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How to Micro Test New Product/Service Ideas Using AdWords

by Today's Eggspert

Launching a new business idea or deciding to develop a new product for your company is not without risk.

Many of the best business ideas have come from inspiration, intuition or in-depth insight into an industry. While some of these ideas have risen to dominate the modern world, such as search engines, barcodes and credit card readers, many fine ideas still result in bankruptcy for their company, due to insufficient demand or failure to properly research customer desire.

If you build it will they come?

Often smart business entrepreneurs can still make big mistakes. With new product, service or business launches you can think you know exactly what your customers want but unfortunately be totally wrong.

That is why, as Lunametrics eloquently point out, new product or business launches should be researched and supported by data.

It is essential to know if there is adequate demand for your new product/service, how users will be looking for it and what marketing methods they will respond to best, before investing in development. This is where macro and micro testing come into play.

What is micro testing?

Micro and macro testing look at different elements of the structure, qualities and properties of an entity. In the context of launching a product or service, we are talking about the various stages of market testing.

The first stage is to assess demand for a product and then micro testing would proceed to look at small audience samples to iron out the details e.g.:

  • How will users search
  • What features would they like to see in the new launch
  • What marketing strategies are most effective in our sample group

Market testing basically allows businesses to gauge the potential viability of your idea before proceeding to development and launch, thereby reducing risk. Micro testing specifically facilitates small, tightly designed, limited-term tests in the live market to give greater details of how best to proceed in development and launch.

Why should businesses use Google AdWords to micro test new product/service ideas?

While investing in focus groups can be a beneficial way to gauge demand and iron out the early details of a marketing strategy, it can be extremely costly, especially for new or smaller businesses.

By investing resources into focus groups for an untested new product/service idea, you can make considerable losses on a theory that may not even pan out. Alternatively, you could have a strong idea with plenty of interest but have wasted more than you anticipated on focus group research, with less left over for development if you have a tight budget.

The costly nature of research focus groups can put smaller businesses off, but if you proceed with launches based purely on gut feelings and no data, your new idea could fall down before it even gets going.

Thankfully there are solutions to the problem. Google AdWords is a cost-effective alternative to focus groups for micro testing and uncovering demand for new products/services. By utilizing the power of Google AdWords, you can discover demand volume and use micro testing to get in-depth insight into how to best market your new launch with a small budget.

Investigate initial demand with Google AdWords and other great Google tools

Before testing the specifics of a new venture, you need to validate the big picture first. You need to establish the rough size of the current market for your new product or service. If there is no demand or very little demand, it will be much harder and costlier to get the idea off the ground.

Google Trends is a wonderful place to start your initial research. The free tool lets you analyze approximate trending search volume for topics or even specific search terms. You can then analyze the trend of this interest over time.

This is very useful for revealing potential seasonal demand and low periods for certain types of products or services. If your industry or product idea is relatively new, such as when you are trying to tap into a gap in the market or create something revolutionary, Google Trends could reveal if there has been a growing interest in the topic.

punk clothing chart

You can even compare multiple relevant search terms or topics at once. Those who are new to Google Trends should bear in mind that it does not show absolute search volume, merely a share of volume from Google samples. However, it is still a beneficial tool for analyzing trends over time.

After getting a rough glimpse into your market trends, it is time to gather some more accurate demand data with the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

To access the keyword planner in your Google AdWords dashboard simply select the tools tab.

Google AdWords tools

Then the keyword planner tab.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Here you have lots of options to help you plan campaigns, including the ability to research keyword ideas and check search volume. This is ideal for identifying demand for a new product or service. Both the ‘search for new keyword’ option and the ‘get search volume data’ option will display search volume, so you can simultaneously check demand and see how users might search for your new product.

enter the keywords in keyword planner

Enter the terms you have already considered (and your website URL if you like) to get related keyword ideas and accurate search volumes.

