Digital Marketers Toolkit - 5 Resources to Validate Ideas and Test Assumptions

  |  March 31, 2014   |  Comments   |  

With a myriad of new and useful technologies available, a lot of guesswork can be taken out by using some of these digital tools to validate and test your ideas.

A lot of digital marketers’ time and effort is spent trying to come up with fresh ideas and innovative ways to attract and engage potential customers. It used to be that you had to wait until the end of a campaign to determine the merit and impact of these ideas. Now, with a myriad of new and useful technologies at our fingertips, there’s no need to wait.

A lot of the guesswork can be taken out up front by utilizing some of the digital tools available that let us validate and test our ideas with real people. Taking a collaborative approach to crafting our messages can also yield insights that enable us to connect with our customers more authentically and meaningfully.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite resources.

Validating Ideas and Testing Assumptions

Check to see if your assumptions about a particular product or service are in alignment with your customers perceptions.

1. Peek

What it does: Free user testing by a single user for your concept, site, or product (part of a larger service offering by It’s a very helpful tool for an initial first-pass and the results are usually delivered within a few hours.

Pros: It’s free!

Cons: Only one test can be taken per site. After that, you’ll need to sign up for’s service (which is also quite good).

2. Feedback Army

What it does: Quick, simple feedback on a concept. Utilizing Amazon’s Mechanical Turk API, Feedback Army lets you create a list of five to six questions to ask a series of strangers that it recruits for you. Feedback Army responses can be purchased in batches of 10, 25, and 50 responses, and are usually delivered overnight, and are generally of a reasonable quality.

Pros: Extremely cheap, with a good response time.

Cons: The quality of the feedback can vary occasionally, but you have the option of rejecting and replacing feedback for free if it does not meet your requirements.

3. Cage

What it does: Most of us are familiar with the pre-launch rush of feedback on most campaigns from clients. Managing this successfully means managing version control well, as well as the creative process and pushing the team toward consensus. Cage is a great tool for this, helping to wrap all these functions up into a single Web-based service.

Pros: Great for consolidating the (usually painful!) feedback process of any creative project.

Cons: Depending on the digital maturity of your client, and the culture of their business, they may not be receptive to this tool.


What it does: Ethnio helps you create micro-surveys on your site. It also acts as a funnel for contacting specific users and gathering more insights about why they use your product and how they feel it could be improved.

Pros: Quite cost-effective. You can also tailor the frequency of pop-up surveys that it serves to customers.

Cons: Not a "stand-alone" solution - tools like Ethnio should be part of a larger toolbox that you use to validate your ideas. This also works best on sites that already receive a moderate amount of traffic.

5. Open Hallway

What it does: Remote user testing. Open Hallway lets you create your own tasks to test with users, and then records their screen and voice as they complete the testing.

Pros: Fairly cost-effective and reliable.

Cons: There are some issues with cross-browser compatibility, so you may need to recruit and conduct more tests than you need in order to make up for any missed sessions.

Watch out for next month’s follow-up to this post: six digital resources to analyze and optimize your campaign as it's happening.

Title image via Shutterstock.

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Patti  Hunt

Patti Hunt is founder and director of On-off Design & Technology, a strategic design consultancy based in Hong Kong. Patti has held senior positions as a User Experience (UX) consultant and service designer in Australia and most recently head of strategic design for a Hong Kong based agency. She’s an advocate for using design thinking and practices to spark and drive meaningful change.

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