How to Launch an MVP Website - a Real-World Example

How to Launch an MVP Website - a Real-World Example

One of the key strategies for a results-oriented website is launching an MVP (minimum viable product). But what does that mean?

Defining an MVP can be tricky, and even moreso when there is an existing website.

I believe there are two key measures of an MVP redesign; achieving 1) results parity and 2) UX parity.  In other words, the new site can't cause a loss of revenue or vital revenue inputs such as leads. It also can't deliver a drop in overall customer experience. The visual impact must be equivalent and popular features must be maintained. But a disciplined MVP should have no more.

This posts takes you inside the strategy for a recent MVP launch for Whiterock FSR.

What is Whiterock FSR?

Whiterock is an apartment locating service. Online leads account for the majority of their business. Needless to say, online lead flow is critical. People's jobs depend on it!

The primary customer journey is for a visitor to come to the site through online ads, social media or organic search to an apartment landing page. To view apartment details they must provide their name and contact info.

From there a Whiterock agent contacts them to qualify if and what kind of apartment they are looking for. The agent creates a list of matching apartments. The client selects their favorites. The agents verify pricing and availability for clients to tour. When a client rents, Whiterock is paid a commission from the apartment complex.

Determining Essential Features

The existing site was created on a SaaS platform purpose-built for real estate. It was a typical scenario: the SaaS platform provided a lot of functionality out of the box, but Whiterock was outgrowing what the platform could do.

Their existing platform looked pretty good, had a directory of apartments for people to search and excellent landing page conversion. It wasn't hard to get the looks on par with some enhancements to a Bootstrap template. A solid directory architecture could be built in Drupal fairly quickly with site-building. We got a feed and built and integration - vital apartment directory feature delivered.

The critical challenge was matching the conversion rate. The SaaS vendor had invested years in conversion rate optimization, so they had it really dialed in. A drop in leads would have wreaked havoc, so we had to match.

Of course, we also needed to launch all the tools for content marketing; a blog, search engine optimization, social integration, conversion workflows, and goal-driven analytics. But those come built in with Open Enterprise. So the rest of the boxes were checked in quick order.

Verifying with an A/B Test Launch

We already had a good landing page builder in Open Enterprise that enabled us to quickly deploy flexible landing pages. But we wanted to take every step to ensure there wasn't a drop in conversions -- so we decided to do a soft launch running the old and new sites side-by-side and sending ad spends to each.

Proper measurement was essential. Intelligence made it was easy enough to track form conversions accurately. So we launched the test.

Early data showed the new site was lagging behind the SaaS platform. We came up with some enhancements and launched those. A little better, but still not enough.

We could have tested a bunch more ideas in traditional A/B/n tests. But that would cost us a lot of work and take months (or a whole lot of ad spend) to get a resolution. Instead, we decided to gather more data points about visitors' interactions with each page element. Intelligence's hooks made it relatively easy to trigger events around form elements that were focused, changed and abandoned.

In a matter of a couple of weeks, we had the data to make more informed enhancements and voila, we were able to not only match but exceed the prior site's conversion rates.

Now we can launch a proper MVP.

Introducing the new!

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