NativeX is pleased to present this guest post from App Partner with great insights for publishers on how to dominate your app or game niche.
Taking a proven concept and tailoring it to a particular niche has proven to be a successful tactic for more than a few tech entrepreneurs. The business case is solid. Start with a successful but widely applicable concept (Facebook) and target a particular sub-audience (professionals) with a new but familiar product (LinkedIn).
While Tinder, for example, has to cater to a more generic audience, a dating app that focuses on a specific community, whether defined by race, religion, sexuality, etc. (FarmersOnly, anyone?), can address the very specific and unique needs of that niche audience to deliver an exceptionally sticky experience.
If you’re considering launching a new app using this tactic, here are 4 actionable steps that our mobile application experts recommend to help you successfully dominate your niche.
Profile Your Target Audience
Although you probably have a rough understanding of who’s in your niche, it is essential to create an accurate profile of your target audience: how many of them are there, what are their pain points, and how do they interact with technology in general. To start, take advantage of tools like Google’s Keyword Search Tool and census data to get an approximation of how large your audience is. A common mistake is targeting a niche that’s just too small to support a new business or platform. Additionally, just because someone fits into a basic demographic profile doesn’t mean they are automatically a potential user. They need to match the demographic profile and experience the pain points your product will solve. For example, the Jewish dating app JDate’s niche is not every Jewish person in the world. It’s only for Jewish people who are having trouble getting quality dates with other Jewish people.
That means you need to do more than simply identify your audience. You need to understand them. Start by surveying potential users online. Ask them what their pain points are, how they would have that problem solved, and what types of features they would like in an app. You can even obtain valuable information by watching and studying habits in-person. How do the audience members interact as a community? What kind of language do they use? What similarities do they share other than the broad niche you’ve identified? Once you have a sufficient amount of information, figure out if their problems can be solved with an app. It would be a waste of time, energy and money if you launched an app with no market need in the first place.
Finally, crunch the numbers to see if your very specific niche audience can support a viable business. For example an audience of 25,000 people only willing to pay $1/month is probably not enough. A potential audience of 50,000 people willing to pay $25/month, though, is a different story and likely worth pursuing.
Differentiate Your App’s Features
When it comes to your feature set, focus on one or two killer differentiators. More specifically, capture whatever the generic platform can’t and run with it. It’s better to launch with one amazing feature that differentiates you from the competition, than eight “good” features that users can easily find in other apps. Let’s look at JDate again. The app allows users to filter their potential matches based on their approaches to Judaism (i.e Orthodox, reformed, etc.). This type of feature is both important and applicable to Jewish singles only and is likely not found in more generic platforms like Tinder or eHarmony.
Improving and iterating based on a laser-focused feature set also allows you to further differentiate over time and stay ahead of the ever-innovating mobile community. Take Snapchat for example. The original differentiating factor was a focus on messages that self-deleted after viewed. That sharp focus allowed Snapchat to launch “My Story” as a brand new and exciting feature that lets friends view public snapchats for a period of 24 hours. “My Story” was an instant hit and soon evolved into another new Snapchat feature “Discover”. This feature was so successful that Instagram decided to put it’s own spin on it by introducing “Instagram Stories”.
Invest in Branding
All mobile apps require branding that reflects the tone and behavior of their target audiences. For example, you wouldn’t design an app with neon colors and quirky cartoon characters for a real estate agency. It is even more essential for niche-focused mobile apps to invest in smart branding. With a hyper-specific audience, it doesn’t take much to come across as “not quite right.” Your brand is the way people perceive your app and speaking directly to the end user should be your goal. Here are key areas that require strong branding:
Colors: Which colors will invoke the appropriate emotion?
App Name: Is it authentic, easy to pronounce, unique and under 11 characters?
UI: Do the colors flow well together? Would your target audience find it visually pleasing?
UX: Does it reflect your user’s relationship with technology as well as the intended purpose for your app (i.e older audience = simple navigation, entertainment app = focus on letting users browse and explore)?
Content & Messaging: Is the tone in your content and communication with users consistent throughout the app as well as across social media and other marketing efforts?
Structure a Smart Marketing Strategy
In addition to the usual technologies available for mobile app marketing, niche mobile apps can take advantage of some good old fashioned relationship marketing opportunities to get even closer to your target audience. The key, as with every other aspect of building a niche app, is to keep that end user in mind at all times and to be consistent, whether you’re communicating with them through video, messaging, text or ad. Here are five marketing tactics for dominating your niche and which you can implement yourself:
Guerilla Marketing: Go directly out into the community you’re looking to acquire and spread the word with flyers, giveaways, and partner networking. Try local meetups, venues that you know your target users visit, conferences, or any other real-world space where you know you can get an audience with your niche.
Targeted PPI Campaigns: One of the advantages of digital advertising is the ability to target very specific audiences. Pay-per-install (PPI) campaigns are a great way to reach out to your niche in a scalable way. Using an ad platform like Facebook, you can specify the audience that sees your ad by geographic location, user interests, religion, race, age, profession, etc.
Social Media: Create a space where you can engage with people in your niche and make real relationships. Don’t make the mistake of only using these platforms for advertising.
Tie-ins: Reach out to other businesses that cater to your target audience and cross promote each other’s products or services. If you’re app services the yoga community, go to yoga studios and yoga blogs and try to identify opportunities for joint promotions.
Content: Create videos, blog posts and imagery that will resonate with your users and which are both relevant and valuable.
Drew Johnson, is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency where he advises funded startups, enterprises and partner agencies on data-driven mobile development, marketing and monetization strategies. He also oversees the company’s business development efforts and day-to-day operations. To date, App Partner has led and supported the launch of more than 200 unique mobile applications generating tens of millions of download