Talk to any group of people long enough, and the chances are pretty high that at least one has this “brilliant, new, never-before-been-done” idea for an app. Coming up with the idea is usually as far as most people get, though. A breakdown in one or more of the steps required to successfully launch a product is why most apps fail.

A great idea can reel someone in, but it won’t necessarily keep people invested. In fact, in 2019, 25% of mobile applications were downloaded and abandoned after just one use, according to one study, and only 32% of people who downloaded an app, use it more than 11 times.

The reasons? It varies. Right now, across the popular app stores, there are millions of apps, and organizations across all industries are developing enterprise applications for just about every operational function. So market saturation certainly plays a role. Poor user experience also drives people away. However, at Rocket Farm Studios, we believe poor retention rates most often come down to a lack of due diligence early on—before the design and development phases begin.

Specifically, we’ve found that even the most market-savvy people don’t spend enough time thinking about market fit.

What is Market Fit—and Does it Really Matter?

When you have an idea that you really believe in, it’s all too easy to think that consumers will love it too—but you must validate that belief.

Market fit involves strategic steps to uncover passionate users, in a specific market, who won’t be able to live without your app once they start using it. It’s not enough for people to just download your application. If you want to the app to be worth the time and money you spend, they must use it often, and as the research above indicates, most people are quick to abandon an app if they don’t immediately benefit from it.

We offer four core services to bring an application to market faster—Discovery, Design, Development and Growth—and finding and ensuring market fit is a key component of each of those steps.

While it is critical to think about your target audience, their behaviors and needs, and how they will use your application in initial discovery and planning, it’s just as important to reaffirm those beliefs as you go through design and development and even after you launch. The bottom line: Market fit is continually changing—and you must be able to change to meet new expectations and demands.

Fail to do that, and unfortunately, you may spend loads of time, effort and money on an application that people just don’t want.

Creating a Mobile App Users Can’t Live Without

How do you ensure market fit? After many successful launches, here is our best advice.

  • Know your user. Before you do anything else, focus on understanding who is likely to use your product. Define your target audience and develop high-level user personas. Everything you do from this point forward—from developing application features to writing marketing copy—must be tailored specifically for your audience.
  • Create a brand map. Put your brand’s story, mission, vision and values down on paper. Describe in writing how your product meets specific challenges of your audience. This process sets the framework for how you will position your application when you are ready to start marketing.
  • Don’t wait until after development to conduct a competitive analysis. So many well-meaning entrepreneurs develop the app and then research the competition to look for ways to differentiate their product with marketing strategy. It’s the wrong approach because by then it may be too late to develop those features that actually set you apart.

Instead, take an extensive look at the applications that are most likely to rival yours. Evaluate them from a functionality standpoint, so you can pinpoint how your product is unique or better. Assess how they are marketing and selling their product. Look at the messaging they are using. Pinpoint their value proposition. Then figure out how you can differentiate your product and make that part of your design and development strategies.

  • Revisit your assumptions. During the design stage, continue to re-evaluate your understanding of the consumer’s problem and how well your product solves that problem.

Spend plenty of time communicating with members of your target audience through interviews, polls and surveys. Test marketing copy and conduct keyword tests to evaluate how your messaging is resonating with potential users. Doing it as you go, allows you to hone your branding and improve the product before you launch.

  • Build early fans. When you are ready to go public with your product, early adopters can be your greatest asset. Obviously, if you are selling your app, those early buyers are great for the bottom line. However, whether or not you monetize the app, they are valuable throughout the process. Early adopters can offer critical feedback at every step and help to ensure the product better meets their needs.

During those early conversations, take their feedback to heart. Solicit their feedback as you are planning new features and rolling out your minimum viable product. That process provides you with intelligence you can use to improve your product, but it also enables you to engage them and get them excited about using your application.

One of the smartest questions you can ask comes from growth-hacking guru, Sean Ellis: “How would you feel if you could no longer use [ProductName]?”

a) Very disappointed

b) Somewhat disappointed

c) Not disappointed

d) N/A I no longer use [ProductName]

According to Ellis, if 40% of users would be “very disappointed” if they could no longer use it, you have a product you can grow. If you don’t hit that mark, find out why and make improvements.

  • Don’t set it and forget it. Nothing works perfectly all the time, and neither will your application. So, even after you launch, keep gathering feedback from users and evaluating key sales and marketing metrics, to discover ways to improve your overall product and maintain their loyalty.