Don’t forget to target the relevant location. Unless your new service or product is being launched internationally straight away, you will end up with grossly inflated demand for your area. Even if your product will be available on an international market, comparing demand by country or region can also be very valuable to your marketing efforts as you can concentrate your marketing in areas of high demand initially.

find new keywords and get search volume data

Watch this video for more details on how to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to get the most out of it.

Sadly, this option is now only available to current advertisers. If you are not already running an AdWords campaign for your other available products or services, Google AdWords will no longer give you accurate search volume data in the keyword planner.

As of last year, Google has restricted the usage of their keyword planner, so unless you’re a current advertiser or a new advertiser with live accounts in your arsenal, you most likely will not be able to see this data. You will still be able to use the keyword planner to build excellent keyword lists for your research, however search volume will only be displayed in wide ranges.

restricted adwords data

Naturally, as Google AdWords keyword planner tool was one of the very best tools of its kind, SEOs and content marketers are not too pleased with the new circumstances.

Don’t despair if you don’t have a current campaign, there are several decent, free keyword planner tools on the market that do reveal search volume data, such as SERPS keyword planner tool and Mangools Keyword Finder.

Another handy tool which is well worth a mention if you are doing market research for a new product or service is Google Correlate.

If you are having trouble identifying who your target market really is, or what correlating interests they may have to facilitate marketing strategies, then Google Correlate can help. You can see what terms correlate to your product/service terms. Some of the results may seem very random, but if you look closely, you can start to piece together potential user personas. You can even compare correlating search peaks and drops over time.

google correlate

Is your new idea worth your time and financial investment?

Now you know whether there is sufficient demand for your new product, service or business idea, however, you still need to know whether it will be worth the cost of development.

New innovative product launches often work because they identify a gap in the market or they have improved upon an existing service. The problem with the former is that your users may not be aware they need the product or what it is. In that case, there is a lack of clear demand and you may have to create that demand from scratch. The problem with improving an existing service is there could be plenty of competition in the marketing space. You need to be sure your assets will be up to the task.

Google AdWords’ tools can once again give insights into the issue. Not only does the keyword planner tool offer estimated CPC for terms, but you can also use the budget and forecasts tool to estimate how many clicks you would receive for a theoretical budget.

Head to the keyword planner tool and select the plan budget and forecasts option.

plan your budget

Enter your keywords, location and the duration you wish the data to be based on e.g. last year, etc.

plan your budget and get forecasts

Enter an estimated daily budget and daily bid for the term or terms and get predictions for your average positions, clicks and even conversions. These forecasts must be taken with a degree of skepticism as they are based on previous history that may have changed but they offer a guide on potential CPC and more.

performance forecasts

How to micro test your new product/service with Google AdWords

With a clear idea of demand, the cost potentials and how users may search for your new product or service, it is time to dig a little deeper with active micro testing.

The beauty of micro testing in Google AdWords is that you can get detailed data on best marketing techniques long before launch. You could test:

  • Keywords
  • Ad copy
  • What extensions work best
  • Landing page structure
  • Landing page copy
  • Company/brand/product/service name
  • What features will be popular
  • Logos
  • Locations
  • Slogans
  • Tag lines
  • What price range works best
  • What offers compel people

That is really just the beginning. By setting up a small, low budget Google AdWords campaign, your opportunity to micro test is virtually limitless. As it is currently a ‘made up’ product/service the sky’s the limit in terms of your creativity.

Committing a marketing budget to an AdWords campaign for a non-existent product may seem risky. However, it is much cheaper than focus groups and you can run a modest campaign and still gather great data. The trick is to keep the budget reasonably low and don’t spend too long building the campaign to save resources. It can take some time to set up a fully optimized campaign, but you will only be focused on testing specific elements at a time.

If you still need convincing to commit a budget to Google AdWords for the purposes of micro testing, SmartShott increased conversions by an astonishing 233% after deciding to advertise a product that didn’t exist. They not only gained valuable insights into what PPC strategies would work best when the service did launch, but also gained insights into extra desirable features and gathered highly interested leads prior to launch.

