In the last post I mentioned that I’d been working on and had submitted, a new app, as part of an experiment. This post will explain more about how the project started and the framework I put in place for this work.
Born from market research
Disclaimer: calling this ‘market research’ might be a bit of a stretch, but given the theme and scope of the project, there’s some sense in calling it this…
Whilst researching keywords for Reminder+ (App Store link), I noticed some interesting data around the words ‘delete’ and ‘remove’, when paired with ‘reminders’:
- Searches for these phrases had some amount of traffic, not too far from some of the keywords targeted by Reminder+.
- These phrases appeared to be underserved by apps in the App Store. For example, between 1 and 5 apps ranking for some search phrases.
- The keywords/phrases indicated a clear ‘problem’, for which people are searching for a solution.
I started to see a gap, which gave me an idea for a quick experiment…
If research, in the form of App Store search terms, shows demand for a solution to a given problem, and competition for the keywords involved is low, can a simple, targeted app generate revenue?
Specifically, I’m interested to find out:
- Can the keyword research be trusted? Will ranking in the identified search phrases generate App Store views (traffic)?
- Is it possible for a new app that matches the search terms more closely than existing, ranking apps, to rank highly for those terms?
- For a particularly narrow niche, can you rely on search terms as the only input when judging market need and conceiving a product to fulfil that need?
- Answer the questions above.
- Generate consistent revenue from an app for which App Store search is the only means for generating leads/traffic. Achieve a target of 2 downloads per day at Tier 1.
- Complete the experiment with minimal investment. Make the app and submit it for app review in the equivalent of 2 days of work (16 hours).
More on that last point: this was/is an experiment and working on the project was in interruption. I wanted to answer some questions without investing too much time.
- Make an app targeted directly at the problem of deleting reminders.
- Use a combination of the target search phrases and my own use/ideas, to flesh out requirements for the app.
- If needed, cut features/scope to finish (submit) on time.
- Plan to release without telling anyone: no press emails, no website, no Facebook, etc.
Note: I was comfortable with aggressively cutting features/scope in order to release as soon as possible… Because this is going to be a ‘silent launch’ it’s less important that everything be perfect for making a splash. Iterating quickly after initial release, if warranted, is a viable approach.
Motivation for this experiment?
This experiment was/is appealing for a few reasons. I’m particularly interested in the keywords aspect:
- Ranking in search generates traffic. We can measure how much of that traffic is converted to downloads. Is the product a good fit for what people are searching for? Are my assumptions around product-market-fit correct?
- I’m interested to see if I can take control of a small number of niche keywords. If successful, this could be a strategy to re-use in the future.
It’s also a good fit for my general approach to development:
- The experiment is based on reaching potential customers via App Store search; this is a funnel that can be tapped into without the need for more expensive marketing activities.
- It’s a small project with which I’ve been able to make meaning progress within my schedule. I’ve also used existing knowledge and re-used some code.
- If further development work is justified, small incremental changes will work well.
Pre for sale results
I submitted the app last week, Wednesday 24th Feb.
- I spent a total of 20.5 hours from start to clicking ‘submit’ in iTunesConnect.
- The work was done in little chunks, ranging from 15 minute slots up to 2 hours.
- Whilst I went beyond the target of 16 hours, the work was close enough to my goal of being a small investment. I’m happy with the progress leading up to submitting.
Update: the app has literally just been approved and made Ready for Sale (around 1 hour ago). I’ll post some numbers after a week or so, when we can see which keywords the app ranks for, what traffic that leads to and how many (if any) downloads result.