As Americans, we often scratch our heads at the legions of international soccer fans who can live with a tie. A score like 2-2 (or even worse, a 0-0 draw) is so inconclusive – we like the clarity of winners and losers. When a game ends tied, how are we supposed to feel?!

But a tied game is still hard-fought. The players still put it all out on the field, exert huge amounts of effort, and in the end, are shown to be evenly matched. Alan Jacobs wrote an impassioned defense of ties a few years ago in the Wall Street Journal. In it, he writes,

Since scoring is so rare, many matches end 0-0 or 1-1. And this is something that we soccer fans don’t just accept about the game: we love it. We love that scoring is so darn hard, that, most of the time, many interlocking pieces of game action have to fall into place just so in order for the ball to make its way into the back of the net. We want it that way.

This is a good lesson when your PickFu poll ends in a tie. It’s difficult to score big with an audience. You probably know (or are) someone who will only drink Coke or only drink Pepsi. These are passionate, insistent customers. But you also probably know someone who doesn’t have a cola preference, or even can’t tell the difference. (These people are crazy, by the way, because obviously Coke is superior).

When your PickFu poll ends in a tie, it could mean that the audience saw little discernible difference between the options presented. Or it could mean that equal-sized segments of the audience showed a strong preference for their choice. In either case, a tie is information that in itself can be valuable.

What to Take Away from a Tie

First of all, a tie could mean your options are equally preferable. Hooray for you! You offered good options. You could interpret this to mean that whatever avenue you go down, a segment of your audience will be amenable to it.

One PickFu pollster wanted to know which pricing model customers would prefer for a travel adventure package. The first choice was to pay between $25-35 for the itinerary and pay separately for the activities, and the second choice was an all-inclusive model. In a poll of 50 respondents, 26 preferred the first, and 24 preferred the second. While not a numerical tie, it’s a statistical tie without a clear winner.

tied-poll

A reasonable conclusion might be to offer both options to customers. That way each client can pay according to his or her preferred pricing model. This is similar to what we do here at PickFu – offering both à la carte and subscription options because everyone’s needs are a little different.

Dig deeper

Another way to get insights is to dig deeper into the comments. Are respondents confused about something? Is there an element that consistently causes them to react negatively? See what you can glean from what people said, and use this knowledge to choose the winner or to iterate on a new version — a version that, perhaps, might become a clearer winner.

When Michael Cowden, another PickFu pollster, wanted to name his mobile game, he tested two potential names: Outrun the 80s and Super 80s World. Super 80s World won, but only narrowly – by a margin of six votes. Should those six votes be decisive?, he asked himself. In the end, the decision was yes.

Based on the comments, those who voted for Super 80s World were closer to his game’s intended target. As he wrote on his blog, “I could immediately tell that Super 80s World communicated the game concept much better. The folks that liked that name got what the game was about and, more importantly, wanted to play it!”

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When should you retest?

While Super 80s World ended in a close result, another game with two potential names ended in a perfect tie. A poll of 50 mobile gamers split right down the middle when choosing between Squid Attack! and Squid Squad.

tied-poll-3

Many respondents liked the alliteration of “Squid Squad” and thought it was fun to say. But respondents repeatedly commented that a “squad” suggests cooperative play (which the game is not), while “attack” sounds more like a player vs. player game (which it is).

So what should this pollster do?

Personally, I would choose the option that reflected the player vs. player game format. But if the decision-maker was still unsure, another idea is to add more respondents. With a larger pool, you’ll receive more comments, and these additional voices may help clarify the road ahead. If a poll is not statistically significant, adding more respondents may also help achieve that significance – which means that the results are likely to be replicated were the poll to be run again. More respondents can also reinforce what the first pool of respondents said, and affirm that many people agree with them.

When to re-examine your options

A tie may also mean that the options you tested were not distinct enough. For instance, one PickFu pollster tested two logos that were identical except for the color. With 100 respondents, 50 chose orange and 50 chose blue. Many comments gave reasons such as “Prefer orange to blue,” or “Blue just looks better in general.”

