Updated: Aug 20, 2019
You've come up with a ground-breaking idea, fed and watered it, and now it's all grown up and ready to graduate into the big wide world. Like it is for most people, your app is your baby. Now it's reached the time for it's public launch. This can be extremely daunting, which is why here at Appifany, we want to give you the right steps of how to do it.
If you've gotten this far with your app, then you know there's plenty of unexpected obstacles that pop up along the way. And post-launch is no different. Now you're a little more prepared for the unexpected though, so keep planning ahead. If this launch has come at the end of a three year development plan, then keep going and plan out the next few years post-launch.
Here's 10 helpful steps of launching an app to help you get started...
Some traps to avoid pre-launch…
1. It doesn't need to be perfect
It’s a natural to want to have your app perfect before it's big launch into the public, but this isn't realistic. There'll constantly be changes or revisions that need to be made to your app. You should remain adaptable to where your target audience feedback is going to take the direction of your app.
There may be certain features or issues that so far haven't crossed your mind at all. And that's normal! You can't think of everything and more importantly you can't know exactly where your app idea will go. There may be market needs you haven't identified that will become apparent and call for revision. Be adaptable and flexible.
In saying that though, don't listen to everything customers say at first launch. You've got the app or business idea, not them. Be flexible, but keep focused on the overall, big picture of your app idea and where the business is heading. Yes, this will have to alter a bit to suit market needs, but no one else has the future of the app planned out except for you. Trust yourself, yet be open to constructive criticisms that will help your business grow.
2. It's not time to sit back and relax just yet...
Your focus thus far may have been predominantly on app development and getting your baby ready to take public. But this sin't just an app, it's a business. One of the worst things you could do is release the app and have no business in place to actually run it. Although the app development side of things is now off your plate, think about how you're going to keep it going and the business behind it.
Creating the app is just one part of the journey. There's a lot more to it, so have the business elements planned for post-launch too. Initial success post-launch, which may be demonstrated for example by a high volume of initial app downloads, does not ensure long-term success. If there's no business to back up and support the functioning of the app and guiding it's future, it won't last.
One method to remain focused on a long-term approach is by setting yourself more deliverables even after the launch of the app. It was probably an efficient system you utilised pre-launch of your app, so keep focused on what you can deliver post-launch.
This also means responding to issues or needs and being flexible. If a recurring functionality issue comes up with your app for example, set a new decline to have it fixed by. Perhaps in response to the issue you want to intergate a new feature into the ap. Again, set a deadline for this. Working on timelines will maintain a sense of purpose.
3. Have a Game Plan
When you're preparing for a big game, it can be difficult to think about the future. It is all you can think about, worry about and handle. A lot of founders have a misconception that the initial launch must be a huge success, which in turn will ensure future success. Unfortunately, that logic is a bit of a fallacy.
Your app doesn't need to be perfect at first launch and it doesn't need to be huge success. If the business side of things aren't up to scratch then there's a real possibility this initial launch won't be a huge success. And that's oka Apps, like businesses, aren't overnight successes. These things take time. Don't be disheartened if your app doesn't take off straight away. Give it time and have a game plan in place.
Your game plan should include user acquisition strategies, go-to market strategies, lead generation strategies and future income or monetisation strategies.
4. Don't Forget the Marketing!
Marketing can often be an after though to the launch of the app and acquisition of users. However this is a key component to launching any app or business that should be considered pre-launch. Your idea might be amazing, ground-breaking and people will love it, but you need to get it out to those people first.
If you try and catch up on marketing post the launch of your app or hire someone, they will not be privy to everything that went into developing your app. And again, you're behind the ball game already. It is essential that marketing begins prior to launching your app and continues after.
5. Don't assume everyone in your target audience has the same needs.
If you know your target audience well, you will be better equipped to target your product or app towards them. You need to know your target audience well in order to identify the needs that you are trying to meet or the issue that you are trying to solve. It's also crucial to know that not everyone will use your app for the same thing.
