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Your App Isn’t for Everybody — and That’s a Good Thing

Image by Alex Robinson

As the old saying goes, “If you market to everyone, you market to no one.” Yet plenty of app creators insist that their target audience is anybody and everybody. Unfortunately, “everybody” is too wide of a user base to effectively test and harness any innovation.

Even if you believe people from all walks of life could embrace your app, it’s best to start small. That means first figuring out how to narrow down a target audience into a definitive group.

Identifying Your App’s Narrow Target Audience

Think in terms of subsets when defining your audience. For instance, let’s say you want to build an app for middle-class American Millennials. It’s a good starting point, but you need to narrow your focus. Perhaps your app could be useful for middle-class American Millennial working moms with young kids who are going to school online for the first time during the pandemic. That is a specific audience.

Once you’ve fleshed out this narrow target audience, start identifying specific pain points within it. How? Seek out your audience online — think Facebook Groups, subreddits, and influencer profiles. Start conducting some social listening, and jot down your findings. In addition to detecting problems this way, you’ll also know where to find your early adopters and beta testers when the time comes.

Constructing a Customer Journey Map Using Pain Points

Now that you have your audience in mind, you’re all set to construct a customer journey flow. Start with your customers in mind. Figure out their goals as well as how you’ll help them achieve those goals. Beginning this way allows you to identify pain points and address them as best you can. Which steps will take you from Point A to Point Z?

Be prepared to take a customer-centric viewpoint of your app as you embark on this “fill in the blank” adventure. As you see the consumer journey take shape, you may even begin to rethink your end goal. Is it truly the end? Or is it just another step along the way to a more powerful solution?

Our team has frequently gone through this exercise with clients, and it often leads to customer-centric solutions that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. That’s part and parcel of the experience, and it will only make the initial app prototype stronger.

You now have the information you need to construct a paper or interactive prototype. Use this prototype during user testing with members of the subset group you identified earlier. Before you release it, however, you’ll want to make sure you can validate and measure your customer journey flow hypothesis to ensure it guides the solution in the right way.

To test a prototype and inform your next-gen iteration, begin by A/B testing to see which features are working best. Beyond this, elicit app store reviews and direct feedback from your early customers. Understanding how to use feedback effectively is a vital part of the process. Be sure everyone on your team knows which data points to collect and examine. That way, you can use what you learn to improve your app continuously.

Leveraging User Engagement and Retention Strategies

Once your app goes live, keep up with retention and encourage engagement by pushing out notifications, sending email follow-ups, offering exceptional customer support, making use of Siri integrations, and setting up exclusive user social media groups or events. As long as you’ve done your work and solved your customers’ problems, they’ll be more likely to keep using your app and interacting with new features as you make version upgrades.

You might have the idea for the coolest app on the planet, but it won’t make it much past the drawing board if it doesn’t solve a problem for your narrow, defined audience. Spend time defining core user bases, creating customer journeys, and validating your hypotheses. You’ll end up with the outstanding app you imagined and build a launch pad for success.

Need help narrowing your audience and identifying customers’ pain points? Our design sprint helps clients get clarity on their narrow audience and the solutions that will most impact users. Contact us to learn more.