The end goal of mobile app development is to launch or re-launch a mobile product that not only drives downloads but also maintains high user engagement and retention rates. Unfortunately, attracting attention from potential users and standing out in the app market has become increasingly difficult. This is largely due to a saturated market that has become extremely competitive. Now, leveraging a comprehensive mobile app launch strategy is essential for businesses looking to gain a competitive edge and success in the mobile app marketplace.
A mobile app launch strategy has a significant impact on acquiring and retaining users; it is a marketing effort that requires extensive research and ongoing work to see results. To improve your chances of success, we’ve put together a list of six steps to follow at each stage of the launch process. Following these guidelines will help you develop a strategy to maximize user retention, drive daily usage, and reduce abandonment rates after launch. However, you’ll still need to prepare to adjust accordingly and remain flexible; your plan is likely to change along the way.
The first step in preparing your mobile app launch strategy is to conduct market research. Begin by developing a thorough understanding of your audience. An awareness of demographics and pain points, for example, will save time and money later. Knowing exactly what your audience wants will help you to better understand how your product addresses their pain points and fits into their daily life. Furthermore, this research can provide insight into what they dislike about the apps that are currently available in the market. This, subsequently, gives you the opportunity to ensure your product doesn’t follow suit. It’s important to uncover the underlying reasons for your user’s frustrations by examining their behaviors and attitudes.
Of course, market research isn’t only necessary for developing an app that addresses a specific need. It’s also a requisite for creating the messaging that will attract users to the product. That means a successful mobile app launch strategy needs to be firmly rooted in user research. Every aspect of the product’s branding – from its app store listing and website messaging, to its social media presence, content marketing initiatives, press kit collateral, and visual representation – must align with its target users.
Additionally, there can be multiple groups of users for an app. Consequently, you’ll have to identify the product’s central demographics and create user personas early in the planning and discovery stage of the project. A user persona is a semi-fictional representation of the product’s ideal user. The more detailed your user personas are, the better. Demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals are just a few aspects to include in a user persona.
A user persona is one of the most valuable tools in the user experience (UX) design field. A central benefit to user personas is that each fictional identity keeps the team focused on a validated product outcome, prioritizing how the user will perceive that outcome. User personas also combat scope creep and reduce self-referential design decisions.
Detailed user personas will supply answers to several key questions. This will guide your launch efforts and set the foundation for your entire mobile app launch strategy.
Furthermore, a user persona should:
Put simply, if you don’t have an understanding of who your audience is, your launch strategy won’t target users properly. Therefore, investing in market research will ensure that you have a steady foundation for the rest of your mobile app launch.
After your market research is complete, you need to turn your findings into deliverables. This is done by knowing your product’s strengths and weaknesses and sharing your message with your team and key stakeholders.
With almost five million apps in the Apple and Google stores, you need to offer something unique and valuable that will attract potential users to download your app. After you’ve defined your target user, it’s time to determine what differentiates your app from competitors. This is called a Unique Value Proposition, and describes why your product is valuable and why your customers should buy-in. Remember, your message will be drowned out if you simply describe what your app does. Instead, focus on why it’s different from any other product on the market.
Additionally, it’s imperative for you to ensure that your internal team fully understands the intent behind your product. Strong internal communication is an essential part of a mobile app launch. That’s because if you can’t communicate effectively to your internal team, you won’t be able to properly communicate your message to your external stakeholders. What’s more, you won’t be able to achieve the anticipated buy-ins.
To show stakeholders key information on your success or failure, you need to first set goals and define how they will be measured. Your success criteria outlines the benchmarks that your app will be compared against to judge if your launch is successful. Set your goals around, for example, active install rates, number of reviews, and average rating score. In order to achieve project success, you have to define what success looks like for your project.
You’ve done all of your market research and now it’s time to focus on the execution of your mobile app launch. For a launch to be successful, there should be an established marketing plan in place. This ensures that every step is made and executed properly and in a timely manner.
This is a good time to make a list of marketing campaigns. Some examples of what you might include are social media advertising, early access for bloggers, traditional advertising, and website design. Map out a timeline leading up to your mobile app launch and set your launch date ahead of time.
It’s essential to identify industry influencers who are actively engaging in conversations related to your industry or are talking about other apps related to your industry and target users. Network and connect with these individuals, either through networking events or by connecting with them via social networks. Craft a persuasive pitch that will convince influencers to promote your app. Remember to point out how your app addresses a specific pain point and adds value in areas others don’t.
To maximize your odds of getting press coverage, make it as easy for bloggers and influencers to feature your app. Compile your assets in an online directory so they have easy access to the information needed to promote your app. Here are a few examples of what you can include in your press kit:
There are a number of sites that curate new products and startups that can help you create some hype. Many, such as Product Hunt, have an upvote/downvote or review section. Be sure to choose a product curation site that properly fits your target market and mobile app.
