Testing Your Target Market
Save time, effort, and money with these helpful tips on testing your target market before app development.
1. Check Your Niche Market Exists
Before you do anything else, make sure a market for your product exists.
It’s very unlikely that you are going to innovate an entirely new product that has never been seen before in some form until now. If it is, then you need to ask yourself if you want to be the one to start from scratch and suffer the pains of spreading the gospel. A better bet is to innovate and be remarkable in a proven niche. Your odds of success are much higher.
One way to do this is to seek out your niche’s community online through forums.
You will end up with a bunch of related popular online forums that you can use to gauge interest in the subject and identify pain points related to your idea.
1. Search within the forum for keywords that relate to your product
2. Is there a lot of conversation happening around the subject?
3. When was the latest post/frequency of posts?
4. What, in particular, are people talking about?
2. Scope Out Your Competition
Identify the competition: are there companies providing a version or variation of your product, either established or just gaining traction. Who is their audience?
Next, observe your competitors’ successes and failures. Is there a sub group within that market that may have been missed? Can you attract their customers by doing something better/differently? You can’t necessarily duplicate their success, but you can observe what has worked for them and the way they’ve connected to their audience. Conversely, you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes as your competitors.
Type in keywords related to your product into Google Search. If you see paid advertisements in the results page, this is a good sign. That means there is likely a profitable market for your niche of interest.
You can do a similar strategy with Amazon.com to see if there are books related to the topic. The more sales/reviews the product has, the more likely people are to pay money for that kind of product/service. Pay particular attention to the negative reviews to see where a product has fallen short – and fill that gap.
3. Differentiate Yourself from the Rest of the Market
Now that you have the market, and the competition, you don’t want to rip off someone’s idea or simply do something faster or cheaper. Instead, think about what is going to set your product apart from the rest. Focus on the features vs benefits of your product. All too often we talk about the feature, forgetting to articulate WHY this is important to a customer. Rattling off specs is not nearly as effective as explaining why something is beneficial to your market.
For example: 1 GB of Mp3 Storage vs 1000 songs in your pocket
4. Beta Testing Your Market
Your Beta Test is a small-scale release that helps you gauge the market’s reaction to your product, and gain valuable insight. By doing a Beta you can get an idea how the official launch will go, and you will be able to gather important information on any missing components in the product, defects/bugs, features you might have missed, and think about what you want to include in future releases.
Give away these prototypes in exchange for honest feedback. The key to success here is to give these to members of your target market, which you can find via social media, forums, meetup groups, etc. Weight their feedback higher than anyone else’s.
5. Survey Your Target Market
Whether your target audience has tried a Beta or not, you can create a survey using a tool like Survey Monkey or Survata.These services will help you create a custom survey that they will send to a target market that you define. You can add multiple-choice questions, dropdowns, star ratings, photos and more.
You can then pay to have qualified respondents complete your survey. Or, you can create a survey particularly for customers who have tried your Beta, and you want to follow up with them directly after having had used it for a while.
6. Lead Capture
Before we can convince your future customer to “buy” or “subscribe” we need to first ask smaller. It’s much easier to take that little first step, then take a big leap. This is why we test drive cars, get free samples and do 2-week free trials before we buy. And this is why we want to capture e-mails.
For the purpose of testing our ideas for future online products, if we can’t get people to be interested in what we have enough to hand over their e-mail address, they won’t make it to the “add to cart” or “subscribe now” stage. If they don’t want to do the small action – if they don’t want a sample – they won’t pay for the product.
You could just as easily test whether people are likely to click a link or button leading to a certain page, but e-mail is good for a few reasons.
1. Clicking a link and arriving at a page is almost too easy. It’s so easy that it’s not a very good indicator of genuine interest.
2. Capturing an e-mail lead takes a certain amount of commitment by the very action of filling out the form, weeding out those who aren’t actually interested.
3. Once you have that e-mail address, you can follow up with that person once you have a sales page and a real product.
7. The Sales Page
If a converting e-mail list isn’t enough evidence for you that people will open their wallets, you can go one step further and create the sales page.
After all, your friends, family, social network, and survey monkey respondents may all say they would give you money in exchange for you product/service. The reality is, however, you never really know until it comes time to pull out the wallet and hand over credit card information.
This is where the sales page comes in.
Lead your customers through the exact process they would be going through if they were actually buying a product. By tracking how many people convert – click buy now or add to cart – we can see how many people were ready to actually pay for the product. If you do get conversions at this stage, get your product made. All the more motivation to get the project off the ground.
You may be wondering, “How can I set up a sales page without a product?”
Answer: Your Buy now button/Add to cart button links to a page explaining that your product is currently unavailable. Don’t tell them its not made yet… but that it will be shortly.
If your next thought is: “That’s kind of sneaky… I don’t know how I feel about that.”
Well, its true.
But, products go out of stock all the time, and customers can be notified when the product is back in stock or in this case, available for the first time.
You can offer your future customer a discount with a discount code and have them sign up to be notified when the product is available – to alleviate any guilt you might have around needing these initial customers to be guinea pigs.
8. Get Started
There you have it! Some tips and tricks to get you started. By this stage, you know how to confirm your market exists, scope out your competition, differentiate yourself and get some insight on whether your contribution is attractive to customers, capture some valuable leads and even have some “sales”, all before you’ve shelled out for the cost of production.
This process can save you a lot of time and money should your idea not be quite what you thought. And if that’s the case, back to the drawing board. But if your idea does get some traction, you know you have a winner.
Good luck Entrepreneurs!