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Sustainability Driven Innovation

Microtesting Tools


Useful Tools for Microtesting

image of different tools
Credit: Bre Pettis

In testing the early proposition, chances are that we do not have access to massive IT or design resources, and importantly, we are by no means in position to need them. At this point, we are trying to find those propositions for the offering show signs of life so that we may build and refine on them, and importantly, talk to those early adopters to understand what brought them to the offering in the first place.

While I would love to devote an entire course to microtesting (perhaps someday!), what I would like to do is introduce a few tools which can help those of us in resource-constrained, "start up mentality" positions who need to test propositions. Importantly, while mastery of these tools may come with attention and experience, they may be used effectively by those with limited expertise, and you will also find ample tutorials and resources for many of these platforms.

Remember, the strength of microtesting is being able to test small and test quickly to refine the overall offering. Our goal in this lean and nimble approach is being able to test and refine ten times before a "standard" competitor would have recruited participants for their survey.

Google AdWords: The Core of any PPC Campaign

As mentioned previously, anything having to do with your PPC ad is created within AdWords. From housing and modifying the ads to setting daily budgets and keywords, it's in AdWords. There are many, many beginner tutorial videos on AdWords on YouTube, as well as very specific topic-oriented optimization videos. If you have the will to learn, one can almost guarantee there is a tutorial or resource on AdWords to help.

To provide some idea, Google's own AdWords channel on YouTube hosts some 460 videos as of the time of writing.

SEMRush: A Deep Research Tool

SEMRush is effective in compiling data on PPC ads, keywords, and competitors into one dashboard, and is, therefore, a great tool for informing us on potential keywords of interest.

What can be extremely useful in Black and Gray Space innovations is that you have the ability to look up a competitor's website to see what keywords and ads they are currently running, and approximately how much is being spent on those keywords... as well as many other valuable research metrics.

For example, for the intercept strategy I would like to consider for "Tired of Mowing?," I would want to research those companies and websites I would want to intercept like Scott's/Miracle-Gro, Lowe's, Home Depot, and others. This would give me some idea of those lawn care and lawn fertilizer keywords they currently use, as well as the PPC ads using those keywords. We can also approach it from another angle by entering the keyword itself, and SEMRush will show us those companies who are currently using those keywords in their PPC ads.

Here is a 3:47 demo video of what SEMRush can do. We will be using this tool in this week's assignment.

Video: Getting Started with SEMrush - Blog Setup Tips (3:47)

Credit: Blog Setup Tips. "Getting Started with SEMrush - Blog Setup Tips." YouTube. September 13, 2016.
Click here for a transcript of the Getting Started with SEMrush - Blog Setup Tips video.


SPEAKER: Thanks for using SEMrush. Let's get started by making a query in the main search bar. We can use the search bar to look up any domain, URL, or keyword in our database, and you'll be brought to all the information in our system about your query. Let's start with a common route to a main query like This will show you why SEMrush is the web's leading competitor analysis tool. When you query a domain, you're redirected to the domain overview report. Trust me, it's far less complicated than it looks. This is essentially a portal page showing you little snapshots of the larger reports that are available when researching a website.

So where should we go next? How about we check out the keywords bringing in organic traffic to eBay? To do that, we just have to click on the blue number where it says organic search, and we'll open up an organic positions report. We could also go to this report by selecting Positions under the Organic Research tab in the left hand navigation menu. Here you will see our analysis of the domain's organic search positions set up like a spreadsheet with a combination of metrics like search volume, cost per click, and keyword difficulty among a few. We can find out where the site ranks in Google results pages and the specific landing pages that each keyword directs traffic to.

Whether it's organic keywords or paid keywords, you can manipulate the columns by sorting and applying multiple filters. Eventually, you can export the report to CSV, XLS, or even PDF form. If you only want to export a specific set of rows instead of the entire list, you can do that as well. Just use the checkboxes in the far left column to pick out the keywords you want before hitting the Export button.

Now let's try a little bit of keyword research. We'll enter the keyword energy drink into our main search bar to bring up a keyword overview page. The keyword overview is a lot like the domain overview except that it contains information all about your queried keyword and acts like a little keyword profile. Again, we can click on the snapshots to open up more specific reports. Above the fold, we can see reports for phrase match and related keywords that will help you find the best keywords to target in your campaigns. Below, we can see the top domains currently ranking for the keyword in both organic results and paid results in Google AdWords.

