Where Dreamer meets Doer (Building my first App)

The start of building my first mobile app is now officially underway. Or at least the gears are in motion: at the time of writing this, I have 5 freelance programmers on Elance bidding for my project. This is the stage where dreamer meets doer.

Today I want to write a bit about the test results that gave me enough confidence to go ahead and start the development process.

It’s vitally important to me to also give you the behind-the-scenes of exactly what I did to test the market for this app idea, which ultimately led to these results. That blog post should be epic, so look out for it in the near future.

Test Results for this App Idea

For the time-being, I want to tell you about what’s happening right now – so you can see how the process unfolds. What did I see in my testing that led me to the conclusion that this idea is worth investing further time and money to actually develop and bring to market?

Firstly, I created a basic webpage on Weebly explaining what my app does, and detailed the features and benefits. This app is relatively simple, which made it particularly easy to explain to the potential customer. It’s important to frame the app/business/website/service as a real product, existing and already available for purchase. You’re not actually selling anything yet (e.g. taking payments), it’s simply “dry testing”, to put the concept out there and see if there is interest by having people click through to express interest.

In an effort to drive traffic to the webpage, I initially tested for 4 days using Google AdWords to capture the broadest audience, followed by 3 days using Facebook Ads to drill down to more specific audiences based on their interests.

More and more I’m noticing that I’m putting less weight into the specific data results from either AdWords or Facebook Ads, as I tend to focus on the bigger picture captured by Google Analytics – which tends to provide a better high-level summary of all activity.

Often I find that the data from Google AdWords provides an excellent test of what keywords and ad messaging is most effective. I would then use the top converting ads in Facebook Ads (this time with images) to further narrow down the most effective ad text and image combination(s). But the website views and related data never seems to rationalize exactly with the results shown on Google Analytics.

In an effort not to get overwhelmed with all of the data available (which would easily cause analysis paralysis), I simply use AdWords and Facebook Ads to drive traffic to a website, and use their data as a litmus test on keywords and ad messaging.

I use the Google Analytics data to assess the overall effectiveness of my website in converting visitors to potential customers.

So, what did the numbers on Google Analytics tell me?

Of the 103 sessions on my website, 94 were from unique visitors (91.3% new visitors vs. 8.7% returning visitors). For testing, getting around 100 unique people visiting your website is ideal because it’s a decent sample size, while also keeping your budget low.

From these sessions, there were 254 total page views, which equates to about 2.47 pages per session. Not particularly important to me, but interesting to note that people were somewhat engaged in the website.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the average session duration on the site was 19 seconds, with a 0.0% “bounce rate” (% of people that reach your website and immediately leave because it’s not what they wanted/expected, etc.).

Even though 19 seconds does not sound like much, these numbers are huge to me. That’s actually a really good amount of time for someone to visit a landing page for a single product (that technically doesn’t even exist yet). This means they liked what they saw and stuck around to learn a little more about it. A low bounce rate indicates a pretty effective advertising campaign. So with zero visitors leaving immediately after reaching the site, this more or less means the ads delivered an effective message (and did so efficiently, without a costing a ton of money on wasted clicks).

So far, all signs are positive. But how do you know if visitors are just window shopping or if they actually want to buy your [potential] product? The answer is surprisingly simple – you track the number of visitors who click through from a “Buy Now” button to a [test] sales page (wherein the sales page reveals that “It’s almost here!” or “We’re currently out-of-stock” or something to that effect).

How many visitors to my website actually committed to “buying” my app idea? Six to be exact. That’s a 5.83% conversion rate (based on the 103 total sessions, which includes repeat visitors. It’s higher if based solely on unique visitors). Sound small? It’s not; the average conversion rate for most e-commerce industries is 1-3%. We achieved approximately double the average conversion rate from people who want to buy this product, and it’s only an IDEA at this point. That’s powerful.

But here’s where it got really interesting to me:

Even after finding out that this product doesn’t actually exist yet, 3 people still sent me their email address to confirm their pre-sale. They didn’t turn away and run in the other direction, they didn’t feel their trust was abused through dry-testing, they got in line and said “Sign me up! Let me know when it’s ready”.

That’s major. People essentially gave me their email addresses, saying “You’re [idea] sounds great – let me know as soon as it’s available!”

That’s not just a massive motivator, it’s a serious kick in the pants to say “Look buddy, you’ve got people waiting for what’s inside your head – you’ve gotta produce now.” Time put up or shut up.

Now just because a few people are interested enough to share their email address, obviously does not equate to a massive potential success – it’s just that: potential. In addition to all of the data tracked during the testing period, these “pre-sales” are simply a strong signal to indicate that you’re heading in the right direction and that, chances are, others will be interested too (where there’s smoke, there’s fire).

What is the app and the website I created to pitch the idea? Well, stay tuned to find out… Sorry, I don’t want to publish that here on this blog just yet, as any click-throughs would skew the data, plus it’s not fully built yet. Testing for this idea is done – now it’s time to implement. Once it’s in the App Store, then I’ll share that information freely.

So here goes nothing! I look forward to posting the Elance job description I prepared to this blog for those that may be interested, as well as letting you know about my process for selecting a freelancer from Elance. Elance is an online community of over 4 million freelancers based across the globe. This is one of my most recommended sites for outsourcing work that is beyond your ability, jobs big and small, because the platform is easy, trusted and very transparent.

Closing Thoughts:

You’ll notice this blog, in its rawest form, is exactly what a blog was originally designed to be – an online journal.

My goal is to share what I’m doing, testing or building in real-time. This should help with fleshing out ideas, keeping track of next steps, adding a heavy dose of accountability, and most importantly, sharing the experiences through lessons-learned. This element is key to what Testing the Muse expects to be – a primary resource for anyone who seeks to learn and understand how everyday people (e.g. me) are bringing their business or product ideas to life.

With the journaling comes challenges, like still wanting (and needing) to provide context and more How-To information, not simply updates on what’s happening now. It’s a slow build. So in the meantime, please forgive the constant references to future posts that I want to write.

My next to-do:

  • Get working on some epic pillar posts for this blog; stuff you’ll want to print and refer to for years to come.
  • Select a freelancer from Elance to begin bringing my app to life. Report on that process here on the blog.
  • Continue working on the design of the site, with a focus on producing an About page, for both me and the purpose and mission of Testing the Muse.

Action you can take:

  • Sign-up with your email to ensure you receive updates on this blog as soon as new content is published.
  • Head over to Elance and see what others can do for you & your ideas!
  • Let me know what you’re working on right now in the comment section below.

Yours truly,

Jonah

2 thoughts on “Where Dreamer meets Doer (Building my first App)

  1. Useful stuff Jonah, thanks! I’m really interested in the google analytics stuff especially. Looking forward to seeing more of what you’re up to. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thanks for the feedback Danny! I always love comments, especially when they give suggestions on future posts. Stay tuned for more on those topics!

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