14 Low-Cost Ways to Test Your Website With a Small Audience

Question: What's one low-cost strategy for testing your new business website with a small audience?

Go With Google AdWords

"Build a simple landing page with 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 | Founder and President, Bluegala
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."

Recruit Your Feedback Army

"Feedback Army is a great tool for receiving feedback on your website. It's cheap and provides excellent results. "

Test Out Mechanical Turk

"With just a little comfort in html, you can use Mechanical Turk to survey thousands of people for just 5 cents a pop!"

- Derek Flanzraich | CEO and Founder, Greatist
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."

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."

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 | Managing Director, fNograph
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 | Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Main Street ROI
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 | Chief Marketing Officer, Bunny Inc
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."

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."

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 | Founder/CEO, adventur.es

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 | Founder & President, Come Recommended

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 | Content Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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