How to test your target audience with Pretotyping

When making a product decision on which target audience to focus your product development and marketing efforts on, traditional market research falls short. The typical process to finding your target audience is to:

  1. Conduct current user interviews
  2. Identify industry trends
  3. Carry out competitor research
  4. Create personas

The problem with this is that it’s all based on assumptions, there isn’t any definitive data to tell you that ‘audience A’ has a higher demand for your product that ‘audience B’. That’s where Pretotyping comes in to save the day.

What pretotyping a target audience means

When we talk about testing a target audience with Pretotyping we are taking the techniques used to test other aspects of a product, like features or pricing, and applying it specifically to finding the perfect audience for your product.

This works by creating advertising to target certain audiences online, by location, interests and demographics. Using tools like Meta (Facebook and Instagram) Advertising you can test the demand for your product by splitting your advertising into different audience segments, making it easy to track and analyse the behaviour of each audience subset.

Importance of testing target audience

Why testing your target audience is important is to understand clearly WHO you are making this product for, so you can then look at WHAT they want from that product in other tests. Without understanding who you are targeting you can’t understand what the perfect product looks like for them.

This can result in heavy resource loss from developing and launching products that have low demand. After all:

Source: https://www.nerdwallet.com/uk/business/small-business-statistics/

This statistic signifies that products are being launched without a true understanding of the audience it is trying to launch to, and without Pretotyping you can’t get the real-world behavioural insights needed to truly understand your audience.

Let’s find out HOW to run target audience tests then!

1. Identify your test target audiences

As mentioned earlier, traditional market research develops an assumed audience for your products, now we are going into Pretotyping we want to validate whether those assumptions are correct or not.

To do this we need to develop a set of test audiences that we want to look at to see which has the highest demand for the product in it’s current state. The great part in doing this is that you can use these tests on new products that don’t exist yet, as well as already existing products to see if there is a potential market improvement you can make.

Demographic and Geographics

First you want to develop your base demographics such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender


Second you will need to list their interests, attitudes, values and lifestyles and think about:

  • Top level interests like ‘beauty’
  • Micro interests like ‘lipstick’
  • Any pages or influencers they follow

The key here is to make your targeting on the ads as specific to the group you want to target as possible, whilst giving you options in case those specific interests are too small to be targeted.

Goals / challenges

While thinking about how to setup your test, you might want to consider the goals and challenges of your audience. This will help you to better understand the messaging to use in your ads and landing pages.

However, when you are running target audience tests, or any Pretotyping tests, you want to keep the variables to an absolute minimum, in most cases having only a singular aspect that changes. The reason for this is so that results can be attributed to an audience rather than a different image or value proposition used. The best practice then is to keep your messaging as similar as possible between each audience test, so the only factor that changes is the audience itself.

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2. Set your pretotype goal and hypothesis

A best practice when setting up a  test is to have a hypothesis, without it it can be hard to measure the impact of the results you are getting, or validate your previous research.

Developing a hypothesis for your tests is quite simple though. You can take what you already know from your other market research and start to extrapolate the hypothesis from there.

For instance, if you found that the best audience for your product would be ‘London based gamers in their 18 - 25s’ you need to validate that and test it against other audience groups.

An example of the hypothesis for this test then would be:

Targeting London based gamers will increase the conversion rate from 5% to 20% in the age group of 18 - 25 year olds

What this is showing is your expectation that needs to be validated and defines the variables you expect to change.

3. Design your pretotype customer journey

Designing the user journey is one of the most important steps that makes the whole test process much clearer and can help you create the right assets and a journey that makes the consumers feel comfortable with the process.


The first part of this step is to decide how you are going to acquire the audience and where that audience goes.

One of the best places to start is to think about social media advertising, it’s generally quick to setup and cheap to run, allowing you to maximise your test budget.

Then you are going to want somewhere for that audience to go, typically in Pretotyping you want to setup a landing page for each audience group and direct them to those landing pages so you can measure their behaviour on that page.

