tl;dr - Just a quick post to detail my recent venture with an idea I MVP’d. I kept it as Òlean startupÓ as possible and am pulling the plug. Here’s what I did and lessons learned.
I MVP’d a product and tried to validate an idea for a subscription box over the last week. I’m pulling the plug and plan on pivoting over the weekend.
The idea: A subscription box service for premium men’s lifestyle products. The catch is that it’d be focused on products that startups/entrepreneurs have (or are) building. In a sense, a way for those that Òhave made itÓ to give back by buying startup products. But it’d be limited to somewhat luxury and unique products - Woodies are a good example. Ideally, there would be a submission process for startups to submit their product to be included in an upcoming box.
Day 1 - Buy the domain (~$8). Start an Unbounce landing page trial (free) and build out an initial page. Spend most of the day refining the idea and writing copy. My call to action - a button that said sign up to learn more about our launch, which would then ask for their emails.
Day 2 - Set the page to ÒliveÓ with only one variation. Get a little traffic with Instagram, Twitter and blog post. Built a Facebook ad to really drive ÒqualityÓ traffic and leads for the idea. Kept the ads somewhat general by focusing on men in the U.S. with an interest in GQ, Men’s Health and a few other popular magazines and men’s lifestyle sites.
Day 3 - Built a second variation of the landing page to test my copy and call to action. Now, already, up to ~50 visits with no conversions. Checked the Facebook ads - nearly 93% of traffic was coming from mobile ads. Checked the mobile version of the landing pages, they were a disaster with text misplaced and the sign-up button way off the screen. Amateur move. Lesson: Always make sure to test your mobile version.
Day 4 - New hope. Revamped the mobile version of the two variations. Also revamped the Facebook ads by getting super specific, targeting startup-centric cities like NYC and San Francisco, as well as those with Òabove average spending,Ó making more than $100k, interested in Entrepreneur magazine and other Òlifestyle meets entrepreneurshipÓ brands.
Day 5 - The waiting game. The very specific ads on Facebook are a bit more expensive and visits slow.
Day 6 - Hit ~100 visitors to the landing page total. Got 1 conversion. Now, the nice thing about Unbounce is that it not only tracks email signups but also tracks clicks to your call to action button. There was only 1 click on the call to action button - so it wasn’t like people were clicking the button and then seeing they had to put their email in and subsequently leaving.
Day 7 - Calling it a failure. Spent $28 to test an idea in a very quick/dirty way. Is ~100 visitors to a landing page with a 1% conversion enough to write off an idea, maybe not. But at the end of the day, even if I can get the conversion rate up to 3% and get 1,000 visitors, that’s still just 30 prospect emails. I still have to sell those 30. And assuming I can sell through to them at 10%, that’s three paying customers. For this idea, 3 paying customers (with a customer lifetime value of $250) and spending $200 on Facebook ads to get them, the numbers don’t jive.
What would have made this a success: I was looking for a 10% conversion on emails. Then I’d consider that validation and really start building out the blog content and up the Facebook ad game. Ultimately the idea would be to generate about 50% of leads from Facebook and 50% from Instagram/Twitter/Blog content. Once I hit 1,000 email signups (having spent ~$1,000 in Facebook ads + another ~$1,000 or so on content) I’d then set up a payment link and go in for the kill - already having a mock up for the first box built, so they know what they’re getting. For those 1,000 emails, I’d aim for a 3% conversion. That’d be 30 paying customers with a LTV of ~$7,500 cumulative and an outlay of $2,000. I’d then test those 30 for 3 months - spending that time setting up the process/operations/sourcing, taking in product feedback and more importantly monitoring churn.
In any case, now I’m pivoting. Going to keep the domain and reuse it and the rest of the trial of Unbounce to test another idea. Will update how it goes.