How to find a product market fit for your mobile app using an MVP?

Oct 16, 2022 |
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Oftentimes companies seemingly end up spending too much money and putting unnecessary effort into features that no one needs in their product. As a result, they lack product-market fit which leads them to collapse and meet their demise.

To find and achieve a product-market fit for your mobile app with an MVP, you must involve your customers in the initial product, receive their honest feedback, and incorporate that into the final product. This is the best way to increase the success rate of your application so that you don’t incur a significant loss in the long run.

Your product needs to reflect the needs of your target audience. And to make sure that it continues to stay on top of its game, it is crucial to find a good market where the product will be able to resonate with that specific crowd.

What Is a Product-Market Fit?

A product-market fit describes a scenario where the target audience in a market is well invested in purchasing and making use of your product. And if they’re happy with the service, they are most likely to tell others about the product. When this audience grows significantly, it will be enough to sustain the product which will lead to future growth and profit.

In this day and age, it’s extremely difficult to come up with a new startup as the world continues to see various inventions and the competition grows with each passing day.

A couple of years ago, no one thought that traditional banking could be replaced. And how could they? For decades, traditional banking has been able to cover the needs of customers – from providing regular savings accounts to easing its way into digital banking and other investment opportunities.

From money transfers to competent customer services in bank branches all across the globe, traditional banking has it all. But most people don’t want the hassle of going through so much paperwork in order to open a bank account just to send money abroad.

Companies like Wise realized that there was a way to connect with a large audience if their product focused on a single target: a cheap and easier way to send money. By catering to the customers’ needs, it was easier to build a more successful business that is capable enough to run smoothly for generations.

Finding a product-market fit seems like the most obvious thing to do before the final app reaches the market. But in reality, most businesses fail to collect any data on the market before releasing the product. With an idea of what the customer needs, the chances of the product reaching its goal become inevitable.

Product-Market Fit for your mobile app

When it comes to mobile apps, the demand is overwhelming as an average smartphone user is likely to use more than 10 apps every day. And about 21% of Millennials and Zoomers are more than likely to open a mobile app over 50 times a day.

But the competition continues to grow with Google Play Store harboring over 2.87 million apps on its platform. So how does one find a specific product-market fit in a place so congested? The best way to maneuver through is to build an MVP and give its access to the target customers. In this way, they can understand the product in its initial stage and provide feedback which is beneficial for the app’s development.

As the users determine the success rate of the application, their opinions are of significance. With the MVP, you only need to incorporate the most fundamental features of the app and then let the audience decide whether there’s a market for the product. With the collected ratings and data, it will be easier to make further improvements to the product so that it may satisfy the needs of a bigger audience.

Why is Product-Market Fit necessary?

If a product does not fit the market, it becomes redundant. There is no use for a product that does not meet the needs of its users. But fitting that market is in no way a one-time thing as the world continues to evolve. The requirements in a market space will not always remain the same. The same goes for the way users interact with products.

A prominent example would be BlackBerry. BlackBerry dominated the markets in the early 2000s. They took the world by storm and created a base for themselves. That was until the competition arrived and proceeded to knock them out of the park.

The downfall of Product-Market Fit by BlackBerry

BlackBerry entered the market with their first product which was a pager. But unlike most pagers, this was also able to send messages along with receiving them. This was crucial in an era where emails were growing significantly popular.

The initial version was already a success but it did have many limitations at the same time. But there was no doubt that a product like this was in-demand. After the product finished development inside the company, employees started using it regularly. The product had thus found its internal product-market fit.

But only catering to the internal market would not help with mass production. It needed to meet the needs of an average customer as well. This means that the product requires several other improvements which will happen with the help of new technology.

As they worked on the prototype, they also collected data on what the customers needed and finally found their very own niche. Business managers and entrepreneurs who heavily relied on email were the target audience who focused on getting prompt answers and faster communication to increase efficiency, thus they were buying blackberries for themselves as well as their subordinates.

BlackBerry’s approach was an enormous success. This was mainly because they came in prepared, found their target audience, focused on the problems, built an MVP, ran tests, and made changes according to their target audience’s needs.

