The 3 numbers that determine if your mobile app has reached product market fit

In talking to 4 new mobile (non gaming), mostly productivity , app developers, I understand now that there are 3 metrics the founders breathe, eat and sleep: Virality coefficient, Time to Wow (TOW) and Time to Refer (TTR).

A viral coefficient is a number which tells you how many customers each is your present customer bringing to you on an average. 

Time to Wow is the amount of time from when a user downloads the app, uses it and gets enough value to get the “wow” effect.

Time to Refer is the amount of time it takes for a user from the time they use your app, get a wow effect and tell others about your app.

The first metric to optimize that is completely within your control is the “Time to Wow”. For most games, it has to be in minutes, but for productivity apps it can be a few hours or days. The longer the time to wow is, the less likely you will grow organically.

What can you do to reduce your time to wow?

First: Fit the product features to the user’s usage model as opposed to your initial definition of the problem. For example if your app is a calendar management automation AI product, the first time a user gets a WOW is when a calendar invite is sent to them and without their intervention it schedules it automatically. You could give them “examples” of calendar appointments on their calendar, but its not the same as their own use model.

Second, understand your users trigger points to Wow. Do they get a wow when they see an appointment scheduled, or when they get a notification? What triggers them to get immense value from your app.

The second metric to optimize is Time to Refer. This is a word of mouth metric, both offline and social. If a user has a wow effect with your product, they will likely tell others. How long does it take for them to tell people is important. If they tell people after a month of using your product, then you still have work to do. If they tell people only if prompted for a problem associated with the solution your product offers, then you will have a lot of work to do.

If however, they had a wow effect and immediately tell others about how this solved a problem for them, you have a low time to refer.

Time to Wow, Time to Refer and Viral Coefficient
Time to Wow, Time to Refer and Viral Coefficient

Finally the viral coefficient. The reason why influencer marketing works as a seeding strategy, for mobile apps and consumer Internet apps is because the influences who use your product initially have a large network (or following). When they like something (have a wow effect) and tell others, more people listen and take a second look at your product.

If your product truly has a wow effect for the lay person, it does not matter, who your seeding users are. If, however your product is niche, then it is very important to get top influencers as your first few users of the app.

The viral coefficient is the number of people each user brings with them because of their network. How many people will they tell about your product (unaided and unprompted) and how many of them take the action to download and try your product are both key.

3 thoughts on “The 3 numbers that determine if your mobile app has reached product market fit”

  1. Mukund,

    Great insight. Do you think these metrics are limited to mobile apps? I would think they apply to most products or services, it’s just that the impact is amplified in the mobile space. I’d think most organizations should be tracking to metrics like this. The trick is obviously “how”?


    1. Tom, I am not sure about others, since I have yet to experience others as much. Enterprise apps for example take too much time to get value from so their “time to refer” is rather high. I need to think more about this. I want to write about “How” as well. Will do so in the next few days. Glad you liked it.

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