Anybody can publish an app into the App Store and see it fall into oblivion. This post lists all the best practices that will ensure a solid start for your app, making it better than competitors offer and that it reaches the target audience.
You can’t underestimate the importance of building a user-friendly and intuitive app, but moreover it has to be unique and promoted with good strategy plan so that it won’t be obscured with millions of apps out there in different app stores.
What do you need to successfully launch your app?
There are a few basic steps that you should undergo before launch and after launch no matter what in order for your app to be successful.
- Research competitors’ apps
- Beta test your app to eliminate bugs and make it more user friendly
- App Store Optimization: app name, keywords, description, screenshots, etc
- Plan and establish promotional channels for your app
- Choose the best date and steps for the launch
- Gather honest reviews for your app
- Measure and track: MAU/DAU, retention rates, downloads, ARPU, LTV
- Keep updates coming and use patch notes to talk to your users
- Always listen to customer feedback
Research competitors’ apps
It’s very important to start your way to the app store top rankings with researching the key players in the chosen category. This can give you some great insights into how other apps are named, which categories they are targeting, which keywords they are using. You can create a similar spreadsheet like the one below in order to find out where your app stands against the competition.
Such spreadsheet will give you the basic idea whether there are any key features that you might have missed.
Be sure to look at the reviews of competing apps and try to make a list of all the good things in them and what people are complaining about. Here’s a great example of a user making a feature request via a review in the App Store. Making a list of the most wanted features and clearly communicating them to your audience will greatly help your app stay ahead of the game.
You spent so much time developing your app, you designed it the best way possible and added so many useful features that it’s gonna be a guaranteed hit. Or is that so? Real world people often use your app in the ways you haven’t even imagined sometimes. So beta testers are a must to polish your app before releasing it for everyone. Beta testing is the first opportunity to get some unbiased first-hand feedback from your target audience.
Identify your target customer, find out as many people that are similar to your audience and recruit beta testers. Actively engage with them to learn as much as you can about your app. You should reward active beta testers with different perks and cool stuff and then put them on the early sign-up list. They should be the first to know when your app is out.
Apple TestFlight is a great platform to beta test your app. You should carefully plan the number of beta testers as it depends on your goals, length of the test and how much data you need to acquire.
App Store Optimization
After you got an app ready to be published there are major factors which should be carefully considered like ASO-friendly app name, the most suitable category choice, store description with the best conversion in mind, representative screenshots and video, etc.
It’s very important to pay attention to every possible decision on this stage from app icon and app store screenshot designs that would captivate new users to keyword choice and localizations for different regions. Careful testing and analyzing all the key parameters lead to the best visibility and discoverability of your app.
App Name – You should carefully consider using either just a unique brand name for your app or using a combined name consisting of a brand with small description (or just a few keywords). A lot of developers optimize discoverability of their apps using a combination of brand names and common search terms.
Keywords – The keywords are the most important factor that will help your app get discovered by users. The app has just about hundred characters in the keywords section. You can conduct a deep analysis of the most effective keywords using different services like App Annie for example. Remember to experiment with your keywords to find out what is the best for your app.
Description – When you search for an app the App Store displays only a few lines of text and users need to tap on “more” to continue reading the description. So it’s really important that your app clearly states its key message in the first lines of description.
Sometimes developers add key milestones an app have achieved that can captivate the audience and get them to try an app out of curiosity. It can be either a feature in a major blog, or a top position in an App Store category or maybe an award received from major media.
Screenshots and Video – The screenshots and a small trailer of your app are the most representative means you have at your disposal to show your audience what the app is about. The best way to do that is to cleverly combine detailed main features of your app with some actual screenshots on a target device. This would help your users understand what does your app do, how it does that and do they need it or like it visually.
Localization – It’s very important to understand if your app is going to be useful around the Globe in different countries. If so then you should definitely consider at least having App Store essentials like app name, description, keywords, etc translated to different languages. It would greatly help your app discoverability and visibility in local App Stores.
Publishing in app stores
So your app is ready to roll. It is responsive and beautiful, everything is ready for the App Store, app namings and descriptions in different languages, the most suitable and captivating screenshots with a cool video describing your app, good looking icon, carefully picked keywords after days of analysis. It’s time to submit the app to Apple App Store, Google Play Store and other platforms. Make sure you are following all the guidelines and best practices so that everything goes smoothly and the app will not be rejected by reviewing commissions.
Marketing strategy: Press Kit, Outreach Plan, Website
What’s next? There should be a well thought marketing strategy for an app initial impulse that involves basic promotion campaign. Here’s a basic checklist of activities your marketing plan should definitely include:
- PR support – write letters about your app to the list of tech blogs, mobile centric blogs, major media and others. Be sure to include a press kit with all the needed information and review codes for your app.
