No app development process should begin until the target audience is defined. According to CB Insights, in their post-mortem on the death of 253 startups, 14% of startup failures happen as a result of a company not properly defining their target audience. With many apps for users to choose from, standing out is not just an option, but a necessity and honing in on an audience that really needs the product you’re offering and, depending on the purpose of the app, is willing to pay to use it. This article explores how to define your target users with aplomb and leverage that knowledge into your app development.

First things first, what are you building?

In one sentence, you need to describe what your app does, as that gives you a good platform to launch from; it is like the vision statement of the app. For example, you might say “This app will allow tourists to book an affordable, safe, and secure apartment.” From this statement, it is obvious that the app caters to tourists - but that is only a platform, as there are different kinds of tourists. You’ll need to conduct further research to identify the types of tourists there are before building the perfect persona for the app. When you have clarity on what you’re building, you can proceed to conduct qualitative mobile app market research into your defined primary user persona.

Conducting Market Research

Conduct Market Research
Conduct Market Research

Ideally, you can outsource your market research to companies that specialize in this domain. However, this data doesn’t come cheap and can cost up to four figures. For big and established firms or startups, this might not necessarily be a lot, but for new startups, this might not be the most cost-effective route to follow. New startup owners have to roll up their sleeves and get into the dirt to perform market research to save money for marketing purposes. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Gather stats and insights

It is imperative to get insight and data about the niche or industry your app will serve, and a great place to start is Statista. You can get data on app usage per industry or niche that can better inform you of how large your potential market is, which should also help you determine your potential revenue when developing your business plan.

  • Check the trends

Another thing you want to know is if interest in your idea, or something related to it, is getting stronger or waning; you can use search engine data for this. For example, Google Trends/ Adwords will give you an overview of the things people are searching for and how often. If interest in the topics related to your idea is waning over time, then you might need to ask yourself “Why?” and perhaps ditch the idea. On the other hand, if interest is growing, then this shows that people are searching for answers related to your idea. You could also gather keywords that will be important to your online marketing strategy in this phase.

  • View questions on popular forums related to your niche or industry

Another way you can seek out insight is through forums and social media related to your idea to see what topics people are talking about. In this phase, it is important to focus on their pain-points; make a list of these and note every detail of their description. Forums like Quora and Reddit will show you the questions in people’s hearts, and reading through the answers and comments will definitely give you many insights.

Validating Your Business Idea

Validate Your Business Idea
Validate Your Business Idea

You can identify your target audience through surveys and by validating your business idea. For starters, let’s take a look at building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as a way to validate your product idea. Basically, an MVP is a stripped down version of your final product that gives your target audience a snippet of what your product is all about. Will they like the product? If they do, are they willing to part with their cash to use your product? You will also learn more “about your ideas and assumptions.” This is where your preliminary insights from above come in. You’ll need to test your insights out, which you can do in the following ways:

  • Surveys

With the help of online survey services, such as SurveyMonkey, you can reach a large audience with your questions. Through your initial findings, you can indicate the kind of respondents you want to answer your survey or segment the survey into groups. When using surveys, the questions you ask will determine a lot. Aside from the questions related to your app, you also need to gather the demographic and lifestyle data of your respondents.

  • Focus groups

While remotely gathering data from respondents is quite convenient and perhaps easier, there’s nothing more effective than face-to-face interaction with your potential customer base. You can gauge their body language with what they are saying and ask follow-up questions, which surveys don’t necessarily allow. Again, your choice of participants for this stage is important and you can choose them based on the demographic data you’ve gathered before.

  • Landing pages and ads on digital channels

Another way to track if an identified user segment would be interested in, and willing to pay for, your product is to create social media ads targeting this segment and tracking interests and conversions. For this to work, it helps to create a landing page where the benefits, features, and use cases of the product are highlighted with a call to action to join a waiting list or get free access to an MVP prototype, if available. When you run the ads for a considerable amount of time, the conversion rates across the different segments you targeted should give you an idea of which group you should tailor your product features for the most. It is not that the other segments with lower conversions won’t be important, rather they will just be allowed less influence on the direction of product development.

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis
Competitor Analysis

If you’re entering an existing niche or industry, it is pertinent to “survey the terrain.” You want to know what established companies are doing right, their weaknesses, where opportunities exist for you to get an easier footing in the industry, and the potential threats to the industry. One of the easiest ways to do this is to download the popular apps across your targeted industry. You can use the keywords you obtained from Google Trends to search for these apps on the available mobile platforms you’re targeting. Peep through the reviews to know what people are saying. Take note of the positives as well as the negatives, in particular, the 5-star and the 1-star ratings.

The next step is to use the app to glean how it works, analyze its essential features, determine the user experience, and identify the features you feel the app is lacking. Additionally, try to figure out as much as possible who you feel the app is targeted at, and whether there are similarities or differences with the target audience you’ve built. If there is a difference, learn why it is so. If not, think about how you are going to stand out when targeting the same audience as the established product. Lastly, you can also look out for the technical part of the apps: the speed, device support range, installation requirements, etc. There are many tools that can make your work easy, such as App Annie, AppLike, and Apptrace.

Your Next Steps

Now that you have a clear and validated idea of who you’re building your product for, what competition looks like, and the opportunities and gaps your app(s) can fill, it’s time to hire developers who will provide proper app development services.

Need professional app developers?

At MLSDev, we have over nine years of experience in web, Android, and iOS application development. You can get in touch with us right now and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you about building apps.

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