Launching your app can be very exciting. You’ve worked on it for months or even years, perfected the code, optimized the interface, and tested it for countless hours. You’re ready to set it up in the app stores. You have your thumbnail and preview pictures ready, and you’ve compiled an appealing text to describe it. There are two ways to continue from here: hard launch or soft launch.
Hard Launch vs. Soft Launch
The terms ‘hard launch’ and ‘soft launch’ describe two marketing methods for launching a new app:
Hard launch: An all-out marketing effort in your primary target market intended to create a major buzz around your app and generate as many sales as possible.
Soft launch: A controlled release of the app to a small audience in a test market outside your primary market, intended to test the app for bugs, collect feedback, and optimize your marketing and monetization strategies.
Although the brazen, “gun-blazing” hard launch tactic is very tempting, it is usually recommended to start your marketing with the more-controlled soft launch. A half-baked app launched in your primary market can seriously backfire and hurt your marketing efforts. As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. You want to make sure your app is 100% ready before you launch it in your primary market and to minimize the amounts of negative feedbacks it gets. The best way to do so is by testing the water first in a shallower pool – by soft launching your app.
Choosing a Test Market
The app store can be a very unforgiving place. With more than 2 million apps already there and 1,000 more joining every day, it’s unbelievably crowded. This is part of the reason why you want to perfect your app store performance beforehand by soft launching in a smaller, less dense, and less competitive market with (somewhat) similar cultural characteristics. For example, MobCo Media has helped a client soft launch a new game intended for the American market in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. All three countries are predominantly English-speaking, have smaller, less competitive mobile app markets, and are cheaper to advertise on, making them great markets for soft launching an app intended for the American market.
Once your app is up on the app store you want to start collecting data. Here’s what’s most important to measure:
- User Experience: How are users interacting within the app? What percentage of users reach each stage? Are users abandoning the app? Why?
- Monetization: What is the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)? How long does it take users to make an in-app purchase, or to click on an ad? Which purchases and ad placements do better and which do worse?
- Engaged-User Acquisition: How much does it cost to drive engaged-users to your app?
- Virality: Are users sharing your app? Where?
- Feedbacks: What are users saying about your app? What issues bother them? What suggestions do they have to improve the app?
- Promotional Messages: What benefits and premises of your app does the audience react better to?
Optimizing and Conclusions
Once you start getting feedback and measurement data, optimize your app accordingly. Fix bugs immediately and any issues that cause users to abandon your app. Play with various monetization and acquisition strategies, and use the data to compare their effectiveness. Refine your app store marketing and optimize your keywords, screenshots, description and app icon.
A soft launch usually takes around 2-4 weeks, depending on your budget, amount of test data received, and ultimately – your patience. A good soft-launch can also surprise and generate a major buzz. The smaller market increases the chances of the app to rank higher in the charts and even to get picked by Apple’s editorial team – a great way to generate a large base of organic users.
Interested in learning more about app launching? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a tailor-made launch plan.