An app that is built to impress everyone impresses no one. It may be tempting for developers to create an app that can satisfy a wide range of audience needs simply because a larger user base will logically result in better app revenue generation.
But the truth is far from that. Not only will you fail to generate the expected revenue. You will also not be able to satisfy the needs of users from different demographics. That’s because the “app needs” of a woman in her 40s are entirely different from that of a 14-year old teenager. It is as simple as that.
When defining your app’s target audience, you need to be highly specific. By the term “highly specific” we mean hitting the bullseye in a dartboard. Making an app specific to a target group means you can put more effort into addressing their precise needs.
What Is a Target Audience?
It is a group of people to whom your service or product – which in this case is your mobile app – is intended for. Your target audience can be defined by:
- Demographics (such as age, gender, marital status, income or education)
- Location (the city, state, country, or region you live in)
- Psychographics (such as interests, desires, and behaviours)
- Need (for example, an 80-year-old man may require an app that delivers groceries to his home)
- Purchase intentions (as in whether they are willing to pay for your app or make in-app purchases)
And the list can be extended to more attributes like attitude, sub-culture and so on. While fine-tuning your target audience, you can choose any one type of attributes or mix them all.
Combining demographics with psychographics will result in more specific targeting. For example, 30-year-old males who make over $35,000 a year and are interested in playing mobile football games are more precise than just 30-year-old males.
Why Is Having a Target Audience Important?
If you are still wondering why you need to define your target audience, consider this. You have successfully created an excellent app and are all set to let the world know about it. With the help of marketers, you start off the campaign explaining how useful and unique the app is.
But most importantly, shouldn’t the audience that you market the app to need to be interested in using it?
That is why defining your target audience is a crucial step that must be taken as early as the ideation process of your app.
You can’t just create any app and demand people to like it. Instead, you need to work the other way around – create an app that a specific group of people will like and then market to grab their attention.
Also, hypothetically, consider you are planning to build a generic app and market it to the entire population on the planet. Not only will your marketers have a hard time doing it, but you will need a huge marketing budget, which will most probably be misemployed due to the lack of a specific target audience.
By having a well-defined and specific target audience laid down, you are offering a detailed “what and what not to do” guidebook to every stakeholder in the app development process, which they will find highly beneficial.
By knowing the target audience, designers will be able to understand their needs and technical limitations better. They can design the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of the app accordingly.
For example, if your app targets older users, they will appreciate a user interface that is simple to use and has straightforward menus, along with large icons and images as presbyopia is a common inconvenience of aging.
On the other hand, if you are targeting teens, they will positively respond to both minimalistic and intricate designs or the use of UI elements like the hamburger menu.
Similarly, other demographic attributes like education and income will have a profound effect on a user’s exposure to technology. While designing an app, such variables must be taken into consideration and defining your target audience makes it easier.
Just like basing the complexity of UI design on the target audience, developers need to understand the technical capabilities of the users to build and customise the app features. For old-timers, anything apart from straightforward menus and icons will be confusing.
Similarly, even after a detailed onboarding process, users may still need contextual assistance throughout the app usage. By defining the target audience earlier on, developers will be well aware of whether they have to include certain functionalities which the users will appreciate.
Marketers benefit hugely from having a well-defined audience. By knowing their audience, they can streamline their app marketing efforts to only those mediums in which the target audience are most active. It will also help them tweak their mobile app promotion strategies and create content specific to particular user personas.
For example, if you are releasing a productivity app targeting 30-year-old IT professionals, then running app install ads on LinkedIn will prove to be more fruitful in acquiring app users than running the same on Snapchat or TikTok.
Finding and defining the target audience and aligning the app development with it increases the chances of your app becoming a success as you are priming it to be socially relevant and desirable to a specific audience.
How to Find the Target Audience for Your Mobile App?
For many app creators, defining the target audience is an afterthought that gets attention only while formulating a marketing strategy. Not only is this practice wrong, but it can ruin the user experience of the app due to the reasons specified in the previous section.
To identify target audiences most effectively, here are the crucial steps you need to take.
1. Define Your App Genre
The primary reason why you need to define your app genre is that different types attract users from different ages and interest groups.
For example, teens are least likely to install a productivity app like Trello because at that age, they will be more interested in having fun than getting things organised. So if an app development company plans to develop a productivity app for teens, it makes no sense, and they will probably fail.
So, as a first step towards identifying your target audience, here’s a list of basic app types for you to determine your app category.
- Health and fitness
- Food and beverage
2. Ask Yourself These Questions
Answering questions related to your app and its features will help you easily understand the audience it is intended for. Also, by going through these questions, you may get reminded of your friends and family members who will benefit from using your app, and who will help you quickly craft the user personas.