This only lasted until the competitor’s arrived at the scene. With the introduction of the first iPhone, BlackBerry was now in cold water as its stance in the global market took a huge hit. Their success rate in the corporate sector continued to grow due to business contracts and other relations. But the mass audience started to venture out and take more interest in newer innovations.

With every iPhone and Android update, BlackBerry was slowly being pushed out of the market. And eventually, they completely disappeared. This happened due to a lack of vision and overall knowledge of the market needs. Instead of conducting market research and learning what the audience desired currently, BlackBerry concentrated on improving previous features that had once put them on a pedestal. BlackBerry’s inability to adjust to the current market needs was the primary cause of its downfall.

“Apple reset what the expectations were. Conversations didn’t matter. Battery life didn’t matter. The cost didn’t matter. That’s their genius. We had to respond in a way that was completely different than what people expected,” (Mike Lazaridis speaking with hindsight in “Losing the Signal” p.168).

How to find the Product-Market Fit with an MVP?

To achieve the product-market fit, you must include your target audience in the initial stages of development, gain their feedback and put it to good use. Here’s how you can approach doing so:

Step 1: Build an MVP for your mobile app idea

The best method of achieving this is by building an MVP for your mobile app idea. This reduces costs in the long run and also decreases the chances of your product failing once it is out in the market.

Step 2: Circulate the MVP amongst your target audience

A discovery phase is essential when it comes to building your MVP. It will help to point out what is crucial for the next MVPs and their success standard. This process allows you to manage the workflow around the essential elements specifically.

During this stage, you can conduct research and go through dynamic and motivated communication with the clients involved. As a result, a plethora of data is collected in the process which gives way to more insights that the development team can work on.

Step 3: Receive feedback from user

With the use of an MVP, customers will be able to give feedback about what they prefer about the product and the features that they can do without. With this knowledge, companies can start improving their mobile app accordingly.
Most of the popular apps that we know of today, such as Twitter, Instagram, and even Spotify were first introduced as MVPs. The Product-Market Fit Pyramid was designed to outline the product-market fit with 5 main parts.
Note: You can find out more about what an MVP is and why it is necessary for your startup here.

Product-Market Fit pyramid

The foundation and the initial layer of the pyramid are the setting stones for the rest of the layers above it. Thus, once you’ve had the hypothesis set in the primary layer, you can build your product up. All these layers are interconnected. So, if you take one of them out, the rest of the pyramid will fall apart and your app will be of no value.
The first 3 layers are Value Position, Feature Set, and UX. These are the components of the MVP. Once they’re met with customer reviews and other surveys to see whether they meet the market need, the product enters the final stage of production.
The Lean Product Process, created by Dan Olsen tells us how to fit the market with the initial MVP. It all happens at the bottom of the pyramid and slowly moves upwards. The actions are as follows:

Determine your target audience

Before building the MVP, it’s crucial to start with a target audience who will benefit from your app. These potential users will provide their feedback on the product so that you can make the necessary changes.

The customers’ opinions matter the most here as they will determine whether your product will succeed in the market space. Just because a company thinks that its product is at the top of the game doesn’t mean that it will resonate with the audience in the same way. To design a great app, you must identify who you’ll be deploying it to.

Identify the needs of the customers

Once you identify the target audience, it’s time to understand their needs. There are various ways of achieving this. The simplest would be to just go ahead and speak to them about what they’re looking for in that specified application. Their posts on online forums or even on Facebook will give a clearer insight into what they want.

You can even go one step ahead and read up on testimonies and reviews in the Google Store under those apps that provide more or less the same services that you’re planning to. It’s more to do with what they want rather than what you think they want in the final product.

Value Proposition

Value proposition talks about how the app that you are designing differs from all the other similar apps that currently exist in the market. Comparison is inevitable when it comes to multiple apps having similar features. To tackle the situation, you must provide a competent solution so that the users do not abandon your product for some other app.

Now that you have your market figured out, do your research regarding the other apps to get a clear understanding of what the customer wants. You must incorporate your idea into the product while paying close attention to the features that are of primary concern to your target audience.

You might have a dozen different ideas that you wish to incorporate into your mobile app. But not all of them will fit the market needs. This is why you must understand what the market needs are before you deploy your MVP to the targeted users.