If you have been running campaigns for your existing products/services already, you may have received a voucher from Google AdWords for some free credits. This would be a nice bonus of free clicks for your micro test, so always keep an eye on your AdWords associated Gmail to see if you have been sent a voucher.

When creating your AdWords campaign for testing be sure to set your geotargeting. For micro testing you need to look at smaller, limited samples to reduce cost and this is a good way to test demand in various locations.

Ensure that you create separate campaigns/AdGroups for the various test elements you are researching. If you separate your brand name tests from your logo tests, from your ad copy tests, etc. – your data will be more precise.

Be careful not to mix up test campaigns with existing product campaigns. Segmentation equals clearer results for you and avoids confusing your customers. You should use different keywords for the micro testing because if keywords overlap between theoretical products and existing ones you could lose out on conversions.

One of the most important aspects of launching a new business idea, product or service is to keep the message simple. Even if this is a one of a kind, industry-first service you need to get the concept across clearly in your test ads. You would be surprised how hard it is to boil down a great, sophisticated idea into something which is simple and marketable, so don’t underestimate the challenge.

Even something as simple as a different tagline could reveal more interest and demand in the same product. Start Up Bros saw a 35% conversion increase when testing three simple but different taglines on the same landing page for a new product.

Clever micro testing will enable highly detailed data collection

Micro testing in Google AdWords can go far beyond seeing which keywords and ad copy will work best. As Smartshot demonstrated, micro testing is a unique opportunity to get amazing feedback from customers prior to launch. It may seem strange to gather conversions for a product that doesn’t exist but by cultivating interested leads you can tap into the most valuable data possible.

The best way to do this is to mitigate disappointment on your landing page and collect opinions.

As well as testing landing page presentation in your micro test, you can make up for some of the demand you preemptively created with you test ads. It is likely your ads may have made promises you can’t keep because the product is not real yet. The best way to solve this problem and prevent resentment is to….

  1. Be honest
  2. Create anticipation and excitement
  3. Show the potential customers just how important their opinion is

Straight away you need to be clear that the product or service is not ready yet. Coming soon signs can create anticipation but they can also frustrate users. People are busy and don’t want to come back to check availability all the time. Giving estimated launch dates will help but if you can’t do that try to be playful yet transparent. Buffer created a very effective landing page to solve exactly this issue during their PPC micro testing campaigns:

buffer landing page

You can see they are apologetic, honest but are also promising to send users a reminder when the service is ready. By gathering emails, you will already have a stock of hot leads for launch and your customers don’t have to keep checking back for a launch date.

Using glamorous imagery and listing the best features or discount prices for pre-orders will create demand and anticipation but the most important rule in that list is valuing opinions.

Don’t just collect emails, actively ask people what special features they would like to see in the new business, product or service. The product doesn’t exist yet, so this is an opportunity to combat problems and objections that customers perceive and improve it for better sales. This will save money and increase profits in the long run.

Don’t forget to create several different landing pages to test elements like structure, logos and desirable features. If you only create one or two landing pages with all your test elements, you won’t get clear data or insights into which are resonating with users.

Understanding your data

After you have run your test campaign for a while, you can start analyzing your data to help you make decisions about product/service development or marketing strategy. Micro testing with Google AdWords will clearly reveal if you have taken a wrong turn with your keywords, ad copy or any element of the test.

Low impressions

If you have low impressions this could mean demand is not what you expected or your bids for the test are too low and there is more competition than you anticipated.

If your initial research with Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner did reveal demand around your keywords, then try raising your bids. This experiment should give you more insight into the market’s competition and whether your new idea will be worth the required investments moving forward.

Be sure to keep testing the keywords themselves. Are they too broad or too specific? Try carrying out further research into related keyword ideas in the planner if you worry that volume is limited for your niche or target area.

Low clicks

With high impressions and low clicks, you may have problems with your keywords or ad copy. Make sure that your keywords are actually relevant to what you are offering and that your ads aren’t generating for unrelated terms. Negative keywords can help clean up the process.

