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How SparkToro defined their target audience and refined their product with Typeform

Learn how Rand Fishkin used a typeform to beta test his new audience intelligence search tool and to identify core users.

It’s one of the golden rules of product marketing: make sure you're building something people want. Understand your users, define their pain points, and build a product to soothe those pains. In the words of two-time founder Rand Fishkin:

“When you’re an early-stage startup founder, your job is clear: find product-market fit. ”

Rand Fishkin is no stranger to startup success. Known by many as the Wizard of Moz, he cofounded Moz to build one of the most complete SEO tools and educational platforms out there. In doing so, he built a sort of cult following in the SEO community thanks to his Whiteboard Fridays (and arguably, his dope moustache). 

His newest venture is SparkToro, an audience intelligence tool that aggregates info from billions of websites and social accounts to help you better understand your audience’s interests.

Since officially launching in April 2020, they’ve already grown their customer base to the tune of 160 paying subscribers and more than 12,000 free users.

But how do you take a new idea to market? Find your audience and build for them? For Rand, it starts with a typeform. Here's why:

“Typeform’s interface makes answering questions easy and enjoyable for survey takers.”

Rand Fishkin, Cofounder @ SparkToro

We spoke with Rand on how he put it all together to capture a beta audience for SparkToro and identify the right audience for his product. Here’s what he had to say.

The powers of wizardry with Typeform

MM: What problem were you facing before you created your typeform?

RAND: We wanted to build a process for people to sign up for our product's beta and launch, while also collecting information to help assess best-fits. 

The problem specifically is: how do I find my audience? Yeah, like how do we get people excited about this conversation? How do we get people thinking about SparkToro? How do we make sure that our brand is front of mind when people think of this problem space? 

“The idea validation typeform has allowed us to really get to the core of what our product should be—what we're building, what features to focus on, where people are struggling.”

Rand Fishkin, Cofounder @ SparkToro

MM: Can you tell us how your typeform works?

RAND: It collects information about people interested in SparkToro's product, and gives us a path to invite folks to the beta + launch. 

We've also used other typeforms to run market research surveys, collect user info for our beta, build a launch email list, and more. Typeform has been invaluable for SparkToro's development and release process.

MM: Why did you choose Typeform to help you solve this problem?

RAND: So, it’s like this: I have this pain point and although I have a solution for it, there are still some frustrations around it. If you could speak to those frustrations in a meaningful way, beyond the purely tactical and  technical, you can build long term relationships. 

I’m an early amplifier of Typeform, and since my first time using it, I could see how it was carrying me through the process. And then sure enough, when I amplified Typeform surveys, I looked at my stats inside the product and I was like, 'Oh, I'm getting a higher rate of response and a higher rate of completion that I did with Survey Monkey.'

MM: How did you get your typeform in front of the right audience?

RAND: Typeform has been huge for us. Essentially what we did, right after we first got our funding, was to put up a typeform on our product page with the message “Coming soon” and a CTA to the survey for an invitation to the beta testing and early access. And that’s essentially what we’ve been doing—the people who fill it out earliest get the earliest invites.

Hyper-focus and audience identification

The results of SparkToro’s target audience survey initially collected nearly five thousand responses. An estimated 400 of those people were contacted by the SparkToro team and another 400 were put into beta testing. To date, that number has nearly quadrupled to 14,000 responses. You can test out their survey here:

SparkToro organizes the data from their typeform responses to accelerate their audience data capture by integrating their typeform with Google Sheets. We asked Rand how this works.

MM: Can you tell us a bit more about your Google Sheets integration?

RAND: We collect responses on our website's product page through the typeform. That data’s automatically sent into a Google Sheet for more analysis and the invite process. I use it to triangulate all the experiences that people have and then annotate that data with their account. So now we have someone’s survey data and account info, plus what searches they've run and how many they've run over some course of time. 

MM: What results have you seen from your typeform?

RAND: We've collected detailed information from more than 5,000 people, which we've used to figure out who are the right matches for the beta, and better understand who our ideal customer targets are.

It's also helped us to really get to the core of what product we should be building, what features to focus on, and where people are struggling. We even did a huge redesign of the product before launch based on the feedback from our beta users.

Rand's Tips: getting the most out of your idea validation typeform

We’ve rounded up a few final thoughts to keep in mind as you start your market research:

  1. Ask the right questions. Move beyond “name” and “role” and ask questions that provide deeper insights like “what type of problem do you hope to solve” or “how do you figure out what websites your audience visits?” It's important info, so be precise.

  2. Put your typeform where people can find it. For SparkToro, that meant the home page of the site with a clear CTAs like: “Coming Soon" and "Get Your Invitation Here”

  3. Aggregate your responses. Use a spreadsheet to organize answers and create sample sets from the different cohorts who fill out your typeform.

  4. Automate your workflow. A Google Sheets integration saves time and keeps your projects organized.

  5. Find beta users. Identify people that represent the market you want to serve and invite them to test your product

  6. Follow up to keep improving. Feedback surveys are useful for this.

  7. Stay connected with beta users. Interview them, learn more about their experiences, and keep improving your product.

Have an idea that you need to validate? Copy SparkToro's typeform into your workspace and start having meaningful conversations with your audience.

Don't miss Rand Fishkin and Typeform's Director of Brand, Paul Campillo, in the first episode of our Meaningful series. Watch the full episode here.

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