Testing service potential with “Landing Pages”

How to test an idea and get some feedback with small resources? Good way to test the product or service hypothesis is to create simple landing page that tells the idea’s value proposition. The simple landing page is not enough, since we need to get visitors to the site. The cheapest way to get visitors is to tune the site with SEO keywords and sitemap information.

devicestack_web

Search engine bots use that information indexing the page and its relevancy. Unfortunately gaining visitors only by SEO takes time and site content must be “lively”. The fastest way to gain visitors is to use SEM, search engine marketing, and spend e.g. 7€/day in advertising. By this way two things are achieved: visitors to the site and the quality of keywords. Good keywords generate more traffic and bad keywords less.

 

Measuring

Google Analytics is excellent tool for tracking visitors and their behavior on the site. It provides good insight where people are coming and what they do on the site. Statistics and analytics are very important in web-services. Without them it is impossible to know what people are doing and how they use product or service. With statistics it is easier to change things and measure those changes. The basic elements of “simple landing page” are: the page itself tuned with SEO, SEM and Analytics

 

Examples

This is one way how services are launched world-wide. Ideas are tested with landing pages and search engine marketing where different search terms are tested and analyzed. Good tool for this is Google AdWords. Usually landing pages gathers potential customers’ e-mail addresses e.g. “sign-up for free beta”. This gives also insight about the demand: if there are lots of sign-ups, the idea may be good. For example Dropbox has tested the idea with simple landing page and gathering E-mails of potential users. By the SEM it is easy to direct traffic to the site and amount of visitors can be adjusted by SEM budget. More money, more visitors.

Stories tell that several start-ups in US have done the initial testing by this method and they have spent under $10/day for SEM. Then they tell to the world that they have gained hundreds of beta testers to their service and are sure about its success. 

DeviceStack

I wanted to learn how this kind of approach works in real life and we created landing page for our new service idea. The DeviceStack is service for mobile developers who need to test how their application works in different devices. Our hypothesis is that there are huge amount of Android devices on the market and that is problem for developers. This service helps application developers in verifying their applications in different devices with different characteristics (screen sizes, performance etc.).

So we need to test this hypothesis and one way to test the potential is to use landing page, SEO and SEM. We have learnt so far something about user demographics, which keywords work best, conversion to beta sign-up and copy of the site.

Concretizing Ideas

Time flies when you have some interesting projects on-going. Since the last blog post I started one long term project, again, and now I have three of those. Those long term projects have been running since 2006, 2008 and now 10/2010. If someone is still wondering what projects am I referring, I am talking about my kids. Those little ones are fulfilling  every spare time that I and my wife have and I am not complaining. It is fun to notice how two adults can adapt themselves to different situations several times per day and how things must be organized with small kids. This is also learning  process.

The Original Need

A while ago I wrote about moving ideas forward and now I like to tell something about what my wife has been doing lately. My wife is very pragmatic person and she has a lot of good ideas, I almost envy her. As I said we got baby few weeks ago and naturally we have been waiting him 9-months before birth. During that time my wife was thinking about different choices of early bed to our new born baby and when suitable bed was not found she got an idea.

Simple Idea

In Finland we have an social insurance institution called KELA that offers benefits for families with children (and lots more). One benefit is maternity package that is kind of starter kit for all mothers in Finland. It is a box fulfilled with different products which baby needs like clothes, blankets and other useful stuff. The box itself can be used as a early bed for baby, but it is little bit boring. My wife got an idea where she decided to sew kind of bag where box is inserted. The bag itself contains harness that are used for hanging the installation for example to ceiling. Now we have the hanging early cot that is lightweight, affordable and available for every mother in Finland who has accepted the benefit from KELA

Bootstrapping UINUA.COM

When I saw it for the first time, I felt that it is an idea that must move forward. I said to my wife that she must start to sell those early cots online. Why online? The barrier in starting the online business is low and so are the costs. I think this is a good way to test ideas and now the UINUA.COM is bootstrapping. The first challenge, starting the on-line business was easy, but second challenge is much more bigger. How to get visibility, how to get people on the site, how to build brand: so there are many marketing challenges!