Finally you can add in a confirmation page so any details the consumer leaves, like an email address, can be confirmed by them to show an additional level of interest and finally manage their expectations with a message. For example once they have confirmed their details, you might want to say that the product is out of stock because of high demand, you might even want to tell them this was a test and give them a % off an existing product.

Audience acquisition

As mentioned above, social media advertising, specifically Meta ads are one of the best methods to acquire your audience. With that in mind you will want to start thinking about how many ads and audiences you need and how many landing pages you need.

An example if you were going to test for 3 audiences, you would need 1 ad creative, that is used across 3 different ad sets which have their own landing page, then they are all joined into the same confirmation page.

What’s skin-in-the-game

Finally you need to think about the concept of ‘skin-in-the’game’. This is a term used a lot within Pretotyping and relates to the information a consumer gives in your test.

The concept is similar to crowdfunded projects, where a consumer is giving money to a product that hasn’t been developed yet. In Pretotyping, we do the same thing, however we don’t take money and instead take details like email addresses.

The email address is the consumers skin-in-the-game and acts as an equivalent ‘payment’ to get this product developed. However it doesn’t have to be email addresses and the higher value the ‘payment’ the higher value each conversion is on your landing page. Card details for example are a high value payment for a consumer and so would be worth more in your tests than an email address. It adds complexity in setup and in the customer journey, as well as being perceived as false.

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4. Design your pretotype assets

Finally you need to design all of your Pretotyping test assets, you know what you need to make because of the user journey planning. Typically the assets you will need will be:

  • Product concept image - as real as possible
  • Advertising creatives using the product concept 
  • Landing pages designed and developed
  • Email confirmation
  • Confirmation page

Most of these assets will rely on the product concept to bring them to life and that is the focus of the tests. They will mostly all be very similar to each other which is perfect, if you can create a landing page for each target audience where only a couple of words change, that is the perfect setup. You want to change as little as possible within each asset.

How to analyse your target group pretotyping results

Ultimately to gather insights from your Pretotyping tests you need to refer back to your hypothesis, this will give you the metrics to measure and what the success of that metric looks like. Once you have this you can clearly make a decision whether ‘Audience A’ or ‘Audience B’ or neither are a better choice to focus your product development and product decisions on.

A little extra guidance would suggest that looking into the behaviour between your advert, landing page and confirmation page is a great option to understand which audience has the highest demand for the product.

By looking at the conversion rates at each stage of the journey, you can start to understand that there may be a high initial demand in one target group, but once they hit the landing page that drops off, so you may want to run an additional test to that group to understand what value propositions or features that group might want.

Equally, you may have a target group that has a lot of consumers reaching the confirmation page, this is a great example of quality demand over quantity. If a consumer is going to your landing page, leaving their details and then confirming those details, it is a data point that suggests they really want the product. They have gone through extra steps to access it, and so is more valuable than just a visit to the landing page. With this example you might want to look at running additional value, pricing and feature tests to see whether you can increase the quantity of consumers whilst maintaining the quality.

Perfectly leading onto the process of iterating and improving your tests. 

Iterate and improve on your pretotype - AKA running multiple tests

Running one Pretotype can help you validate your assumptions and understand your consumer and the market more than ever, running multiple tests for a product will help you become truly consumer-centric through a strong understanding of the consumer and their needs and wants.

There is no perfect way to run multiple tests with Pretotyping, it’s a very dynamic process, the key is to take note from each test and think about any further questions you have about the insights gathered from it. 

There are 5 main test routes you can take with Pretotyping, the order and how many of those you run are completely up to you and your product, but running multiple tests will increase the value of your insights.

The main tests are:

Overall, Pretotyping is a unique method of market research that helps you understand your consumers in radically more depth than before and will help you avoid product failures because of missing demand.

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Written by
Steven Titchener
An experienced growth marketer now helping Horizon and it's customers create successful products. Always looking to expand his ideas and take on unique and interesting takes on the world of marketing and product development processes.
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