Ad copy can be tricky if your innovative product, service or business idea is a concept first. If people are unfamiliar with the concept you’re describing they may not recognize its value. In this scenario, you may also be targeting more generic keywords to get your foot in the door, so consider appealing to people’s problems and emotions. Asking questions and presenting solutions in ad copy can be a tactic to get around lack of familiarity e.g.:

Tired of mowing?

Sick of clothes that don’t fit your shape or unique style?

Speed up your holiday research with this new tool

Discover a better way to reach market influencers

More time living less time doing tax self-assessment

Low conversions

Leads may be lower than expected as your product isn’t live yet and some users are just going to be too impatient to give up their emails for nothing, but don’t underestimate the power of feedback.

If you wish your leads to fill out a form, of features they would like to see, keep it short and value their time.

You have a unique opportunity to test a variety of different landing pages and highlight different product names, functionality and more so don’t be shy to keep testing if leads are lower than expected.

Look out for consistency

One very important factor to keep an eye on during your micro tests is consistency of interest. Are the impressions and clicks for the new testing product consistent or sporadic? If they are sporadic, there may be some interest, but not enough, so you need to judge whether your product launch will be worth the investment. If you’re providing a very specialist product or service, with a small audience this may still be worth the effort, however, if you’re hoping to hit on the next big thing, be careful and try to gather as much tangible feedback as possible.

Review the data from your micro tests in Google Analytics

By reviewing traffic on your website from the micro test campaigns in Google Analytics you can gain greater insight into their behavior. Remember to link your Google Analytics and AdWords account before starting the tests.

You can easily test multiple variations of your landing page during the micro test in AdWords and watch the results in Google Analytics. By using content experiments in Analytics you will save yourself from making duplicate test ads to duplicate test landing pages.

Simply head to the behavior section in analytics and select experiments.

Select create new experiment.

Name your experiment and set a metric, such as a previously defined goal for your lead collection.

name your experiment

Select the percent of traffic for the test.

Choose your distribution, naturally you will want to select even distribution for accuracy in your micro testing phase.

Click next and then add the URLs of your different landing pages.

Click next and grab the code and paste it into the header of the first variation of the landing page (i.e. the original).

Having pasted in the code, click verify in analytics and you are now ready to run the content experiment for your AdWords micro testing. You can also watch these instructions in the video below.

Finally…

Don’t jump the gun with your micro testing in Google AdWords. You cannot base a big decision like a new product launch on a tiny amount of data.

Instead, give the campaign a chance to see if impressions, clicks and interest are consistent. Review which areas and terms produce the interest before terminating the campaign.

It is often tempting to turn off your test campaigns too early to save money, yet this could lead to a far costlier mistake in launching an expensive-to-manufacture product with limited demand. You need to spend some money to make money in a competitive business world, but by investing a little, you can get a good idea of demand.

About the Author: Roy Dopaishi manages content marketing at Paid Traffic, an Australian based PPC advertising agency. He is a tech and fitness nut, a genuine marketing guinea pig and works with PPC/SMM/marketing experts to tease out strategies that bring results.

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  1. Knuts Hannelore says:
    May 1, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Great article! It looks like LeadPages no longer offers a free plan or free trial period. Can you recommend another landing page option to run the test you recommend? Thank you in advance!

    • Roy says:
      May 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Knuts,

      Glad you enjoyed the article, heard good reviews about sumo.com and click funnel. The former offers a single optin only but is good for split testing, haven’t tried click funnel yet.

      You can find a list of others here – growtraffic.com/blog/2015/04/our-15-favorite-alternatives-leadpages.

      Not all are free but sometimes it’s worth buying 😉 Hope that helps!

      • Roy says:
        May 3, 2017 at 8:40 pm

        Also, here’s a comparison of the 4 most popular ones – codeinwp.com/blog/optinmonster-leadpages-sumome-thrive-leads/

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