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🧠 How to validate SaaS features

PLUS - The sales process Rob Walling used to grow Drip to millions in ARR...

Happy Thursday! 🎉

Welcome back to IdeaHub where 2,000+ SaaS founders read about growth, marketing and product development every week.

This week…

  • How Rob Walling grew Drip to millions in ARR

  • How to validate features before you build them

  • Running a one-person content team

Let’s jump in… 👇

🔗 The Best Links

SaaS Sales Masterclass - Rob Walling breaks down the exact process he used to grow Drip from zero to millions in ARR.

Featured On Live TV - How this founder reached out to journalists, conducted research and got their product organically featured on CNBC.

One-Person Content Team - Founders spin so many plates. Here are some tips for staying consistent and relevant online as a solo founder.

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The Breakdown

How To Validate SaaS Features

Your backlog is sacred. The biggest mistake you can make is adding to it unnecessarily.

The best way to prioritise features is always talking to customers, but often they are hard to reach or unwilling to talk.

So what can you do?

This week I’m sharing a powerful way to validate feature ideas without user interviews.

And it’s called ‘ghost pages’.

What is a ghost page?

It’s a dummy page you set up and put behind an intriguing button to gauge users’ interest in what it does.

When a user clicks on the button, they are taken to a page with more info letting them know it’s coming soon.

Here’s how Buffer used this concept to validate their entire product:

Ghost pages

This is sometimes called ‘fake door’ or ‘painted door’ testing, but I prefer the term ‘ghost page’ as it makes you sound so much cooler… 👻

By clicking the button, you know the user showed at least some interest in what was behind it.

So by tracking clicks with something like PostHog or Firebase, you can start to understand what features are most important.

And critically you save time building features customers might never use.

But before you go ahead, make sure to…

Sample users

When overused, feature testing of any kind can get annoying - users don’t always appreciate being used as lab rats.

The easiest way to avoid this is simply to randomly sample your users so that only 5-10% will see your test.

But if you’ve already segmented your customers, then get more sophisticated and tailor your tests to the ideal audience.

This could be as simple as only testing with those on a ‘pro’ plan.

Follow up with clickers

Now that they know what might be coming next, interested users will be more likely to talk to you.

So send them an email and try to understand why they clicked, and what they hoped to see when they did.

Plus, they might beta-test the new feature for you, if you ask nicely 😊.

Tools for ghost pages

As usual the more you pay, the less work you have to do…

  • Userpilot - Dedicated tool. Starts at $299/month.

  • UserGuiding - Cheaper at $89/month for 2,500 users.

  • Pendo - Free up to 2,500 monthly users.

  • PostHog - Free up to 1M events/month.

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