Our domain verse domain tool is another great way to do some competitive research. You can compare keywords ranking up to five domain side by side, making it easy to see who's out-performing who. You can also build your own custom reports and charts in the My Reports and Charts sections. These tools are super helpful if you want to impress a client or boss with a detailed report or proposal using our data.

Don't forget to check out our new SEO Keyword Magic tool and our backlinks data. We're constantly building up and improving our software, so don't be surprised if you see new features and reports pop up from time to time as a user. It's our goal to become an all-in-one suite for all digital marketers.

We also offer a powerful set of reporting and technical tools under our Projects section. With one project, you can run a daily position tracker, conduct a site audit, monitor social media accounts, monitor your brand mentions, and audit your backlink profile all from one place. Use these project features to monitor your day-to-day marketing and SEO or PPC progress. Historical data is available at the Guru product level, and if you need raw data, you can visit our API page or send us an inquiry for a custom report. Our video tutorials are found at the top right of every report and on our YouTube page. If you ever need help using our software, customer support is always available by phone or email at


Unbounce: Quickly Create Landing Pages

Unbounce is a specific program to allow for the fast design and testing of landing pages, offering 60 or so relatively turnkey templates which you can easily modify and post without having to set up web domains, hosting, or a raft of other IT-related issues. It also has the ability to track the success of your various landing page designs to determine which has been the most successful to date, which is useful as you go through the process of creating multiple landing pages.

Additionally, it has the ability to change the text on your landing page to match the content of the PPC ad on which someone clicked. So, for example, it can change the headline of the landing page on the fly to match the PPC ad headline for Person A, and show a different headline based on a different ad for Person B. This can allow you to test quite a few more messages without having to create a landing page for each and every one.

The following 2:21 video gives you some feel for the interface:

Video: How to Build Landing Pages with Unbounce (2:21)

Credit: Chris Hamilton. "How to Build Landing Pages with Unbounce." YouTube. October 29, 2013.
Click here for a transcript of the How to Build Landing Pages with Unbounce video.

Hi there, it's Chris Hamilton with sales tip today www.salestipaday. And today, I'm going to show you a great application called It allows you to build landing pages that allows you to harvest email addresses, or sell things, or so on and so forth. Best thing about it is it's a free program. You can use up to 200 visits per month for free, and then it jumps to a paid for account. Literally, when you come here, you just kind of sign up. When you come in here, best thing you do is when you start, come to dashboard. In the dashboard, you click create new page, you can start blank, or choose any of numerous templates that they have, that they've tested that work. When you actually get one of these, you can actually also change colors, a whole bunch of different things. I'll show you one that I'm working on called 5 quotes.

Here's where you start going into the page. This the dashboard just based on the different pages here, but long story short what it is you end up with that kind of almost like a blank canvas. There's template here you start putting your own verbiage in. You start putting in your own information. I've got a share widget off to the side here. This form here, ties into major mail, email accounts like the a-webber, Mail Champ, and Fusion Soft on and so forth. You can add movies in here, you can add html text, a whole bunch different things but this is kind of just how you start you get a building blocks that you can start working on. Basically, when you're done with your page, here's kind of the way it looks on, you know, you can see the the the way it actually looks, and I just clicked out of that by accident, but let's go back. And, there you go. Pretty professional looking and pretty straightforward. I also got to admit, their support is also excellent. I asked a question and got an answer within, I think it was like an hour or something like that, and I'm on their free version.

So, anyways, if you have business where you're trying to give away e-books, harvest names, so on and so forth, it's a great little program you can use to do that sort of stuff. Hopefully, you find that information useful. Have yourself a great day and go to www.salestipaday for daily sales and marketing ideas.

Squarespace: Quickly Create Microsites Devoted to the Offering

Squarespace is not as purely focused on landing pages as Unbounce, but think of Squarespace's strength as giving you the ability to create a larger "landing site," or "microsite" as they are known. Microsites may only be a few pages deep, but provide deeper information than does a landing page, but prevents having to send someone to your full website and overwhelming/distracting them. Furthermore, your offering is likely still undergoing testing and therefore isn't yet ready to be included on the full site (which also likely requires IT and other constrained resources).

In our process, microsites can become useful for us for those offerings which have already received a couple rounds of testing and refinement via landing pages, so we have some feel for our strongest propositions and what is "working."

Squarespace also provides templates, but more importantly, a visual drag/drop type interface that just works. To give you some idea, I created this microsite for PIG Difference in a few days, and it uses a modified Squarespace backend.

