With the growing competition in the app market, making your mobile application stand out from the rest is essential. The app should be able to grab users’ attention which leaves you with no room for error and inaccuracy.
The projected market volume is estimated to be US$641.10bn by 2027. It has shown an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2027) of 6.91%. The gaming application alone held the largest revenue share of more than 42% in 2022.
Soft launch becomes a prerequisite to ascertain that your app is ready to enter the App store and compete. It holds more value for first-time app developers with little experience.
As the app market continues to get crowded, ensuring that your app is of some worth to users is important. It is when soft launch becomes the knight in shining armor.
What is a soft launch?
Releasing the app to a restricted audience (up to 100k) before its official launch is called a soft launch. It is a strategy that involves little marketing to analyze how the app performs.
One can also understand soft launch as a test drive of the app to examine its presence and performance in the market. It helps understand the viability of the app and gives an idea about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) before the official launch. At the same time, it helps form an initial user base.
All this help understand whether the app is ready to enter the App Store.
How to do App Soft Launch?
Planning a soft launch is the foremost step of the process. Before you soft launch, ask yourself:
- Who will be the target audience?
- How many users should be targeted to get significant data?
- Which locations will be the best for a soft launch?
- What will be the duration of the soft launch?
- What features will be there at the time of the soft launch?
- What platform will be targeted- Android, iOS, or both?
- How much money can we spend on a soft launch?
Once you have the answers, you will be ready with a draft for better planning and management.
Now let’s talk about how to soft launch an app. Even though a soft launch for one product may differ from the other, certain recommendations stay relevant for all.
Factors to Consider for a Soft Launch
The first thing you should do is to decide your target audience. Here, it is not necessary to target more users as sometimes conducting tests only on hundreds or thousands of users is sufficient to get meaningful data.
There is no need to make your app 100% ready. It is because after analyzing the users’ data, you may need to add and delete certain features before the official launch. Therefore, an app with basic functionality will suffice for a soft launch.
Onboarding and navigation
Another thing to consider is easing an app’s onboarding and navigation process. The retention rate may suffer in the early stages if the user takes too much time to onboard or gets confused while using the features. You should also check the retention point when the users decide to stay with the app.
Take an insight into your monetization model during the soft launch. If the current model does not perform as anticipated, you may need to change it.
Keywords play a significant role; therefore, analyzing which keywords work the best will help. This information will help you adjust the app store page.
Create a Buzz
If your business already has a website, create a buzz and check what people say about your app launch. It will give you a sneak peek into the users’ minds.
Use powerful server
Make sure the servers are powerful and don’t misbehave due to overload. If it happens, the user data may alter and become useless.
Where to Soft Launch?
Once you know how to soft launch, the next question is where to launch. It is one of the deciding factors that will tell how well an app will perform in the soft launch.
The thumb rule is to test where you want to advance after the official release. It doesn’t mean you have to test in the key market.
You may also choose the regions which are closest to it. For instance, if the target is the United States, the audience for the soft launch could be English speaking population of any country, preferably a neighboring country.
What are the benefits of a soft launch?
A soft launch is like a rehearsal of a hard launch. It helps businesses get a deeper insight into user data. Some of the major benefits of a soft launch are:
1. Gives an insight into user engagement and retention
Once the app is able to engage and retain users in its early stages, it can cut the user acquisition cost significantly. It is mainly because retaining an existing customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one.
2. Assists in easy presentation of the app
As you soft launch, the app is presented step by step before users.
It helps understand how real users perceive the different features of the app. As a result, you can make all the desired changes in every step before the official launch.
3. Open possibility to scrutinize and fix errors
Soft launch help determines if the app is ready for the official launch. A low retention rate indicates that the app cannot engage users. In such cases, you can analyze what’s going wrong and where so that you can fix it on time. Sometimes you may need to start a new app from scratch.
4. Helps optimize the user experience
Once you get users’ feedback, you can work on different aspects, like what features users like and dislike the most and how easy it was to use the application and navigate from one feature to another.
It will help make the users’ experience more optimized. Feedback can also be collected through polls and surveys.
5. Checks if the app store page is optimized
The soft launch gives you time to index useful keywords for the app. Once you find out the top-performing keywords, you can use them during the official launch.
6. Aids in segmenting the audience
The soft launch also helps divide the app users based on their value to the app. You can rate them from the highest to the lowest. Rating will help decide which target audience you have to focus on more. At the same time, you can improve the targeting during the official launch.
Apart from these, a soft launch also helps understand the onboarding process and its level of ease, easy-to-interact features, and the features that will require an update and more promotion. All this will help in better optimization of the app experience.
A soft launch is the best and an efficient way to test your app before its official launch. With a clear idea about the target audience and competitors, you can get meaningful insight into your app. This, in turn, will help improve the weaker areas and fix the errors before the final launch.