You have an idea for a new app that you believe has the potential to really help people. Or maybe the apps currently out there don’t quite meet your needs and you think you can do better. What’s your next move? Before investing too much time and money into your app idea, it’s smart to first determine if there’s a market opportunity. Will this new app idea solve a real issue? Is it something people really want? How much will they pay to solve this issue? To answer these questions, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Here are six simple steps to follow to validate an app idea.
1. Check for Key Words
First, you’ll want to get an idea of the market opportunity. Start with a Google search to see if people are looking for ways to solve the issue your app is intended to fix, and check out the top posts. This will give you deeper insight into the issue you’re aiming to solve and see how people are currently dealing with the problem. And if any apps are currently available that address this issue, you’ll find them.
Google Trends is another way to learn what people are most interested in, based on their searches. Take your research a step further by looking for search popularity and volume in free tools like MOZ Keyword Explorer. The volume of searches will give you a rough idea of the level of interest in your idea.
2. Ask Potential Users
Research what your target users are saying by reading threads in social media groups or on forums. Reach out to them directly to ask questions. Reddit is a great place to connect with engaged potential users to solicit feedback. Conducting one-on-one interviews is also very helpful.
Additionally, if you have an existing audience that fits your target user profile, take advantage of it to get their thoughts. Post questions on Facebook or create a Twitter poll. People love to be asked for their opinions, and they’ll likely be happy to share their thoughts and questions with you to help validate an app idea.
You can also use Facebook Ads to target specific prospects and tap an additional potential market of users outside those that you currently have a relationship with. You can even target people who like the apps you uncover in your competitor research. Twitter Ads can also be used to stretch the reach of your Twitter poll beyond your current audience.
3. Do Competitive Research
Once you determined that there is significant interest in your app idea, identify other existing apps that are similar to what you want to create, and dig deeper into their business models. Have they been able to secure funding to support development? Do they appear to be viable companies? What are they missing, and what could you do better? Here are a few tools you’ll find helpful for competitive research.
App Store and Google Play
Go to Apple iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to look for similar apps. After a Google search, this will be your next step to see what other apps are available in your desired market and what those apps offer. Note their features and how they market themselves.
Were the other apps able to secure funding? Investors willing to fund a company in a particular niche can be a good indication of a solid idea with market interest, and Crunchbase is a tool that can help you locate this information. Also check Kickstarter and other funding sources to see if people have been willing to donate to a similar idea.
Are the companies that created the existing apps established? How many employees are there? If existing companies have built a business around a similar concept, this will tell you that your idea has true market opportunity.
4. Determine Market Fit and Opportunity
Review your competitive research and analyze existing options for weaknesses and missed opportunities. Identify key functionality that users would appreciate, usability issues you could improve upon, and other problems you know your app could more fully solve. Consider the competitive advantages you have.
Take it a step further to look at ways to market and monetize your app. What are the opportunities for your app idea, given the current market? Do the other apps charge a flat, up-front amount when you think there is an opportunity to charge per transaction? Are there other creative pricing and marketing methods you could employ to appeal to a different part of an existing market? Or can you create an entirely new market based on the unique value proposition of your app?
5. Promote Your Idea
Create a promotional video to showcase your idea and see if it resonates with your target market. Share it out on social media and ask for feedback. You can do this before you start building the app to see if there is enough interest to warrant moving forward.
To get even more assurance that your target market is truly interested, you can create a “coming soon” website that presents the idea (perhaps using a video), offers more information, and asks interested people to fill a form to receive launch updates. You can promote this page via social media ads or Google ads.
6. Create a Minimum Viable Product for Testing
To minimize risk and gather additional feedback from real users, it’s smart to create a minimum viable product (MVP) before building out a full-featured version. An MVP is fully-functional, but it includes only core functionality that’s needed in order to solve the main problem you’ve identified as an opportunity.
Building an MVP will save you time and money because you’ll be able to test your core idea in the real world before building out additional functionality that may or may not be important to your users. It will also identify any usability issues that need to be fixed before building out the full version.
Once you’ve built your MVP, you can go back to the people you interviewed and asked questions of in Step 2 to see if they’re willing to serve as test users. Offer an incentive such as a free month once the paid version of the app is launched or some other perk.
It’s tempting to simply jump into development when you get an idea that seems strong. But without knowing what your market truly wants and needs, what options already exist, and how to optimize your product, you risk building something that isn’t a fit. When you validate an app idea before you build, you significantly decrease your risk of failure.
Want to talk about your app idea? Get in touch and we’ll schedule a call.