One of the most exciting as well as the scariest time in the life of App Entrepreneurs is when they are about to launch a new app.
While working at a startup in Silicon Valley, when we were about to launch our first app we stayed awake the whole night trying to make sure that we were ready for the thousands of customer emails which we were going to get the next day and trying to be prepared for all the press our app was going to receive.
We assumed that having a great launch was all about building an app and releasing it to the app store.
We released our app on a Tuesday, because everybody told us that people are more active on social media on Tuesday and a launch gets increased visibility on Tuesdays due to this.
Now when I look back at our launch day, nothing went as per the plan. As soon we released the app into the app store, we got a few downloads but soon there was nothing much happening with our app.
Instead of the tens of thousands of downloads which we were expecting, we got less than 100 downloads. No blogger or reporter reached out to us to write about our exciting new app. In fact when I think about it, the few downloads which we did get were probably from our friends who were just curious about our app.
This was a great learning experience for me. Over the next few years I have done extensive research on the right way to launch an app and here is what I think really works.
What Not To Do
The biggest mistake most app entrepreneurs make is that they try to do everything and anything during a launch. This just ends up wasting your most valuable resource – TIME.
So the kind of things, which I will strongly advise you against spending your time and money on, are:
- Building all social media accounts: You just cannot focus on all social media accounts at once so just pick the one social channel which works for your kind of account. Look for competitors in these social channels. If you don’t see any competitors in a certain social channel then just stay away from that channel.
- Submitting your app to review sites and worse, paying to get reviewed: How many people in your target audience do you know who read review sites everyday and download the reviewed apps. This used to work a long time ago when there were very few review sites, but now nobody cares.
- Sharing your app in developer forums or groups: This is a waste of time unless your app is actually meant for other developers to use.
- Buying burst campaigns: I have seen developers literally throw away thousands of dollars by buying burst campaigns (5,000 low quality downloads in one day) and regret it deeply when all these users leave within a month and then get dinged in the rankings due to low retention.
- Buying incentivized downloads: just don’t do this. If you pay somebody to download and use your app then obviously he is not the right user for your app.
- Exchange reviews: I was originally a fan of sites like smoothreviews.com which helped you get reviews for your app, but I have been hearing a lot about the problems with this. If you want to know more about what the problems are just drop a comment and I will explain in comments.
Your 10 Day App Marketing Template
Before we get started, download the free app marketing template and use this to track your progress.
Each marketing task is listed out in the template and it can ensure that you succeed with your app launch while using the template.
I have also filled out some sample data to help you understand how to use the App Marketing Template
Your App Launch Marketing Plan
Your app marketing plan basically has two phases. The first is the pre-launch phase and the second is the post launch phase.
Both the phases are equally important and actually the post launch phase cannot be implemented without completing most of the steps in the pre-launch phase.
The kinds of tasks, which are present in both phases, are guaranteed to get you results. None of these are hit or miss kind of strategies.
So let us jump into the pre-launch phase and figure out how to implement the marketing plan.
Pre-Launch App Marketing Plan
Before you launch your app, you need to lay the groundwork which will help you get a ton of downloads once you launch your app. In fact some of the pre-launch activities which you are going to participate in will let you validate your idea even before you launch your app.
6 Days Before Launch
The first thing which you need to do as part of your pre-launch activities is to create a landing page for your app. The reason for this is to figure out the right messaging for your app. Unless you know how to position your app and the right kind of message to use to attract users, you are always going to see sub-par results.
To create a landing page, you can use http://unbounce.com. Unbounce has a free theme for mobile apps and you can use that to create your app landing page very quickly. Unbounce also lets you track your landing page conversions, which is very useful for validating your idea and messaging.
While creating a landing page make sure that the landing page says that your app is going to launch soon and if the users want an invite, they can provide their email address.
5 Days Before Launch
Once your landing page is ready, it is important for you to send relevant traffic to your landing page so that you can achieve two goals:
- The first is to actually get a few emails of people who are ready to download your app once it launches
- The second is to validate your idea
To send relevant traffic to your landing page, the most reliable channel is a Facebook paid campaign. Just create Facebook ads and drive traffic to your landing page. This traffic obviously needs to be of people who are the right target audience for your app.
