Conceptualizing, designing and developing mobile applications is just part of the puzzle. Thorough testing, impactful marketing and optimization are all critical components of a successful app launch strategy, and the work doesn’t end the moment the app goes live in the marketplace. An app is no good unless it’s target audience finds it and finds it useful.
When you really think about it, mobile app development is a lot like a trip to the International Space Station. First, you want to make sure you get off the ground. Then, you want to make sure you make it through the atmosphere safely before the real work begins. Eventually, you get everyone back to earth safely and take what you learned to achieve other goals.
Prepare for Liftoff with a Solid Pre-App Launch Strategy
With the development cycle near completion, you’ve scheduled a go-live date for launching your app. Congratulations! There’s still plenty of work to do between now and then. At this time, it’s crucial to begin generating buzz amongst your target audience, plan beta testing and get your app ready for life in the app store. Below are some of the initial steps you should plan on taking when launching an app:
1. Understand App Store Submission Guidelines
You can’t throw any app into the Apple or Google Play App Stores. Both have quality standards that you need to understand and make sure your app adheres to prior to submission. There’s nothing more crushing than spending good time and money on an app that fails to meet these standards.
Apple’s developer guidelines lay it all out for developers regarding safety, performance, business, design and legal standards including what works and what doesn’t. In their own words, Apple’s app store is not a playground for the inexperienced:
“If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice app into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.”
Be sure to check out the Google Play guidelines if you plan on submitting an Android version of your app as well.
2. Plan Your Marketing Approach
Before you even begin developing an app you need to know it’s purpose. Understanding your target audience, conducting focus groups on their needs and evaluating features that similar successful applications use is something that is done well before any code is developed.
When you near launch, take your earlier learnings and apply them to marketing. Landing page & social profile development along with targeted advertising through Google Adwords, the Google Display Network or Facebook are great ways to get word out on your app out before it launches. Reach out to influencers and journalists who report on your industry to generate more buzz through PR.
3. Conduct a Small Beta Test in a Controlled Environment with a Feedback Loop
When launching an app, you need a series of dress rehearsals and need to generate feedback to work out any kinks that exist.
Start with a small group of internal users in a controlled environment and generate their feedback, either through an in-app feedback loop or market research survey. Take these learnings and apply them to the final beta version of the app.
4. Go Live with Your Beta
Your app launch strategy just got real. Just a few short weeks prior to release, give a select group of outside testers a near-final version of your app and see what impartial, hard to impress target audience members think. This helps ensure real-world viability and helps you correct any last-minute bugs before everyone gets their hands on the app.
5. Optimize Your App Store Listings
Now that you have valuable feedback from your target audience and hopefully some buzz from your marketing efforts, ensure your messaging appeals to your audience. Understand that HALF of smart phone users discover apps organically through store search results. If you understand SEO for websites, you have a pretty good idea about what the app stores are looking for as well.
According to Moz, it is generally believed that both the Google & Apple stores look at an app’s average rating, review volume, download & install counts & user retention.
6. SUBMIT YOUR APP – WE HAVE LIFTOFF!
Post App Launch Strategy – What to do After Launching Your App
Do a little dance but understand your work isn’t done yet. Below are some tips to make sure your app launch strategy worked.
1. Get Back in Touch with Marketing Targets to Generate Buzz
If you ran lead generation campaigns, notify your list of your app’s public availability immediately. Reach back out to influencers and see if you can get some more press. If they wrote about your app earlier, the chances of a follow up story upon launch are pretty strong.
2. Begin Collecting Metrics & Understand How Users Are Reacting
Data is one of the most valuable commodities in the app development industry. Know how your app is performing by looking at user reviews, download counts, interaction rates, uninstalls and your current rank in the ad store for key phrases.
3. Release Version 1.1
No app launch strategy goes perfect. There will be bugs that beta testing missed. Fix these quickly while the app is still top-of mind with users.
4. Communicate to Grow Retention Rates
Remarket through push notifications to users who haven’t been interacting with your app – particularly after a new version goes live to let them know what’s new. Engage users and make them feel valued. Incentives like free add-ons are also great ways to retain users.
5. Get Reviews!
Earlier, we identified that user reviews are one aspect of app store ranking algorithms. You need to get reviews in order for your app to be seen. Of course, this goes both ways. In order to increase the likelihood of receiving good reviews over bad, we recommend sending review prompts to only your most engaged users – those who have opened the app several times in the past week or month. In-app notifications and email marketing are both effective review generation strategies.
6. Push Your First Big Update
You can’t set and forget an app. About a month in, you’ll have a big list of bugs to fix. While most of these will be minor, customers are hard people to impress, but fixing bugs helps let them know they matter. Lump as many updates together as you can and understand that on iOS, an update resets an apps rating. The most established apps update on a fairly regular monthly basis but don’t feel the need to update that often unless your app really hits it big.
7. Plan for Growth
By now, you know what your customers truly want from your app and it may include things that you hadn’t thought of before. Conduct a needs and viability assessment and look at how you can apply user feedback to improve functionality.
Launching an App is Easy with ThrottleNet
ThrottleNet is a leader in business app development in St. Louis. From development to launch and everything that comes before and after, we can help. Learn more about cross-platform mobile app development from ThrottleNet and contact us to learn more.