential new features, pricing ranges etc. The OP probably should have at least cited Ferris in his post, since this isn't exactly a groundbreaking idea and nor is it the first time it has appeared on HN.
I would love to see a statistical analysis of the results.
ping me, @inopinatus on tw*tter.
The FAQ says I will get an account after getting 3 people to sign up. Bahh. I just want to check out the features and I have to spend effort in marketing your site? Thanks but no thanks.
Would love to hear your thoughts on my own start-up, Kickofflabs: http://www.kickofflabs.com
No gimmicks, tricks, etc. Just a solid product with fanatical support.