What to know before launching your app

Launching an app is a major achievement for any company. However, getting to this point and making the most of your app takes immense planning and resources, especially if you want to see all your hard work pay off. Find out how to launch an app successfully and what to do before and after the launch.

If you’re preparing for your first major app launch, you might be tempted to focus solely on software development and technology issues. After all, when you’re developing the best app in your industry, you want to get it right and wow your audience. Any startup founder who’s developed an app before knows that much more goes into a launch than unique vision and immaculate coding, though.

When you debut an amazing app, you need to make sure it’s going to generate the results you want. Sit down with your team as early in the process as possible to think about these essential aspects:

  • Access: It isn’t realistic to make your app available everywhere, but you need to make sure that your target audience can get their hands on it.
  • Marketing: Apps rarely sell themselves, so you’ll need both a budget and a plan for marketing your product.
  • Metrics: You’ll never know if you’re hitting your goals or if your app is a success without tracking analytics.
  • Intellectual Property: It may be impossible to protect your intellectual property after announcing your app launch, so start this process as early as possible.

Launching an app dos & don’ts

Whether this is your first or your fifth app launch, you don’t want to waste time or money on missteps. Make note of these dos and don’ts as you devise a plan for an app launch that gets attention and generates conversions.

Do conduct market research

If you’ve worked in your industry for long, you might think that you know your target audience well. But how much do you really know, aside from generalizations? To ensure that your app makes the conversions you expect, you need reliable data about your target audience.

Market research is essential before launching or even developing an app, so start early. Know who will use your app, how they will benefit, and how you can reach these users. Understand which mobile platform your target users prefer, and make sure you’re planning to launch in the right place.

Don’t forget to protect your intellectual property

Your IP could be worth millions, but it becomes harder and harder to protect this investment the longer you wait. Consider talking with an IP attorney early in your app development process to understand what your options are.

For instance, a copyright can protect your rights to your app’s source code and images, but it won’t protect the ideas behind them. A trademark covers your rights to your branding and could be a worthwhile pursuit if you’re planning to build your image and profit from your brand. A patent gives you exclusive rights to the app’s functions and can help you turn your app into an empire. A patent is time consuming and expensive, so make sure it’s the right choice before moving forward.

Do generate a marketing plan months in advance

When it comes to developing flagship products for your startup, marketing should never be an afterthought. Work with your marketing team to develop a coherent plan months in advance, and don’t leave out any of the platforms that your target audience uses.

Start by securing your handle of choice on each social platform and using them to create buzz. You may not have rave reviews to share on your social profiles yet, but you can use them to share graphics, screenshots, and exclusive video content. Build up a social following now, and you can rely on these channels to generate installs and buzz after your launch.

Take the time to create a landing page or a microsite, too. Not only will this serve as the primary online space for users to get official information about your app, but you can also use a landing page to build your mailing list. Even if you’re months away from launch, you can collect email addresses for interested users and keep them up to date on the latest developments with your app.

Don’t underestimate the power of app evangelists

Some of the most successful apps begin their first stages of marketing a year out from the anticipated launch date. If you start early, you can use your team’s marketing skills to attract app evangelists, even if you don’t have a beta tester ready to share.

When you do have exclusive content, exciting news, or a beta version to share, make sure that the people who have signed up for your mailing list or engage regularly with your social profiles get the information first. These app evangelists can do some of your marketing for you, so don’t underestimate their excitement or their reach.

Do optimize your app store listing

Even a great marketing plan can’t overcome a bad app store listing. After all, users need to be able to find your app after a basic search, otherwise you may lose the chance to convert them.

App store optimization (ASO), much like search engine optimization (SEO), relies on a combination of keywords, titles, and traffic in its ranking algorithm. You’ll need to choose the right title, include appropriate keywords, choose the correct app category, and generate tons of traffic to rank at the top.

Don’t neglect to uderstand the limitations of the app store

Both Google Play and the Apple app store have their fair share of limitations, and you need to know what you’re up against. For instance, both app stores can take several days to review and approve your app, so you should factor this into your launch timeline.

In addition, if you’re planning to convert your free app to a paid app down the road, make sure that the app store you’ve chosen allows for that. Otherwise you may have to build your user base from scratch.

Do know what success means to you

When you launch your app, you know that you want to get a ton of installs and lots of daily users. But what kinds of numbers and conversion rates are you really targeting?

Success looks different for each startup, so make sure you know what you’re aiming for. If your business plan calls for you to achieve 100,000 users within the first week of launch and retain 50 percent daily users over the first month, you’ll know whether it’s time to celebrate or if you need to work harder to reach your goal.

Don’t ignore paid advertising opportunities

It isn’t unusual to want to convert users for free, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore paid advertising opportunities. To determine whether social or online ads are worth your while, calculate the value of each user and know what you’re willing to pay for each conversion. Know where your target users spend their time so you can place paid ads in the spots that will generate the highest conversion rates.

Do make a plan for introducing new features and updates

App evangelists and casual users alike can become frustrated quickly if your app doesn’t work the way they think it should or if it doesn’t make good on its promises. You may be working on bug fixes and new features behind the scenes, but users won’t know if you don’t announce your plans.

Work with your team to devise a plan and a timeline for introducing updates and features, and keep your users in the loop. You’ll build trust and generate excitement, both of which can help your app.

Don’t resist feedback

Your industry network and colleagues at your shared office space will undoubtedly provide you with much-needed feedback about the features and functionality of your app. But don’t let the feedback stop there.

Have a plan for encouraging app reviews, tracking user comments in the app store, and responding to social mentions. Making the most of your feedback can boost your marketing strategy and will also demonstrate how engaged your startup is. Remember that even negative feedback can help your app, as long as you handle it appropriately.

Developing an app is never something you should take lightly, especially if the future of your startup depends on its success. Keep these dos and don’ts handy to optimize your next app launch and help your startup get the attention it deserves.

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