Guest Post by Eve Poeschl, Technovation[MN] Board Member

There’s more to developing an app than choosing features and writing code that will bring the idea to life. There’s an important decision to make first. Who’s your target audience? Defining this group is critical to the success of any app.

Impact of your target audience

The target audience for an app is the core set of users, the group of people who need the app and will reap the largest reward. Defining a target audience tells you more than simply who will likely be the primary demographic. It also informs how your app is built and what features will be included. The target audience could be segmented by age, gender or motivation.

The process to define an app’s target audience begins by gaining an in-depth understanding of the core group’s motivations.

Ask yourself, “What problem will the app solve?” and “What will the user accomplish by using the app?”

Identifying user flow and features

Once you’ve determined your target audience, the user flow can be sketched — starting with how users will interact with your app when they first log-in. If your target audience values privacy, they may create a username that leads them to a landing page. Or maybe your target audience is busy, or less trustful, they can interact with app functionality right away. This can capture their attention.

Target audience definition gives you more insight than solely who the primary user is. It also informs how features are developed.
For example, studies have shown millennials aren’t using Google+ and Twitter, with the same frequency as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. A sharing mechanism that targeted Google+ and Twitter wouldn’t be useful for this audience. Instead, the app’s sharing should integrate with the audience’s platforms of choice.

Leveraging familiar usability patterns

Having a clear understanding of your audience allows you to replicate the usability patterns they are familiar with. That way, your app will be easier to adopt and users will be less intimidated by the newness of the technology.

Maximizing marketing spend

There’s a working development theory that a large percentage of your build budget should be spent on the actual app development and the remaining should be allocated to marketing your app. Following that line of thought, the size of your target audience impacts your marketing budget. If your audience is large, your marketing spend will be much higher. The benefit is clear: When you narrow down that audience, it helps the budget for your market spend.

Answer these three questions to begin thinking about your target audience.

1. Who is the user and how is the app going to better their lives?

The apps available to users increase by the day. Knowing who your users are will enable you to call out features that make their unique situations better.

2. As a user, why do I trust this technology?

We live in a world where the lifespan of many apps are fleeting. By knowing your user, you can ensure it benefits them now and into the future.

3. How do I leverage this target audience to increase adoption for my app?

Our ultimate goal is to release an app that will help improve the lives of your target audience. How do you incentivize this group of users to spread the word? As an example, if your app charges a membership fee like Betterment, you provide an incentive to waive these fees via invitations. This is a meaningful incentive for their target demographic.