Senior Marketing Manager
SUCCESS IN THE APP MARKET
Whether you’re the founder of a startup or part of a large enterprise, a great app idea will only take you so far. The reality is that most apps fail:
- <1% of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers through 2018 (Source: Gartner)
- 19% of mobile apps don’t generate any revenue whatsoever
- More than half of mobile apps are below the “app poverty line,” generating less than $500/month (Source: VisionMobile)
- Even apps that aren’t meant to be a main source of revenue generation often fall short of their goals, particularly from a user adoption standpoint
Why do so many apps fail?
- Lack of product definition & direction
- Weak marketing & user acquisition plans
- Poor business & monetization strategies
- Improper product release strategy
This post will discuss the fundamentals of a go-to-market strategy for your mobile app, so you can set yourself up for success in the competitive app ecosystem.
How can you avoid the common pitfalls that cause apps to fail and build a killer go-to-market-strategy?
- Product definition: Define your product, users, market viability
- Monetization & business strategy: What works for the type of product your are releasing and aligns with your goals and objectives?
- Marketing and user acquisition: How will you generate interest and drive downloads?
- Launch strategy: What is the best fit for your product & market?
PRODUCT DISCOVERY & DEFINITION
Product discovery doesn’t guarantee app success, but it does set the basis for the product to be impactful. It tackles essential questions including the why, the what, the how, and the when:
Is there an opportunity in the market? Are you addressing a pain point for a set of potential users? If there is no need or desire, there is no market opportunity.
What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
Why are you building the product? What is the purpose/goal of your app? What problems are you trying to fix? What is the value you are adding? What are your short and long term goals?
Who is the Product For?
Who are you building the product for? Products are built for users; therefore, product direction should be driven by understanding their needs and motivations.
Are You Adding Value?
Who are your competitors? What have they done right? What are their weaknesses? How will your solution add value beyond what is available in the market?
DEFINING A BUSINESS & MONETIZATION PLAN
The approach to monetization/business strategy varies on the type of app and whether it is meant to be a main source of revenue generation, or meant to support or facilitate another service or product. The most common models include:
Works best when:
- You don’t plan to monetize directly from users
- In-app purchases would interrupt user experience or don’t fit organically within the app
- The nature of your app results in frequent visits, long sessions
- You collect demographic and behavioral data
Works best when:
- You have a strong marketing & PR presence
- The app offers added value over free, similar options
- Value is commensurate with price
- You want to tie revenue directly to downloads
Works best when:
- You have a retail, gaming, or services app
- Can profit despite app store fees
- In-app purchases add real value to users
- User experience is good enough to encourage repeat use even without purchases
Works best when:
- You want mixed revenue from ads and users
- Premium features add notable value to users
- Free version is enticing enough to attract users and encourage purchase of extra features
- Large user base/long app sessions
Works best when:
- Your app is content driven (news, music, video, etc.)
- The nature of the app encourages frequent, repeat use
If the product is meant to support another product or facilitate a service rather than generate revenue, your approach will be vastly different. In this type of situation, you are going to focus on aligning your app with business objectives rather than monetization of the app itself. Namely, how does the application fit within your larger business plan or organizational objectives? The purpose is not to directly generate revenue, but rather to support key revenue generation activities.
MARKETING & USER ACQUISITION
Much like your monetization/business plan, your user acquisition strategy is going to differ based on the nature of your application, your target market, and many other factors. Some of the areas you need to consider when creating a marketing and user acquisition strategy include:
- Early outreach (press and outreach lists, partnerships, etc.)
- Teasers and early access offers (closed beta lists, early sign-up pages)
- Press kits and collateral
- Product sites (Product Hunt, Beta List, CrunchBase, etc.)
- App store optimization and discovery
Once you have all the pieces in place, you will need to focus on going to market in a way that will best set up your product for success. This means making decisions about launching with a MVP or more mature product, and choosing a hard or soft launch strategy.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Launching a MVP with a core set of features allows you to test and validate key concepts early so you can improve your product with each iteration, while also reducing time to launch and development costs.
The product discovery phase should include your prioritized product roadmap, which will allow you to determine what is needed for your MVP. What a MVP entails will differ from company to company based on business needs, industry, the nature of the solution, and what the competition is doing.
A soft launch is when you release your product to a restricted audience or market prior to launching it fully. Soft launches are often limited to a particular area or a small segment of ideal users and customers. Advantages include:
- Identify bugs & feature improvements early in a smaller market
- User feedback gained to apply to future iterations
- Marketing acceptance
- Better preparation for a hard launch
A hard launch is when you release your product fully to the market, with the corresponding marketing push to match. Hard launches are more expensive and typically used by larger companies with the necessary budgets or more mature products. Advantages include:
- Competitive advantage (harder to replicate ideas)
- More feature-rich, developed product
- Hard marketing push for more rapid user adoption
Preparing a go-to-market app strategy may not guarantee that your app will be successful, but it does significantly increase the chances. At the very least, it helps you to avoid common pitfalls that result in apps failing. Finally, thinking about the right launch strategy and how to execute it will ensure that you are using the best method based on the nature of your product, how mature your product is, and your current position in the marketplace.
Tags: App Strategy, Mobile App Development, Product & Project Management