You believe you struck gold: You've got an app idea you feel has tremendous potential. Most likely, you got the insight by solving a problem that you or people around you had.
But does the app have legs to scale? How do you know whether there is a large enough pool of people that face the same problems you are trying to solve?
By just observing a small pool -- yourself or friends -- it is hard to tell.
Here are some tips on determining the market demand for your app:
Yes, it can be as simple as using Google. Use the Google Keyword Planner tool, a keyword search and traffic estimator, to look for the number of people seeking out what you're trying to do.
Type in words associated with your app idea, like the problem you are trying to solve, the benefit or other terms associated with your concept. Put the keyword(s) in the search box, select the target country or countries and Google will show you the number of average local and global monthly searches. This is a good indicator of demand.
Minimum Viable Product
"Market research and business planning are overrated," serial entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki once told me. "The best market research is putting a product out and seeing if people will buy it. The best business plan is to create something great and sell it fast.”
Writing a business plan with projections through market research is a sure-shot way to an app startup doomsday. Nothing beats an actual customer using your app. So how do you get to the customer when you're at the idea stage and don't want to spend a huge sum of money building an app they don't want?
Build a minimum viable product (MVP) or a prototype. The idea is to create something as quickly as possible that addresses the problem you are trying to solve or demonstrates the core value of your product
The MVP could be a PowerPoint slide presentation, a dialogue box or a landing page. This is something you can often build in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning stripped-down app with the core features offered.
Share with your network and see the response. Are people excited to use it? Do they feel their needs or problems are resolved using your app? Is it easy to use? Take their feedback and revise the app.
You don't have an app yet but still want to get customers to sign up? Then landing pages are your best friend. Create a teaser or promotional landing page, which highlights the core proposition of your startup.
Ask for email addresses in return for an offer or simply to be updated about when the app is launched. The number of email subscribers can help predict how many people are interested in your app. Use platforms like Launchrock or KickoffLabs to create your landing page.
Once your landing page is up, create a Google Adwords and a Facebook marketing campaign. Point the advertisements to this landing page to drive traffic.
Whatever your path, make sure you build something that your customers want. As Kawasaki told me, "This isn't rocket science. It's mostly hard work and luck."
What other tips do you have for app validation? Let us know in the comments below.