There are so many mobile apps that are being developed and submitted to the App Store daily that it may give one a headache. In Q1 2022, users installed 37 billion apps, an 11% rise from 2021. Most were on Android (around 28 billion) and about 8 billion on iOS. However, iOS generated more revenue, with $1.80 spent for every $1 on Android (Forbes).
Creating an app is one thing, but releasing it, making sure everything works as it should and making people know it exists is another. Consequently, the standards are getting higher and higher – not only tech-wise but also on the customer (target audience) side. All the expectations and demands to hit the brief can be very intimidating.
This is why we want to guide you through a very important fraction of it – all the things that you need to do right before releasing your app. As it all is usually being taken care of pretty late in the timeline, it is very often neglected or forgotten. Or simply, people are too much in a hurry to properly focus on what is there to consider before their mobile app launch.
I would venture to say that the very final part of the development process that we are going to be talking about now is crucial in order to nail the release of your product to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. So, if you want to ensure a successful mobile app launch, let me guide you!
Launching Mobile Apps: Am I alone in this?
Statistics speak for themselves: an average person has 40 apps installed on their phone, however – half of them remain unused (Simform). In the constantly evolving software development environment, building a successful and well-received application is not that easy and involves countless complex steps. In some cases, you will have to go through all of them on your own, but fortunately, you don’t have to.
You can rely on the knowledge of experts who will guide you through the application development process, deployment and store verification of your product. App developers will provide you with tips, a checklist or ideas/strategy options for you to reach the market and customers you desire so that you can launch your app painlessly.
However, even if you have a great software development company taking care of you, you may want to get to know this secret formula by yourself as well.
Successful Mobile App Launch Process
Nearly all of the Google Play or Apple App Store optimization steps are vital when it comes to succeeding on the market. Some of them may be obvious for the more experienced readers, yet we decided to keep them here for the sake of beginners in releasing apps. Let’s see what you need to prepare and decide on before launching your app.
Do Competitor Research
Before releasing an app, you definitely need to scroll through the App Store, Google Play Store, and the Internet in order to search for competitor apps similar to yours. Analyse both the apps themselves (their features, layout etc.) and all the other provided traits, such as screenshots, mockups, descriptions and anything else that is provided. Competitor research provides you with knowledge about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses pre-launch – noticing what’s missing in their apps is a chance for you to fill that gap!
Competitor and market research is a part of a go-to-market strategy and you should take care of it at the very beginning of the software development process. If for some reason you haven’t already done so, now is the time to think about it!
Decide on Pricing
It makes a big difference whether an app in the store is free of charge or not. Pricing affects the regions where your app can be downloaded in the world. There are still some places that do not support paid downloads and/or in-app purchases.
Also, an important thing to note is that it is impossible to change from a free to a priced app later on in the app store. So if you want to change that in the future, you will have to create a new app and set new pricing. Each key change will then require you to go through the verification process again and that takes time.
There are several options to consider when it comes to pricing models. Firstly, tailoring the pricing model to suit your end-users is essential for success.
Again, setting a price right before the app launch is the last moment to think about, and I don’t recommend it to do it so late. Before you jump into the development part, you should create a business plan and decide on pricing – this way you make sure your app will be profitable.
Implementing a freemium model is an excellent strategy to raise awareness about your app. Take, for example, Spotify, which offers both free and paid versions to users. While the paid version delivers enhanced personalization and flexibility, even users of the Spotify freemium can enjoy its benefits.
Another option is to offer a free app supported by advertisements. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance, as excessive ads can negatively impact the user experience. Also, select relevant ads to enhance user engagement. For example, if you launch a travel mobile app, adverts with travel backpacks can turn out to be useful to your users.
Commission fees can be an effective method, especially in booking apps. With commission fees, you earn a bonus on every purchase. For example, when someone buys accommodation in a hotel, your app earns a certain percentage on it. Additionally, charging hosts or hotels a small commission for getting listed benefits both parties, with the app earning profits and hosts gaining exposure without additional advertising expenses.
If you target a specific niche audience, you may think about a subscription model (weekly, monthly or annual fee) but it is crucial to ensure that thorough market research justifies the pricing of your service. By offering users a trial period to experience the app’s value before committing to payment, you hold the potential to cultivate an exceptionally loyal user base. When your app’s functionality not only meets but exceeds user expectations during the trial, it fosters a sense of loyalty, compelling them to become long-term paying customers.
Pay-Per-Download (PPD) Model
Pay-Per-Download model represents one of the traditional methods of generating revenue in the app industry. Paid applications, often referred to as pay-per-download (PPD) apps, follow a simple model wherein users pay a single fee to download the app. After this initial payment, users enjoy unrestricted access to the app without incurring any further costs.
