The Real MVP
An article from guest author, Ivana Veljovic.

Developing a mobile app is a risky undertaking because of how much the mobile app industry has grown. How do you know that your product will stand out? Luckily, there are a few strategies that minimize the risk of your app going nowhere.

Like every entrepreneur, you can dream big, but starting small is vital to a successful MVP strategy. An MVP, or minimum viable product, is a working product that has what you think are the key features necessary for your app to be successful. Your MVP provides a way to test your ideas against the needs and use patterns of real users.

A minimum viable product helps you see if other people think your idea is worth paying for. Use this basic version of your product first to research different markets and your clients’ needs.

How to Test Your Minimum Viable Product

Building a minimum viable product is a waste and time of money if you don’t test it by getting it in front of people. Use these techniques to get started:

Promote Your Landing Page and Blog

Start with a simple web page that will explain your product to potential users. The product landing page should tell a story that will be engaging, memorable and relevant to your target audience. Remember that your landing page is not your MVP — it’s just a tool to help promote your product and gain early adopters who will give you the feedback you need to provide a truly great product.

Promote and Measure

Once you have the landing page with all key components, you need traffic. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are platforms that allow you to target audiences based on demographics and interests. Use services like Google Analytics and CrazyEgg to learn how visitors interact with your site and conduct A/B tests to see what’s the best way to present your product. Examples like Groupon and Mattermark show that a successful business can be developed with just a website as a starting point.

Create a Professional Promo Video

Promotional videos or explainer videos are short videos that explain how your product or app works and demonstrate its most valuable features. The main purpose of this video is to catch the viewer’s attention and explain why your product is the solution to a problem faced by your targeted demographic. The success (or lack thereof) of your promo video can serve as a market response validation test and can also be a useful starting point for building a pitch deck.

Dropbox’s CEO, Drew Houston, began by putting together a three-minute demonstration video that brought thousands of people to the website that also targeted specific referral sources. Drew says: “To the casual observer, the Dropbox demo video looked like a normal product demonstration, but we put in about a dozen Easter eggs that were tailored for the Digg audience.”

Run a Pre-order Campaign

Pre-order campaigns are valuable, especially if you can run it on your own website rather than a crowdfunding platform. By hosting the campaign on your own website, you drive traffic to your own website, not to Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This will help increase your website’s overall SEO ranking and page ranking. Also, running a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo will cost you between 7% to 10% of total backer funding. Even other, less well-known pre-order platforms like Celery charge 2% per transaction. For some companies, like Lockitron, hosting their own campaign didn’t stop them from bringing in $150K in less than 24 hours and a total $2.3 million in pre-orders. A self-hosted pre-order campaign wasn’t Lockitron’s first choice, but they decided that this was a good solution after being rejected by Kickstarter.

Create an MVP Focused on Key Features

In many cases, it’s best to focus your MVP on one or two features that you believe will form the base of the final product. This saves your development team time and effort because it lets you wait for user feedback before adding additional features they may not want or need. Starting with an MVP also allows users to focus on the primary functions of your product, allowing you to confirm they’ll find it useful.

It’s important to test a basic concept, not a finished idea. For example, Pinterest’s MVP allowed female users to bookmark their visual interests. The pin button was part of its MVP because it enabled this functionality. With this prototype, their early adopters validated the product-market fit of the pin button and defined its early positioning as a bookmarking site for recipes and fashion. Developing a product with restricted features helps you to focus on the essentials and can expose important usability issues which you can then quickly and easily fix.

Don’t think that using an MVP means wasting time. An MVP helps you validate your basic idea early on, saving you time and money you would have spent on features that don’t add value for users, and you start building brand loyalty by demonstrating your responsiveness to your customers’ feedback.

Have you ever launched an MVP? What did you learn? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

Author Bio

ivana v
Ivana  is a Product Marketing Specialist at 12Rockets. She is very passionate about increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty for startups and mobile apps. Her articles have been featured in the Entrepreneurship & Small Business and Mobile sections of Linkedin.  You can follow and get in touch with her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the 12Rockets LinkedIn profile.