Rationally investing resources is crucial for a growing business or a new project. If you've already gone through MVP development for startups and launched the product's pilot version, your next step is to verify whether it resonates with the target audience and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
Just think about the early days of incredible inventions like the world's first functioning airplanes. It took a lot of effort to construct the first aircraft and get it to fly, then make it safe and capable of covering long distances. And it was long until such plane models evolved into the comfortable large-sized means of transport we use to cross oceans. They weren't equipped with fancy business classes, spacious luggage areas, and individual TV screens for several hundred passengers from day one. The same goes for your MVP: you have to turn your simple Wright Flyer into a massive Boeing. But it'll take time.
By thoroughly testing the MVP and analyzing your clients' opinions, you'll have the chance to avert mistakes and create better post-MVP functionality. On this page, we explain why MVP validation shouldn't be omitted and share 10 ways how you can test your minimum viable product.
The whole point of building a minimum viable product (instead of its full-fledged and feature-rich version straight away) is to solve your users' main problems, save resources, and cut the MVP development cost. You've done a lot of research to study the market and get proof of concept (POC), spent time on product feature prioritization to shortlist the MVP's must-have functionality set, and worked on bringing its pilot version to life.
Now that you have a foundation to build up on, you have to understand whether:
- your hypotheses were correct;
- you're on the right track;
- clients enjoy the product;
- if there's a point in proceeding with the project (at least, the way you initially planned).
If there is, you should continue finding product-market fit, making improvements, and thinking about startup scaling. These are ongoing tasks since your solution isn't perfect nor complete yet, and there's a ton of fine-tuning, tweaks, and upgrades ahead.
Well, since your money and brand reputation are at stake, guessing or muddling along aren't the best options here.
So MVP validation is your chance to:
- minimize risks of creating something people don't want;
- plan your MVP development works wisely (including after MVP launch product development);
- improve your product and live up to user expectations;
- save resources.
Let's start by mentioning that this implies testing an MVP for viability (how much traction the product is getting, user engagement and satisfaction, etc.), not the quality of the solution's code, QA testing, or other technical aspects that QA Engineers check.
As a matter of fact, you can apply some of the methods for MVP testing described on this page even before your minimum viable product goes live. Numerous businesses choose to create a buzz or some hype around the product's upcoming launch, new feature availability, or full version release. They post teasers, start spreading the word about the product-to-be, and begin collecting first emails to notify such leads when the product will be available. This is done to test product hypotheses and verify that there is demand.
Of course, similar validation techniques can be applied after you've launched the MVP. In this case, a company can get insights into which areas need more work, what users enjoy, where to move next, etc.
So, let's dive in and see how businesses can handle minimum viable testing.
There are multiple things you can do to run an MVP test. Below we'll go over 10 strategies that'll allow you to validate a minimum viable product.
Assembling an appealing landing page is a common MVP validation tactic that can be applied both before and after MVP launch. In essence, it's a single page (sometimes even a one-page website) used to generate leads and raise potential buyers' interest.
The page generally indicates some must-know information about the product and urges users to take a specific action via catchy calls to action. Usually, it goes down to asking people to:
- leave contact details and/or sign up;
- subscribe to the newsletter or "Be the first to know" notifications;
- or something along these lines.
A landing page will allow for getting organic traffic to your MVP. Plus, the obtained data (including contact information, page views, average session duration, and other vital product performance metrics) can also hint at user interest and pave the way to further communication with potential clients.
Do you need a team of UX/UI designers, marketers, and developers to create a landing page? The good news is that you can leverage one of the many available no-code or low-code landing page builders like Typeform or Upflowy. They provide templates and customizable drag-and-drop blocks.
Interestingly, with the help of tools like Visual Website Optimizer, you can even run A/B tests by showing various users different versions of your landing page to see which brings a better response.
