Apps have given us a faster, more instant means of accessing online content, offering everything from communication with others to buying goods. So it’s no surprise that app stores saw 204 billion downloads in 2019, with consumers spending $120 billion on apps in that year alone.
As such, launching your own app can be a potentially lucrative move, either as a standalone product or as a way to help your business grow. For existing companies, apps can help improve customer engagement, enhance marketing efforts and put you ahead of your competition. However, even if you’ve managed to turn your idea into a fully-developed, ready-to-release app, it’s advisable to do your due diligence before it hits the app store. Without a viable release strategy. it’s easy to drown in the deluge of competition around you. You need to put a plan in place to enhance your user retention, drive usage, and cut abandonment rates after the initial buzz around your launch fades. Here’s how to prepare your app for success.
1. Know your audience
Since your customers must be at the centre of everything you do, from the app’s design to your marketing campaign, your first step should be conducting market research. Launching a product without them in mind runs the risk of creating something which appeals to nobody. Market research allows you to better understand how if at all, your app can fit into your audience’s daily lives, and learn what they don’t like about existing apps. You can then further refine your own product to be more in line with their preferences, and eradicate any shortfalls you discover before its release.
There are many ways to conduct market research for your business’s new app, and it is typically divided into primary and secondary research. The former is all about gaining firsthand information from your customers and involves strategies like focus groups, interviews and surveys. Secondary research involves using all the public data you can find to draw conclusions from.
2. Analyse your competitors
Once you know who your targeted audience is, you need to find out who you’re up against — your product is unlikely to succeed if your competitors’ apps offer customers more than yours will. As such, you need to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses in order to come up with your own unique selling point that helps you stand out from the crowd. This necessitates conducting competitor analysis to determine how the apps in your niche are being named, which ones are popular and why, and any shortcomings they have which you can improve on. All of this can inform your own strategy going forward.
To conduct competitor analysis, you first need to identify your main competitors, which you can do through keyword research and your own audience findings. Next, analyse their apps, paying particular attention to their main features, navigation, and colour and layout, before exploring their online presence to work out their marketing strategies. Be sure to visit your competitors’ websites and social media pages, and subscribe to their newsletters to get a customer’s eye view of your rivals’ efforts. Finally, analyse their app store listings for insights into how often they update their apps, their optimisation techniques (such as keywords and visuals used), and any negative reviews left by users.
3. Consider your marketing plans
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your marketing strategy sorted. Keeping this in mind from the off can help you build awareness around your app, drive customer engagement and ultimately generate more sales, which means you can’t afford a lacklustre marketing campaign. Indeed, some even consider a product’s marketing more important than the product itself. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to promote your app, thanks to social media, though there are certain things you can do to fully ensure your marketing efforts are effective.
It’s important that your campaign is underpinned by a knowledge of who your target audience is, and which marketing methods are most likely to resonate with them. Your market research will provide you with the necessary insight required to make decisions about this, whether through social media marketing alone, or incorporating more traditional methods like TV or print ads.
You should also be sure to create a landing page on your website to drive online traffic, which can include an overview of the app’s features. Give yourself enough time to create a buzz around the app, and aim to start your marketing campaign at least two to three months before release day. Consistency is key — Marina Engelvuori from marketing company HQ Mobile warns that you should be ”wary of app anticipation fading quickly”, advising businesses to create ”a momentum of desire by spreading teasers on social networks”.
4. Decide on your monetisation plan
Apps can have plenty of different purposes, one of which is to generate revenue. Should you be looking to make money from your app, rather than launching one simply as a resource, you need to think about which app monetisation model to use. Here are some of the most common for you to consider:
- Freemium – While you won’t charge people to download your app, you will put certain features and content behind a paywall. Take Spotify, for example, which offers both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium. The former has limited features while the latter includes ones like no ads, offline listening and unlimited song skips.
- Paid – With this model, users will have to pay to download the app in the first place, so a strong marketing strategy is required to convince people that it’s worth purchasing. One notable example of a paid app is NordVPN, which offers a VPN service across various devices.
- In-app advertising – Perhaps the most common model with no cost barrier for users, the in-app ad market is expected to be worth $258bn by 2025. However, it’s crucial that the adverts don’t negatively impact user experience, whether by being annoying, intrusive, or taking up too much space.
- Subscription – Similar to the freemium model, this gives you a consistent, recurring revenue stream. Apps including Headspace, Tinder and Pandora utilise subscription models.