According to a recent InMobi survey, the biggest challenge for app developers today isn’t design or development but marketing.
Nearly half of the survey respondents said they have trouble raising awareness for the app — it’s not surprising, given that millions of App Launches happen every year, and only 1% will skyrocket.
I’ve categorized these steps as Pre-launch, Launch, and Post-launch, but you can adapt the list to meet your specific needs.
How can you ensure your app launch to go smoothly?
There are a few stages you should follow but bear in mind that you should be flexible with the deadlines.
1. Identify target audience and Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
The first step is a market research – getting to know your users before the launch will save you time and money. It will help you to better understand users’ pain points and what they dislike about the apps that are already in the market. It’s highly important to discover reasons for the users’ pain points by examining their behaviour.
If you launch the app with all the collected info, you will have a steady process and will be able to anticipate any possible pitfalls.
So, think about few questions to answer to get the clearer picture of your next step within the process:
- Who is your app built for?
- What is the problem your app will resolve for the users?
- How is your app delivering value to the users?
- Why is your app better than your competitor’s in delivering that value?
Once you compile the details, you can focus on your marketing plan and don’t forget that for a consistent brand image, all your marketing activities should communicate and reinforce this message.
2. Create a landing page, promo video and engage on social media popular to your target audience
After the market research, it’s time for your app to be tested. It’s always a good idea to create a buzz around your App and let people become fans and wait for its launch.
You should register a domain and set up a landing page with the basic info like app’s name, short description and a form for the visitors to sign up for email alerts on your app’s progress. Once your landing page is set up and working, you should start with collecting leads, offering a preview of your app to the press and early adopters. Don’t forget about integrating with analytics or A/B testing tools so to check insights on your messaging strategy. (Google Analytics, Optimizely, Instapage etc.).
Next, the best step is to increase your web presence – you should identify the social networks popular with your target audience, register the account and start posting content related to your upcoming launch of the app. Share your idea on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., ask for likes, tweets and sign ups. Mingle a bit!
3. Identify influencers and existing communities popular to your target audience
You should mingle a bit through message boards and blogs to find an appropriate existing online community in your line of work – invest some time online to discover these communities and join their conversations since participating in these groups may be a great benefit as a direct feedback tool.
You should also track top influencers whose content is being shared in those groups – create a list of all influencers in your work niche who might be interested in writing about your app.
4. Prepare Launch Activities
After you’ve done all your market research, focus on the realization of the launch.
Here are a few tips for that:
- Content marketing – great content can help you to succeed in your launch since a good quality content collect the much-needed attention. It also shows your potential users how useful your app is and allows them to understand better how to use it. You can embody your content with blog posts, infographics, videos, articles and press releases to boost your brand image.
- Create a press kit – Make sure that the users can access information about your app easily and not to go back and forth through the web. Compile all your assets into one online press kit which should contain the following: your app’s logo, icon, screenshots, promo video, your boilerplate description of an app, your links to social media accounts, recent press releases and other relevant information. Once you do that, your influencers can quickly go through your press kit and find the details they need in one place if they will write about it.
- Product curation sites – You should check some websites that curate new products since they can help you to create some hype about your app. Make sure that you are ready with you Minimum Viable Product since the rating on these websites have an upvote/downvote or review section. Some of these websites are: Product Hunt (best to launch around 7 PST), Beta List, Hacker News, Crunchbase etc. so choose the appropriate product curation site for your mobile app.
- Create your product page – the users can see only the first few lines of your app description in the App Store, so you need to ignite their interest in those five lines – your app store description should be like advertising copy. Get your users excited about downloading and using your app. Keep in mind that every successful app solves the problem for users, so ensure this is clear in the description. Additionally, it’s great to try to follow ASO best practices to help your app rank higher in the app store with including keyword(s) in the title and description of your app.
5. Beta launch
Once you’ve created a list of beta testers, you should have some tools to help you work with the early adopters and improve your app. Remember, feedback is the key!
You can use UserVoice so that testers can send feedback directly to you – how they like the app and what features they would add. You can also use Crashlytics to help you identify where exactly your app breaks and eliminate those bugs.
Although analytics aren’t so helpful at this early stage, they are extremely useful to determine who comes back and uses your app and to proactively reach out to those that don’t and find out why.
After you’ve done the work with beta testers, built up the initial user base and built a great app – here’s an idea to add to pre-launch stage to ensure the best initial launch as possible.
A lot of large apps used text-to-download forms on their website as the fastest way to get your user from the desktop to the app store on their device. LinkTexting offers this as an easy-to-use service and it takes less than 30 seconds to implement.
The app stores always show the highly rated apps first so make sure to ask your users to review your app – instead of intrusive popup messages, you should do this after the user performs the core action in your app – only then you ask if they’re enjoying the app or not in a screen that flows directly with your app’s UI/UX. For example, if they’re not enjoying, ask for a feedback via UserVoice or if they are, just ask them to rate it.
Make this process as smooth as possible to get the best user/app feedback and ratings.
The day is finally here!
Now it’s time to submit your app to the app store(s). At this step, you should be aware of the submission guidelines to get your app approved.
If you want your app to have a high download and user retention rate, it needs to leave a good first impression within the first few days prior to launch. If you fail to do this, you’ll likely lose users’ interest soon.
Once you’ve submitted your app, you should spread the word loud and proud to a press list, influencers and communities to inform them about your app’s release. Send an email to everyone on your list encouraging them to test the app and thank them for their loyalty. You should also promote your app on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
With such hectic times when launching your app, it is difficult to keep track of the big picture. You should create a system for regularly recording your previously identified KPIs. This dashboard will present all your metrics in one place and help you stay goal-oriented. You can also make your own mobile app KPI calculator which can be adapted to include the most important metrics for your app’s success.
Additionally, if you have some good contacts at TechCrunch/The Next Web/Verge, you should check with them about getting an article.
POST LAUNCH STAGE
When you launched your app, your work isn’t done – you should continue doing couple more things in order to secure your app’s success.
- Measure – After the launch, you need to assess how the process went and what needs to be improved. Your assessment should include customer satisfaction, engagement and retention rates. Reasons like why users abandon the app or their lack of interest can help you to adapt to the shifts in user expectations.
- Listen – Make sure that you update the app experience and add new features and personalized content regularly as this will keep your users engaged. Use analytics, track user behaviour and listen to the user feedback so to determine what your users want and to ensure compelling updates that drive usage. However, bear in mind when updating your app if these features meet your business goals as you cannot meet everyone’s needs.
- Stimulate continued usage – If you want to drive engagement and retention, you should stimulate users to use your app so to ensure the long run. That can be in a form of mobile-specific rewards, special promotions, coupons or specialized content access. The way how you stimulate your users will depend on the nature of your app.
- Re-engage users with marketing communication – You should be careful with this as people don’t like to get ‘over spammed’ so choose wisely. Push notifications can engage, encourage activity and re-engage inactive users when done appropriately.
- Keep ratings high – Ratings are the reflection of user experience so you should keep those numbers at 4.5 rating or higher. A good user experience and a useful app will often end up with high ratings and positive reviews. Developers should be careful in managing and resolving negative reviews and should keep communication channels open to user feedback.
A mobile app launch isn’t a one-time event.
It’s a cyclic process requiring re assessment since the market needs change. Since there’s always room for improvement, make sure to do it on a regular basis so to keep your users engaged and interested through new updates and functionalities.