This story will continue!

What makes you “tick”?

In the last post I wrote about ideas and how to make them happen. But now I am wondering what makes you and other people tick in different organization? What are environmental factors that allows people to encounter to challenges what they want to solve? And what kind of organizational functions we need to create that kind of environment?

 

Passion

Passion is something that makes people tick. Somebody may be passionate for running, somebody is passionate for photographing and somebody may be even passionate for working. When people are passionate for something they talk all the time about it, they think about it and what to do next. You know when have you got excited about something and it is almost impossible to stay hold. You talk about it, sketch plans to paper, seek reviews and information about it from Google. What if you have same kind of passion towards daily work?

 

The new way of management

The challenge come in organizations where the traditional management methods take place. You wait for someone (usually your superior) to tell what to do next. You cant influence the content of the task or project and you do it just because it is your job. What if this is changed up-side-down and people could have opportunity to choose the tasks and project they want to do? I know that this is not the easiest thing to change because it may also affect to business models too.

Let’s think about positive sides of the model and imagine that we have different projects available. We have the environment where people have access to information of the available projects. Developers who are interested in project, apply for developing it. It might be possible that everyone are willing to solve same problem and rest of the project don’t get resources. The positive side is that the most interesting project may be also the most beneficial project for both parties (project lead and developers). Developers are happy when they can solve problems they want and motivation is on high level. This leads to better results in the project and project stakeholders are happy too.

Then the other side is when some project does not interest nobody. I would say that kind of project could be rejected before start and again both parties are happier. I would not be happy project manager for the project where developers don’t have enthusiasm towards project.

 

The Change

This kind of change needs paradigm shift in all levels in organization and also huge efforts from information systems. I profess that the more creative and intelligent people are working in organizations the more interesting challenges must be easy to find and access. Working environment must support happy encounters of challenges and solvers!

Building the Innovation Culture

It is over six months since I last time updated my blog. I must admit that it did not feel so long time, maybe it is because I have found myself wrestling with interesting challenges. Those challenges are related to innovation activities and how to inspire people to share their ideas. One part of those activities was defining the “innovation process” and the “innovation network”. Since I am encouraging people to share their ideas, insights and opinions I will also share my thoughts by this blog, so let us begin.

It is all about change, slow change

Changing people attitudes will not happen in a day or two. I have met a lot of people who are distant towards innovation activities, even cynical and some people think that they are not capable for innovation. The latter part is totally crap, everyone is capable for creative thinking but the first thing is about people attitudes. People’s attitudes change slowly and change must be managed from the top: important things like the importance of innovation must be frequently on the frame and people will not forget it.

Innovation Must be Shared Value

The next step from emphasizing the importance of innovation is transforming the innovation to one of the most important values in organization. If values are used efficiently in every day management values are really shared by the people in organization. When the innovation is one of the values it will direct people to common goal: more innovative organization. I have a dream that I do not need to answer anymore to questions like: “Why should I share my idea?” or “Why should we contribute to this process?”.

Access to the Latest Information

As I mentioned earlier, everyone is creative, they just need right inspiration. There are different ways to inspire people and something that works for me does not work for everyone. One thing what have I learned is that access to latest information, hardware and understanding the trends will help in creative thinking. When people have access to those things it will amplify the creativity and people can build on other’s ideas. There is always room for improvements and there is no need for creating entirely novel ideas all the time!

Benevolent Anarchism

The last thing I like to share in this post is something I call “benevolent anarchism”. I bet that every second lots of energy is wasted in bureaucracy and needless processes. This also prevent innovation when some good idea jams in to bureaucracy. But what if we act like benevolent anarchist and do the thing more efficiently without following the process? If things just happen faster and more efficiently I think that is proof that there is no need for that process or bureaucracy. Ok, I admit that needs courage but sometimes it easier to apologize afterwards than ask permission beforehand.

These items that I found important and interesting needs a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Innovation and efficiency will be on the frame a long time: Without innovation, courage, new ideas and efficient execution of ideas nothing will change and there will not be any “new business” opportunities.

Yep, I am done. Thank you for reading this post!