- Influencer marketing – don’t forget to make a list of relevant YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr personalities and contact them about reviewing your app.
- Community outreach – sometimes there are people struggling to accomplish things your app is designed to accomplish. Reach out to them via forums, communities like Reddit and other websites that gather people with similar interests.
- Website – if you don’t have resources to make it then use some free platform like WordPress, Medium or Tumblr. Though having a dedicated website greatly boosts SEO for your app and its overall discoverability.
The basic promotional campaign must have a required exposure to the media ensuring initial user acquisition. All these steps contribute greatly towards making an app a great success.
Plan the day
You should decide the best time, place and context to launch your mobile app. It is also important to develop a profound understanding of your audience segments and make value-based target group segmentations.
Planning a release date in advance will help you ensure it your app gets needed exposure and press coverage. Make sure you keep track of major announcements in the tech world so that your app’s release date does not coincide with them.
You don’t want your app to be announced on the same day with a new iPhone or PlayStation.
Don’t forget that building anticipation around your app and getting it previewed by influencers and media can be very helpful on your road to success.
After the launch
Getting user reviews in apps is a matter of dispute right now among all the developers. Should you ask your app users to leave a review in the App Store? Or should you maybe buy an initial number of reviews on some shady website that promise a hundred real life reviews for just a few hundred bucks?
The best way is to encourage your users to leave a feedback in a very subtle and discreet manner once in awhile. The new guidelines in the App Store suggest asking only a couple time in a year. Give your users something in return for a feedback and let them know that you read all the reviews and take them into consideration.
User Tracking Tools
Your app revenue and download numbers are a great indicator of the success. But you have to be sure that this success is at least long term. Which features draw people in? Are there particular section where people are frustrated and close the app? How often people use your app? Keeping track of these parameters is a key to continuously improve your app and keep users engaged. What should you look at?
- DAU and MAU – Your daily and monthly active users.
- Retention rate – How often people return to your app? Check daily, weekly and monthly retention rates. This will help you determine how well your app fits into your users’ lives.
- ARPU – How much money an average user brings. ARPU = Total revenue generated by the app / Total active users of the app.
- LTV (Lifetime Value) – The value of your app user over their lifetime in the app.
In order to track and analyze all those key metrics there are lots of high end services that provide lots of useful data. You can choose from different great services like App Annie, Mixpanel, AppsFlyer, Localytics, AppSee, Countly, Apsalar, Upsight and others.
After gathering all the data you should have monthly visibility and ranking reports as well as in-depth analysis that include dynamics for all key metrics. Those reports will help make conclusions, run tests and change everything on the fly to keep your app on top with the best possible strategy.
On average, a smartphone user downloads 25 apps on his phone, with the number being as high as 40 in some countries. And all those apps have updates once in awhile.
Mostly users update all the apps automatically, but there’s a huge number of people who read out the update notes and sometimes choose not to update if there’s something like “bug fixes” without any changes or features mentioned.
You should treat the app update description as a marketing channel to boost retention rates of your users. Describe what’s new, mention even slightest changes, promote some discounts or free trials and tell people you heard their feedback. This can get back users who haven’t opened your app in a while.
Imagine your app being downloaded a million times. There hundreds of thousands of users. And every user should be treated individually, because it’s a competitive market. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and one that can be harmful if you don’t pay attention to your users.
You can reply to user reviews on Google Play and soon you will be able to do that in Apple App Store as well. Every developer can do that but not everyone is doing it to provide support to customers.
Sometimes developers are so pissed off with reviews they even go down to insulting their users. Please don’t do that.
Here’s an excellent example of a developer responding to a customer query with a viable solution and a suggestion of more reliable support through website to solve issues privately.
Bekitzur can help
It’s very important to cover all the bases to ensure your app’s success. Sometimes it takes a lot of resources, including time to undergo all those stages with maximum efficiency.
Bekitzur has a team of highly experienced mobile professionals with key expertise in ASO, mobile promotion, user acquisition who will undertake all the necessary steps to launch your app for any platform, gain necessary exposure and rankings thus ensuring its success on the market. Moreover our team is deeply integrated with developers and designers which means that any change in the app needed for its success can be done in no time.
Here at Bekitzur we understand the importance of determining your ultimate marketing and tactic campaign goals, forecasting the projected campaign performance, measuring your long-term ROI and lifetime user value and also transforming insights and research data into actionable marketing tactics.
If you want to develop your app from the ground up or improve its visibility, discoverability as well as overall design and usability, feel free to contact us. Our teams are always happy to help and accept a new challenge.