Once you start sending traffic to the landing page, take a look at unbounce and see what kind of conversion rate you getting. If the conversion rate is around three percent to five percent or more than that, then you have a good app idea on your hands and you have also identified the right target audience for your app. Continue running ads to the landing page based on your marketing budget to collect as many emails as possible.
In case you are not seeing a good conversion rate then you obviously need to modify one of the following – landing page messaging, target audience, or your complete app idea itself.
4 Days Before Launch
If you want to get huge bang on your launch day, good press coverage for your app can definitely help you. The thing to remember with getting good press coverage is that you need to understand how press coverage during launch works. If you have a good app and want it covered, you need to do three things:
- First find reporters who cover app launches and you can do this by looking up coverage on other apps that launched recently.
- Second reach out to these reporters and pitch your app. You need to make sure that you tell them not to write about your app before it is released. This is commonly referred to as an embargo.
- The third thing, which you need to do, is offer exclusive access to a reporter. When you have an interesting app, reporters are extremely interested in being the only people to write about your on launch day. Obviously you need to select the right media outlet when agreeing to exclusive coverage agreement.
There are many ways to reach out to press but the most effective way is usually the simplest. Search for the email address of reporters from your preferred media outlets and drop them a short pitch about your app.
3 Days Before Launch
Now that you know what kind of messaging works for your app, you need to create your app store description and get started with App Store Optimization. The app store description can contain the same sections, which your landing page contained. So basically you are going to have things like – headline, benefits, features, and a few testimonials.
Coming to App Store Optimization, you can pick any tool out there. My personal favorite is SensorTower. You can use the trial period to complete your basic app store optimization.
2 Days Before Launch
As you are getting closer to the launch day, you need to ensure that the analytics tool which you are using to track your app is properly setup. Verify that you have created events for the major checkpoints in your app and also setup funnels to track progress of users in your app.
1 Day Before Launch
This might not be relevant to all apps but in recent times Instagram has turned out to be an excellent source of downloads for app. Especially if you notice that there are a few accounts with a theme similar to your niche, you can contact them and ask them to do a sponsored post. Most instagram accounts, which allow such posts, have a “business contact” or “business email.” Just make sure that these accounts have good engagement from their followers before you work with them.
On the launch day, the only thing which I would suggest that you do is to make sure that all the reporters who were supposed to write about your app have actually done that and also to send out an email blast to all the people who provided their email addresses, informing them about the launch of the app.
1 day after Launch
Once you start seeing the initial set of downloads, the next stage is to keep the momentum going by launching mobile install ads using Facebook. You can do basic mobile install ads or you can use some advanced ninja tactics to get downloads at a really low cost.
2 Days After Launch
Your Facebook ads should have picked up some steam by now and you should be seeing a good number of downloads coming in for your app based on your budget. Now you want to increase these downloads even further and break into the top ranks of the app store by launching the Instagram sponsored posts, through the partnerships which you setup before the launch.
Instagram sponsored posts can be very effective as long as you have done the following right:
- Partner with a relevant influencer
- The influencer has an engaged audience
- Your post does not look like an ad but blends in with the content
If you get these three things right then you should see a good number of downloads from instagram as well.
3 Days After Launch
Next is my favorite tactic to get a huge number of downloads. You can use giveaways to get thousands of downloads. There is a right way to do giveaways and I have covered that here.
4 Days After Launch
Although this says four days after launch, you can actually wait for a few more days before you start looking at your analytics and figure out at which stage of the funnel a user drops off. For example, if you notice that a user drops off after opening the app for first time and completing event one but does not get to event two, then just focus on improving the workflow to get a user to event two.
This way you can gradually keep improving your app while at the same time you get downloads to keep up the momentum, which you gained through your launch.
I hope this is useful for you. If you feel that I have missed out something or if you have some other interesting tactics to improve your app launch just comment below and let us know.