How to Perfect Your App Idea Before Hiring a Team

By Drew Johnson
November 16, 2017

Learn how to fine-tune your app concept during the idea phase before starting full-fledged development.

At App Partner, we have overseen the launch of more than 200 apps. But the founders behind the most successful apps share one thing in common ー they all fine-tuned their concepts before approaching development.

Refining your ideas and getting market feedback before spending thousands of dollars on development is important because if you don’t, you may find that your audience never needed your app in the first place.

Here are four of the most effective ways we have seen prospective clients validate their app ideas before requesting a proposal.

Validate Your Assumptions

Validating your assumptions simply means checking to see if your startup plan would work in the “real world.” To do this, form a hypothesis, test it, and review if your hypothesis is true or not.

Talking to your ideal customers and testing your ideas is crucial. Spending thousands of dollars on development for an audience who might not even want or need your app could end up wasting your company time and money. But it’s easily avoidable. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank calls this “getting out of the building.”

Here are a few questions that startup founders find to be critical before building an app:

  • What problem does your app solve for your potential customer?
  • Is this problem significant? And how is your potential customer currently solving this problem?
  • Is your solution (app) something people would be willing to download or pay for?

One way we’ve seen entrepreneurs test and validate their assumptions is by conducting customer interviews. Reviews offer candid, unbiased insight from people who fit the description of your ideal customer by asking a series of questions about their past experiences.

You can do this by asking questions that elicit stories, not “would you?” type of questions 一 which people typically answer “yes” or "no" to. Keep in mind what people say they would do is sometimes different than what they actually do.

Asking questions about a subject’s history dealing with app pain points will give you a glimpse into real-life scenarios, which is crucial to figuring out if you can achieve product market fit. For example, if you’re in the babysitting industry:

Ask: “Walk me through the last experience you had hiring a babysitter. What was frustrating about that experience?”

Avoid: “Would you pay for an app that connects you with babysitters?”

A simple “yes” or “no” question does not accurately reflect product market fit; rather, an open-ended question is more likely to receive accurate answers.

Study Your Competitors

Spending time researching and studying the competition is one of the smartest ways to refine your app idea.

There are a number of ways to approach this, but here’s what we’ve seen work for our clients:

  • Read competitors’ app reviews to see what features are bringing in positive or negative reviews. This will allow you to create an app with only well-liked features.
  • Read competitors’ app reviews to see what other features people are requesting, then add those to your app.
  • Analyze competitors’ marketing strategy, such as partnerships and advertising, and figure out what works for them.
  • Keep tabs on competitors’ app store keywords. Use keyword tools such as Google Adwords to figure out which keywords perform well, and optimize your app description for those terms. 

By studying reviews of your competitors, you can find positive features to replicate as well as negative features to avoid and provide new features customers have indicated they prefer on their apps. 

Drive Traffic to a Promotional Video

500 million people watch videos on Facebook every day 一 making the social network a great place to test your concept through video advertising. Facebook advertising can be a powerful tool for market research because of its audience-targeting options. Keep in mind, you need to be very specific with targeting to avoid overpaying for each video engagement.

Facebook video ad locations

Here are three targeting criteria you can fill in to create highly targeted Facebook audiences:

  1. Location and age range 
  2. People who like pages of 10 complementary services, products, or apps
  3. People with related interests to your app’s niche

Targeting this niche audience ensures you’re reaching only the people who would use your app.

Best practices:

  • Include captions to ensure your message comes across 一 90% of Facebook videos are consumed without sound.
  • Grab attention within the first three seconds to keep viewers interested.
  • Keep the focus on solving the user’s pain points to show them why they need your app.

Analyze Keywords

Capitalizing on a trend sounds great ー but if there’s no data to back up your business idea, you won’t have a shot at long-term success. Keyword analysis will help you understand how many people are actually searching for your idea.

To get a sense of how significant the problem you’re trying to solve is, follow this workflow :

1. Search variants of the problem you’re trying to solve.
 "need a babysitter near me"

Doing multiple searches ensures you find the most pages related to your topic.

2. Check out the top pages, and review their product/service.

Be sure to document any relevant information - on page keywords, value proposition, etc.

3. Research related terms.

Scroll down and check out the related search terms, then write down all of the search terms that are related to the problem you’re trying to solve.
 "Searches related to need a babysitter near me"

You can find related searches at the bottom of a Google search.

You can also go to keyword and search variants of the problem.

These search results will give you even more related searches. Keep a close eye on any specific questions people are asking, and write down any relevant search terms you find.

4. Go to Google’s Keyword Planner and see what the volume is on all of the search terms you wrote down.

If the cumulative search volume is close to or more than 1,000 monthly searches, you’re on the right track.

Fine-Tune Before Development

Fine-tuning your app concept during the idea phase is one of the smartest steps you can take before starting full-fledged development. During this process, you’ll be able to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and make the necessary changes needed to succeed in the long-term ー instead of investing time and money into a product the market may not even want.

About the Author

Headshot of Drew JohnsonDrew Johnson is co-founder and co-CEO of App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency. Johnson’s responsibilities include advising App Partner’s clients on their mobile strategic initiatives as well as overseeing the company’s business development efforts and day-to-day operations. To date, his company has led and supported the launch of more than 200 unique mobile applications, generating tens of millions of downloads.


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