Superhuman used customer surveys and analytics to measure and improve their product/market fit. They identified their high-expectation customers, tailored their product to them, and crafted a roadmap to address what users loved about the product as well as what was holding them back. This allowed them to increase their product/market fit and boost their business, proving that focusing on product/market fit before growth is key.
- Product/market fit can be measured using a customer survey.
- Tailoring products to a smaller market can lead to success.
- Analyzing feedback can uncover users' needs and help craft a roadmap.
- Doubling down on what users love and addressing what holds them back can increase product/market fit.
- Focusing on product/market fit before growth is key.
- Summary Notes
- Key Learnings
- Achieving Product/Market Fit: Pre-Launch Guidance
- Assessing Product/Market Fit with Customer Surveys
- Identifying & Profiling Your High-Expectation Customer
- Convert On-The-Fence Users Into Fanatics With Nicole's Email Responsiveness
- Superhuman: Speed, Focus, Keyboard Shortcuts - No Mobile App?
- Speed Up Superhuman: Roadmap to Unlock User Needs
- Improving Product/Market Fit for Success
Achieving Product/Market Fit: Pre-Launch Guidance
Founders obsess over product/market fit from day one, but understanding what it is and how to achieve it is difficult. Marc Andreessen's definition of product/market fit is widely cited, but it's most helpful for companies post-launch. For pre-launch companies, it's harder to find a framework to articulate the current position and plan for getting to product/market fit.
“You can always feel when product/market fit is not happening. The customers aren't quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn't spreading, usage isn't growing that fast, press reviews are kind of ‘blah,’ the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.”
Poor product/market fit is apparent when customers struggle to find value in your product and when word of mouth, usage and press aren't growing.
Assessing Product/Market Fit with Customer Surveys
Measuring product/market fit using a customer survey with the question “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” can help a business optimize their product/market fit. Sean Ellis' benchmark of 40% of users responding “very disappointed” can be used to assess if a product has achieved product/market fit. Superhuman had not achieved product/market fit, but the survey provided a plan to boost it.
“We had set up shop and started coding Superhuman in 2015. A year later, our team had grown to seven and we were still furiously coding. By the summer of 2017, we had reached 14 people — and we were still coding. I felt intense pressure to launch, from the team and also from within myself.”
Launching too soon can be just as dangerous as launching too late, as evidenced by the intense pressure the founder felt to launch despite the prolonged development time.
Identifying & Profiling Your High-Expectation Customer
Use survey data to segment your market and identify your high-expectation customer. Apply personas to responses and narrow the target market to increase product/market fit. Build a detailed profile of your HXC to create marketing copy that resonates.
"Ask your users how they’d feel if they could no longer use your product. The group that answers ‘very disappointed’ will unlock product/market fit."
Measuring customer sentiment can help you determine whether you've achieved product/market fit or not. It's important to gauge user sentiment regularly so you can make adjustments as needed.
Convert On-The-Fence Users Into Fanatics With Nicole's Email Responsiveness
Nicole is a busy professional who works hard to be responsive to her emails. Paul Graham's advice suggests that tailoring a product narrowly to a smaller market can lead to success. To convert on-the-fence users into fanatics, feedback should be analyzed to understand why people love the product and what holds them back.
“With your early marketing, you may have attracted all kinds of users — especially if you've had press and your product is free in some way. But many of those people won't be well-qualified; they don't have a real need for your product and its main benefit or use case might not be a great fit.”
Casting a wide net when it comes to marketing can bring in users who don't have the same needs and wants as those best suited for a product. This can lead to a mismatch between product and market, which can be addressed by segmenting users to find those with the highest potential fit.
Superhuman: Speed, Focus, Keyboard Shortcuts - No Mobile App?
Superhuman users love the product for its speed, focus and keyboard shortcuts. We analyzed feedback from users who would be somewhat disappointed without the product and found that a lack of a mobile app was the main issue holding them back.
“When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they're making — not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently.”
It's important to focus on finding customers that need a product urgently and not just those that could see themselves using it eventually. This is key to having a successful product/market fit.
Speed Up Superhuman: Roadmap to Unlock User Needs
We uncovered users' needs by digging into feedback and segmenting it, then crafted our roadmap by doubling down on what users love and addressing what holds them back. Our plan focused on making Superhuman faster, with more shortcuts, automation, design flourishes, a mobile app, integrations, attachment handling, calendaring, unified inbox, better search & read receipts.
“In theory this sort of hill-climbing could get a startup into trouble. They could end up on a local maximum.”
Focusing on product/market fit before growth is key, as it can help avoid getting stuck on a local maximum where the product is not improving and growth is limited.
Improving Product/Market Fit for Success
To increase product/market fit, we created a single metric to track, segmented our supporters, and divided our roadmap between what users love and what’s holding them back. This had an immense impact on our business, and investors should focus on product/market fit before growth.
“Politely disregard those who would not be disappointed without your product. They are so far from loving you that they are essentially a lost cause.”
Don't waste time on those who are indifferent towards your product, as they are unlikely to ever be passionate about it. This highlights the importance of focusing on product/market fit before growth.