February 6, 2024

How to Check Your Business Idea: Best MVP Testing Strategies Explained

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Technology

Best MVP Testing Strategies Explained
February 6, 2024

How to Check Your Business Idea: Best MVP Testing Strategies Explained

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Technology

Best MVP Testing Strategies Explained

MVP development is based on the assumption that the potential customers will favorably receive the product you build. MVP testing strategies are aimed at gathering tangible information about the users to confirm or dispel an assumption. In this article, we will continue to explore the topic and find some inspiring examples of MVP testing.

MVP Testing: from hypothesis to working product

What is MVP testing? When we think about testing, we primarily imagine software testing: bugs, reports, and QA engineers. Indeed, this kind of test is vital for any digital product, but today, let's discuss business idea validation. Will the MVP software you are building be successful? Who can tell? The answer lies in customers' validation.

When to start? Minimum viable product testing can be conducted at any phase of the development process:

  • In the early stage, test your MVP core assumptions and value proposition to gauge initial interest before building anything significant;
  • At key decision points: before making an MVP publicly available, run a beta test with a broader audience to gather feedback on the overall experience;
  • When you reach learning goals: use the feedback to refine features, prioritize future development, and optimize the product for broader adoption.

MVP testing provides valuable insights and highlights your future product's advantages and pain points. Let's discover the strategies for gaining the customer's feedback.

Proven ways to test your MVP

Depending on the MVP development stage, there are different ways to test your business idea, called testing methodology. They all are grouped around low-fidelity and high-fidelity MVPs. Let's take a closer look at them.

Low fidelity MVP testing

Low-fidelity MVPs with goals, complexity, and objectives defined

A low-fidelity MVP is a basic version of your product that focuses on core functionality and user experience. It's a fast and inexpensive way to test your product concept with real users and gather valuable feedback before investing in a full-fledged development process. Low-fidelity MVP testing is also early-stage testing, aiming to understand your customers' problems, decide how effective your solution is, and choose the best product  versions if you have several.

Landing page

A landing page can be the first source for customers to discover and learn about your business idea. Create one with a description of your product's essential features and collect potential users' e-mails to evaluate an interest in your product. Through a landing page, you can study user interaction patterns, measure the conversion rate, offer numerous product versions, and propose different subscription plans.

A prominent example of a landing page MVP is Airbnb. The initial Airbnb landing page was simple and had no payment system, but the idea proved viable and in demand. The company now has over 7 million active listings worldwide in more than 220 countries.

AirBnB MVP page with search box indicating "Where are you going?" and booking options available
Airbnb website as of March 2009. Source

Remember that the webpage must be visually attractive and straightforward to attract attention. The initial landing page attribute is a call to action button, which enables customers to leave their e-mail to indicate their interest in your product. Moreover, the landing page conversion rate heavily depends on the industry and can vary from 2% to 11%.

Having such advantages as low cost, quick launch, and objective demand info, landing pages do not allow for test usability, contain limited information, and can have little user engagement.

E-mail campaign

This minimum viable product testing type works well when you already have a list of potential customers. E-mails can be collected through the landing page, social media, or other ways. It is necessary to assess the campaign's data and efficiency. The metrics give insights into how your audience interacts with your e-mails and reveal areas for improvement.

From $7.5 billion in 2020, the e-mail marketing landscape is set to transform. With a projected valuation of $17.9 billion by 2027, it's clear that e-mail remains a powerful tool for reaching and engaging audiences.

Here are four critical metrics you should be tracking for every e-mail campaign:

  1. Open Rate measures the percentage of recipients who opened your e-mail. A low open rate could suggest issues with your subject line, sender name, or e-mail deliverability.
  2. Click-through Rate (CTR) estimates the percentage of users who click on the link within your e-mail. A high CTR indicates that your subject line and e-mail content capture attention and drive engagement.
  3. Bounce Rate measures the share of e-mails that couldn't be delivered to the recipients. A high bounce rate can indicate invalid e-mail addresses in your list or problems with your e-mail server.
  4. Conversion rate shows the percentage that tells you how many people who visit your website or app actually take the desired action you want them to take.