Back to the Coke/Pepsi analogy, some people just like Pepsi. Others are right and love Coke (just kidding – sorta). However, most people simply don’t feel strongly one way or the other, such as these comments in the orange vs. blue debate:

• “Not very interesting a question, given that they’re the same logo just palette-swapped, but I like the blue more. But it really doesn’t matter. They’re pretty similar.”

• “Not really that different, I slightly prefer B because it’s blue and I like that color better. Everything else looks the same though.”

• “I prefer the color scheme of choice A, however it is not overwhelmingly better”

It may sound harsh to say it’s just a toss-up. Should you really just flip a coin with an important decision like this?

Not necessarily. Respondents in this poll also gave comments about what they read into each color, and you might take some of their ideas into consideration.

“The orange is more aggressive,” wrote one male. A female respondent agreed, writing “I find the orange logo (option A) much more preferable because it feels more action-oriented and looks cooler than a blue logo, which makes me feel calm.”

Another person surveyed wrote, “The blue seems cooler, more masculine,” while yet another wrote, “The orange makes it stand out a little more. It also seems like it would be a little more gender neutral.” “Blue is a cooling, calming color,” one male said. “It hints at ‘newer tech’, and makes the user feel like theyve made a sound decision.”

The feedback may be contradictory, but taken together, it may also add confidence to the direction you were already heading, or open up new questions you hadn’t considered. The ultimate tie-breaker in a decision like this is you. You can use your own discretion about which points reinforce your position, and those that make you think a bit differently.

How do you feel about ties? Have you been torn between two options before?
Let us know in the comments!

Pamela Wilson and Jeff Goins host the Zero to Book podcast where Jeff, an established author, walks Pamela, a newer author, through the process of launching a book.

In this episode, the hosts discuss the importance of a book’s title. Jeff calls it a book’s most important marketing asset – more important than the content itself, at least in terms of marketing. A book’s title, after all, is the most succinct way to communicate what it’s about.

The title should be judged on its appeal to new readers. Your existing fan base might already be inclined to purchase your book, no matter what it’s called. But the title is the thing that could potentially entice or dissuade new customers to join the fold.

Jeff guides Pamela through a process for ideating and testing book titles, including using PickFu. He talks about our wide-reaching demographic pool of respondents (no, it’s not a room of interns in Soho – we’re in California, anyway). He also talks about how affordable — and even addictive — testing ideas can be.

“The results are sure to surprise you,” he says. We hope you agree.

Ready to give PickFu a try? Start here.

Naming your app is like naming your baby and can be equally gut-wrenching. You want your name to be unique, but not so unique that no one can pronounce it or spell it. Your name ideally says something about your product’s personality, but also conveys its usefulness. Some apps that balance the two goals well are TravelZoo, BookBub, and Parking Panda; the names allude to the app’s main function, but are memorable and “brand”-able.

If only it were as easy as combining your app’s category with a fun-sounding noun, though. There’s much more to it than that. Here’s a quick rundown of 10 tips to consider when naming your mobile app:Continue reading

Recently, a new customer signed up for PickFu and told us he’d discovered our service in a book. That book was Launch Tomorrow: The Non-Designer’s Guide to Using a Landing Page to Launch a Lean Startup, by Luke Szyrmer.

In it, Szyrmer outlines a method for defining an audience, validating an idea, and quickly taking that idea to market. PickFu is featured as a means of rapid market testing “in order to figure out which concepts grab attention, tickle tastebuds, and leave people wanting more.”

“The implications of PickFu,” he writes, “are enormous… If you can find out how people react to a certain color or shape or logo or byline, you have a much better chance of choosing something attractive.”

Szyrmer emphasizes PickFu’s affordability and speed. He recommends using PickFu polls to create an attractive offer and to make important branding decisions. “By choosing a brand and a style that already evokes exactly the feelings and associations that you want in your target market, you construct a unique experience which can’t be found anywhere else. With PickFu, you can test these associations out within minutes.”

