There are many valuable ways to collect feedback from your users: - **However, are feedback forms still one of them? Founders weigh in** on whether feedback forms are actually helpful, or whether they're better left in the trash folder. - **What does
There are many valuable ways to collect feedback from your users:
However, are feedback forms still one of them? Founders weigh in on whether feedback forms are actually helpful, or whether they're better left in the trash folder.
What does "building a moat" actually mean for indie hackers? Below, we explore different types of moats (valuable assets), and which ones founders should focus on first.
Founder Javier launched The Polyglot Scrivener, a Japanese language learning website, about a year ago, and has recently started building out his marketing strategy. Here's how he got started, and how he's differentiating his language tool in a crowded space.
Want to share something with over 110,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
📝 Are Feedback Forms a Waste of Time?
by Richard Palethorpe
Do people actually use feedback forms to provide meaningful feedback? Are there better ways to solicit or accept feedback?
I'd love to know the opinions of other founders!
EzMail says that it all comes down to design:
Feedback forms can be a valuable tool for gathering information and insights from customers, employees, or other stakeholders. Whether or not they are a waste of time depends on how they are designed and implemented.
If feedback forms are poorly designed, difficult to use, or don't provide meaningful insights, they can be a waste of time for both the people filling them out, and the organization collecting the feedback. In some cases, feedback forms can even be counterproductive, as they may create frustration or disengagement among those asked to provide feedback.
On the other hand, well-designed feedback forms can provide valuable insights that can inform decision-making, improve products or services, or help identify areas for improvement. They can also help organizations demonstrate that they are listening to their customers or employees, and are committed to continuous improvement.
To make feedback forms effective, they should be designed with the following principles in mind:
Keep them short and easy to use: Long, complicated feedback forms are less likely to be completed, and may frustrate or turn off participants.
Ask specific, relevant questions: Feedback forms should ask questions that are specific and relevant to the purpose of the form. Avoid asking questions that are irrelevant or unclear.
Provide clear instructions: Make sure that participants understand what they are being asked to do, and provide clear instructions on how to complete the feedback form.
Use a mix of question types: Feedback forms can use a variety of question types, including open-ended, multiple choice, and Likert scale questions. Different question types can help to gather different types of feedback.
Provide incentives: To encourage participation, consider providing incentives. A prize drawing, a discount on a future purchase, or access to exclusive content are all great examples.
Overall, feedback forms can be a useful tool for gathering insights and feedback!
Max Schubert has learned more from interviews than from feedback forms:
However, I always try to make it easy for users to give feedback. In general, multiple choice questions worked much better than free text. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Why did you sign up? (Give a list of choices, and include "other.")
- How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague? (1-10, then include a follow-up question based on the given score.)
- Which feature is least important to you? (Give a list of choices.)
Sachin G. Kulkarni agrees:
You always want to hear from your customers. Make it as easy as possible for customers to send their thoughts, along with the proper context.
Even if you don't actually get valuable input from your customers, it's preferable to have customers make the effort to send you their thoughts than not hearing anything from them.
Temper your expectations
Evan says that it depends:
We always use feedback forms when launching a new product, and they have caught a bug or two. They've also told us if our assumptions about the UX were correct, or if we need to change them. It can give you an idea of what has to be done in order to bring your customer ratings up.
Where it starts to lose its value is if you're bombarding your customers with feedback requests. For instance, if you have six or seven live features, and each has its own feedback form, you're going to need some sort of governance so you don't ruin the user's experience. I've found that having a targeted timeframe and set of feedback requests works best.
If used properly, feedback forms are a great way to judge how customers see and use your product. Just don't go into it expecting amazing data from every single customer!
Have you had success with feedback forms? Let's chat below!
Discuss this story.
📰 In the News
from the Growth Trends newsletter by Darko
🚫 UK officials are calling for a TikTok ban after new EU restrictions.
📉 The US ad market has fallen for the seventh consecutive month.
🎯 Here's how interest targeting can help your business.
💸 Despite high inflation, Americans are spending like crazy.
🍿 Movie theater screens are disappearing, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Check out Growth Trends for more curated news items focused on user acquisition and new product ideas.
🏰 Don't Bother Building a Moat
by James Fleischmann
What does "building a moat" actually mean for indie hackers? A moat is a safety net and a line of defense. It's a group of assets that can increase your company's success in some way.
Can indie hackers build a moat? Yes. Should we? Maybe not.
Types of moats
This type of moat applies to indie hackers in a big way. In fact, I'd argue that it's the most important one for us.
Think about it: What founders have name recognition among their customers? Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, a few others, and...indie hackers. I can't name the founder of any business in the middle ground. So, unless you’re competing with Apple, you’ve got the advantage. You’re an expert, and you’re accessible.
Use this to your advantage, and make sure you're a big part of your company's brand. Emails should come from you. Build in public. Tweet from your personal account, not your company's. Put a "Built by" in the footer of your website. You get the idea; just generally make sure that your name and face are familiar to anyone who comes into contact with your product. Likewise, make sure that anyone who comes into contact with you will get to know your product.
Content: Think HubSpot. Having a ton of content that hits the top of the SERP is a solid approach. Glossaries are an option, too.
Communities: Accessible to indie hackers, but note that this is time-intensive.