There are more ways to monetise your app, such as pricing per feature, different packages for user segments, or in-app purchases. You can read more about monetization strategies in Kasia’s article, in which she describes them in detail, exploring their characteristics, benefits, and disadvantages.
Remember that a successful app launch requires thorough preparation, including choosing the right monetisation model. For more insights on launching your app, you can refer to our article about the go-to-market strategy.
Choose the Distribution Area
Hopefully, you’ve already decided on your target market during the discovery phase so you know whether your goal is to target a specific country or go big and allow downloads from all over the world. If you want your app to be available only in a specific country, you need to select it at this moment.
Moreover, remember that (especially if the language of your app is not English by default) you should provide all the necessary translations. Otherwise, if you launch a Spanish app to German-speaking countries, it, of course, won’t give you much revenue.
In addition to translations, consider providing localised content and customer support to create a seamless user experience for people from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This level of personalisation shows your commitment to serving their specific needs, fostering trust and loyalty among international users.
Furthermore, at this point, you have the flexibility to select the specific devices on which you intend to launch your app, be it smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
Write a Catchy Description
Write a catchy description but remember to keep it rather short. It has to be a highly informative text that sticks to the policies of your brand. Focus on the benefits your potential users can gain by downloading your app. Instead of writing about your mobile app’s functionalities, write what specific problem your app solves for your buyer persona.
You may want to ask yourself how formal you want it to be and what tone you want to use. It should be coherent with your app marketing, website, social media channels etc.
Take Care of Google Play or Apple App Store Optimization
Using keywords in the app name and description can significantly impact its search rankings. According to MobileDevHQ, incorporating keywords in the app name can increase the likelihood of higher rankings by 10.3%, which is a significant boost.
Both the Apple Store and Google Play have a maximum character limit of 30 for the app title, so it’s essential to convey your message concisely. Some apps opt for just their brand name in the title, while others include a brief description with relevant keywords in the following format:
[Product Name]: [Description with keywords]
For example, take a look at how other popular apps handled app store optimization:
Users seek assurance that your app will provide value, and reviews play a significant role in establishing trust, especially when they come from trusted sources. Beginning the relationship on a positive note by showcasing testimonials from satisfied users can be highly beneficial.
Moreover, these testimonials can also serve as valuable assets when reaching out to the press.
The “What’s new” Section
The “What’s New” section is crucial as it provides information about the latest version of the app. It’s a significant aspect, as various applications have their unique style in presenting updates. Some simply list the changes, while others craft a completely new and engaging description of the application’s updates and improvements.
Focus on Visuals
Research has demonstrated that the human brain can process images and videos 60,000 times faster than text, underlining the significant value of image-based communication (3M). So, show people why your app is worth attention.
Create Screenshots and Upload Mockups
Prepare various screenshots of your app and decide on which ones of them are the most representative. I would suggest showcasing screenshots that inform users how the app works. Put them in a logical order to tell a visual story of your app’s functionality, making it easier for users to understand.
When preparing screenshots for your app, make sure they accurately represent the app’s interface. Screenshots should clearly demonstrate the features and functionalities of the application. Any deviations from this or screenshots that do not match the actual content of the app could potentially result in the app being rejected by the store.
You can also consider running A/B tests with different screenshots to see which ones resonate better with your target audience. Some of them will surely look better and have better conversion rates than others. Put them in the mockups!
Screenshots also play a huge role in the whole marketing part. You can use them in various marketing channels like your app’s social media accounts, on your landing page or on crowdfunding platforms to attract investors and gather funds. If you’re looking for ways to gain attention from investors, I highly recommend reading Jakub’s article which provides you with valuable suggestions and tips on raising funds for your app.
Don’t forget to upload the screenshots into mockups that are app store-optimised. It means they need to be of high quality and resolution. Also, check the required dimensions for screenshots on the app stores you’re targeting (iOS App Store and Google Play Store have different size requirements) and ensure your images fit within those dimensions. Last, but not least, adhere to the guidelines and policies set by each app store regarding the content and design of screenshots and mockups. This makes it easier for the app to go through the verification process and makes the whole arrangement look more professional.
Create a Video Teaser of Your App & Spread The Word
This is another way of making people want to download your app. A nice video showing off all the nicest features can really do miracles. Especially if you decide to release it earlier on as a part of your marketing strategy.
However, while making an app launch video, it’s not only about how it looks. You should also have a script that gets people interested by showing them what’s good about your app. Keep the video short so people stay interested, and let them know what’s your app’s unique selling point, so they will want to use it. In a world where content video is highly popular, a well-made app launch video should be thoughtful to help your app succeed and get more people to download it.
