So, you are getting bored sitting in your car waiting for the traffic to clear and then suddenly a bulb lights up in your head. You have got a great app idea. Something that can solve a problem and enhance life for so many people. You get back home, pick up your iPhone and search in the App Store.
Damn! That idea has already been taken. And the process repeats itself over and over again.
Most people have this train of thought when they come up with an app idea. Then there is another group a little better. For them the thought process goes something like this
General App Ideation Process
- Light bulb moment!
- When app store has similar apps – Oh! I can improve on them.
- App store doesn’t have a similar app – Oh! I have the entire market to myself
- Fantasize day and night about all the cool features you can build on your app
- Start developing or hire a developer to build it
- Spend 6 months to make it perfect. Then some more to add some jazz.
- Spend 9 months on your app without letting even a cat know
- Publish on the app store and pray
- 5 people download your app – your mom, dad, girlfriend, a friend you bulldozed into and some random guy. Oh! I need to market.
- After 12 months and $10,000 spent – Oh! The app market is saturated. There is no money to be made.
It might seem funny but believe me it’s a lot different when it’s your time and money. The single and the most important step you can take before starting to work on your app is to validate your app idea.
Many app entrepreneurs think that validating your app idea is difficult. It involves talking to random people and spending a huge amount of time and money on market research.
But you are an entrepreneur and lean one at that after reading The Lean Startup. So, it’s time to learn some killer strategies to get customers before you even have a prototype in hand.
Coming Up With A Kickass App Idea
Let’s start with the app idea. You use Twitter daily and you would like more people to notice your tweets. You see other influencers like Elon Musk where each tweet gets a few hundred replies, a few thousand retweets, and a few ten thousand likes and get inspired.
Light bulb moment!
First step – Build the first ever electric-car company like Tesla, a never-dreamt of reusable rocket start up like SpaceX and date a Hollywood actress like Amber Heard to get more retweets.
Second step – Realize that it’s too much work to be more popular on twitter. Instead you curse Elon and watch the next Gif on your twitter feed – a trailer for the The Boring Company (Elon’s new start up to tackle traffic). Damn it, it’s so cool!
After a few more curses, second light bulb moment!
You realise tweets with Gif and Infographic get more retweets and likes. What about an app that helps people create and share Gifs and Infographic on twitter? Seems a lot less work than the previous idea. Score!
Validate Your App Idea Over The Weekend
When you start building an app just focus on one core proposition. In this case, either Gif or Infographic. How to decide what to build? Let’s validate these app ideas using the strategies below.
- Google Trends – This is a great tool to compare multiple app ideas. It doesn’t provide you with absolute search volumes but helps separate the wheat from the chaff. Let’s look at the of our 2 app ideas. Looks like Gifs are far more popular than Infographics.
- App Store – Go to Google Play Store or Apple iTunes App Store to check out for similar apps. Seems like there are a lot more apps for Gif Maker as compared to Infographic, which is in accordance with the demand we observed using Google Planner. Scales are tilting in the favour of a Gif Maker. Don’t be worried about the competition just yet! We will later discuss ways how to overcome that.
Let’s look at one of the gif apps – GIF Maker. It has 1-5 million downloads with in-app purchases. Great there are 5 million people interested in GIF apps. Look at the description. Oops! It seems like one app can be used for creating and sharing Gifs with all social media including Twitter. Pivot your idea from ‘Gif maker for Twitter’ to only ‘Gif maker’.
3. Google Keyword Planner – Search for the term ‘gif maker twitter’ on Keyword Planner. Looks like there are only 10 – 100 average monthly searches for our keyword but 10K – 100K for ‘twitter gif’ and ‘gif creator’. That means more than 10,000 people are actively searching on Google for Twitter Gifs and Gif Creators. Now it’s become interesting!
4. Sensor Tower – This is a great App Store Optimization (ASO – similar to SEO but for apps) tool to do ninja research on your category and competitors. Go to App Intelligence and search for the most popular terms in your app category, in our case Gif Maker. We find that the top app in our category is ImgPlay and it made a revenue of $20,000 in May 2017. Not bad! But it has come with 200,000 monthly downloads which will be difficult to crack when you are just starting. But it’s a good starting point.
Now, go to ‘Review History’ and filter on 2 and 3-star reviews to find its shortcomings. A few themes start emerging – ‘too much push to rate the app’, ‘need more filters’, ‘can’t select multiple video files’, ‘way to add transition between images’, etc. You now know the features to add in your app.
5. Social Media – Next step is to validate the features found in Step 4 by talking to potential users. Identify if it is ‘good to have’ or ‘a burning problem’. Use Twitter, Facebook or Reddit community to do your research with keywords like ‘I wish’, ‘This sucks’ and ‘I hate’ + ‘app name’. A quick search on Twitter for ImgPlay reveals the below.
6. Landing Page – Now is the time to perform the ‘Money Test’ to check if users would actually pay for your app before you start building it. Use QuickMVP or Lead Pages to create a single page app description with your new features. Mention the problem you are trying to solve and your app solution for the same. Design an app icon and few screenshots using LaunchKit.Io – an open-source tool acquired by Google. Decide upon a suitable price by looking at similar apps and offer it at an eye-popping 50% pre-launch discount with a pay button.
7. Facebook Ads/ Google Adwords – Promote your landing page using Facebook or Google Adwords to get traffic to your page. A/B test using a few variations for the price and check your conversion. Promote the page on your other social media accounts to get more traffic. If you get 10 paying customers you are good to go ahead and build an MVP.
Using these 7 hacks you can test your app idea even before you build an MVP. Even if you use a few of these hacks you will be ahead than majority of the developers out there on the app store.
What To Do Next
I know you are pumped up after reading these hacks. You feel you can crush it on app store.
So, what next?
I can tell you the thought process that follows:
- Light bulb moment
- App store check – Similar app found
- Fantasize about cool features on your app
- Should I start app development? But wait there was this dude who told about validating idea first.
- Oh! It’s too much work. Let me first check my Facebook.
- Oh! There’s this funny video, one leads to next and then you know what happens.
Take that first step to begin your app journey. Remember, you can start your app business without building anything initially.
All you need is one weekend.