This MVP testing strategy works well with other testing approaches, as it requires an extensive database with users' e-mail addresses. Remember, tracking and analyzing your e-mail metrics are essential for successful e-mail campaigns.

Fake door

The fake door MVP is a clever testing strategy to validate your product concept before investing significant resources in development. It involves creating a dummy landing page or button to appear as a tangible product or service without functionality.

One day, Joel Gascoigne, now CEO and co-founder of Buffer, came up with the idea that it would be nice to have an opportunity to plan social media posts for X, then called Twitter. The idea seemed bright but needed market validation.

The Buffer used a fake door two-page MVP to check two business assumptions: if users like spacing out their tweets publication and are willing to pay for this solution. The MVP's first page described the product's basic idea and contained a "Plans and Pricing" button. The second page stated that the application was still under development and offered to leave the user's e-mail to keep in touch.

Buffer MVP pages: first page explaining the product's idea with a "Plans and Pricing" button, second page saying that the solution is not ready yet and offering to leave an e-mail address
Buffer MVP pages. Source

After receiving positive feedback from the users interested in the product and collecting some e-mails, the company continued product development, and nowadays, it receives $1.5 million of monthly recurring revenue.

While the fake door minimum viable product test is a valuable tool for initial validation, it's crucial to remember that building trust and delivering genuine value is essential for long-term success. By building trust, focusing on user needs, and iteratively delivering value, you can transform a promising concept into a successful product that your users will love.

Video demo

An explainer video is a simple, affordable way to introduce and test your MVP. The video aims to communicate your product or service's core message and value proposition to the customers. 

You can show the potential users the fundamental features and benefits of your MVP, demonstrate how it works, and provide the reasons for subscription/purchase/pre-order.

The final moments of your explainer video are crucial. It's your chance to convert viewers into engaged users and gather valuable feedback. Don't let this opportunity go to waste.

Encourage sign-ups by prompting viewers to take the next step towards using your product. For example:

  • "Sign up for a free trial today!"
  • "Get started with [product name] now!"
  • "Join our community and experience the difference."

Drive reviews by encouraging the viewers to express their opinions and experiences. You can use the following CTAs:

  • "Tell us what you think! Leave a review below."
  • "Share your experience with [product name] in the comments."
  • "Help us improve [product name]! Provide feedback through this online form."

Make sign-up easy and accessible by providing a direct link or QR code within the video.

A well-known successful example of an explainer video MVP test is Dropbox. The company posted the video with their product presentation before the development stage. It generated huge interest, indicating a clear market need. In 2022, Dropbox's revenue reached $2.33 billion, increasing steadily since 2015.

Resist the urge to state the obvious when crafting explainer videos in this MVP testing strategy. Focus on telling a compelling story that immerses viewers in the problem and showcases your product as the solution. No matter what product you offer — a convenient web store, a budgeting app, or a fitness tracker — make sure the video will find its way to customers' hearts.

Pre-order

Pre-orders offer a dual benefit: funding the development of a minimum viable product and gauging user interest. This financial support indicates the product's potential for success, providing validation before launch.

Oculus, founded in 2012, was developing a VR headset, Oculus Rift. With a prototype in hand, the company launched a campaign on Kickstarter and raised nearly $2.5 million in less than a year, catching the attention of potential users and investors. In two years, the startup was acquired by Meta for $2 billion.

This MVP validation method goes well with devices, books, and similar things. To launch the pre-order, prepare the landing page, introduce the payment gateway, and develop a customer onboarding strategy. Pre-orders help generate early sales, validate the demand for the product, and provide early feedback from the users. 

While pre-orders offer exciting benefits, a significant hurdle exists: trust. Customers must believe you can deliver on your promises, and even with rigorous vetting on large crowdfunding platforms, past failures highlight the potential risks involved.

