How to launch an app: From market research to monetization
There’s an app for nearly everything, and creating new apps is getting easier by the day. However, best practices around how to launch an app in an app store are constantly changing. When competition is fierce- there are 2.2 million apps available to download in the App Store and 2.8 million apps in the Google Play Store - it’s critical to think about how you will launch your app in the app stores. In September 2020 alone, 111,000 mobile apps were launched on the Google Play Store, while the App Store received over 1,000 app submissions every day. With so many mobile apps catering to customer needs, it’s more important than ever to optimize your mobile app’s launch. From market research to monetization, there are many critical practices to consider before your app is ready for your target audience. Learn how to build and launch a mobile app in the app store
Where to begin building and launching your app: Market research
Before developing your marketing strategy for launching your app, implementing monetization models and testing your mobile app for best results, market research can help app developers make critical decisions in the early stages of creating a new app.
Your market research can help you understand and define:
- Your app’s target audience
- Your app’s unique selling point
- Why users will be interested in your product
- What competitors offer (and at what cost)
- The most effective ways to reach your target audience
- The best time to launch your app
Personas can help you develop your marketing strategy based on the primary needs of different audience groups. These different groups can, for example, be segmented by demographic and mobile preferences. This enables you to then map out different personas’ user journeys, ensuring their preferences and requirements are catered for within your marketing funnel. This practice means you can successfully guide your users through the user experience and optimize your mobile app’s monetization from Day 1.
Market research is a smart way to learn more about your competitors and develop your own mobile app’s unique selling points. The first step in this process is to identify your competitors and learn everything you can about their product, answering essential questions such as:
- Why is this mobile app successful/unsuccessful?
- What are the shortcomings?
- How is your mobile app offering something different?
- How streamlined is the app’s user journey?
- Does the app have a competent UI design?
Competitor research should include the competence and reach of their marketing channels, and their public reception. For example, you could read a competitor’s user reviews for an honest opinion on the product from your target audience. This will also help identify marketing channels that your competitor has failed to target and similar opportunities from which your marketing team can benefit.
Monetization is a critical component of an app’s survival. According to Business of Apps, free apps make up 90 percent of those available in the App Store and 95 percent of Google Play Store apps. When identifying the most suitable monetization models for your app, you should consider how each method will change the user experience. Mobile apps can benefit from several monetization methods simultaneously, but their impact on the user experience should always be considered before implementation.
The most popular monetization models include:
Subscriptions: Many subscription apps are free to download, offering an engaging yet limited service to users. If users want the full experience, they will need to subscribe for a monthly or annual fee. This can be an effective way to drive installs while monetizing your most valuable users.
In-app purchases: App verticals such as mobile games often include in-app purchases to enhance the user experience - for example, a gamer may buy more coins or a new character skin. Including in-app purchases is another monetization method that enables developers to make their app free to install while offering a superior experience for paying customers.
In-app ads: Placing ads throughout the user journey is a popular way to monetize free mobile apps. Types of ad revenue includes Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM), Cost per Click (CPC) and Cost per Action (CPA). You can find a list of ad formats and how they can be used in our guide here.
Sponsorships: Sponsorships and influencer marketing are another way to help monetize your app - and once you have an active audience, you may want to work with brands that can use your mobile app to connect with a relevant audience.
Next steps: How to market your app
Set up your mobile app’s landing page
Creating a website for your app is a cost-effective marketing channel that can be used before and after launch. We recommend including an about page, screenshots, and video captures that show the best of your user experience. The success of your landing page or website can also indicate the potential of your app idea based on site traffic and number of sign-ups for your mailing list.
In addition to a description and images that convey your app’s potential, your landing page can also be used to build a mailing list of interested customers. You can use this to tell users that your app has launched, offer deals to your most valuable users, and generate a group of users who are interested in beta testing your app.
In the long term, your landing page and official blog can be useful and cost-effective marketing channels thanks to effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and organic traffic. You should also include links to your app’s App Store and Google Play Store pages immediately after launch.
You can also introduce your mobile app in more detail by starting a blog that can be featured on your website. This is a great way to build a community on social media, build a reputation for your company and collaborate with influencers.
Build your social media presence
Social media marketing presents unmissable opportunities for mobile apps of all verticals, and app developers can use the popularity and high usage of social media to their advantage even before launch. Having a social presence is another cost-effective way to build your audience, generate interest and keep potential customers updated on when your product will be available. You can also use social media to promote and build your mailing list
When starting to build your presence, it’s important to claim social media handles prior to launch. And even while your app is in development, you can still use social media to showcase what your app has to offer and gain valuable feedback. This data can then be used to better understand your target audience and refine your app’s functionality. Before launch, your social media channels’ bios can direct your audience to your landing page, although this will need to be updated to your app store entry after launch.
App Store Optimization (ASO)
ASO is a marketing method that can improve the visibility and appeal of your app in the App Store and Google Play Store. Just like with SEO, ASO is the use of keywords and quality images to rank higher in the app store. All users must visit a store to install your app, so ensuring that your entry is fully optimized is a great way to increase your conversion rates. This is another cost-effective marketing method that is inexpensive but extremely important within the user journey.
Develop your paid user acquisition strategy
Marketers need to know how paid users will be brought to their app prior to launch. This enables your marketing team to make an immediate impact and gather valuable data that can be used to optimize growth. Your market research will give you a clear view on who your target audience is and how they can be exposed to paid ads. You will also need to know the in-app actions you need them to complete for them to become a valuable user.
Choose an attribution partner
App developers can work with an attribution provider to measure the results of paid user acquisition campaigns. By receiving reports from your attribution partier, you can spot behavioral trends and learn the best performing channels. This can be used to make adjustments to your user acquisition strategy and deliver better results for future campaigns.
A/B testing is an important part of paid user acquisition campaigns. By exposing user groups to different creatives, you can learn the most effective ways to market your app. When soft-launching a new app, A/B testing works as an invaluable way to make data-driven decisions that will impact the success of your release in regions with a larger audience.
How to launch an app: Testing before a wide-scale release
Now that you’ve built your app, and launch is approaching, it’s time to think about testing. In addition to your development team’s internal testing practices, there are several ways you can test your app’s performance. These can help you identify issues with your app’s UX, UI and functionality.
Develop an exclusive beta launch
App developers can offer an invite-only beta version of their app to a select group of users who can give valuable feedback. This is a smart way to ensure you are fully prepared for launch day and decreases the probability of significant issues affecting the performance of your app once it becomes available to a wider audience. Another benefit to invite-only beta testing is that you are rewarding a group of enthusiastic customers by giving them exclusive access.
Soft launch your app
Even after beta-testing your app, a soft launch offers another way you can ensure your app’s performance is fully optimized before a wide-scale release. A soft launch is the release of a mobile app in a specific region that will give an impression on how it will perform in similar regions with a larger or more active mobile audience. For example, an app developer may soft launch their app in New Zealand to project the performance of that app in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. This enables you to test the functionality of your app and measure the success of your monetization models and user acquisition campaigns.
In addition to app functionality, you can use a soft launch to test your App Store Optimization (ASO) and the creative elements of your paid user acquisition campaigns. If significant areas for improvement are identified as a result of your soft launch, this can save resources and protect brand reputation later down the line.