I want to validate my startup idea

3rd November 2021
5 min read

Problem 🤕

I want to validate my startup idea. Understand whether the idea has merit and whether I should pursue it or not.

Solution 🕵️

Find the closest way to mimic your ultimate customer offering. The plan is to invest the least amount of money or build minimally (ideally nothing), yet get a sense of the market.

Why and when to worry about this?⏱️

a. Rationale

The usual norm is of individuals either working on an idea which has no market OR those who build costly and wrong products for a market that doesn't exist. You should avoid being either of those individuals.

b. Timing

Right after you have an idea and you are serious about pursuing entrepreneurship. While you might not need to invest too much money to validate your idea, it still requires significant effort.

Tools 👝

Implementation 🔨

a. Realistic expectation

Definitive answers aren't really the nature of the startup world - you can just make smart bets. The process here is to help you make the smartest bet, i.e. maximum market information with minimum investment.

b. Process

This will be a two-part process.

i. Demonstrate what your product is about

ii. Drive relevant users to it

i. Demonstrate what your product is about

  • Landing page
    • Using landing page builders, make a simple yet beautiful and informative website
    • The goal is to clearly explain what your offering is
    • Here are the sections that your page should have
      • Hero section
      • Why you OR how do you solve the problems
      • A personalised note to them (optional)
    • Example: A good landing page - Link
    • A detailed tutorial on the content on how to build this to be covered later
  • Showcase it through content
    • Write content that caters to your relevant audience
    • While you don't demonstrate your product, you can:
      • Understand if the problem is serious enough
      • If your approach to it is interesting/suitable to users
    • Topics that can be covered include:
      • Problems that your users currently face: In-depth articles, lists
      • Useful tips for your target audience
      • Case studies on others who are facing the same problems
    • Do this through either a newsletterOR even consistent posts on the relevant social platform your target audience visits
    • Example: How Remote Clan was built using a newsletter - Link
  • Buy a white-label solution
    • Don't build another product
    • Instead, buy/use something off the shelf which sort of addresses the problem
    • It doesn't have to be a perfect solution (that's what you will be eventually building)
    • This allows you to drive traffic to this product and see if users are remotely interested
    • Example: Here's how Hubstaff did it - Link

ii. Drive relevant users to it

Your landing page, newsletter or white-label product needs relevant user traffic. Here's how you build it:

  • Social media posts: An obvious one, but here are the key points
    • Find which platform your users frequent (don't spray and pray)
    • Tweak the content according to the platform. For e.g.
      • Tweet threads work best on Twitter
      • LinkedIn requires content that isn't dense
    • Detailed tutorial of each platform to be covered in a future post
  • Relevant communities: Top platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great, but reaching your users is easier on platforms that cater to your niche.
    • Don't start pitching your product. Instead, initiate and engage in fruitful conversations related to your product
    • Example of platforms
  • Paid ads: This (clearly) costs money. But specifically for a landing page or a white-label product, this makes a lot of sense. You can:
    • Direct the exact target audience to your product
    • Be sure that they actually have the intent of purchasing such a product/service
    • Calculate the exact cost of user acquisition
    • Example: Here's how GrowthMentor did it - Link

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Everything is becoming an ad network!
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How Moneycontrol gets 62M+ traffic through their brilliant SEO strategy?

Moneycontrol is a simple financial and business portal that hosts a ton of information on individual public companies, global and Indian indices, business news articles, personal finance and more!

Moneycontrol's SEO numbers
- Traffic ⇒ 62M+
- Keywords ⇒ 3.8M
- Backlinks ⇒ 35.2M

Top Subfolders:
- /india/stockpricequote ⇒ 32.6M traffic
- /news ⇒ 7M traffic
So, majority of Moneycontrol's traffic comes from their "stockpricequote" pages.

Now, these 'stockpricequote' pages are essentially part of a stocks directory.
Each stock in the directory has it's own individual page. For example, there is dedicated page for Asian Paints, ONGC, HDFC bank and more!

Now, on the ONGC page there are many sections like
- ONGC share price
- SWOT analysis
- Stock Overview
- Advanced chart

This page also links to ONGC's financials page that includes their annual and quarterly balance sheet and profit and loss numbers.
Collectively these pages rank for high volume keywords like "ONGC share price", "ONGC revenue", "ONGC swot analysis" and more!

Since these pages primarily include general company data, many other reputed websites on the net link to them. For example, ONGC's Wikipedia page links to their Moneycontrol financials page.
So, with these pages they not only get high traffic but also links - so it's a win-win situation!

Not all sections under these "stockpricequote" pages are available for free to a user. Moneycontrol hides part of the data under a CTA, so serious traders would be encouraged to buy their pro plan.
Apart from this, they also run ads on their platform which brings part of their revenue!

Adobe's SEO strategy to get 7.5M traffic for a single product! Network of feature pages 🕸️

Adobe gets 7.5 million/month organic traffic for a SINGLE product using a unique SEO strategy 🤯
SEO is key to any startup's marketing plans, and Adobe's approach is a masterclass in SEO!
Let's break it down

1/ What problem(s) did Adobe identify?

Product: CC Express ⇒ 30+ key features

Product page:
- crowded with features
- ranking only for 'brand keywords' i.e. "Adobe" + "CC Express"
- great keywords for features (ex. "resize image" ⇒ 500K/mo), but page not ranking for them

2/ So, what did Adobe do about it?

A) One page for one feature

Feature pages look like this:
a) It starts with a brief intro about the feature, including a link to the product i.e. CTA or call-to-action.
b) This is followed by steps on how to use the feature.

c) Three or more sections describing what you can do with the feature, peppered with CTAs.
d) Finally, a section just having the CTA OR linking to the product.
Of course all through the text, Adobe has smartly infused the keyword along with CTAs.

B) Create Uniform URL structure

All features pages have the same URL structure — /<>/feature/<>.

This helps with:
1) Easy for Google to travel through all of these pages
2) Easy to interlink all of these related pages.
3) If the feature pages rank well, the top-level page i.e. /express also benefits from it.

C) Common template

As we saw above, Adobe used the same template for each of its feature pages.Why?

1) Helps Google figure out that these feature pages are related since they have the same theme.
2) Makes it easy for Adobe to keep creating new feature pages.

Everything is becoming an ad network!

Amazon's ads business has done tremendously well. Now following suit, Walmart is also aiming for a bigger piece of ad revenue. In 2021, Walmart made ~1.5bn surpassing Twitter & Snapchat and doubling its ad business vs 2020.

But the winds are changing in the digital ads market as more & more people are moving towards privacy.

Now with Apple’s privacy policy change, 62% users have opted out of tracking which cost $10bn in revenue for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter & Snapchat in just 6 months 🤯

This works in favour of Amazon and Walmart. All of the data that Amazon & Walmart collect when you shop on their website is completely owned by them. So no privacy change will ever take the data away from these companies.

The data these companies "own" has just become more valuable for ads! So now any company that attracts you to their website and collects your data has the potential to be an ad network.

Ultimately, everything is becoming an advertising network.