Fundraising

Crowdfunding provides a platform for simultaneous market validation and fundraising. It helps to raise money for further development in small amounts donated by many people. Share your idea on the platform, explain future app advantages, and how the resources will be used for further development. The success indicators are the number of people who supported your idea and the money raised.

Pebble, a smartwatch brand, used a fundraising approach to analyze its target audience and product demand. With a hope to raise $100,000 at best, the idea gained $10 million from over 69,000 supporters.

By engaging a community of interested individuals, you gain valuable insights into your product's appeal while securing financial support. Validate your MVP concept and establish a loyal base of early adopters who champion your product, contributing to organic marketing and continuous feedback loops.

Hallway testing

Hallway testing resembles beta testing. The core idea is to ask random users to try the product and collect feedback based on their experience. Meet someone in the hallway and ask to complete some tasks using the product. Then, ask the questions, gather feedback, and remember to write down the replies.

 

This method helps to understand whether your MVP is easy to use, whether the app's user interface is appealing, and what problems customers face. To achieve candid customer feedback in hallway testing, choose participants encountering your product for the first time. It allows you to capture their natural reactions and unfiltered opinions.

Digital and paper prototyping

Digital and paper prototyping come in handy to show how your product will look and function. Deliver prototypes in mockups, wireframes, screenshots, and sketches to potential customers and evaluate their experience.

Digital prototypes are modeled in programs such as Figma, Marvel, and Mockplus. They better show how the MVP will work and what functionalities will be applied.

Paper prototypes are cheap, straightforward, and do not need a unique software tool to create. Your team, investors, and end users can use them. You can do rough sketching, create flow charts and diagrams, and introduce app modification anytime.

Digital and paper prototyping are practical MVP testing methods that help visualize and introduce your idea to potential users.

Ad campaigns

Ad campaigns may help evaluate the demand for your product. Understand your target audience's demographics and reach them with your message. It is not necessary to spend heaps of money on advertising. Try pay-per-click (PPC) ads to determine your potential audience's interest. If your ad campaign does not get any leads, it is a sign to reconsider your MVP project. The test results also help identify the most appealing features for your MVP.

A/B tests

A/B testing suits web applications and allows gathering and analyzing user experience by offering them two product versions. Below, you can find the steps that will help you conduct your A/B minimum viable product testing:

  • Single Parameter at a Time: focus on testing one variable simultaneously to isolate its impact and avoid confusing results;
  • Primary Indicators and Assumptions: define the main metric to measure success (e.g., conversion rate, user engagement). Clearly articulate your expectations for each variant's performance;
  • Traffic Distribution: choose between random but equal traffic allocation between versions. Randomization ensures unbiased results, while equal distribution can help gather data faster;
  • MVP Success Metric: identify the key performance indicator (KPI) that signifies your product's minimum viable success.

When conducting A/B tests, remember that relying solely on one statistically significant result can be misleading. Even if version B outperforms version A in one specific parameter, it's crucial to analyze other relevant data points like bounce rate, conversion rate, and frequency of use. This holistic testing approach provides a complete understanding of which MVP version performs better, ensuring you make informed decisions based on the overall user experience.

Interviews and surveys

Interviews and surveys are the direct way to receive user feedback. Ask questions about your MVP user experience, and collect and analyze the data received.

Social media surveys should address the most topical issues to avoid tiring the responders with the expansive questionnaire. The method is quick and easy to conduct and gives relatively honest feedback.

Customer interviews are face-to-face, aiming to acquire users' opinions of the MVP software. They are more vast than social media surveys, are more informal, and give more forthright feedback. 

This MVP testing method also provides customer suggestions for improvement and other valuable insights. You can list the product's potential problems and ask the customers whether the issues are critical. Otherwise, ask the users how effectively the app helps solve their problems.

High fidelity MVP testing

High-fidelity MVPs with goals, complexity, and objectives defined

A high-fidelity MVP is a more complex and polished version of a minimum viable product. It goes beyond basic functionality and aims to closely resemble the final product regarding appearance, user experience, and features. High-fidelity MVP tests aim to verify customers' acceptance of the product, check how much customers are willing to pay for the app, help consolidate the marketing strategy, and find ways to improve and grow.

