As an entrepreneur in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space, you know that new product development requires a lot of time and money. It’s a risky business that is not for the faint of heart. If you develop a product that does not sell, you may end up wasting more time and money on re-development. Product development doesn’t have to go this way, however.
One of the best ways to build a SaaS product that sells is to start by identifying the pain points your audience faces and then providing a solution to these problems. This sounds easy: find a problem, develop a solution. SaaS owners know, however, that the reality is much more difficult than these simple words.
By understanding what makes a “good” pain point, how to ask insightful questions and where to go digging for more information on your target audience, you can vastly improve your chances of correctly identifying a point of need, and thus potential business success. Leveraging the power of Google and other online platforms and tools can help you in this process.
What Makes a “Good” Pain Point
It may seem obvious, but products will only be successful if they address pain points that are unbiased and honest. Many times, if you ask people or companies what their biggest problems are, the first answer they give you won’t be the real problem, if they even answer at all. Companies, especially, may be loath to admit that there are problems they don’t have solutions for, or they may not think they have the tech budget for yet another SaaS solution.
If they do answer, you’ll probably realize that the real issue often is buried deeper than a quick answer. It takes some skill, finesse, persistence and research to get to the problem that really needs to be solved. Online tools can be a tremendous help in supplementing what little information you may be able to glean from your target audience directly.
Best Websites to Help Identify Pain Points
To find the pain points, you need to gather information about your target audience. In today’s digitized world, where more than 75% of the US population has accessed the internet and approximately 223 million Americans have smart phones, there’s plenty of information available if you know where to look for it.
Nowadays when people don’t know something, they’re likely to “Google it” (or more likely to ask their AI-powered IoT device for help, but that’s a topic for another time). There are over 3.5 billion Google searches a day. Therefore, it’s highly probable that your target audience has tried googling for a solution to their pain point. It would be nice if Google published a list of all problems everyone or every company is having so you could know what needs to be addressed. Obviously, that won’t happen, but you can use their autocomplete feature to get this information in an indirect way.
Using Google Autocomplete And Wildcards For Customer Research
Autocomplete leverages common and trending searches and tries to predict what you are going to Google. It’s what happens when you search for “best car” and get results that say, “best carry on luggage” or “best car for snow.”
While autocomplete can turn up some pretty funny, or even inappropriate, responses, you can get more from the results by using wildcards in your searches. A wildcard is when you replace a search term with an asterisk (*). For example, if you’re building a SaaS product for freelancers, you can see what freelancers search for with the query: “how to * as a freelancer”.
Not all results from this autosuggest list will be helpful, but you can use this approach in combination with other tools to yield more helpful suggestions.
- Use the same search query in Keyword Tool Dominator. It will yield numerous topics that could be pain points. Export these results to a CSV file.
- Use CSV results in Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You can find out the average monthly Google searches for these terms by pasting the topics in the CSV file into the Keyword Planner.
- Our favorite is Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. (Ahrefs is also our SEO teams favorite SEO tool in general)
This step should be combined with other pain point research before deciding on one problem to address with a SaaS solution.
This question and answer site allows anyone to ask or answer a question. The best responses are voted to the top by other users. The site is free to use, but you will have to create an account to do serious digging.
To use Quora for your purposes, search based on theme, topic or keyword to find popular questions in that area. Click on a question but scroll past it to see the discussion happening on that topic. The more active the discussion, the more likely there is a true problem or concern in this area.
Stack Exchange is another question and answer site, but it differs from Quora in that it breaks communities into subdomains or exchanges. The exchanges are primarily tech focused, but it’s also possible to find non-tech topics on the site. There are approximately 94 exchanges on the site, and you can filter these exchanges by technology, culture/recreation, life/arts, science, professional and business groupings.
Your target audience could be in any of these exchanges, so it will take some filtering to find the right sites. Again, the discussion on this site can yield valuable information about pain points that aren’t being met by current products on the market.
Reddit may be known for breaking news and entertaining memes, but it is also a discussion platform. Topics are divided into subreddits. There are approximately 1.2 million subreddits out there, so you’re likely to identify a pain point but it will take a lot of digging to find it.
Search the subreddits for your target audience then click on “top” items and “this year” to narrow your search some. Longer time periods are likely to yield true pain points rather than just recent developments in the space. Take note of any common themes that arise as they could indicate a pain point.
In addition to these main search tools and discussion forums, your target audience likely hangs out in other places on the internet. Look for industry-specific blogs, publications, lists and forums to learn more about your potential customers.
Buzzsumo has a great tool that can help you find what content is popular. To use their tool, enter a topic, theme, industry or keyword into the search bar. The results will yield top content and how many times it was shared on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Look at results over the past six months to see what the main discussions have been (again taking note of common themes) in the community over this longer time period.
Investigate Pain Points Further
Now that you have a long list of potential pain points for SaaS customers, the fun doesn’t stop there. You need to understand this pain point to make sure it is worth pursuing. Some questions you can ask yourself during this exploration include:
- Why is this an issue for the community?
- Where does this issue stem from?
- Does a solution already exist?
- If a solution does exist, why don’t users use it?
- Do users not know about the solution?
- Why doesn’t a solution exist yet?
- How big of a problem is this pain point?
- Will people pay for a solution to this problem (for more on this question, see future articles on product validation)?
Taking time to look at the pain points from multiple angles will give you confidence that you’ve found a problem that needs to be addressed with a SaaS product.
Develop Unedited List of Solutions
With pain points identified and investigated, now you get to brainstorm possible solutions. One of the best ways to do this is through a “brain dump” where you write every single idea that comes to your head down on paper. A few recommendations to make this activity as productive as possible:
- Do not filter yourself
- Do not judge your ideas
- Nothing is silly or stupid at this stage
- Even if you don’t think it can be done (due to technology or budget constraints), still write it down
- Set a timer (for 10 or 20 minutes) and don’t let yourself stop writing until the timer goes off
- Play a word association game and list as many related terms as possible for each solution you write down
Anything goes at this stage. The more ideas, the better.
Begin Pain Point Discovery Today
As an entrepreneur you’re probably known for having big ideas, for seeing problems and developing creative solutions. You can enhance this natural ability by finding your target audience online. As you sort through their conversations and debates in popular forums, you’ll get a better understanding of what plagues your potential customers. Remember, the best businesses come from developing products that solve pain points. Your audience may not be able to tell you directly what their biggest problem is, but they’ve probably searched for it or vented about it online somewhere.