There comes a point where you need to launch your app. The app may not be perfect or pretty, but as long as you can provide value to your customers, your app is ready. Apps are never really done. There is always a new feature to add or a bug to fix – but, no matter what, you need to define a point where the app is “good enough” for users to use. Usually, the “good enough” for the creator of the app is when the app is perfect. But for the customer, “good enough” is when he or she can get value out of the app.
“Okay it’s time to launch”
It’s hard to say that it’s time to launch since you’ll always want to improve your product. Every app needs to be released into the wild for you to truly understand how customers will use it and what features they will actually be looking for. You can waste a lot of time trying to guess how the product will be used, adding features no one will ever use, and delaying your launch way past the point that you needed to start onboarding customers.
Finding that minimum feature product that provides your users with value is important. Identifying a release date is a defining step towards getting users to start using your app.
Before You Launch
Before launching your app there are some key steps you should take in order to maximize the benefit of your launch. Sure, getting customers to actually download and use your app is important, but making sure that there is exposure to your app and a way of collecting feedback is just as important.
Set up a feedback loop. Find a way to collect valuable positive and negative feedback from your customers. User reviews of your app on the App stores is an easy way to collect feedback, but unfortunately, the Apple App store does not provide a way for you to respond to user reviews. If you want to collect and respond to negative reviews, consider using a system where you ask the user if they like the app, or if they want to report an issue. The “like the app” option takes them to the App Store review, while the “report an issue” button takes them to a custom form that feeds into your own database. Consider following up with users that find bugs in your app, and let users know that you care about them by releasing fixes and adding new features to your app.
Set up your app descriptions. Make sure your app is discoverable by providing clear descriptions for the App stores. Use keywords to help your app get discovered by potential users. Think about what users might be searching for and how they might be searching for it. Are they going to use the words “workout” or “exercise”? Determine which keywords your target audience will use.
Get your marketing materials together. Plan to post on your website or blog. Post on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and any other social media accounts. Add a sign up newsletter on your website. Generate a press kit and send it to writers for other blogs and news sites that write about your app’s niche.
If you are releasing a mobile app, make sure you’ve submitted your app to the app stores two weeks before the launch date. The approval process takes time, and you don’t want pending review statuses delaying your launch plans. Once you’re ready to go, start advertising! Make sure all of your advertising materials are ready. Send out your press kits. Message everyone you know. Generate as much buzz as you can!
Now that you’ve launched, use this time to start getting feedback and planning your next steps. You’ve done a lot of the upfront work with building the first version of your app, but it’s important to keep that momentum going.
Get user feedback. Engage with your users and get feedback and find common complaints and requests for new features. Focus on working on the smallest changes that deliver the most value. Make sure you tell your users that you have released new features and squashed bugs when you do a release. If you have a newsletter, let people know that you have made a new version and highlight the changes in it.
Gather metrics on your customers. Figure how your daily and monthly active users. Determine the retention rate. Figure out your average revenue per customer. Get a good idea about your customers life time value. Are your customers leaving too quickly to provide a return on the investment of getting them to download the app? Answer that question early on and focus on making your customer acquisition sustainable.
Learn more about launching your startup with The Lean Startup by Eric Ries: