In case you were too busy staring at the screen of your iPhone to notice, mobile internet usage has surpassed the total amount of time spent online on desktops; 71 percent of all internet minutes in the U.S. are now spent browsing from a mobile device. And of that total internet share, a whopping 30 percent of all activity is dedicated to social media.
So, if you haven’t thought about dedicating more of your marketing spend to mobile, it’s about time you did. And you have the perfect place to find your market–social media. There are now close to three million apps available in Google Play and slightly fewer on the App Store. So, while you were procrastinating, a lot of guests have shown up to the app party. But along with so many apps comes a high level of competition and noise.
The average app loses 77 percent of its users just three days after download. And the situation gets even more critical after a month. There are many reasons for this–the app fails to meet expectations, provides a jarring or unsatisfying user experience, or is simply targeted to the wrong market. Oftentimes, brands don’t have a strong enough idea of their app or how the market will respond before they create it.
Rootstrap is an award-winning app development studio that has collaborated with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Cash Money Records (think Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj) to build mobile apps that people actually use. The company’s pre-development workshop, Roadmapping by Rootstrap, has already worked with over 250 companies, with Rootstrap alumni raising around $200 million in aggregate funding and a 16 percent success rate on funding for startups that graduate.
What are they doing differently? Here’s what we can learn about using social media to validate an idea before writing a line of code.
Get a clear understanding of who you’re marketing to
All of Rootstrap’s clients undergo an intensive pre-development workshop to ensure they understand the potential market for their app, as well as its feasibility. If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, how can you craft a platform that speaks to their needs? Rootstrap believes that their pre-development workshop is the secret sauce to their clients’ success.
During the workshop, they hone in on the key concept for the app, validate it in the marketplace by using social media, identify customers who want the app, and then create a clickable prototype and a development roadmap for the app. “All of this happens before we write a single line of code for the project,” Founder Ben Lee explains. “It’s a way to proof your concept and make sure people actually want what you’re building before you spend all the time and money to develop it.”
In other words, make sure you end up among the Holy Grail of successful apps that actually stay on people’s phones. It was through their Roadmapping model that Neon Roots found its way into the entertainment industry, successfully using their framework to help clients come up with effective ways to monetize their brands in the digital space.
Have a beta community to launch into
There’s no greater way to get a feel for the potential success of your app than sharing it with a beta community first. It’s rather like opinion polls running up to an election. You can get a pretty good idea of the general consensus, repeated pain points, feedback, features people would like to see, and reasons for abandonment. Launching to a beta community first doesn’t guarantee success, but it does give you access to the people who will eventually use your app.
“The best way of giving customers what they want is by listening to their feedback,” says Lee. Assembling a beta community of potential target customers for your app isn’t always easy, however. Rootstrap ensures that its beta communities are comprised of real people with real feedback, gathered using social media. Through targeted social media advertising, they get authentic customers to test out and give valuable input on the app’s concept and features.
Build a social media community (and listen to them)
The easiest way to find out what the market wants is to ask them. “This kind of feedback is invaluable,” says Lee. “You’re getting real access to real customers and seeing the desired user experience through their eyes. No matter how meticulously you test your ideas, they will always point out any flaws, and they love to share. So, encourage feedback, thank them for it and, above all else, use it.”
Millennials especially love to give their feedback and opinions, with an overwhelming 93 percent trusting peer reviews enough make a purchase or download an app. If your target customer is willing to listen to their peers and act on the information, you should be, too.
Listening to your customers is vital, and social media is the most powerful and effective way of gathering a community for real insights. Social media also gives you the perfect tools to test and fine-tune your ad targeting. If your campaigns are not attracting the people you want or you’re failing to get enough feedback, try again. Look at your posting times, demographic and content.
Sometimes something as simple as changing the way you word your CTAs can help. Above all, if you want to hit it out of the park with your app first time and save development costs and time, take a leaf out of Rootstrap’s book and understand your market, long before your development team gets to work.
This article first appeared in Adweek.