Specify the main features of the MVP

Before you build a particular MVP, it is important to have a record of all the features that you wish to add to the product. This is when you must ask yourself what your users need. Whatever you are providing needs to be valuable and should stand out from the rest of your competitors.

Once you are done listing out all the features, put them in a tier list of: low, medium, or high. This will help you to draft a basic version of your product. And afterward, you can move on to building the MVP.

The MVP does not require all the features that will go into the final product. Instead, it should display the most prominent features of the app that you want the users to evaluate and provide feedback on.

Building the MVP

Now that you have researched the market, know about the users’ needs, and have prioritized what features need to be highlighted, you can now start the building process. Your MVP does not need to be at the top of the game as it is meant to be a version that is handy and engaging to the users involved.

The building process may vary depending on the features of the app, the time, and as well as the budget allocated for the MVP. There are 4 phases to MVP building:

1. Discover

  • Conduct research on the market as well as all the competitors with similar apps.
  • Validate business models and monetization process.
  • Decide the combination of technologies (tech stack) to be in use for the app.
  • Work on a scalability plan which will come useful when workload increases.

For the app MVP, the following comes into consideration:
Platform-specific native apps: These apps are normally coded for iOS or Android
Cross-platform apps: These apps run on Shared Development Kits, but it’s also possible to run them natively. This is considered to be the best option.
Hybrid apps: These apps are compatible with both iOS as well and Android. This is more convenient as you don’t have to write different codebases for each of the platforms

2. UX & UI Design of the MVP

  • Map and create user journeys.
  • Wireframe and prototype.
  • Make Graphic elements.
  • Set up the tests for usability.

3. MVP Development

  • Meet with the development team.
  • Build the framework.
  • Get a powerful as well as flexible backend.
  • Set up the database.
  • Ensure security.

4. Release & Support

Once the product is complete, it needs to go through the testing process which is done by Quality Assurance (QA) engineers who also work to make further improvements to the product.

The end-users are the ones who will be able to detect what the product lacks. And identify the useless features. Their feedback will help to improve the product which will then go through many tests until it has been polished.

Why use MVP for prototyping an app?

There are many ways to validate a new idea before working on its final form. But the most successful and reliable way is by using an MVP. This is because:

1. Awareness

The users are more aware of the features by using the MVP firsthand. Thus they can validate the idea before the final product enters the market.

2. Small investments

There is no need for any huge investments which might prove to be risky. As the basic version requires only the fundamental features, it saves time by not focusing on building the ideal app right away.

3. Cost-effective

It’s cost-effective as the initial MVP does not require a heavy investment. When the time does come to bring in the money, it will only be according to the market needs.

4. Safe management

Better and safe management as the investments will pour in gradually. And it should only apply to those features that the users deem necessary.

5. Less probability of losses

Less probability of loss incurred as you won’t be investing too much in the initial MVP. So if it fails, you’ll know when to abandon the project altogether.

6. Easy to acquire

Easier to acquire funding as the investors will be convinced when they have a look at the growth plan of the working product.

Standard tactics when conducting a product-market fit for the mobile app

Many tactics need to be in use when conducting a product-market fit. The most prominent ones are:

Keyword Search Volume

It’s crucial to have a track of the data of every customer that uses the app. Google Play Store as well as the Apple Store keep track of such data. The keyword search volume is a list of the most popular words that the users are searching in the app store.

This lets the companies decide the needs of their customers even better. It’s important to have a look at this data so you can answer them before you go ahead and launch the product.

Conversion Metrics

The conversion metrics show the number of people using the app, the costs of acquisition, and also the revenue and the lifetime value of customers.This data is useful when you want to further develop and optimize the app.

Retention and KPIs

The mobile app domain is extremely saturated so it’s difficult to retain users after a certain period. The retention rate will show the % of users who are still using the application after a specific time that has been set. Retaining gained users is a priority that needs to be maintained for the app to succeed.

Summary

Working on an idea and seeing it come to fruition is a wonderful experience but most ideas meet their demise before that happens. This is why it’s important to have an MVP to test the product out in its initial stages. This saves time as well as money. And along the way, you’re able to get the customers’ feedback and finally decide whether the idea is worth following.
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