Before you start working on your next bright idea you have to go through the process of market research.
I am going to show you a step-by-step guide you can easily follow before you start coding your SaaS (or paying someone else to do it for you).
Don’t worry if you have already started working on your product, market research will show you what features your users really want and help you take your product to the next level.
Start the market research with a goal
The first is the most important one, you have to start with a single goal in mind.
Answer this question:
What are you trying to find out?
You can’t research something if you don’t know what that is. Make sure you have a clear and unique goal for your market research.
Here are 2 more questions that can help you identify your end goal:
Are you trying to understand if people want an alternative to an existing product?
If yes, then your market research goal is to discover what users dislike about existing products in your niche.
Do you have a completely novel idea and want to know if people are willing to give it a try?
If yes, then your goal is to discover at least a few related competitors (even if they don’t do exactly what you plan on doing) and get to know their users.
You need to have that clear goal in mind before you start the actual process. It just makes things so much simpler to plan and execute.
Write that goal down in a Google Doc and move to the next step.
Choose a market research method
For the sake of simplicity, I am going to group market research methods into 2 categories: using free tools and using paid tools.
Based on your specific goal you might need to spend some money, but if this is the first time you do market research I recommend you start with free tools.
If you want you can always use more advanced, paid services, even right from the start. Just bear in mind that this process is about discovering if there are people ready to pay for your product.
Free tools for market research
There are a plethora of free tools that can help you research specific niches.
You can use Google Trends to search for specific queries related to your product.
Use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to get an idea of how many people are searching for a specific keyword broken down by date.
You can use any of the 2 options:
- Discover new keywords – this option gives you some ideas on search terms related to the one you added to further expand your market research efforts if you’ve hit a roadblock.
- Get search volume and forecast – this option shows you how much people are paying to appear on that Google for that specific keyword. The higher the price the more competition there is.
Paid tools for market research
If you want to take your keyword research to a whole other level, Ahrefs is a great but pricy tool that can help you achieve it.
You can use it to uncover the top websites that rank on specific keywords and give you a great overview of who you are up against.
Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world, but it’s also a very good place to spy on your possible competitors and find out trends.
Ahrefs works great if you want to find out what people are searching for on Google, but Tubebuddy is better if you want to see what people are searching for on Youtube.
The good part is that Tubebuddy offers a limited features-free plan. You can install it, get to know how it works, and later upgrade if you feel the need.
Research your competitors
By now you have a goal and a list of tools you can use to run the market research.
It’s time to jump straight in and analyze your competitors. To get an idea of where your product stands against others in your specific niche, you have to look at your competitors’ websites (sales pages, pricing pages, features) as well as their reviews.
This not only helps you position your SaaS better, but it also shows what people love about the existing products, and what they hate.
Analyze your competitors’ homepages and sales pages
You might have the greatest website, but how can you be sure it clearly communicates the problems you are solving?
Have a look over your main competitors’ websites, especially their homepage and sales pages and note down how they present what they do.
Remember, people want a solution to their problem, they don’t buy features, but rather benefits.
Research pricing pages
Your SaaS is a business, so it needs to generate money. Presenting your pricing is one of the most complicated parts of sales.
You need to show the value you bring all while making sure people clearly understand your pricing structure.
Have a look over your competitors’ pricing pages and take notes about how they present their offers. Some people might be willing to spend extra for a special feature, while others might not need it at all.
If your niche is pretty crowded, chances are you will compete with a large organization that has already spent quite a lot of money nailing their pricing page. Learn from what they did and replicate it.
Look at their reviews
There are 2 types of people that leave reviews online: the ones that love a product and the ones that hate it.
People don’t usually leave a neutral review, so take advantage of what your competitors’ clients have to say about the products that they are using.
You can check reviews on websites like Capterra, G2 Crowd, GetApp or Trustpilot. Some businesses are also using Google My Business and Facebook to generate reviews.
Other platforms you can use to check for customer feedback and questions regarding a specific product are Reddit and Quora.
Figure out the gaps
The purpose of this analysis is to find out what your competitors are lacking in terms of features, functionality, and overall client satisfaction.
Once you have a clear understanding of all these aspects you can take advantage of your competitors’ shortcomings and create an ideal buyer persona.
Define your ideal buyer persona
Based on everything you have discovered so far it’s time to define your ideal buyer persona.
Consider what types of problems and challenges these people try to overcome and think of how your product might help them.
The more precise you can be when creating a buyer persona, the better. You should define this audience considering multiple demographics and psychographic factors, such as:
By the end of this step, you will have a very clear picture of who you are trying to target and who will be willing to spend money on your product.
If you have difficulties in putting together a buyer persona consider reading through this in-depth article from Hootsuite.
Create a market research survey
It’s time to put together your first market research survey. After all, the best way to know what people want is to ask them personally.
Based on your ideal buyer persona, potential market demand, and competitors, start writing questions for your market research survey.
A few examples questions:
- Do you consider <this product> to be worth <its price>?
- What features of <this product> do you use the most?
- What is the biggest challenge you face with <competitor’s product>?
- What is a feature that <competitor’s product> is missing or can be done better?
Just replace <this product> with either your product or one of your competitors’ products.
The survey should not feature more than 5 or 6 questions, otherwise, people will simply not answer.
You can use a tool like Google Forms to quickly put together this survey. Don’t forget to connect it with a Google Sheet so you can easily analyze the responses.
Find participants online
The form is ready, now you need to find participants.
Presuming you don’t have an email list, you can find participants on Reddit, Facebook Groups or even on Twitter and LinkedIn.
How to find market research participants on Reddit
Search for a subreddit where your ideal audience spends most of their time.
If you are targeting SMBs you might want to check r/smallbusiness/. If you target a specific type of programming language you can check r/PHP/ or r/angularjs/.
Put together a post in which you ask nicely if anyone is willing to help you out. Chances are they will.
How to find market research participants on Facebook
There are a lot of Facebook Groups out there with tens of thousands of members.
Use the search function on Facebook to find groups of people that are part of your buyer persona.
Most Facebook Groups are very strict about members’ posts, make sure to read the rules and consider asking the admin for permission.
Conduct the survey and analyze the results
Review the results of the survey and compare the data with your own competitors and keywords analysis.
Do the data and survey results align well with your previous research, or do you have to conclude that there’s a discrepancy?
For example, if your keyword research suggested there was a high demand for your SaaS, but your market research survey suggested little to no interest, you may need to adjust the product features, this should also be reflected in your product development plans.
Congratulations! You just finished (possibly) your first market research.
It’s a best practice to re-run this process at least once a year. Technology is ever-changing, more competitors with better features/smaller pricing always pop up and you need to stay on top of everything.
Make sure to keep an eye out on your competitors and what they are doing or planning to do with their products.
If you need help or just don’t have the time to do market research, drop us a message and we will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.