In the first part of our idea validation article, we defined what idea validation is, why is it important and which are some methods you can use to challenge and test ideas. In this article, we will explain how we created the Martian & Machine idea validation process and what makes it a great method to test and validate ideas.
Our idea validation approach starts with idea conceptualization and challenging the idea through the POC checklist. Once we are ready with the entire concept, we start defining idea validation marketing strategy which includes:
1. Setting your goals. There are 2 main goals for every idea validation: validating or not validating testing hypotheses, and learning a bunch about our target audience and market.
2. Defining the main KPI’s that will help us out in analyzing and validating the results
3. Picking out the fastest and cheapest approach to idea validation
4. Mapping a digital marketing funnel
5. Defining Martech tools we need to implement
6. Picking out channels through which we will drive traffic
7. Defining main communication message that is relevant to the target audience
8. Choosing user research methods we will use to gather feedback
When the digital marketing strategy for the idea validation is defined, we can prepare everything for the launch (Martech implementation, creative assets, etc.).
At Martian & Machine, we follow an agile approach for all idea validation campaigns. Everything is done in small teams of experts (2-4 people) that cover a different area of expertise (design/product/marketing/operations).
Most often, the idea conceptualization and validation phase lasts between 4-6 weeks while idea validation campaigns last between 2-3 weeks, depending on the market and the size of the target audience.
As we use a lean startup methodology for idea validation, we analyze data on a daily basis and make iterations fast and quite often to make sure we are trying the best we can to get quality insights once the idea validation campaign is over.
Even if the testing hypotheses are not validated in the end, we strive to generate a lot of data and create insights about the target market that would help us make the final decision: are we going to continue with the idea, pivot it or kill it and start working on something new.
Although there are many different tactics one can take for idea validation campaigns, there are some tactics that always perform really well for us:
1. Creating a landing page/no-code MVP product
Webflow is our tool of choice for creating marketing landing pages and even no-code MVP's (minimum viable products). In some cases, we might use other online services for creating MVP prototypes such as Figma or landing page builders like Instapage, etc.
2. Getting analytical data
We are really lean in our approach, but data is the most important for us. After we prepare a measurement plan, we set up analytics through different analytical tools, depending on what the validation needs.
Mostly, we use Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and heatmap analytics tools for our landing pages (such as Hotjar, Fullstory, Smartlook). For mobile app projects, we use Google Analytics 4, and specialized product analytics tools such as Amplitude.
3. Using performance marketing to generate traffic
Performance marketing channels offer the best return for the money invested in advertising. Determine which performance marketing channels might be the best for your product while making sure you are not ignoring the market and target audience relevance. Don’t ignore smaller or niche networks since sometimes you might get better results if you are trying to validate a really niche product. For example, Reddit might be awesome for the USA market and tech target audience, Linkedin will perform great for the UAE market targeting B2B audiences while Instagram will be a better channel for the German market and sustainability target audience.
4. Collecting and nurturing leads through marketing automation
Idea validation campaigns have to be automated as much as possible since everything is done in 2-3 weeks, so planning is crucial. The most important thing is to get the lead. Once you have the lead, you can nurture it through email marketing or later through direct mailing.
We use Zapier, Activecampaign, Calendly, and Zoom to map and automate the entire customer journey. For example, once users leave their personal information and we collect a lead in Webflow, that information is transferred to Activecampaign, and automation with multiple emails is triggered. We put a lot of energy into proper email marketing communication to get better conversion rates as we often use email marketing to schedule user interviews or to collect additional feedback through surveys etc. For us, it really helps to map down the entire funnel in tools such as Miro or for example Funnelytics.
5. Using user research methods to gather qualitative feedback
For some campaigns, surveys/user interviews will be exactly what you need to get user feedback. If you are running a survey or calling people for a user interview, always offer something in return to the users for their time (such as Amazon coupons, etc.). We had really fun encounters with many different people around the world and learned quite a lot about their perspectives of our products during user interviews. One of the most fun experiences I had was during a user interview with a product manager from Facebook who thought our concept was interesting and wanted to learn more about it.
For some campaigns, even some unexpected ways of communication might occur as a great method to receive user feedback. For example, we noticed and learned from the market research that Whatsapp is really important in the UAE market and that people do business over it, so we had to use it in our strategy as one of the main tools for communication and lead gen.
6. Iterating communication assets
Since most idea validation campaigns do not last more than 2-3 weeks, we tend to iterate quickly and change or test the messaging on the landing page, marketing creatives, or other created content based on learnings and data.
Mentioned above are tactics that worked for us in most cases. Of course, for some ideas, markets, and target audiences you might have to go with another approach. Always adapt the approach and tactics you are taking to the market and target audience.
If you find this article interesting and think you would like to adopt the same idea validation approach and test out your idea, head over to our “How to validate a business idea” article and get access to our Proof of concept (POC) checklist to get you started.
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