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Kacharagadla Featured Article

5 Ways to Validate a Business Idea, Right Now

Don't let your day job or lack of capital stop you from finding and testing a business idea. Here's how.
Last year, I embarked upon a personal challenge to validate a business idea in 30 days. To make it even more difficult, it was a random idea chosen by my readers. They asked me to do it without using my existing website, traffic and business connections and without spending more than 20 hours per week on the project. On top of that, I limited myself to spending no more than $500 validating this idea. The experiment was a success.In just two weeks, I built an email list of 565 subscribers without having an actual website. Then, I reached out to a handful of those subscribers and pre-sold 12 copies of a book that didn't even exist yet, all in less than 30 days. I wrote about the experiment in real-time with in-depth weekly updates, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way, right here in my validation challenge. Today, I want to share with you the five most effect…

The 5 Key Metrics You Need to Be Tracking in 2015

Unless you’re a statistician at heart, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) isn’t the sexiest part of a marketer’s job, but it is one of the most important. KPIs use data and analytics to show you how well you’re meeting your target goals, what things you’re doing that work, and what doesn’t.
KPI metrics are particularly helpful as reference tools when creating or refining marketing strategies. After all, you can’t tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Of course you’ll want to measure leads, sales revenue, and growth, but what other data should you consider? As we head into a new year, here are five marketing KPIs you need to track in 2015.

1. Inbound marketing ROI.

 Track the return on investment for inbound marketing efforts like blogging, videos, and social media activity to make sure you’re spending your budget dollars wisely. If you’re not seeing the results you hope for with an inbound marketing tactic, divert some of the money into different type of activity, like infographics or podcasting and see if that kicks things into high gear. By monitoring inbound marketing ROI you’ll know which activities are successful and can respond accordingly to keep the momentum going.

2. Social media demographics. 

Data from this KPI tells you a lot about your customer base and followers, but it also provides insight into new depths of potential customers to plumb. For example, tracking the geographical location of your Twitter followers or Facebook fans may reveal an opportunity for you to expand into foreign markets you’re not currently targeting. A spike in age or education level data could spark a decision to market to groups you previously thought wouldn’t be interested in your data — think Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and hipsters.
3. Impact of visuals in marketing content. 
You’d never post blog content without at least one image, but what about Facebook, LinkedIn, or other marketing channels? In a survey conducted by Social Media Examiner earlier this year, marketers said original visual content is the second most important component of social media after original written content. You’ll want to track how well each different kind of visual does, and on which site. You may discover that your LinkedIn audience likes charts and slide decks while your Facebook fans prefer videos and images.

4. Mobile stats. 

Make sure the steps you take to optimize your content for mobile are effective by tracking leads, conversions, traffic, and other metrics that give you insight into how well your mobile content is performing. For some context to realize how important an effective mobile marketing strategy is, remember that more mobile devices are sold each day than the number of babies born every day worldwide. The chance that the majority of your customer base doesn’t access your content on a mobile device at least occasionally is vanishingly small, so make sure the experience is a good one.

5. Customer issue resolution. 

Customer service these days is less about toll-free numbers and phone trees and more about connecting with customers on a personal level regardless of how they reach out to you. More people are turning to social media channels for issue resolution than ever before. In fact, 72 percent of customers expect complaints made on Twitter to be answered in an hour. Collect data on how people come to you for help or troubleshooting to make sure the busiest channels are monitored and staffed appropriately.