Strategies to guide a successful App Pre-launch

Consider having to compete with only 500 apps in the entire App Store.

Sounds like every mobile marketer’s dream!

When the App Store was launched in 2009, that is what the landscape looked like. Fast forward 10 years and it’s a very different story, the number of apps in the market skyrocketed, and the challenges for mobile marketers continue to grow. While every now and then some overnight successes still happen, having a solid go-to-market plan in place now is crucial to the success of every app.

But as the market becoming drastically more competitive over the years and with the growing challenge of being discovered in an ocean of competition, have you considered promoting your new app before it’s actually ready to launch?

Here’s the thing, if you launch the app before starting any marketing activities, you’re already behind on getting the audience that your app could have been developing, and you’ll end up running after the business.

The marketing process should begin while the app is still under development and be treated as an essential part of the process. You’ve got millions apps that you’re competing with - strategy is key!

To help you through this journey, here are some ideas for putting together a successful pre-launch for your app:

Define user personas

One of the first things to be very clear on when you’re developing an app is who your audience is. The customer should be at the center of everything you do, from the design and function of your app to the marketing plan you create to draw them to it.

There are a couple of key points here; firstly, you need to have a clear grasp of the problem that your app solves, secondly, you must know who you are solving it for.

Content Marketing Institute quotes a talk given by a keynote speaker on the importance of developing and using buyer personas. The crux of it is that companies (or apps!) go out of business if they ignore these questions:

“Who the heck are we going to talk to? Why will they care? What are we going to say that’s relevant to them?”

These key questions should be answered in well-developed user personas and should inform the direction of your app.

Study the competition

If you have direct competitors (and most will), you can find a goldmine of information that will be useful to your own app development and marketing.

Dissect your competitors. It is worth investing in some market research to understand factors such as:

  • Who are they targeting?
  • How are other apps in your category being named?
  • Which ones are popular and why?
  • Which keywords are competitors ranking for?
  • What feedback are their customers providing? Are there tips you could take away to improve your own app or to better market it?
  • Have they missed key features or created features that annoy people which you could improve on?

Develop marketing aspects

Never wait until the last minute to get your marketing points ironed out. This includes looking at those personas you’ve created and developing a value proposition which will be attractive to those people.

Other marketing aspects to develop include keys for getting your app discovered on launch, such as:

  • Your app name. There’s an art to naming an app well so that it will be catchy and memorable, but also likely to turn up in searches. Many apps favor the strategy of creating a “brand” name but adding in the functionality into the title. For example, a travel app might add something like “flight reservations” tagged onto the end of the title.
  • Keywords. Do your ASO (app store optimization) keyword research early so that you’re ready to go at launch with optimized pages and listings. These keywords should also be used on the marketing material you develop.
  • Preview screens or trailers. A picture is worth a thousand words. People want to see clear visuals demonstrating your app. Start to put these together early and you can use them in pre-launch marketing materials.
  • Create a media list and press kit. The media list should document key media outlet contacts that will be interested in stories about your app. While the press kit is meant for distribution. It should include things such as those screenshots or trailers, as well as app information and icons.

Create a campaign page

It’s always preferable if you can start to build an email list early of those who are interested in your app. For this reason, a landing page is a good idea, either on your website (if you already have one) or using a landing page service such as Leadpages or LaunchRock for example.

Your landing page should be promoted through any paid advertising that you do, on social media, in emails and possibly via shares from influencers.

The page needs to be fully optimized for CTA (call-to-action) and the CTA is a natural extension of the contents.

Everything here is of significance. The landing page’s structure, the design, fonts and colors, visuals used, content and the button itself have to be integrated.

When people land on your page, they should immediately see some key benefits of your app, maybe some features and any screenshots or trailer videos you have made. Give them a simple signup form where they can join your email list - making this task easy is a core purpose of the campaign landing page.

Submit your App for Review

Using a site like Preapps is the best way to preview and share mobile apps before they hit the market. They host a community of early adopters, from where you also may be able to source beta testers. It’s also a great place to gain subscribers for your email list.

Posting up your app is easy, but you do have to provide them with the following information:

  • App name
  • App description
  • Price
  • Category
  • Device
  • Expected release date
  • App icon
  • App screenshots

Don’t get too hung up if you feel that your description, icon or screenshots aren’t quite ready yet - these can be changed later on.

Find a ready audience

Preapps above is a great example of a ready audience, but there are other places you should look to find “your people.”

For example, you might create content and share it on Medium because your particular audience can be found there. You might post on related sub-Reddits, LinkedIn groups or Twitter conversations.

Another great place to head for information and publicity is Quora. This can be an especially useful channel if you’d like to ask questions or opinions about problems or matters related to your app, but it also provides the opportunity for you to be the one giving the answers.

Look for relevant questions being asked that are related to your app’s purpose and provide an answer to them. You can throw in the link to your landing page in your answer.

Plan your release date

One does not simply decide upon a release date… Make the mistake of launching on the same day as a new Apple, Samsung product or any other major headliner on the tech calendar and your launch could be drowned out by the noise.

If you plan your launch ahead, you have a better chance of having your marketing in place appropriately and of courting press attention. This is especially true if you have been able to attract some influencers during pre-launch and get them to review your app.

There should be a buildup of anticipation and a launch date set for when you are sure you can have your app in optimum condition to present to the public.

Build a content marketing strategy

Your content marketing strategy can prove to be a key acquisition channel if done well. It takes time to scale, but the best content strategies help you to build a community around your app, developing enthusiastic followers before you’ve even launched.

The basis of this strategy should again come back to those user personas - what does your target audience want to see and where do they want to see it? Many apps will use their own website to develop a blog, which can be a great way to draw search traffic and channel more signups to your email list.

You may also consider channels we touched on earlier, such as Medium or even publishing on LinkedIn.

Another popular strategy is to find websites which have well-developed audiences that fall within your own target. Crafting curated, relevant and engaging guest posts that deliver value for these sites and get attention for your own app.

Develop your social channels

Use your pre-launch period to build out your social channels, but don’t feel that you need to be on every possible site. Look at your user personas and focus on the key channels where you’re most likely to connect with them.

It is much better to cover less but well than several channels in a piecemeal fashion. Be consistent, and focus on quality. Your posts need to be regular, engaging and generating the excitement you need to encourage people to download your app when it’s ready. Furthermore, don’t forget to tailor your content to the different channels specifications.

Keep building buzz

A common mistake that app developers make during the pre-launch period is to start out with building an email list, creating content and posting to social media, but let it fizz out over time as they get busy with their work.

If you want a successful launch, the trick is to keep building buzz over that pre-launch period. Communicate regularly with your email list, share exciting updates and keep the conversation going on social media.

Ready for pre-launch?

When it comes to app marketing, every small detail matters. Your pre-launch phase for your app will be one of the biggest factors determining how well you go at launch.

Marketing your app begins while you’re still developing it and to do so well, you need to be clear about your user personas, the problem you are solving and your unique value proposition.

Start building out your marketing materials and communication channels early, and provide regular updates to keep the buzz going. Understand what your audience expectations and be responsive to their feedback, positive or negative. A timely update can ensure that you don’t lose a valuable user to a potential competitor.

Keep in mind that your app journey doesn’t end here. Remember to keep promoting, evaluating and improving your app strategy in order to achieve real success.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so comment below!

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