Concierge MVP

This MVP testing strategy offers a highly client-focused approach without actual automated processes. Instead of building a fully functional digital product, you manually provide the core service to your users, acting as their personal "concierge." This human-powered approach allows you to test your product idea, gather valuable user feedback, and develop deeper relationships with early adopters.

Imagine the concierge as a helpful guide, actively engaging with users, understanding their needs, and brainstorming potential solutions. This open-ended exploration allows for ideation, prototyping, and customer relationship building beyond verifying pre-established concepts.

Financial portfolio service Wealthfront wanted to make investing more affordable for people without particular knowledge of investment finances. The founders created concierge MVP and had experts communicating with the customers before the automation process. Launched as MVP in 2008, Wealthfront became one of the top 5 best robo-advisors as of December 2023, according to Forbes Advisor.

Another exciting example of concierge MVP is DoorDash. Launched in 2010, the MVP aimed to prove the assumption that there was a need for local food ordering and delivery service. The founders created a simple website that explained their service, with some PDFs from local cafes and without any online booking process. The customers had to call to make an order, and the founders delivered it. The locals validated their idea, and soon, DoorDash became one of the biggest online food delivery companies, with a market share of 65% in the USA.

The approach enables quick feedback gathering and learning about user needs and pain points through direct interaction. Nevertheless, a concierge MVP can only scale to a few users and can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Wizard of OZ MVP

A Wizard of Oz MVP creates the illusion of a fully functional and automated product while manually fulfilling the service in the background. 

A critical difference between concierge and Wizard of Oz MVPs is their purpose. While the Wizard of Oz focuses on validating existing product concepts, the concierge approach takes a more generative and service-oriented stance. 

Zappos used the Wizard of OZ testing strategy. The company's founder manually shopped and sent the shoes to the customers to prove that a specialized footwear website would be popular among the customers. Zappos boasts a remarkable 20-year journey, transforming from a humble online shoe haven into a diverse retail hub.

Another example is Adwords Express, an MVP that offers the creation of ads for customers. It seemed that the process was automated, but on the contrary, there were students doing tasks manually behind every ad request fulfillment. After the idea was in demand, Adwords Express transformed into AdWords, now known as Google Ads. As of 2023, 80% of business around the world use this service for advertising campaigns.

Wizard of Oz MVP test offers a powerful and cost-effective way to validate your product idea and gain valuable user insights before investing in total development. By leveraging the illusion of automation, you can test your concept, gather feedback, and build a strong foundation for your product's future success.

Piecemeal MVP

Piecemeal MVP is an affordable way to demonstrate your idea without any sophistication. Build a demo of your app using existing platforms, tools, and services.

This MVP testing method combines Wizard of OZ and Concierge approaches. It leverages existing functionalities from various sources, such as third-party tools and services: APIs, plugins, extensions, ready-made templates, etc., and manual processes, performing tasks that would be automated in a fully developed product.

Groupon used a piecemeal MVP strategy to prove its concept of connecting its subscribers with local merchants. Launched on the WordPress platform, the company used a third-party app, FileMaker, and Apple Mail to send the coupons to the customers. While ranking sixth among the world's most downloaded free discount apps in 2022, Groupon maintains its stronghold as one of the top coupon and discount destinations in the United States.

A piecemeal MVP is minimalist, resourceful, modular, and provides faster time to market. Nevertheless, it also has technical limitations, as existing tools may need to be fully compatible or customizable, integration challenges, and security concerns due to utilizing third-party tools.

Single-Feature MVP

The strategy speaks for itself: develop an MVP with a single primary feature and offer it to the audience. Single-feature MVP helps reduce development time and shrink your customer base, allowing users to focus on the main idea of an app and reduce expenses. It is also helpful when you have limited time, money, or other resources and want to concentrate on what makes your product unique.