Tech: Build tech that is advanced enough to create a small moat. The earlier and faster you build it, the harder it'll be for competitors to catch up.
Brand: The easiest way for indie hackers to build these moats is to build in public.
Distribution: When most companies talk about a distribution moat, it's about how many people they're reaching. For indie hackers, it should be about who you're reaching. Niche down, and build a moat of distribution within that niche.
Network effects: This is when every new user adds value to your product. Think Tinder. If you get traction, and you happen to have a product that can leverage these effects, this is a solid moat.
Customer relationships and loyalty: Do right by your customers. Indie hackers have an advantage here. Make that personal connection, and get them invested in your product.
Moats to ignore
Intellectual property: Think patents. Don't waste your time on this unless you're one of the few who is doing something truly unique. Even then, this is way easier for physical products. Software usually can't be patented.
Low prices (economies of scale): For most businesses, lower prices require economies of scale. For indie hackers, though, it's the opposite. We can be cheap because we're small, but should we? “Charge more” is firmly ingrained in most of our minds by now, and for good reason.
Product complexity: Most of us don't want to have a super complicated product. We want something small, focused, nimble, and niche. You can be overwhelmingly good at one thing. Add to it over time, but complexity should never be a focus.
Regulatory: There is a type of moat created by businesses getting special treatment, thanks to some law or regulation. This is mostly for big companies.
Data: This is an option, but it requires you to have a huge amount of data, and to know how to extract it meaningfully and monetize it. This isn't usually going to be the way to go for indie hackers.
It’s also worth noting that not all moats are ethical, so leave shady ones alone.
A quick reframe
Castles don't have multiple moats; they have one. It's not about having a content moat, a tech moat, a network effect moat, etc.
The truth is that you're constantly building a moat, whether you're trying to or not. Everything you do adds a new crocodile to the mix. Got an MVP? Crocodile. Customers know your name? Crocodile. Writing lots of content? Crocodile.
But here’s the thing about moats: The reason they work is the same reason that indie hackers shouldn’t focus on them. They work because they’re hard to build.
You’ve got more important things to worry about, like growing your business. So, be nimble in the beginning. Don’t hyper-focus on building a moat.
However, moats are a natural byproduct of doing good work. If you’re building a killer product, that will eventually become a moat. If you write good content, that will eventually become a moat.
Here's the bottom line: Do what benefits your product, and it will eventually become a moat. Don't waste time intentionally building that moat until your product is profitable, growing steadily, and just generally crushing it!
What are your thoughts on moats for founders? Share in the comments!
Discuss this story.
🧠 Harry's Growth Tip
from the Marketing Examples newsletter by Harry Dry
Why sell vanilla when you can sell “fading summer sunlight?”
Go here for more short, sweet, practical marketing tips.
Subscribe to Marketing Examples for more.
🈺 Javier Launched His Japanese Language Learning App
Hi, indie hackers! I'm Javier, and it has been almost a year since I launched The Polyglot Scrivener, a Japanese language learning website.
Here's more about my founder's journey so far!
I've always wanted to create my own product and have an online presence. I work in the IT industry, specifically in e-commerce. Together with my software development background, I knew that I could start an indie hacking journey.
I have been always interested in language learning, considering that I am currently living in Japan. I decided to put all of this together, creating a Japanese learning website that would later be a learning app.
In March 2022, I launched the website. It focuses on improving writing skills, an aspect of language learning that is often neglected. To drive traffic, I knew that I needed quality content, but as a programmer, I struggled with content creation. So, I decided to create a web app that would be easier and more rewarding. The website serves as a launch pad for the app.
In December 2022, I launched the app. This focuses on learning Japanese through sentences. It includes features like spaced repetition learning, bite-sized grammar lessons, audio, difficulty levels, furigana, and a writing practice. I recently added a feature that allows users to access the app without registering.
My app is a tool focused only on the Japanese language. Big players try to cover too much; they definitely have the resources to do great in many languages, but I feel that they miss some aspects that are very specific to some languages.
I also focus more on an aspect of language that is normally left behind, which is writing. As I try to unlock new features that users find helpful, the idea is to move more towards those writing skills.
Trying to cover more aspects of the Japanese language may market better, but it's still very early. I wanted to get the product out there and get some feedback. It's my first project, so there's still a lot to learn!
The main website was meant to attract some traffic to the app using a landing page and a Klaviyo pop-up. I am very low on posts and quality content, so traffic is almost nonexistent; the SEO is not currently the best.
Apart from that:
- I've posted about the product on Indie Hackers.
- I've started to check some subreddits that focus on learning Japanese. I just posted in one for the first time.
- I submitted a request to BetaList to appear on the site.
I'm looking for some beta users so I can get some feedback. Driving traffic directly there seems to be difficult for now, but I plan to start spending more time on that.
My next steps are to gather user feedback and focus on marketing the product. It's still a proof of concept, so monetization will depend on how things go in the next few months!
Discuss this story.
🐦 The Tweetmaster's Pick
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
🏁 Enjoy This Newsletter?
Forward it to a friend, and let them know they can subscribe here.
Also, you can submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter.
Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Gabriella Federico for the illustrations, and to Richard Palethorpe, Darko, James Fleischmann, Harry Dry, and Javier for contributing posts. —Channing