Spreading the word about your product or service via blogging is also considered a best practice. You may start a blog for minimum viable product testing purposes by linking up WordPress (or analogous solutions), or develop a custom blog of your own.
In any event, you aim to engage with your audience and build a closer connection with the users. Creating a decent content plan isn’t as intimidating as you might think. What can you write about?
- share industry news;
- discuss the hot topics related to your niche that your target audience cares about or finds interesting;
- give expert advice;
- reveal some behind-the-scenes, how and why you decided to build the product, or other curious facts and MVP peculiarities;
- introduce the audience to the team who is creating your product;
- and much more.
Importantly, your content should be of decent quality; otherwise, you won't get more readers. Plus, on-page subscription blocks, collected emails, and user activity (like the number of comments and post shares) can serve as additional evidence of how appealing your MVP is to the audience. Make sure to analyze this data.
Apart from that, you can publish posts on third-party sources and forums to introduce more people to your product and drive extra traffic. As such, you may get free accounts on platforms like Medium, where you can also write engaging content to show the world and link back to your solution.
Sharing your articles and mentions via social media is also a "must-do" to broaden your reach. In general, having well-run social media accounts and a strong online presence can do your brand's promotion and recognition good. You can add links to your MVP, create posts with pictures and videos, communicate with your followers, and advertise your product. Of course, the most suitable social media channels depend directly on your business needs and target audience groups. For instance, if your target audience uses different socials, you can distribute content on corresponding channels adapting it each time. In any case, don't neglect this technique.
Email campaigns are still an effective means used to market a product or service. Provided that you have a list of addresses, sending convincing and engaging newsletters and monitoring such things as the open rate, button clicks, and other actions can give you a better idea of your audience's interest.
How do you create decent emails that don't immediately hit the spam folder? You may use handy startup tools like MailChimp for putting together visually appealing and informative emails and newsletters.
What is more, you can carry out an MVP test for validation with the help of waitlists, signaling that something is "coming soon".
This way, you'll collect the contact details of the audience that wants to get notified about an upcoming long-awaited feature release or product (or its full-scale version) launch. Obtaining such data on early adopters who express interest can also help you get leads, first sales, and a clearer picture of product demand.
Where can you place waitlists? Landing pages, email send-outs, and external platforms showcasing the product preview are commonly used for such purposes.
Pre-orders are an alternative to waitlists. In this scenario, you can offer your users to purchase your product or service before it's actually available, but for a better price. It's all about offering value since getting a user to pay you for something that isn't available yet will be tricky. For example, you can sell the Pro package at the cost of the Starter package or with a significant discount.
Such early sales can provide you with first money and could be a strong indicator of user interest and demand. Nonetheless, make sure to deliver what you've promised to avoid negative feedback and user dissatisfaction. After all, you wouldn't want your brand to be considered a scam.
Has a random person ever stopped you somewhere outside to ask your opinion on something? Hallway testing is kind of similar to such mass polls with strangers. Your aim is to ask people who have nothing to do with the product to give it a "test drive".
For example, you can ask them to complete several tasks (like making it to the checkout from the home page) and monitor whether they succeed or not. The results of this experiment can help you evaluate your solution's ease of usability and how intuitive it is for first-time users. You may make crucial discoveries regarding the improvements your product needs or ensure that everything is well done.
Collecting feedback is a perfect way to evaluate whether you've served the targeted needs and managed to live up to expectations. Yes, the MVP is beginning to gain traction, but what do your early users think? Does your product deliver the promised value? Is it missing something crucial?
The opinions of your first users can shed light on areas that can be improved, such as the add-ons that would be handy or the required changes to enhance the product. Some of the simplest ways to get first-hand feedback quickly are to:
- ask your users to complete a survey;
- vote in a poll;
- rate your solution (or features by importance);
- fill out a form or questionnaire.
Your main task here is to keep things as easy as possible since you wouldn't want to burden your users. For instance, multiple-choice questions can save your audience time.
