5 things to consider before developing an app

by Angela Harbinson
on 22 Feb, 2017
Angela Harbinson

If you own a smartphone, there’s no doubt that apps have become an integral part of your daily life. With over 2.2 Million apps available to download, it feels like these days if you have a will, you have (a way) an app for that.

As Apple is soon to release the 10 year anniversary phone later this year, that means the concept of apps has only been around for the past decade (hard to believe I know) and in this time the market has become increasingly competitive and crowded.

You’ve most likely heard the app success stories. Like Snapchat for example. It’s founder Evan Spiegel, launched his simple idea into a successful business valued at $20 Billion, making him a billionaire at age 26. With the potential of this level of success, there’s no wonder this market has the entrepreneurial minded excited.

As dreamy as app success stories sound, you do need to approach this pathway with caution.

The reality is, many apps fail. According to Gartner, less than 0.01% of mobile apps will be considered a success by their developers in 2018. This is a scary figure when you take into account the enormous investment costs of developing and marketing your app.

There are two types of apps in the market.

  • Apps that solve a problem for your business’s existing customers, making everyday workflows easier for you and the end customer. I.e letting your customers book their pilates class online through an app.
  • Apps that solve problems the audience didn’t even know they had until this app existed. I.e the Airbnb and Uber of the world.

Solving problems for your customers is great. Even better if it helps streamline the manual work your team has to perform. Many established businesses with a core customer base, look to apps to extend their services or automate their workflows, and this is a logical investment to make. For example KX Pilates have a great app that lets you buy subscription packages and then book your pilates sessions. This saves them having extra admin staff at their centres.

If this is your business, then you need to make sure your marketing efforts promote your app as part of the customer experience and ensure your app becomes an extension of your offline brand experience and reflects your brand consistently.

Read more: How to grow your business with automation

If your idea is the second type, we’ve created this post for you to help you take that big bright idea and make it fly. Here are the top 5 things you should consider before developing your idea into an app.

1 Do your market research

The app market is already a jam packed place. You need to make sure your idea hasn’t already been thought of and that there is a real need for it. If you’re action oriented, you may be tempted to skip the research process. Resist this. Like the discovery process of any new business concept, thorough research can be what ultimately evolves your idea, inspires your competitive advantage and puts you on the path to success.

Research the market:

  • What category would your app fit into?
  • What apps already exist in your category?
  • How many ratings / users?
  • What is the size of the community?
  • What are the statistics on how many apps exist in the market place?
  • What are the most popular apps in the category and what are they doing well or not so well?
  • What are the statistics on app usage with iOS? (Most mass market apps only get used once)

Research your options:

  • What funding options are there? e.g. VC backed v bootstrap (self funded)
  • What kind of app will you build? (webapp, iOS, android)
  • What expertise or experts will you need to bring it to life?
  • What is the expected total cost of building and promoting your app?
  • Who will the app be made for? (see marketing strategy below)


2 Determine your unique value proposition

In a nutshell, this is the statement that will distinguish your app from the rest. Your unique value proposition (USP) describes the benefit you offer, to who and how you will do it better than anybody else. Think of it as your full time salesperson, it’s the statement that will sell your app and make your target audience tap download.


  • Who is your app for (is it for a mass market like Candy Crush, b2b like Xero, niche audience like a SEO Analyser?)
  • What makes your app different to what’s out there? (Is it more efficient or is the core idea what makes it different?)
  • How will your app be better than the competitions? (Is it faster, easier to use or integrates better with other softwares?)


3 Define how your app will make money.

Crunch the numbers. The market is saturated with free apps and full of customers that aren’t easily enticed to pay for something they haven’t tried yet. How is your app going to put the bacon on the table? If you plan to make it profitable, you need to have a monetisation plan ready to go.

Find the stats on:

  • The take up of free vs paid apps within your ideas category
  • The average cost for the apps in your category
  • What is the expected churn rate? E.g. People unsubscribing

Define your monetisation plan:

  • How you will generate income? Is your app going to be a paid one or a premium subscription fee within the Apps service? Take a look at Spotify’s model.
  • What is your budget? Is it realistic for your expectations?
  • Estimate your set costs. How much will you need to spend for operations, sales, marketing and ongoing development updates.
  • Calculate the average Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). What is the average cost of acquiring your customer. This is done by dividing the investment in advertising your app by the expected number of customers.


4 Have a solid Marketing Strategy

If you build this app, will they come? Unfortunately without marketing it’s highly likely they won’t. You need to make sure you’re telling the world about your amazing app and not just during it’s launch stage. Marketing should be your ongoing priority. In fact one of the main reasons businesses fail is due to their lack of investment in marketing. It’s often the missing link many overlook connecting your grand idea to a solid customer base and ultimately a successful business.

Tips for marketing your app

  • Understand your audiences: Who are they, what is their need, how does your app solve that need and what key messages will speak to them when selling your app?
  • Set out a marketing budget. Marketing should be looked at as an investment. Set your KPI’s and your expected ROI on your marketing spend. Often when it comes to marketing the more you put in, the more success you get out.
  • Understand best channels and what is needed in these to make an impact. What channel will reach your audience and how much do you need to spend in each channel to see the results you want? Does it match your budget and adspend?
  • Calculate costs for owned marketing assets. Look at the whole picture. Source out what you’ll need for a website and all your customer journey communications (acquisition and retention). Is marketing automation going to be something you should consider?

Download your free marketing automation comparison guide


5 Trademarking and naming

There’s a lot in a name. You want to make sure the name of your app is unique and powerful enough to be the talk of the town. Equally important your name of choice needs to be easy to understand and spell.

Before choosing the app name:

  • Check all possible names or conflicts. Do a Google search, make sure the name isn’t associated with anything undesirable while you’re there.
  • Check if there is Adwords competition. Be ahead of the game for the search terms.
  • Check spelling in multi languages. Often there are more ways than one to spell a word, will it confuse some?
  • Check Trademarks register (link). Make sure no-one else has already taken the name from the Trademarks register.
  • Check URL availability. A relevant URL will make sure it is simple for people to find.
  • Check all your social media handles. Trying to keep consistency is key. Social media advertising is most likely going to be important for your app. You want to make sure when people come across your app (most likely more than once), they recognise your brand.

Ready for more?

If you’re looking for further guidance, the Thirst Creative team are ready to help. Contact us today.

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