- What problem does your app solve?
- What are the promising features of your app?
- Who would your app help?
- Who would be interested in using your app?
- How would people use your app?
- How does your target audience spend the day?
- What is their income and education status?
3. Identify Target Audience Demographics and Psychographics
Once you have answered the above questions, you will have a clear idea of who your target audience can be. Keeping that in mind, you need to identify their demographics and psychographics.
It is common knowledge that the interests and needs of your target audience will change according to their age and gender. Similarly, attributes like location, language, education, occupation and the device used are critical in building user personas.
For example, a 30-year-old mother, having an annual income of $35K-40K will probably be interested in using a paid AR app that lets her scan and read about the ingredients used in any baby food product.
Just like demographics, the psychographics of the target users is critical to be aware of, in order to tweak your app’s user experience. For that, you need to take into account their personality, lifestyle, values, habits and behaviour.
For example, people who like to keep track of their expenses will be keen to try an app for the same. Similarly, if your target audience has a fast-paced lifestyle, for example, entrepreneurs, they may appreciate an expense tracker that lets them use their voice to record expenses.
You need to also look at the technographic, which is the technical and software attributes of the audience’s devices. This will help you recognise whether you need to build an iOS or Android app, or both.
4. Identify Their Problems and Needs
One reason why apps fail is that the market doesn’t need them. An app that doesn’t solve a problem will struggle to stay relevant. While identifying your target audience, it is crucial that you get to know their problems and needs and inspect whether your app solves them.
Keep your audience above your app idea; identifying their issues can help you shape and perfect your app’s concept. For example, a 30-year-old mother will have a different set of problems compared to a 30-year-old single woman.
5. Define the Primary Motivation for Using Your App
Your potential users will have a specific reason for choosing your app. It may be the app monetization model (premium, freemium, subscription) or the discount coupons you offer (in a shopping app).
Whatever draws your target audiences’ attention must be included in your app. Also, at this stage, you can validate your app’s revenue model. For example, some people may be okay in viewing in-app ads in return for free content, whereas others will be keen to buy a premium version of your app for the ads-free experience.
Methods to Define an App’s Target Audience
Once you have narrowed down the set of target audiences, you need to validate that these groups represent your ideal app users and also create specific user personas. For that, you can utilise both online and offline methods as discussed below.
1. Conduct Surveys
Reach out to users of your already existing apps, and to people who fit within the target audience description and gather their opinions through surveys.
This will help you understand whether they really represent your target users, and more importantly, whether they will be interested in using your app. You can even make use of a focus group to validate your app’s concept and potential.
2. Competitor Analysis
Perform competitor analysis by review mining to understand the features of your competitors’ apps that the users love and hate the most.
Going through the one-star reviews of app stores will help you determine the features your potential users anticipate the most. Competitor analysis will also help you understand the type of users your app can attract.
3. Build an MVP
A minimum viable product (MVP) app is one that has just the basic, yet essential features and takes the least amount of time and resources to develop. App development companies primarily use an MVP to validate their app concept. It can even be used to define the target audience.
With the help of an MVP app, you can quickly pinpoint users who engage more with your app and test whether the target audience you evaluated is interested in using the app. If so, you can utilise the app analytics tools to determine the features the users interact with the most and enhance them in the later versions.
To know more about an MVP app, read our guide on MVP app development.
Target Audience Example
The above image shows the target audience profile for a travel app and gives an overview of the broad attributes of the people you are targeting, like the age group, location and education.
While a target audience is a group of people to whom your app is intended for, a user persona represents a semi-fictional representation of your ideal user. Creating a user persona will help you humanize the target audience, which will help you craft the user experience of your app and its marketing strategies more effectively.
Ideally, you can create 5 or more user persona profiles for a target audience. Here are two examples of user persona profiles from a single target audience.
In these two user persona profiles, you can see how different their demographics and psychographics are. But when looking at the big picture, both have one thing in common – their need and want to travel. Although their travel preferences are diverse, both of these personas can be ideal users of a travel app.
Finding your target audience must be a top priority and performed as early as in the ideation phase as it can help you refine your app idea and shape your app’s design, development and marketing efforts.
By understanding your audience, you will gain more insight into what your potential users need, which will, in turn, help you identify their pressing challenges. You can utilise these findings to determine the users’ pain points, which is again an opportunity to transform them into app features they will appreciate.
It can be difficult to predict the exact needs and preferences of users as they evolve. But, developing an app around a target group will undoubtedly give you an upper hand among your competitors who don’t.