Here’s a list of similar sites worth exploring:
Recommended Reading – How to Perform A/B Testing on Your App Store Listing
Put careful consideration into how you’ll craft your product description to convince potential users to download your app. In the App Store, for example, users only get a preview of the first five lines of your description. They must click through to read more. This means you want to pique interest in the first few lines of the description.
Treat your app store description like advertising copy. Get your users excited about downloading and using the app. Always follow ASO best practices to help your app rank higher in the app store. The higher your app ranks, the more visible it is to potential users. This also increases the chances of app store editors noticing your app, boosting the likelihood of your app getting featured in whichever store you submit too. This in itself is a great way to organically boost your app marketing and promotion efforts.
Strategically place keywords (words that are frequently used by your target audience when searching) throughout your listing and description so you show up when users search for those words.
Remember, every successful app has one thing in common: they solve a problem for users. For that reason, you’ll need to make sure this is clear in the description of your product. Mention a few key features in the description as well. Then let users discover the rest of the app after they’ve downloaded it.
After you’ve planned all of your launch campaigns, assess what resources you’ll need. This may include demo decks, product screenshots, design materials, and other design resources. Your audience will gather information from different sources, which means you’ll need to tailor your messaging to optimize the efficiency of each outlet. Thus, planning your marketing strategy ahead of time and being proactive is just as important as getting the product ready.
Now it’s time to finally submit your app to the app store(s). You should be aware of the submission guidelines your app needs to meet before submitting to either app store. Apple’s guidelines can be found here and Android’s guidelines can be found here.
Once you’ve submitted your app, it’s time to spread the word. Get the news to your press list, influencers, and social communities. Encourage them to test it out.
Promote your app on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
According to a report from AppsFlyer, about half of all apps are uninstalled within thirty days. While driving downloads and acquiring users is important, retaining those users is even more critical for long term success. Therefore, it’s imperative your app makes a good first impression within the first few days, showing immediate value and providing a good user experience. This is a critical time to focus on highlighting the value of the app in order to optimize the onboarding process. If you don’t impress your new users quickly, you’ll likely lose their interest altogether.
After your mobile app launch, you need to consider how you’ll measure its success by assessing what went well and what needs to be improved. Your follow-up should include customer satisfaction, engagement, and retention rates. Customer reviews and feedback will help you gauge whether or not you met your previously defined success criteria. Some reasons why users abandon an app include the lack of interest, change in user needs, and poor user experience. You need to be aware of the change in market demands and adapt to the shifts in user expectations.
Apps are iterative, whether they are MVPs or mature, polished, and fully functional. Keep users interested and engaged by continuously updating the app experience and adding new features and personalized content regularly. By using analytics, tracking user behavior, and listening to user feedback, you can determine what your users want and what features of the app are driving usage. This information can then guide product road mapping and ensure all updates are valuable to your users. When updating your app based on user feedback, keep in mind that while adding value for your users, each feature must still meet your business objectives
There are multiple methods you can use to boost user engagement and retention. One highly effective method is to give users an incentive to use your app. These can be anything from mobile-specific rewards, specialized content access, coupons, special promotions, and other offers. Each of these will give users a reason to choose your app over another. This drives conversions and encourages engagement.
Of course, the ways you can incentivize users will depend on the nature of the app. For example, apps that use in-app purchasing as a monetization model will benefit from time-sensitive discounts, whereas freemium apps can incentivize users by providing usage-based rewards.
Push notifications are an effective way to encourage re-engagement for users who have dropped out of the conversion funnel. That said, users don’t want to be bothered with irrelevant messaging; be thoughtful and strategic in how you reach out to users. Make sure the messaging is valuable. In fact, while Appsflyer reports the average 30-day mobile app retention rate is between 15 and 20%, Apptentive’s data shows that when a strategy of proactive user engagement is utilized, that average 30-day retention rate improves to 67%. That’s an increase of more than three times the average!
The rationale behind using ratings and reviews as a ranking factor is that they are reflective of user experience. When people are deciding to download an app, one of the first things they look at is the app’s ratings. For that reason, it’s best to maintain a 4.5 rating or higher. A good user experience and a useful app will often amount to high ratings and positive reviews.
Developers should encourage their users to submit reviews, be diligent in managing and seeking to resolve negative reviews, and should keep communication channels open to field user feedback.
A mobile app launch isn’t a one-time event. There will always be room for improvement which makes launching an app a cyclical process that requires reassessment as market demands change. Recently launched mobile apps should be updated and relaunched regularly to keep users engaged through new updates and features. In fact, mobile app launch activities should run long before the product’s release date. For the best results, a mobile app launch strategy should create multiple touch points for potential users to explore before the product is available for download. Building awareness prior to launch gives users an idea about the purpose and benefits of the app. That way, when they arrive at the app store listing, your product makes a compelling first impression.