The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
1. Go With Google AdWords
Build a simple landing page with an option for an email signup. Test various keywords via AdWords and see what converts (via email signup) and what doesn’t. It’s a pretty simple and effective way to test a new idea or product with a targeted audience.
– Josh Weiss, Bluegala
2. Linkback With a Guest Post
Want to see how a product, service or idea is going to resonate with a market outside your current niche? Write a guest post for a popular blog in that space. See how the readers respond to your ideas. You’ll get traffic sent your way, but more importantly be able to gauge whether or not that market is a good fit for your business.
– Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC
3. Recruit Your Feedback Army
4. Google Consumer Surveys Deliver
Google recently rolled out Consumer Surveys that run off their ad network and allows companies to gather targeted market research. It’s as simple as setting up and running an ad campaign, and it allows you to tap the vast network of Google users as test subjects.
– Lauren Fairbanks, Stunt & Gimmick’s
5. Test Out Mechanical Turk
6. Figure Out Facebook Ads
With Facebook Ads, you can target exactly who you want to visit your new business website — down to the age range, location, and interests. This will help keep costs down, and is a great way to build a Facebook presence too.
– Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media
7. Make It Happen With Meetup
Meetup is filled with groups for an incredibly wide variety of interests. If there’s a group that fits your business, try contacting the organizer to see if you can talk to the group at their next event or if they might be willing to send a link to your site out to their members. You obviously don’t want to be spammy, so I’d recommend focusing on pitching how your site would help them.
– Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect
8. Try Twitter Ads
Twitter just released their new platform for ads. If you have an American Express card, you can get $100 in free advertising to try the platform. So far it’s been pretty awesome in driving traffic and followers to our Twitter account.
– Jason Smikle, TUV Mediaworks
9. Endorsed Mailing
Make friends with an entrepreneur who offers a complementary service or product to your target market. Ask her to send out a message to her email subscribers on your behalf. In the email, offer her subscribers free information (such as a report or webinar) in exchange for signing up on your website. You’ll build your own list of prospects. Then, follow up, get feedback, and start making sales!
– Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI
10. Pull Out the Private Email List
I put together a private email list of 100 people in my personal network who I greatly respect and admire. I let them know that I’ll send out one email per month that includes a cool opportunity, a request for feedback, and a request for a Tweet. When I get a new business idea, I tell it first to my private email list to get their expert feedback. MailChimp is my preferred email client.
– Jun Loayza, RewardMe
11. Reach Out to Your Network
To work out kinks present in an early iteration of any website, take advantage of your personal relationships. Enlisting the help of those around you is any easy way to avoid the time-drain and costs associated with running focus groups or surveys. Moreover, your friends and family are most likely to take the time to give you thoughtful feedback.
– Michael Tolkin, Merchant Exchange
12. Use Unbounce
I’ve become extremely comfortable with Unbounce and recommend it to nearly everyone I talk to. Getting people to your new site is pretty simple; friends, family, social media audience, or Google/Facebook ads can all bring you eyeballs. Once they’ve arrived, Unbounce can give you some insight into variations of your site without making you write any code.
– Derek Shanahan, Foodtree
13. Look at LinkedIn
Message your LinkedIn network and ask for feedback. It usually nets great response and valuable information. People who intimately know you, and your abilities, are the most likely to give you the kind of feedback you need. They’re also the ones most likely to call you on your crap, and you need that. Embarrassment is a lot less painful than failure.
– Brent Beshore, AdVentures
14. Land With an eNewsletter Signup
Let people know what you’re going to offer and encourage them to sign up for your eNewsletter to learn more about the launch. Share the landing page on social media, through blog comments, etc. and see how many signups you receive. This is a great indicator of the demand for your product or service and can also provide feedback on your idea.
– Heather Huhman, Come Recommended
15. Pay for Testing!
There’s a sense that we have to bootstrap and that testing is far too expensive. But the reality is that you can actually find experts willing to go over your site for reasonable prices — and it’s well worth the expense if you can improve your site before a wide launch. Even if you’re on a very tight budget, there a less-experienced professionals or even students who can help you get an edge.
– Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting