Launching an app is a big moment for your brand. You’ve worked for months, maybe even years, to polish your app to perfection, and once it goes live, there’s no going back. The hardest and longest part of your work may be behind you, but the next phase of effort is only beginning.
How you choose to launch, support, and grow your app once it’s live will have a drastic impact on your long-term profitability, and it all starts with the actions you take as soon as that app goes live.
Immediate Steps to Take
Make sure you take these steps at a minimum:
1. Optimize for app stores.
First, start optimizing your app for app store searches if you haven’t already. User searches are one of the best ways to get found by unfamiliar and new users, so you’ll want to be as high in the rankings as possible.
According to App Radar, there are several factors used to determine an app’s ranking in both Apple and Google app stores. Some of these shared ranking factors include the keywords and keyword phrases that are included in the title of the app and its meta information, the types of engagements and number of downloads that those apps attract, the number and quality of the reviews they attract, and social signals that inform the app’s popularity.
It’s hard to gather good reviews and ratings this early, but you can at least optimize your app name and description with keywords that are relevant to your app’s purpose (and popular among your key demographics).
2. Run live tests.
Hopefully, you’ve already run a number of tests to make sure your app was running properly; otherwise, you wouldn’t have pulled the trigger to go live. However, it’s still a good idea to share the experience that your users will have, and go through the motions that they’ll be going through.
Sign up like a regular user (yourself) and download the app to your device, and make sure everything’s working properly. Last-minute hiccups aren’t common after a series of sufficient tests, but they’re devastating enough that you should check for them just in case.
3. Make an announcement.
As Hubspot explains, press releases aren’t a “magic bullet” in marketing that will instantly make you more successful, but they will help you build some early buzz and attract some strong backlinks in the process.
Before your app goes live, you should have a formal press release strategy in place—maybe even a draft of what you plan to submit to publishers.
From there, you can use a formal distribution site like PR Newswire, or submit your release to different major publishers yourself.
4. Get social.
Social media announcements should go hand in hand with your press release. If you aren’t already on social media, now is the time to claim your profiles. And if you are, you need to start marketing the heck out of your app.
Let your users know that everything is ready for them, and if you want an extra boost, consider giving them a signup bonus, such as a discount or bonus content for their early support.
5. Thank your early users.
Your first users will be pivotal to the success of your app. If they bail, or if they have negative impressions of your app, you might never generate the momentum you need to reach the top of the charts.
But if they stick around and have a favorable impression of you, they could be the momentum that takes your app to the next level of popularity. Go out of your way to thank them—personally, if you can, and give them incentives to keep coming back.
6. Gather reviews and ratings.
Your early reviews and ratings will be the most important ones you ultimately gather. They’ll be the foundation for your app’s early rankings, and they’ll form the first impressions of your second wave of users.
Make sure you have a feature in your app to encourage ratings, and remain active on social media to keep your brand top-of-mind for anyone who procrastinates rating you.
7. Learn from the early feedback.
Take the time to read your earliest reviews as they start to trickle in, and gauge users’ opinions of your app. Have they noticed any bugs? If so, you’ll need to fix them as soon as possible. Are they unimpressed overall?
You may need to recruit some UI/UX talent to investigate what could be going wrong. On the other hand, if reviews are strong, you can take them and use them to create your next marketing push.
Speaking of marketing and advertising, you may want to invest in some early advertising for your app, such as pay-per-click (PPC) ads through Google, content marketing, or social media ads.
This practice is only sustainable in the long-term for some niches and profitability models, but early in your app’s existence, it’s a valuable tool to get those all-too-important early ratings and reviews.
9. Prepare for the next updates.
Most app developers end up pushing at least one new update every month, with some going as often as once a week. This is common practice to fix bugs, improve security, and keep up with other updates.
The minute your app goes live, you should be prepared with the next round of updates, with a strategic vision for major updates your app will undergo in the future.
The Ongoing Effort
Never be fooled into thinking that your job developing or supporting your app is done. Technology evolves at an astounding rate, and user preferences evolve with them, so you’ll need to stay on your toes if you want your app to keep making money.
Always be looking down the road at the next update, and keep investing in your app with marketing and advertising efforts. The more information you gather, and the more willing you are to adapt to new circumstances, the more likely you’ll be to succeed.