Customer development isn’t easy; it’s a lengthy process and requires a lot of data management. There are a lot of great web apps out there that can help you handle the customer development process for your new product.
Surveys and User Feedback
Outside of phone interviews and in-person meetings surveys are a great way to get customer feedback.
KISSinsights lets you quickly add short pop-up questionnaires to your site, putting the questions at your users’ fingertips while they’re actually using the product. This is the ideal time for getting feedback.
SurveyMonkey is a fantastic, full-featured survey provider. You can use SurveyMonkey to create longer, more in-depth questionnaires.
A good way to quickly test a hypothesis is to spend a little money on paid advertising. Paid ads generate traffic pretty quickly, and it typically doesn’t take much money to make your initial learnings.
AdWords is the old-school PPC approach to advertising, but it still works pretty well for a short timeframe. You can select individual keywords to bid on, which gives you great granular control over the traffic that you receive. PROTIP: It’s usually pretty easy to find $100 credits for new Adwords accounts, so if you’re new to AdWords then that is definitely worth a search.
Facebook Ads may be a good source of initial traffic for your startup, depending on what type of app you have. You can’t target quite as well as with AdWords, but you can focus your ads based on users’ interests. I’ve typically found Facebook ads to be less effective than AdWords, but your experience certainly may differ.
Landing Page Apps
Creating landing pages to collect user information is a great way to gauge interest for your product before you actually have to build anything.
Unbounce is a landing page generator that incorporates A/B testing. It also nicely integrates with MailChimp, Wufoo, and more. It’s simple interface allows you to create landing pages with no HTML or CSS coding.
Performable has really evolved into more than a landing page tool, but I still chose to list it here. It’s still a good tool, but may be overkill for early customer development needs.
You will need an email marketing solution for managing all of the contact information that you retrieve as well as for sending newsletters, product update notifications etc. to your customers. Even though I’ve had my issues with MailChimp I still believe they are by far the best in the industry. MailChimp does everything you need an email provider to do, and it does it well.
What other tools are indispensable for your customer development process? Comments welcome!