My name is Janos, I’m working at TreasureHunt and I am responsible for marketing, so being the de facto Chief Marketing Officer there .
When talking about soft launches, we do need to know that there are a number of different philosophies towards it from very basic, rudimentary easy A/B testing towards more complex and complicated solutions. The soft launches that I have had the fortune to participate in and what I'm also trying to advocate is of course a little bit more elaborate setup.
The reason being that soft launching is essentially the most paramount activity that you can
do before you commercially launch the product. This is for you to verify your hypothesis, to make sure that the game performs on par with your expectations. So normally we would be using, again, starting out from the basic data analytics market research tools for driving users into the system through user acquisition, user engagement at the very basic level, also organic channels, organic content marketing activities, then last but not least, the very point of soft launch is to be able to test and verify hypothesis and ideas about the product. Therefore, we would be leveraging quite a number of different tools for making sure that we are testing things.
Let it be a storefront, let it be a hypothesis about a certain monetization, a certain way of player progression inside a specific game or application. It's pretty much independent of that but in order to be able to answer research questions, you will need to have the right tool set.
In terms of a soft launch model, normally we would be thinking about a classical industry three-stage model.
The three-stage model usually starts out with the first stage that would be technical testing.
Technical testing essentially starts out with making sure that the product has a certain percentage of crash rate.That's usually somewhere around 98%-99%.The idea is that when the users get the product out, it doesn't break in your hands. To give a very dumb little example, if you buy a hairdryer you don't want to blow your head off, you just want to blow your hair. Technically, that's what we are trying to do from a software engineering perspective.
The second and third phase is usually more interesting and more relevant from a business management perspective. That's when we are talking about the product testing and marketing testing. Product testing is essentially to verify the key hypothesis about the performance of the product when the users have successfully been onboarded and the users are essentially trying out the product. Starting out with the early retention, early engagement metrics:
does the user successfully understand how the product works? Does he successfully go through the tutorial steps?
Second stage, of course, does he return? Did he find the initial experience of the game interesting enough to draw him back day after day?
Then of course, when we talk about later stages, does he feel the propensity to actually buy something in the product? Is it a compelling enough proposition for him? This is on the product side.
When we talk more about the marketing side, in order to be making sure that people are enjoying the product, we don't only need to make sure that the product itself works but there has to be an ambience and aura around it.
This is something that we were trying to do, making sure to verify we are targeting the right audiences. Is this really the right fit, the right match for that specific audience? Then, of course, fine tuning how we talk to them. What is the communication medium? What are the different creatives? How do those creatives essentially interact and how do the users respond to them?
Last but not least, when these two things merge together, how does it compel the players to be long-term engaged, long-term active user? Because it's part setting the right expectations at the beginning through marketing activities. Then, of course, providing the product and the product proposition that is compelling and interesting enough.
Last but not least, of course, holding their hands through marketing activities, customer engagement, user engagement and to make sure that they're constantly in the loop and well informed.