The author is honest about a drawback, too: “Declared behavior isn’t the same as actual behavior. This is a big problem with branding, traditional advertising and market research. Just because people say they’ll be happy to buy something often doesn’t mean that they actually will. As a result, you can’t be certain that the declared results will directly correlate with sales. Nonetheless, PickFu’s inexpensive and fast. If you want to put some numbers to help you prioritize a list (of for example bullets), then it’s a great first cut to weed out the more attractive options based on consumer opinions.”

If you’re curious about Szyrmer’s other tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, check out Launch Tomorrow on Kindle or @LaunchTomorrow on Twitter.

Steve Chou runs an online store called Bumblebee Linens. As an e-commerce site owner, he knows that an appealing photo can make the difference between losing a customer and making a sale. In fact, a simple photo swap helped Steve improve sales on a listing by 209%.

In order to test photos, Steve ran split tests on his website, whereby he published a listing, waited several days, swapped out the images for new ones, waited again, and then compared the results. The problem with split testing, however, “is that it takes forever. Every test that I run usually takes at least 3 weeks or more,” he wrote in a blog post. “And I’d say that 9 times out of 10, my tests are inconclusive.”

Besides the time required, a conversion pixel or some kind of tracking mechanism was needed, adding complexity and hassle to the tests, especially when selling on sites like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. “Not only is this a major pain in the butt if you have multiple listings,” he said, “but if you’re lazy like me, you’re never going to do it.”

So when Steve heard about PickFu, “I thought I’d give it a try just for fun.” He took a listing from his store and tested his current featured photo against a new photo.

This was the photo he was running:

test-ecommerce-photo

And this was the new photo:

test-e-commerce-photos

After surveying 50 women in the span of less than 20 minutes, the second photo beat the first by a margin of 3 to 1. The female respondents gave answers such as the following:

• It’s like a recommended serving suggestion – it just looks great and makes you picture using it
• The purple flowers against the gray backdrop and white napkins is gorgeous.
• … the flowers make it more interesting and make the napkins look a bit more fancy.

Steve admits that PickFu won’t replace traditional split tests, because split tests use your actual website customers as test subjects. Still, split tests take time to set up, and even more time to run. “Depending on your traffic levels, it can often take several months before you can get an answer,” he said. “Now it’s one thing if they always ended up providing conclusive results, but it’s rarely the case. … So from my perspective, I’m very reluctant to run a split test now unless it’s for something major. But for everything else, I’m more inclined to pay [a few] bucks and get a quick 20-minute answer from PickFu.”

After publishing his blog, one commenter wrote, “Wow, Steve, this is AWESOME! I’m definitely going to give PickFu a try. I’ve known about split testing and wanted to try it but it seemed overwhelming and technical. This, however, is right up my alley.”

Is PickFu right up your alley? Tell us about it! And keep in mind, we at PickFu practice what we preach. We tested two possible titles for this very blog post.

Mike Fishbein has self-published twelve books. “I used to think that I could just write a great book and publish it and then the sales would roll in,” he wrote in a blog post. “I was wrong.”

Mike’s most recent book, Your First Bestseller: How to Self-Publish a Successful Book on Amazon, became the top-seller in Direct Marketing.

So what changed?

Mike learned that it’s not enough to write a compelling book. The book has to be designed in such a way that readers will want to buy it. And that means having a well-crafted title and a stand-out cover.

For that, he turned to PickFu.

“I had a radical idea to use a 1970s-style motif for the title and cover,” Mike told us. After brainstorming many ideas, he was most excited to title his book Pimp Your Book: How to Self-Publish a Bestseller on Amazon. “I thought it would add character and be attention-grabbing, [but] when I tested it on PickFu, I learned that readers found it unappealing and tacky.”

testing-book-titles

Here are some actual responses:

  • I feel like “Pimp your…” is over done and a little bit dated now. It also implies a cheap way to do something, not a money saving or independent way to get something done.
  • Don’t think the title “Pimp my Book” is appropriate or appealing! Makes me think of hookers not book publishing!
  • I dont think using the word pimp in a book will attract people who are serious
  • I do not like option A’s use of the word “pimp” as it’s juvenile and offensive.

“The unfortunate truth,” Mike said, “is that my opinion is not always right. Fortunately, PickFu told me what my readers think, which is the most important opinion at the end of the day. Had I used my personal favorite title idea, instead of the one that tested better on PickFu, I’m not sure I would have had the same results.”