A prominent example of single-feature MVPs is Instagram. It was launched as an app allowing adding, editing, and sharing photos with friends. At the beginning of 2023, the app had 2 million users and ranked second most popular social media network for advertising.

Another captivating example of a single-feature MVP is Monzo. In 2015, a British initiative launched a pre-paid card service to validate the business idea. Monzo's initial success can be attributed to a multifaceted approach that included a deep understanding of its target market, the shortcomings of existing digital banking offerings, and the desire for a more personalized and rewarding financial experience, particularly among millennial consumers. Today, it is a fully functional bank with more than 7.4 million customers

Keep in mind that single-feature MVP testing is a process that has yet to be finished. The goal is to get your product into the hands of users as quickly as possible and gather feedback that will help you improve it.

MVP success evaluation

When all the tests have been finished and the data collected, it is time to decide whether the customers need your product and if it is worth further development. You can navigate through the key metrics and the feedback to estimate your MVP test results — it is all about the numbers.

MVP evaluation metrics: number of subscribers, market share, number of pre-orders, customer acquisition cost, percentage of paying customers, number of authorized users, funding raised, number of downloads, in-store positioning,  percentage of active users, average revenue per user

For metrics analysis, consider the number of people who signed up and pre-ordered your product, estimate your market share, customer acquisition cost, the amount of money raised by the crowdfunding campaign, etc. If you have a mobile app, look at the number of downloads, in-store positioning, percentage of active users, percentage of paying customers, and average revenue per user.

For the feedback estimations, look at the positive and negative feedback from the customers during the interviews, check the social media survey results, read the comments under the video demo, and look at the app's rating in the app store.

What next do you do after collecting the information from all available sources?

  • Compare your results to your goals and hypotheses;
  • Identify areas where your MVP is exceeding expectations and areas where it falls short;
  • Look for trends and patterns in user behavior;
  • Understand user pain points and suggestions.

Based on your analysis, decide whether your MVP is a success. If not, identify what needs to be improved before launching your entire product.

Use the insights you gained to iterate on your MVP and develop a product that truly meets the needs of your target audience. Remember, evaluating your MVP test results is not about judging its perfection but learning from it and using that knowledge to create a better product for your users.

MVP development mistakes to avoid

While planning an MVP development and testing strategies, missing some critical points and allowing erroneous thinking is easy. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

Shifted focus

During the MVP validation process, it is vital to understand that a feedback mechanism heavily reliant on unfiltered criticism may yield a narrowed perspective, potentially hindering the achievement of desired outcomes. Analyzing the feedback received, do not focus on negative and all positive responses; keep the balance. Remember that some information may not be as direct as you expected.

Skipping testing and tuning phase

Failing to perform thorough testing and validation can unleash a cascade of problems spanning all stages of development, from the initial modeling to the final implementation. MVP testing is pivotal in uncovering and resolving bugs, technical glitches, design flaws, and UI/UX issues before users encounter them. Consequently, skipping it is an unacceptable risk.

Putting "minimum" before "viable" 

At this point, a thorough balance must be kept. On the one hand, you need a product with minimum functionality and a small budget. Conversely, it must accomplish its goals, solve the customers' problems, and be appealing. Nobody wants a half-made product full of bugs with a confusing customer journey.

Prioritizing shorter time to market over security

Privacy and security are becoming severe concerns for users while using software products, so you should consider them in advance. Personal data, for example, the customer's name, phone number, address, and primary account number, must be kept safe. Moreover, data security concerns are more likely to lead to MVP failure in such industries as banking or healthcare. Never underestimate the importance of the customer's data privacy. Winning a shorter time to market, you may lose people's trust.

Conclusion

There are various ways to test your business idea with less resources and effort than the full-scale software development process requires. MVP tests are the proven way to ensure your hypothesis will succeed. 

Our business analysts will be happy to help you determine the best ways of custom software development, the stages of MVP building, and relevant methods of testing the product's market viability. Сontact NEKLO and we will find the solution to meet your specific needs.