Eleven years after Apple’s famous iPhone advert declared “There’s an app for that” – suggesting that users can find niche apps for every possible need – this is closer to the truth than ever before. As mobile apps such as Facebook, SnapChat and Tiktok continually rank as the most downloaded apps, it has become more important for developers to find their niche and communicate it with their audience. In this guide you will learn everything you need to know about mobile app niche marketing, from the early stages of competitor research to optimizing your marketing performance.
Examples of top niche social networks
One of the best ways to learn how to market your niche app is to learn from other companies’ successes. Here are four examples of top niche social networks that have built a large, unique audience.
Letterboxd is an entertainment-focused platform for film enthusiasts. Users can log and review films they have watched, create wishlists, and view their friends’ activity. This enables users to share their love of film and television with a like-minded audience by creating and consuming content. Letterboxd has benefited from an easy-to-use and visually pleasing website and app experience. The app and website prioritize social features such as showing what friends have recently watched, latest news and trending reviews. Letterboxd has over 700,000 monthly active users across its iOS, Android and Apple TV apps.
Behance is an Adobe-owned online platform for creative professionals to share their work with an online portfolio. Users can create and share projects and browse works by other artists. The app has a “For You” section to discover artists based on a user’s preferences. Users can also create moodboards for their projects and connect with other artists. Behance has over 12 million users and creative projects have been viewed over 4 billion times.
Meetup is an events app where users can find like-minded individuals who want to connect and engage in specific activities. This can be anything from finding a sports group to joining an online writer’s club. Users can create groups on the platform and arrange a meeting. MeetUp serves 49 million members and has more than 230,000 organizers – creating an average of 15,000 in-person events per day. Last year, WeWork sold the niche social network to AlleyCorp and other investors for an undisclosed sum.
Houzz is a niche mobile app for users that want to design and redecorate their homes. The app offers a discovery section where users can find new ideas for interior decorating, access professionals in their area, and the ability to save images for online moodboards. Houzz also uses augmented reality to enable users to see how purchases will look in their homes. This ranges from placing a sofa in a user’s living room to reimaging the floor tiles of their kitchen.
Houzz has over 40 million monthly active users and is reported to be valued at $4 billion. When speaking about the home improvement app’s success, Adi Tatarko, Co-founder and Chief Executive at Houzz explained the importance of hiring employees who believed in the niche app’s primary goals: "50% of our time was spent looking for [the right candidate]. We knew that getting the right people with the same vision as us was key."
These top niche social networks are great examples of how developers can target an audience that already have the most popular social networks installed on their device. Each app has a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that makes them valuable to the user. With this in mind, here’s how you can identify and leverage your app’s niche and build a successful social network.
Creating a niche social network app: Where to begin
Knowing your niche is a critical component to your social network’s success. Users must benefit from your unique offering and unrivaled understanding of your topic, enabling them to get something from your app that they can’t get with social media giants. This all begins with comprehensive market research to identify how to acquire and satisfy your audience further down the line. When performing market research, these are the four components you need to consider:
1. Target audience
When developing a niche social network app, you must identify the target audience and their specific needs — ultimately informing which features are most important to your app and allowing you to map your user journeys for monetization. An integral step in targeting the right audience is to develop user personas and then create an optimized experience for each group. For example, home improvement app Houzz must cater to casual users who want to browse home decoration ideas as well as provide a satisfying user experience for professional decorators using Houzz to connect with clients. Delivering a personalized experience for each user persona will ultimately help you monetize your app while providing the best user experience.
Competitor research requires you to identify the ways your competitors are performing well and what they are lacking. This will inform how you can penetrate the market by overcoming your competitor’s pain points while also giving you key insights into how to market your niche app. On the development side, you should also consider whether your competitor’s user journey is streamlined and optimized to reach their goals – such as monetization or audience growth – and how you can do better.
Your team should also take the time to observe which marketing channels are being used by competitors. For example, does your competitor have a following on other social networks that they are using to convert to the platform? Take notice of these kinds of details and reimagine them for your own gain.
Understanding your unique selling proposition (USP) is pivotal to the success of your niche app and a positive user experience. This will help you clarify why users need your app for specific functions, rather than using popular social networks they already have installed. Moreover, your USP is what sets you apart from your competitors and will enable you to become a market leader within your niche.
In addition to identifying your app’s USPs, you also need to consider whether these selling points can be easily communicated. This is an important part of your marketing strategy, as potential users must be able to easily distinguish a compelling reason to download your app even though they have several social networks installed on their device already.
4. App launch
Your market research should also identify the best way to launch your app. For example, you may want to consider a soft launch to test how your app will perform in larger markets with similar user behavior. For example, you could launch your app in New Zealand and optimize your app’s performance before releasing your app in the U.S. Where and how you choose to launch your app will depend on the nature of your app and the niche features that shape its appeal.
When launching your app, A/B testing is critical to success. Marketers can’t afford to launch an app, only for bugs to increase churn rates after the first session. Beta testing and A/B testing are essential methods of fine-tuning your app and ensuring that your niche audience benefit from your app from the very first in-app experience. This is especially important for niche social networks that rely on positive word-of-mouth and social shares to build a devoted community over time.
Monetization models for niche social network apps
Your market research and user personas will inform the best ways to monetize your app but there are a few general tips and ideas to consider. The need to grow an audience means the majority of social networking apps will be free to install with monetization models built into the platform. Free apps make up 90% of apps available in the App Store and 95% in the Google Play Store, making it easier to compete if your app doesn’t cost money. However, certain niche social networks may also benefit from exclusivity. Whichever monetization model you implement, remember that the user experience is critical to success and should be prioritized at every stage.
Subscription services are a smart way to give users access to your platform while also monetizing users that want a superior service. For example, you can offer a free version of your platform with ads, with an option to upgrade for an ad-free experience. Mobile apps can also put frequency caps on certain features that are lifted for premium accounts. Spotify is a prime example of how to utilize frequency caps. The music streaming platform allows users to play music for free, with ads playing after a certain number of skips. They can then access an ad-free experience by subscribing to Spotify Premium. This includes package options for families and couples.
Another option is to offer users in-app purchases. While this may not be relevant to all niche social network apps, some platforms have introduced in-app purchases with great effect. For example, Reddit gave users the option to buy trophies and ocins that they can gift to other users. Dating apps can also include in-app purchases to increase opportunities to match: On Tinder, Super Likes are available for purchase in a variety of packages.
Sponsorships and influencer marketing can also help you monetize your app. Your market research is a valuable resource that can help you identify the influencers that match your brand’s messaging and target audience. You can find out more with our guide to social media influencer marketing for fashion apps, lifestyle apps and mobile games.
Performance tracking and KPIs
Tracking the right events and monitoring the performance of your KPIs is critical to the success of all apps. For niche social network apps, this will also help you learn more about the needs of your audience and build a stronger community. Core KPIs include Active Users (DAU, WAU, MAU), Cost per Acquisition (CPA), Cost per Install (CPI), Click-Through Rate (CTR), conversion rate, retention rate, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), uninstalls, Lifetime Value (LTV) and churn. Our Back to Basics guide is a great resource outlining KPIs and how they are useful for your analytics.
As the industry leader in mobile measurement and fraud prevention, this is where Adjust can help. We protect marketers from advertising fraud and enable them to make data-driven decisions that optimize performance. For more insight, take a look at our features and request a demo today.