Please watch the following 13:50 video, you don't need to watch the whole thing (unless you want to), but if you scrub through the timeline you can see a little bit about how it works:

Video: Squarespace - Why I'm Switching... (13:50)

Credit: Faded & Blurred. "Squarespace - Why I'm Switching." YouTube. January 9, 2013.
Click here for a transcript of the Squarespace - Why I'm Switching video.

Hey guys, Jeffrey from Faded and Blurred and On Taking Pictures. I've started a brand new project for 2013. I'm building myself a brand-new website, new blog, new portfolio, for not only my artwork but also my photography, and I'm building the whole thing with Squarespace. Now if you've listened On Taking Pictures, you've heard Bill and I talk about how great Squarespace is, how it's flexible and customizable, and and it's easy to use, and the templates are fantastic. So I decided to take our own advice and rather than coding my new site by hand, which is something I've done for years or using one of the existing blogging platforms out there that I've also done for years, I'm going to build the whole thing in Squarespace and see if it, as they say, really is everything I need to create an exceptional website. Now I've spent some time in the back end and the admin just seeing how things work. and how things are customizable, to what degree they are customizable, and I've come away so far very impressed. So I wanted to share a couple of the features that have made this an easy decision, and I think they're features that photographers, illustrators, visual artists are really going to appreciate if you decide to build your own website.

Alright, and the first thing the templates which are really, really nice. They're very clean, they're all responsive. so your content your site's going to look great on a computer, a tablet, a phone, without the use of any plugin stall scalable all the way down. They're, they're flexible, they're customizable. For example, if we look at Aviator. Now I can preview this, with Squarespace’s default content, but I can also scroll down and see how actual Squarespace customers have customized or personalized the template to fit their own needs. So it gives you an idea of how flexible each of the templates are, but it also gives you ideas on what to do for your own website. You can look at these things and go home – yeah, I didn't think of doing that, or or I don't quite like this, but if I change a little bit in the other direction, that that might work for me. So it's kind of a cool way to see what you can do extending the look and feel of the default templates. Let's see what's another one that I liked, well this is another one that I like. And again, you can, you can start with the demo content, ok and click through and see what the template looks like and how it works and look at the typography, and and that kind of thing. Or, you can scroll down and see how customers have made this their own. Ok, so again, really nice feature gives you a great idea of what you can do when you start building your own site. And all of this, by and large, is editable visually. So you're not going to spend any time writing code, you're not going to learn, you know, hex numbers for colors, it's it's all visual. If you, if you decide that you want to sign up, they'll give you a free two week trial, no credit card, all you do is click start with this template on whatever template you happen to be on. Fill out the form first name, last name, email, and a password, and that's it. There's no credit card, there's no PayPal, you just click finish and create site and that will begin your two week trial. If you, if you decide that you like Squarespace, they will be happy to convert that into a full account. There are two plans, eight dollars a month, sixteen dollars a month, they both come with a free domain name. There's free customer support 24 hours even for the trial, so as you're working through the trial, if you've got questions, even though you haven't paid them a dime yet, you can still call up and get a real answer which is really cool.