With his title decided on, Mike went to work with a graphic designer to create the book’s cover.

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“People see your cover in places like the ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ of related book pages, category bestseller lists, and search results,” he wrote. “Your cover, in addition to your title, will in part determine whether or not they click through to your book page.”

In the past, Mike made what he called the “rookie mistake” of hiring a designer on Fiverr and expecting great results. It took trial and error before finding a designer with whom he’s got a great working relationship. Today, Mike recommends designing at least two versions to split test. “Designers will likely charge more for that, but I believe it’s worth it.”

testing-book-covers

Mike discovered another benefit to using PickFu. “Previously I relied on my email list for feedback. I get great feedback from my email subscribers, but it’s hard to get a high volume of responses in a short amount of time. In addition, I’m limited to my existing subscribers as testers. PickFu enables me to get a large volume of feedback in a short amount of time from people that aren’t already on my email list.”

Mike’s book sold over 400 copies in the first ten days of its launch, and attributes some of his success with the tests he ran before publishing. “I would recommend PickFu because it’s easy to use and provides actionable feedback that’s both quantitative and qualitative. It enables you to see not only what cover or title is favored, but why it is favored.”

Have you had similar success as an author using PickFu? Tell us about it in the comments!

PS – We used PickFu to test the title of this article. See the results!

 

Michael Cowden faced a dilemma. He and his team had been working for months on a mobile game called Outrun the 80s. Then a friend in marketing suggested a different name — Super 80s World.

Not bad, Mike thought. But is it better than Outrun the 80s?

He asked his friends. He asked his family. But, as he later told us, “the problem with this method is that they aren’t necessarily the target audience or the most likely to be honest with you.”

So Mike turned to PickFu. He polled 50 people and asked, “Which mobile game sounds like more fun?”

super-80s-world

Super 80s World won, but only by a narrow margin. What was surprising, however, was what the people who voted in favor said in the comments.

“It reminds me of Mario.”
“I love the 80s and Super 80s World sounds more exciting.”
“I don’t like A because it makes it sound like you are trying to run away from the 80s, and that was my childhood! I like the B title because it celebrates the fun 1980s.”

As Mike wrote later on the Super 80s World blog, “I could immediately tell that Super 80s World communicated the game concept much better. The folks that liked that name got what the game was about and, more importantly, wanted to play it!”

Since then, Mike has continued to turn to PickFu for help in answering key questions about the game. For example, he tested two logo concepts, and what became the game’s logo won overwhelmingly:

testing-logos

He also tested concepts for game characters:

mobile-app-testing

He even tested questions like, “Based on the donation levels on this Kickstarter page, would you be willing to donate?” and “For ‘Episode 1’ of a Mobile Platformer Game (like Mario Bros), does 3 worlds and 30 levels sounds like… too many / too few,” and “Which of the following animations feels more natural for the play of the game?”

“Being able to answer a key business question for $20 is a no-brainer,” Mike told us. “As soon as I saw that this service was available at a reasonable price, I was sold. You can’t make key business decisions in a vacuum or an echo chamber. PickFu is a very cost-effective way of getting immediate user feedback.”

Super 80s World is currently in beta, so sign up for early access and see what other exciting turns the game takes!

An attractive photo, a great layout, a memorable logo or app icon – these elements are often touted as the keys to optimization. Indeed, a well-converting site, ebook, or app will need them all. But sometimes we tend to underplay or altogether overlook the importance of copy testing – and to our peril. Whether it’s description copy of an e-commerce product, the subhead of a new book, or the elevator pitch of a growing startup, words matter.

Recently, PickFu increased the number of characters you can include in your test text block to 1,000. That’s the equivalent of roughly 200-250 words. Here are some great ways to use this feature for copy testing to improve your business: Continue reading

It’s a contentious issue, pitting national security against privacy rights. Last week, a federal judge ordered Apple Inc. to help investigators gain access to encrypted data on the iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2.

We polled 200 people to see whether they felt Apple should comply with the order. Here’s what they said…