Customer Discovery Tools for Lean Startups

Running a lean startup? You will find here a list of tools you can use during the customer discovery phase.

Survey and Feedback tools

Although people tend to think of Survey Monkey or Survey Gizmo when I mention Survey, I actually think that Google Forms is very good already, and it is free.

Google Forms

Simply go to http://docs.google.com and select “Create new” / “Form” and you will be presented with a very good form designer.

Google FormsOnce you have created your form, Google publishes it and gives you the link, or you can embed it into your own website.

The answers are saved in a spreadsheet. You can be notified each time someone completes the survey, and you can even redirect the user after completion of the survey thanks to a hack.

KissInsights

KissInsightsKissInsights is a new service from the creators of KissMetrics that allows you to display a non-intrusive but highly effective widget on your website or blog.

KissInsights

Depending on which page the user is in, you can choose to ask some specific questions to better understand your user.

UserVoice

UserVoice You probably know UserVoice or GetSatisfaction that allows you to add a side tab in your pages where users can leave feedback and ask questions. I don’t recommend these services because they are simply inefficient and slow your pages down.

A/B testing

As Ash Maurya mentioned on his blog, depending on whether you are in the Customer Discovery phase or another one, you will be testing different things.

In the Customer Discovery phase, you want to test your unique value proposition (the main tag line on the homepage for example)

I have used the three following tools to A/B test CoachFire and TaskArmy:

Google Website Optimizer is a classic

You can run A/B tests at the page level (send 10% of my traffic to variation1 and the rest in variation2) or multivariate experiments at the page content level.

Visual Website Optimizer is a recent startup that simply rocks

You just have to add a javascript code in your pages and you won’t have to touch your website again each time to create a new A/B test. I found VWO very easy to use with their user friendly designer.

ABingo

If you are writing your application in Ruby on Rails, you can integrate more complex split tests straight from your code.

Analytics

You need to understand your customers/users better. What are they looking for in your website? which sources send better traffic?

Clicky I am slowly going away from Google Analytics in favour of Clicky (although this is an affiliate link, I genuinely recommend this tool).

Out of the box, Clicky gives you actionable metrics, rather than a awful lot of useless data.

For example, it allows you to drill down to a visitor level to understand better how the users coming from a specific source interact with your website:

image

Did I mention that Clicky is real time?

image Although a lot of people refer toKissMetrics when someone asks for an analytics tool, I have never understood what value they add in comparison to the other analytics tool like Clicky and Google Analytics. KissMetrics is all about funnel conversion, which any web analytics tool already offers and having to add yet another script on your page isn’t justified by having pretty conversion graphs.

MixPanel MixPanel is about tracking events and cohorts in your web application (in real time). Something that differentiates MixPanel from other solution is the ability to track server side events too. A perfect use case for MixPanel is tracking the engagement of the users in your Facebook social game.

MixPanel Example

You can find more tool ideas on the Startup Tools Wiki.

What tools do you use to better understand your customers?(when you are not outside the building interviewing them)

  • Al

    Just used JotForm for a customer development survey and feedback button. Amazingly quick and easy tool.

  • Cassie Rice

    Some other sites you can add are:

    Pop Feedback. Pop Feedback is like KISSInsights, but is more reasonably priced for startups. You can create customized questions that show up on the right bottom corner of your on a specified URL. All the responses are received in real time. There is a free plan to get started.

    OyoLive. OyoLive is awesome! You can literally see what your users are doing on your website in real time. It’s currently in beta, but is definitely worth a try!

  • Thomas Davis

    lol I always reccomend Clicky too and like you I have moved away from google analytics I still install it but rarely look at it.

    the only problem is everytime i go to tell a forum about clicky i get my post deleted it because I want a dam referral lol still on 0

  • John McFarlane

    For those of you who have used surveys for customer discovery, have you then used forums to get your survey in front of the eyes of those you are targetting?

    Im thinking of doing this, as on forums theres obviously people sharing their views and opinions on related matters and giving them a chance to share their pains and problems within the survey might result in some useful information.

    • Aymeric

      Yes, if you know your target market hang out in a specific forum (or LinkedIn group), you can ask them to answer your survey.

      Your success rate will depend on how much you have been participating in the forum before posting though…

      • John McFarlane

        @Aymeric, thats a good point that you make about how much previous participation in a forum before posting a survey.

        Thanks for making me think about LinkedIn groups too.