So let's jump over into the back end of my site, and and we'll talk about some of the features that I really like. As you can see, this is actually my site. I haven't done anything other than research so far. I've just looked around to make sure that it's going to be able to do what I wanted to do. Haven't even given it a name, which I can do right now and go ahead and save that. So if we preview this, I think this is the Wexley template. So, here's a blog entry comes with a demo content loaded in, comes with one blog post and a couple of image galleries that you can play around with so when you make changes to the site you can see how those changes are going to be propagated throughout the different pages. Now to edit this in the past, I would have jumped into codo or espresso or something and and been editing lines of code and lines of of text in a style sheet editor. With Squarespace, it's all done visually. Just click on the little paintbrush there and that brings you into the style editing mode and here are the things that you can edit. Here are all the colors that the site uses typography, layout options for spacing, sizing, padding, that kind of thing. If you see something or if you don't see something that you want to edit, you can also use your own custom CSS and they will warn you, hey, if you don't know what you're doing, you know you could break something, but if you're comfortable editing CSS, you can you can extend the the customization even further than what they already offer. So for example, if we wanted to change the color of the site title here, all I do is click on the color chip and I get this color picker, and I can drag around. Again, visually, I'm not having to memorize these hex values or look them up everything is just done in real time and I can see my changes immediately. Right, and I just click away, and there I've set the new color. The same thing goes for fonts. If, if I wanted to change this font of the site title, click the drop-down, you can see I'm using Varela Round. Click the drop down again, and now I've got access to all of the Google fonts and I'm not having to use any sort of font family CSS. I'm not having to go import any of the fonts. It's all visual right here in the style editor, so if I want to change the font - I don't know something with a Serif, maybe Coustard, I just click and the changes made in real time, and that's it done. If I want to change the actual layout of the page I can do that with these sliders here or you can see as I'm moving my mouse around I'm getting these solid boxes and his little dotted lines. I can actually click and drag these dotted lines to change the spacing to change the layout on the site. If I want to add some padding in between my thumbnail images, I can do that. If I want to change the size of the thumbnail images, I can just click and drag, and and this is a fantastic feature. I've spent way too much time editing CSS, and this is actually a pleasure to use. You can do these things visually without having to go into an editor and if you if you like the changes, just click Save. If you've made a mistake or you don't like the way it looks, you can click reset and that gets you back to the default settings for the template. You can also click on different items to get their properties or parameters that you can change so just click on about and that shows me: here's the color, here's the active color, here's the hover color, so if I want to change the, the colors of the navigation, I can do that. If I want to change the typography of the navigation right now, it's using Arial, and again, I can go into my Google fonts and - I don't, let's say, let's say, we want to do Coda, ok, and the change is made in real time and that's it. So, very, very simple. This was one of the features that that I was really excited about, coming from a background of, you know, coding and spending a lot of time in editors. So, save that, and now I'm back into preview mode, and you can see the changes have been made. We've got our little light box here for our gallery, which you can change that as well. You can change the size of the of the images, the layout of the images. If you want to change the way the blog is laid out, you can do that, and same way. Click the pencil, now we're in edit mode, and the way Squarespace handles content is in this idea of blocks. So, for example, this is our sidebar for the blog, and if I wanted to add, I don't know, a search bar, I can click the Add button, and now I've got all of these choices for different types of blocks. If I wanted to add an about text block, I can just click text and type in some text under structure, that's where you'll find the search bar, for example. Click Save, and there I'm done. If I click out of edit mode in preview mode now I've got my search bar. So it really is very intuitive and very easy to use.

One of the other things that I like is the the integration with social media. If you've got sharing services that you use your not having to go out and look for a plug-in that works with your particular version or whatever platform you happen to be on, everything is built-in. Right now, all of these services are enabled. If you, for example, only wanted to use Facebook, Twitter, and Google, you just turn the other services off, and now just those three buttons will appear in the sharing options in the blog posts. You can also connect your social media accounts to Squarespace, so if you want to write a blog post and then publish data to additional services, you can connect your accounts Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and publish to those accounts. You can even do a Facebook page, so if you've got a business page or fanpage you can publish to that as well. So lots of options for customizing your content and lots of options for getting your content out in front of as many eyes as possible. If you're an Amazon associate, under the general tab here, you can enter in your Amazon associate tag and actually look up and insert Amazon product data right in the blog editor. So, for example, it's let's create a new blog post. We just did a post on this guy here Jon Contino who is a fantastic typographer, illustrator, designer, and I want to include this video. So I'm just going to copy the URL and add a new blog post, give it a title, and we'll put some temporary text. All right, and again click the + add a video block, very simple, and I'll just paste in that URL. Ok and it's going to grab the title, is going to grab the description, if you'd like to add a custom thumbnail, you can simply drag one from your desktop onto this little box here and it will add a custom thumbnail. Click Save, and there's our video. So again, we're not having to look for a plug-in to display the video correctly, and if we wanted to add an Amazon item, let's say one of my favorite designers David Carson. Ok, add one of his books, The End of Print. You've got options for showing title author price and a Buy button. If you if you don't show a Buy button, just clicking on the cover will take your site visitors to Amazon. so I'm going to get rid of all of this stuff but I will add a Buy button and go ahead and click save. Now, it comes in very large, but all you have to do is click and drag to change the size, right. If that's still too large, just keep dragging it down. If that's still too large, drag it down even further, and then we'll click Save, and let's preview this. So here is our video, here is our product from Amazon, and again your Amazon associate ID number will be plugged in there so you get credit for the sale and here's our modified sharing with only the three that we have selected.

So really, really great features so far. I'm, I'm excited to get this thing built and up, and that's that's kind of what I'm what I'm really liking about Squarespace so far. If you'd like to set up in an account, set up a trial, head over to and they will be more than happy to set you up with a two week free trial. Until then, thanks for watching and I will see you next time.

Five word summary - Tools to make microtesting accessible