You get just one shot at launching your app and you have to make sure you do it right. Providing the right launch pad for your app can result in tens of thousands of app downloads in a space of a few days only, which in turn gives you the big chance to get featured in the Top Free or Paid sections of the App stores. Needless to say, a featured app usually gets the dream run you are looking for at the time of the launch.
A strong launch plan for your app is crucial for the long-term success of your app, most importantly the first two days when both Apple and Google might give you a bit of a boost and feature your app in the Newly Released section, should your app show some promise.
Your app launch strategy depends on a lot of factors such as the objective, budget, app category etc. Here are some tips to keep in mind while planning to launch your app.
The entire launch strategy can be divided into three phases – Pre-launch, Launch & Post Launch.
1. Pre-Launch Phase
Like the 4Ps of marketing, my thumb rule for the pre-launch phase, too, relies on 3P’s – Product, Performance, and People.
- Product – Before you even think about marketing, you need to ensure that you have got the product right. Following is a broad checklist you should look at:
1) Your app should serve a genuine consumer need, i.e there should be a clear use case defined for your product.
2) An easy to use interface and design helps to get initial traction.It is a good idea to test out different UI/UX and get feedback.
3)The app should be compliant with all the guidelines of the platform on which you will be distributing it.
- Performance – If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it! Make sure you have the right integrations in place to track, measure and then optimize your app performance. There are many free and paid services that allow you to do this. For instance, Localytics, Flurry, Appannie etc. are app and app store specific services that help you measure the app’s usage and app store performance vis-a-vis competition. In-app usage is another area you should consider tracking for better optimization and conversion.
- People – The first step in getting people to download your app is to get them interested. This is when you create a beta user group of highly influential people using social media. This not only gives you user feedback on your app for improvisations before a launch, but the beta users also become your biggest proponents to get the message across social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. to bring in more users through word of mouth.
2. Launch Phase
Once you have tested the app and are ready to hit the market, the following strategies can help you conquer it:
- App Store Optimization (ASO) – Helps build the organic discovery of your app on the store and the conversions thereof, leading to installs. The major elements of ASO are keywords, description, screenshots, icon, preview video, app store category, ratings and reviews. These cumulatively determine the visibility and resulting downloads. A good keyword optimization strategy rests on the 3 pillars — traffic, difficulty and relevance. A good keyword is, therefore, a combination of these three metrics – a high traffic and relevance, and a low difficulty level. You can use several tools available online (like Sensor Tower, Mobile Action and Search Man) to check for keyword ranks and related traffic and difficulty information.
- Press Outreach – A great PR strategy can get you thousands of downloads in just a few days without spending a dollar on advertising. The best way to start is to to create a list using submit.co or other PR list sites and finding out the email address of the editors that usually cover your app’s category. You should reach out to them about a week before you plan to submit the app to the store. A few popular publications you should consider reaching out to are Tech Crunch, Mashable, App Advice, Engadget, BGR and others, if you are looking to target the US online media.
- Social Media Presence – A strong social media presence is a crucial step in your app launch as it helps to attain and retain new users for your app as well as measure audience’s reaction to the app once the app is launched.
- Paid User Acquisition Campaigns – This is a big budget item, and if used correctly can lead to great returns. Especially if you have an app with a clear monetization strategy, it makes sense to advertise to and acquire niche, evolved and interested users for your app on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
*Expert Tip – Thursday or Friday are good days to launch your app as that is when the editors are looking for something new to cover for the week. When submitting your app for review on iOS, don’t make it automatically available when the review is completed. Hold it and release it on your own schedule.
3. Post Launch Phase
Your app is launched, its getting downloads, has raked in some money and is ranked too. Now what?
Well here are some thing you can look at to keep the momentum –
- Continued ASO – ASO is an ongoing activity and you should keep tweaking your keywords to stay on top of the curve.
- Get Your App Featured – A month or so after launch is a good time to reach out to the app store editors of your region and category to request them to feature the app. Getting featured on the app stores can increase your daily downloads from anywhere between 10x to 50x.
- Make Your App Better – With all the downloads, you will get a lot of feedback and suggestions from loyal users. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground to understand and implement these changes to make your app offering even better.
Wrapping It Up
The app ecosystem is constantly evolving and marketers need to stay on top of the ever-changing demands and policies, as updated by Apple and Google periodically. Moreover there are newer social media networks, technology discussion forums and content platforms which you can leverage to get additional visibility for your app. Medium and Product Hunt are two such new age platforms which you should consider being present on. Make sure you have a solid product and that you are constantly listening to your users to make improvements. And remember: even if you don’t manage to cover too much ground initially, don’t lose heart. Keep working at your product and use your version update as a time to generate buzz again!