For example, take tinder. Some people are just using to find friends, some a casual date or one night stand, and others are looking for the love of their life. Although the original target audience or market may be identified in terms of age, location and other similar attributes... that doesn't mean all of those people have the same needs or reasons for using your app.
When you understand the different needs within your target market, you can use this as an opportunity to expand the features of your app and perhaps create new monetisation strategies in order to meet those needs. You may also us targeted advertising for certain segments of your users for a specific purpose, which may well be a new income revenue stream.
6. Take Free Advice From Your Users
Once your app launches for the first time, you will be getting plenty of feedback! Or even better, run an app testing session with potential users to identify any issues and receive feedback. This is a great way to preliminarily deal with issues that you may not have anticipated. Listen to your users, whether its pre-launch testers or people actually using the app. It's free advice and very valuable!
Pre-launch testing or not, things will still come up after you release the app. Whether there's a bug or a glitch, it is very common for new apps to run into problems like this. So, don't feel like your app is a failure, just be prepared to fix and maintain your app.
Another key point here is to set up app analytics prior to the launch of your app. This will give you vital data and statistics regarding the use of your app. This will allow you adapt parts of your app as needed in order to respond to statistical feedback. This is crucial to maintaining you app after the launch. Without analytics of what's going on with your app, how can you know what to do to keep moving forward? And keep gaining users and generating an income more importantly.
7. User Acquisition Strategy
How do you acquire users? This is basically asking how will you get users to your app and more importantly to download it? Your app may be a response to a need that is not currently met by any other app. If so, you need to stand out and show users how you are meeting this need and why you are doing it better than anyone else.
There are so many apps out in the digital stratosphere now that it can be hard to stand out. Don't fret though. Demonstrate to users why they should download your app. Show them the convenience and simplicity in using your app, perhaps through preview screens or a preview video that you can advertise. Users want to know that your app will make their life easier, not harder. And that it will in fact solve whatever issue they're trying to solve or need they're trying have met.
Don't be afraid to strut your stuff and show off what your app's got to offer.
8. User Activation Strategy
You've managed to acquire a user and bring them to your app, in other words you've showed off your stuff and now they're kind of into you. Your first impression was a good one, now it's time to back it up.
This is the first time the user is actually using your app and they need to realise (and pretty quick) that your app is everything you purported it to be. It's user experience is simple and convenient, and your app meets their need. At this stage, you don't want people to download your app then be confused what to do with it or where to go on it.
Make the users actually USE your app! And make it an easy and enjoyable experience. Having great user interface is key to this step. With an app that looks good and is easy to use is a great start to activating that user and then retaining them.
9. User Retention Strategy
The user enjoyed their first date with your app. First impressions were followed through and now they're considering whether to keep you around long term. You need to stay relevant and consistent in providing the user what they want.
Even more important than that though, you need to surprise them. Adapt your app in order to anticipate future needs of your users. If you can predict an issue before your users and then give them a solution before they even know they need it, this is a great way to surprise them and stay relevant. Your app needs to deliver what it promised to deliver consistently so that you build a reputation with your user.
A user may need your app for some cut and dry service whereby your app has to provide it whenever they visit. Or your app needs to employ special features or updates, to anticipate your user’s needs and pleasantly surprise them when you enhance their experience. Regardless, retention comes through demonstrating value consistently. In doing this, the user becomes confident that you will deliver.
10. User Referrals Strategy
Now you're in a longterm relationship with your user, or more accurately your app is. So, now you want the user to tell their friends about you right? When a user refers your app to a friend they are doing so because of some incentive to them or their friend.
If the original user can somehow profit from referring someone else, this is a great referral and new user acquisition strategy. Or if the user's friend could benefit from your app, the user will spread the word IF your above strategies are being executed on. The user you retained believes that you will leave a good impression — so much so that they are willing to introduce you to others, despite what judgments they may have.
The expectation of the original user is that you will remain what they have come to expect, reliable. If you are not reliable, and new referrals are let down, then your core contingent of original users, say first launch users, will undoubtedly be disappointed.
If you found this article helpful, you'll love our one on Best App Monetisation Strategies 2018 here.