You’ve built an app that you assume will be successful in the app market but how do you validate this before releasing to your primary market? You need to ensure that you’re entering the app market with a battle-tested product that will yield high user acquisition rates and just as important - high retention rates. Choosing a soft launch approach allows you to isolate success factors and pain points in your app through a controlled release in a test market. Ultimately, it can help you gather important data on how to improve your app or take another direction if necessary.
In this post, we break down the fundamentals of choosing a soft launch strategy so that you can better prepare for the official launch of your mobile app.
The Advantages of Soft Launching
Soft launching your mobile app will provide you will many benefits in addition to saving on costs, resources, and time:
Increase User Retention Rates
An astonishing 77% of apps are being deleted just 3 days after the initial download and only 15% of mobile apps last more than one month. To carve a spot in this 15%, you’ll need to add a lot of value for your users. Soft launching will help you gather quick feedback on when users lose interest so you can adjust your app accordingly.
Insights on User Experience
Optimizing the user experience should be a priority for all app developers. Overlook this and your app deletion rates will skyrocket. During your soft launch, you should be taking advantage of feedback from real users to improve the overall user experience of your app. Users will tell you what they like and what they dislike about your app, helping you solve their pain points. It’s important to open communications with your users so they can easily provide you with their feedback.
A soft launch will either validate your idea or reveal that your mobile app isn’t ready for the market. If you release your product only to receive poor reception, you now have the knowledge to improve your product moving forward. Product validation will help you better understand your commitment to your product so that you can continue to put in the time and resources it requires to become successful.
Product validation through a controlled release will provide you with the following benefits so that you can prepare for the hard launch:
- Identify bugs and pain points
- User feedback for improvements
- Market acceptance
- Better preparation for the official hard launch
Boost User Acquisition With ASO
Soft launching is a good opportunity to see if your app store page is optimized. Over the course of one month, Google Play alone processes 6 million unique search phrases. App store optimization is a crucial part of your user acquisition strategy so it’s important to get this right before releasing to your primary market. With a soft launch, you’ll start to accumulate reviews, which encourage potential users to download your app.
Approaches to a Soft Launch
You need to ensure that you gain as much benefit from the soft launch as possible to help you launch a successful product. To get the most out of a soft launch, you need to test both the app functionality and app store performance. These two elements are vital for the survival of your mobile app.
Testing App Functionality
There are a number of methods you can use to soft launch your mobile app such as releasing it to people you know personally or scaling up and releasing it on social platforms, such as Facebook or Reddit. Each soft launch is a case-by-case basis depending on your contacts and follower base. Testing app functionality in a soft launch is useful for learning more about the app experience for those outside of your development team.
Testing App Store Performance
The app store is often an unforgiving space in which many apps are lost among thousands of others that are fighting for attention. However, there are many ways to ensure that you enter the market strategically by understanding exactly how well your app will do, albeit on a smaller scale. This small scale test will reveal areas that need ASO adjustments.
It’s crucial to understand your goals and overall purpose prior to the launch, big or small, and know what to measure in order to make data-based decisions for a successful app.
Data You Should be Collecting During a Soft Launch
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of soft launching your app and what your overall goals should be, you need to determine what you’ll be measuring prior to launching. Above all, it’s important to track both the user acquisition and the user experience. The UA will help you understand where new users come from, how much they cost, and how much revenue they generate. Measuring the UX will reveal user behavior, where churn occurs, what features they actually want, and where their pain points are. It’s one thing to acquire a steady influx of users, but it’s another to retain them. Here are a few of the most important data points to analyze:
First and foremost, you need to monitor how users flow through your app. Are they abandoning it at a specific spot within the app? Make sure to fix any issues that may result in users abandoning your app and where user pain points are.
What is your Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)? You may have in-app purchases or ad placements to generate revenue, but unless you give it a test run before you release it to your primary market, you won’t know which revenue streams are most successful. Soft launching allows you to understand how much revenue you’re generating and from where.
Being able to know how well your app does in the app store itself is very important. Ask yourself if users can find it easily enough through the app store search. Are the creatives (screenshots, icons, etc.) original and compelling enough to attract new users? Use ASO data to tailor your keyword choices, creatives, and app description in order to attract more users.
Choosing a soft launch approach can prove to be extremely valuable, not just for the initial user acquisition phase of the product lifecycle but it will also provide you with insight on what your users want in preparation for your hard launch. With a soft launch, you will be able to gather patterns of user behavior, define success factors and pain points, and understand how users interact with your app altogether. Choosing a soft launch strategy can help you get it right the first time without jeopardizing the overall success of your app.