6 Steps for a Successful Mobile App Launch
Whether you’re launching a new mobile app, undergoing a relaunch, or updating your app, a launch can either save or cost you a lot of time and money.
These 6 steps will help your team, whether large or small, maximize user retention, drive daily usage, and reduce abandonment rates after launch. Nonetheless, you should always be prepared to adjust accordingly and remain flexible as your plan is likely to change along the way.
Step One: Know Your Audience
The first step of your mobile app launch should be market research. Getting to know your audience before beginning with the following steps will save a lot of time and money rather than blindly launching your mobile app into the market. Knowing exactly what your audience wants will help you to better understand their pain points and what they dislike about the apps that are already in the market. It’s important to uncover the underlying reasons for your user’s pain by examining their behaviors and attitudes. If you start your mobile app launch without knowing your audience, you won’t be able to foresee any imminent threats. Investing in your market research will ensure that you have a steady foundation for the rest of your mobile app launch.
Ask the following questions:
- Who is your app built for?
- What is the problem your users need a solution for?
- How is your app delivering value to its users?
Once you have the answers to these fundamental questions, you can center your marketing plan around who your mobile app is built for. This will inform all decisions when launching and marketing your app.
Step Two: Define Your Positioning Statement
After all of your market research is complete, you need to turn it into a deliverable by first, knowing your mobile app’s strengths and weaknesses and sharing your message with your internal team and key stakeholders.
There are over 2.2 million apps in the App Store. If your app is going to be successful, you need to offer something unique and valuable so that users are enticed to download your app. After you have determined who it is that you’re targeting, you need to determine what makes your app better than your competitors. This is called a Unique Value Proposition which describes why your product is valuable to your customer and why they should buy-in. With so many mobile apps on the market, you need to let your audience know why yours, in particular, is the most valuable. Your message will be drowned out if you simply describe what your app does. Instead, focus on why it’s different than any other product on the market.
Further, you need to ensure that your internal team is on the same page with your messaging. Strong internal communications is an essential part of a mobile launch because if you aren’t able to communicate effectively to your internal team, you won’t be able to properly communicate your message to your external stakeholders and in turn, you won’t be able to the achieve the buy-in that you anticipated.
Step Three: Define Your Success Criteria
In order to know whether your mobile app launch is succeeding or not, you’ll need to set some goals. What does success look like for your team? Keep it simple. Set your goals around active install rates, number of reviews, and average rating score, for example.
Step Four: Prepare Launch Activities
You’ve done all of your market research and now it’s time to focus on the execution of the mobile app launch. For a launch to be successful, there should be an established marketing plan to ensure that every step is made and executed properly in a timely manner.
Promoting your content: Now is a good time to make a list of marketing activities which might include social media, early access for bloggers, advertising, website design, etc. Map out a timeline of events leading up to your mobile app launch, and set your launch date ahead of time.
Identify key influencers and reporters: It’s really important to identify industry influencers and reporters if you want your app to get attention. Identify the people who are talking about other apps and connect with them via social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Craft a persuasive pitch that will convince reporters and influencers to promote your app.
Create a press kit: To maximize your odds of getting press coverage, make it as easy as possible for bloggers and journalists to feature your app. Gather resources to give out so reporters have all the information they need to promote your app. Here are a few examples of what you can include in your press kit:
- Graphics & Creatives (Your app’s logo, icon, screenshots, and promo video)
- A description of your app
- Links to your website, social media accounts, etc.
- Contact information
Product curation sites: 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, so you want to be sure that you are ready with at least a minimum viable product when this kind of rating system is in place. Here is a collection of these kinds of sites that you should explore:
Choose a product curation site that properly fits your target market and mobile app.
Create your product page’s description: How will you craft your message to get potential users to download your app? In the App Store, users will only see the first five lines of your description at first glance, unless they click through to read more. This means you want to pique interest in the first few lines of the description.
Every successful app has one thing in common: they solve a problem for users. Make sure this is clear in the description of your product. Mention a few key features in the description and let the users discover the rest of the app after they’ve downloaded it.
Treat your app store description as 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. What are the keywords your users are entering in search to find the apps they want to download? Include the keyword(s) in the title and description of your app.
After you’ve planned all of your launch activities, you need to assess what resources you’ll need such as demo decks, product screenshots, design materials, and other design resources. Your audience will gather information from different sources, which means that you need to tailor your message to optimize the efficiency of each outlet. Planning your marketing strategy ahead of time and being proactive is just as important as getting the product ready.
Step Five: Launch Your Mobile App!
Now it’s time to finally submit your app to the app store(s). At this step, you should be aware of the submission guidelines and are able to get your app approved.
According to a survey by Quettra, 77% of daily mobile users stop using an app after just three days. If you want your app to have a high download and user retention rate, it needs to make a good first impression within the first few days prior to the launch. 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.
Alert your email list of your app’s launch: Once you’ve submitted your app, you should be spreading the word to a press list, influencers, and communities to let them know about your app’s release, encouraging them to test it out.
Spread the word: Promote your app on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
Step Six: Post Launch Follow-Up
Measure: After your mobile app launch, you need to consider how you’ll measure the success of the launch 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 mobile app launch goals. Some reasons why users abandon an app are the lack of interest, change in user needs, and simply the lack of usefulness. You need to be aware of the change in market demands and adapt to the shifts in user expectations. We’ve written in length about mobile app metrics you should be tracking to boost performance.
Listen to your users: Apps are iterative, whether they are minimum viable products or mature, polished, and fully functional. Ensuring that you update the app experience and add new features and personalized content regularly will help keep users interested and engaged. 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, which can be used to inform product roadmapping and ensure the updates you make are compelling and valuable to your users. When updating your app based on user feedback you need to consider if this feature meets your business objectives while adding value for your users. Be selective. You can’t address everyone’s needs.
Incentivize continued usage: If you want to drive engagement and retention, giving users incentive to use your app can go a long way. Mobile-specific rewards, specialized content access, coupons, special promotions, and other offers will help drive conversions and encourage engagement.
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.
Re-engage your users with marketing communications: Push is an effective tool to encourage re-engagement, however, people don’t want to be overwhelmed with spam so choose wisely and make sure the messaging is valuable to the user. Push notifications will engage, encourage activity, and even re-engage inactive users.
Keep ratings high: 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 or not, one of the first things they look at is the app’s ratings. A safe spot is 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 the mobile app launch 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.