Plus, you need to think through a couple of more points:
- who you're going to survey (are you asking for everyone's opinion, or does it make sense to create lists that'll narrow down and group the respondents?);
- where to place the survey (will it be the home page of your product, an email survey, a simple social media poll, or several combined options?);
- how you're going to motivate users to take the survey (are you going to give incentives to your users for taking the time to answer your questions?);
- where you're planning to store the results (especially if your survey is conducted on multiple sources);
- which time frames apply to your survey (is it an ongoing or short-term survey?);
- how you'll analyze the results.
For a more detailed dive into customer opinions, you can hold interviews. This is a more time-consuming MVP testing process than the surveys method mentioned above, yet the two have many similarities. In this scenario, you'll most likely collect fewer responses than from surveys, but such comments and reviews may be more detailed and complete.
To hold proper interviews, you'll need to turn to the users who've interacted with your MVP and inquire about their thoughts regarding the solution's strengths and weaknesses. You can meet them in person, communicate by email, or any other means that you both find appropriate. Dial down the number of questions and give each a lot of thought to make sure they don’t duplicate similar ideas and contradict one another, bringing you the most value.
Do you, as an MVP owner, and your interviewees see the product the same way? Of course not. So you'll need to rationally weigh the required effort and resources on your side while keeping in mind the users' opinions and requests on the product's improvement, extra features, etc. Remember that it's important not to ignore customer feedback, but it can’t become your main focus, particularly if what your clients are asking for contradicts your business aims.
Most likely, you have many ideas on the features you're planning to add to your MVP. Prototypes, be they on paper, whiteboard, or created using digital UX/UI tools like Figma, will help you visualize the functionality and how it should work.
Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes can already be a familiar process to those teams who've used them when building the minimum viable product. We'd just like to remind you that this technique is convenient for idea validation whenever you think about an additional feature or change. You may even use parts of your prototypes in surveys to test hypotheses.
One more way to test the viability of your MVP is crowdsourcing. This collective approach implies:
- reaching out to people to get their viewpoints about your product, often using votes (this doesn't necessarily have to be your product's direct target audience);
- asking people for advice, recommendations, or help in solving a problem;
- looking for appropriate candidates or talent to contribute to your project;
- and much more (as the use cases don't have limits here).
Where can you crowdsource your MVP? It depends on the type of product you have. But to give a few examples, Behance is a perfect place to get insights on designs and creative parts of your project. Likewise, Product Hunt is a highly popular platform for startups and applications where you can showcase your product to a large and versatile audience. Launching on Product Hunt can be an effective way to get the product noticed, obtain a following, and many new users.
Note, though, that unlike in the case of crowdfunding, crowdsourcing doesn't have the objective of getting investment. So don't mix these two terms up. If attracting funds is your primary goal, you may launch a campaign on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Fundable, Indiegogo, Patreon, and many similar ones. Using them, you can also obtain feedback on the product and possibly even raise funding.
Alternatively, though, you can consider joining an accelerator or incubator to grow your product. The most optimal path will depend on the startup funding stage you’re currently at and your needs.
MVP testing can help you gain confidence and ensure that your idea and/or product is moving in the right direction. Of course, there are more minimum viable tests and product validation strategies than the 10 we described on this page. For instance, you can opt for running paid ad campaigns, creating explainer videos, and so much more. But it really depends on when you decide to run the tests: before MVP launch, after it, or both.
In any case, whether you apply one of the tactics or choose to combine multiple, they'll give you valuable insights that are much better than taking guesses. Even if you receive negative feedback or make discoveries about the solution's weak spots, this is still good news as you can make corresponding amendments and get the most out of your efforts.
If you need a hand with building an MVP and testing it, don't hesitate to contact us. Upsilon provides team augmentation services for growth-stage businesses, and we use the sprint-based staff augmentation pricing model. So our experienced specialists can help move your MVP from idea initiation to the scaling phase and further in no time!