Do you have a marketing debt? Pay and start scaling.

Although you can get the first leads and initial proof of commitment through email collection at MVP stage, that doesn't solve the problem of scaling later on. A lot of young companies struggle to scale because they lack the understanding of their early adopters and this is why I decided to write a little about it.

Before the "revolutionary" email collection idea existed, people did some research to reduce risk.. that provided both insight and focus to the idea, even though alone it wasn't enough. Nowadays, we see people jumping directly to lead collection and worrying about understanding customers later. This is fair enough.. it might prove your point sooner, but don't forget that you will have a "marketing debt" to pay.

Marketing debt means that you are borrowing marketing budget/time from your future to do something leaner, faster, cheaper now. It is not a new concept, since I am borrowing it from the "technical debt" in the dev community..

Marketing debt means that you are borrowing marketing budget/time from your future to do something leaner, faster, cheaper now.

Depending how much you have done already I am going to advise two different ways of doing this research: using current user base or doing it from scratch.

Caveat: "What to research" (price, brand, satisfaction, segmentation...) is beyond the scope of this post. It is too broad of a topic to have here. Hopefully you know what you want to focus on. See more in the end of this post.

Using your current user base

If you currently have a list of emails of your users then you can use this to learn more about them. Here are some options:

  • Facebook: Create a custom audience focused on your current mailchimp list or import a CSV file. Immediately you will be able to see how many of those are present on facebook and evaluate if this could be an interesting marketing channel. Once you create your campaign to promote your page/product/post you will be able to see the basic demographics of your users.

  • Mosaic: You can use this paid service to get user segmentation based on your email list. Experian uses credit card information to be able to segment your users in their known customer segments. Although, Mosaic is a very expensive tool if you are in the apps market you might know that Flurry does this for free, just make sure your sample is big enough.

  • Surveys: You can easily get more information about your users and segment them by sending them a survey and offering some kind of incentive. One analytics tool that allows push notification surveys (especially good with apps) is Mixpanel.

Doing it from scratch

Primary Research

This type of research consists in doing questioning (interviews, focus groups ..) and observation (analyse and observe data from your own experiments,..).

Secondary Research

Also known as desk research, it normally comes from the primary research of institutional, academic, governmental and big corporations. Using monthly/quarterly/seasonal or annual reports/publications they leverage or usually large sample groups and are normally considered a great source of information. Nevertheless, not as granular and bespoke as using your current user base. Some of the most interesting resources in UK/European market are:

But you can also find industry focused ones (the following are examples for the travel, tourism, leisure):


Early adopter marketing research will allow you to scale faster and cheaper. Doing it will not only enable you to have the right triggers to the right customer segments, but understand more about who is using your product and inspire you on how to move it forward.

Marketing will hopefully generate sales, but it is much more than that.

You might also want to read:

1.Types of Marketing Research
2.Common pitfalls of primary research
3.Learning - Marketing Tools for Startups
4.Usability How To