Building a minimum viable product (MVP) app is often an important part of the app development process. Whether you work at a startup looking to launch the next Airbnb or Instacart or are a small business looking for new ways to connect with your clients and customers, an MVP is often your first step on the road to success. Let’s explore a few uses for MVPs that can help publishers define and understand the best way to use this tool to your advantage.
What is an MVP app?
A minimum viable product or MVP is a business concept that allows companies to create a barebones version of their products to test it with audiences. There are many types of MVPs, but they all have one thing in common — the ability to test an idea or product before a full build-out and launch.
Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn, started the online shopping destination in 1999 by simply taking pictures of shoes, posting them on his website, and then going out and buying them when someone put in an order. Once he knew the concept was viable, he invested in more inventory and started to grow the business to what it eventually became.
In the app world, MVPs can help publishers save time and money by creating simple products that test key features and functionality. Let’s explore.
Proof of concept apps
In a world where building a custom mobile app from scratch can take months — or even years — and upwards of $100k, it’s imperative to know as much about your audience and your app as possible before you invest that much time and resources. From Spotify, to Uber, to Instagram, they all started out as MVPs. The MVP can also serve as a marketing tool while you work on developing your full product. Imagine the original Uber users telling their friends about this new app that was coming that could make hailing a ride simple and easy. This kind of buzz can build demand before an app fully launches.
MVPs for new features
MVPs are not just for new apps — they can also help existing apps test new products or features without having to do a full build out and launch within your existing products. You have lots of data about what your existing users love — or don’t — and may think you know what new features or products they might enjoy, but the only way to know for sure is to run a test. Building an MVP is a great way to determine your product-market-fit, regardless of whether your app is a startup or just a new offering from an established company. You can also help build loyalty among your most active users by giving them access to these new features and asking them for feedback.
Prototype apps for small businesses
In our socially distanced world, apps have been integral to allowing small businesses to pivot quickly and continue serving customers. And now, people expect to be able to interact with small, local businesses through apps. In fact, apps are, increasingly, a post-pandemic must-have. Sometimes, that means a restaurant can just hook up with an existing food delivery app, but for other businesses it means a bespoke app is in order. Low-code, no-code, and turnkey apps have made this more accessible, but before a small business owner invests time and money into a custom app, an MVP can help determine whether customers are interested in the app, which features are essential, and which ones you can pass over. You may even find that an MVP app, with just a little tweaking, is enough to serve your customers’ simple needs.
Getting to know your users
The humble MVP is an important tool in app developers arsenal, but it can also be a way for app marketers to get advanced data on how to best market a new app or feature. When publishers know which features are responding to, marketers can craft messaging that appeals to like-minded users at launch. In other words, MVP apps are key to future success and your GTM strategy in more ways than just one.