ReminderBin: An App Store Experiment Based on Keyword Research

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…

Experiment

Headline:

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:

  1. Can the keyword research be trusted? Will ranking in the identified search phrases generate App Store views (traffic)?
  2. Is it possible for a new app that matches the search terms more closely than existing, ranking apps, to rank highly for those terms?
  3. 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?

Desired results

  1. Answer the questions above.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Approach

  1. Make an app targeted directly at the problem of deleting reminders.
  2. Use a combination of the target search phrases and my own use/ideas, to flesh out requirements for the app.
  3. If needed, cut features/scope to finish (submit) on time.
  4. 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.

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