Develop a Marketing Strategy and Reach The Press
Promote your app! Think about it months before the planned app launch date. This way, you can ensure yourself a good amount of downloads (clients) right away. If you make an interesting campaign, people will be literally counting the days until your app gets on the market.
Get Your Press Releases Picked up
Consider contacting journalists, writers or bloggers who have an audience that aligns with yours. Distributing the press release allows various publications to share it, spreading the word about your mobile app launch to a broader audience!
In order to achieve that, find a person who may be interested in writing about your new app, get their contact information, and craft a compelling pitch. Make the first sentence of your email the most important, allowing your receiver to quickly understand the topic. Remember to keep it short and straight to the point, as no one has time to read multiple long emails and engage in your detailed story.
Take Care of Your Social Media Presence
Consider creating social media accounts where you will post some teasing screenshots and videos. Your aim should be to hook people within a few weeks/months time so that they are willing to go straight to the App Store or Google Play Store as soon as your app is ready to download.
By sharing sneak peeks and engaging content on social media, you can build anticipation and curiosity among potential users. Be strategic with your posts, gradually revealing unique features and benefits of your app. Encourage users to follow your social media accounts for updates and announcements about the app launch.
X (previously Twitter) and LinkedIn are good platforms to start with and attract users, as they are frequently used for industry-related news. You can also try TikTok and engage with trends! However, always choose a platform suitable for your target audience. Who knows, maybe the post about your new app will go viral and people won’t stop talking about it?
Create a Preorder or Early Access
Something that you may also want to contemplate is creating a preorder or an early sign-up for your project. Having marketing done right, you should be able to get many people interested in this form of exclusive app access. This form of early access is the most popular among gaming apps. However, it works for other applications as well.
Also, consider beta testing as it may be a crucial phase in the software development process, where a select group of users are given access to a pre-release version of the application. They can help you to identify and report bugs, provide feedback, and test the overall app’s performance, being engaged in the development process at the same time (what they consider a privilege). By implementing beta testing, app developers can refine the application based on real user feedback, leading to a well-received final product that meets the needs and expectations of the app’s target audience.
Decide on The Launch Date
Find a suitable moment for your app to be launched officially and remember that not always the sooner the better. Once you’ve gone through all the above steps, there is likely to be some significant buzz around the app’s release. It’s essential to wait for a strategic marketing moment to maximise impact.
For example, consider launching a dating app before Valentine’s Day, a travel app in early spring to align with holiday planning, or an updated e-commerce app with improvements around Black Friday. Use industry-specific seasonality to your advantage. However, be mindful of avoiding particularly busy calendar days when people may have other engagements that could divert their attention away from the app.
Keep the Verification Process in Mind
While setting a launch date for your app, remember to take the verification process into consideration. The duration for app store verification can vary, taking from a few hours to several days. It’s crucial to note that if your app gets rejected, you’ll need to make adjustments and await another round of verification.
If You Verify Your App with Other Tools…
Often, you might use external tools (like TestFlight on iOS) to test your app within a specific group of users. If you decide to test it with a wider audience, TestFlight will tell you to go through a verification process similar to the final app store verification. Assuming your initial testing with TestFlight went well, consider setting aside just around a week for the verification process. This allows time for any necessary improvements without any changes to your launch date.
Reasons for the rejection
Common reasons for the app store’s rejections include issues like location permissions. If you don’t explain why you’re tracking user location within the app, they’ll reject it and ask you to provide that. It applies to any data you collect about users.
Furthermore, iOS now requires a permanent user removal option – not just logging out, but deleting the account entirely.
In essence, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the rules of your chosen app store. Provide them with the necessary information, including responsible parties, to ensure a smooth app publishing process.
From my perspective, the entire process of verification isn’t overly complex as app stores offer comprehensive guidance on how to do it successfully.
Make sure that your app will run freely on the versions of Android and iOS that you chose earlier on, as well as name the oldest versions of operating systems that it will be available for.
A well-rendered app will easily load on all kinds of screen sizes and pixel densities. It is important to remember it unless you do not want to call your app scalable.
How to Launch an App From The Technical Point of View?
First off, you can use the tools provided by Apple (Xcode) or Android (Android App Bundle) to put your app together and send it directly through their platforms. Another option is to use a tool called Fastlane, which can do the job externally. Fastlane automates the whole process, setting up your code to go straight to the app store’s waiting list for verification. This is especially handy for native apps (made just for one type of device). After you set up Fastlane once, you can use those settings again next time.
Additionally, Apple doesn’t allow manual uploads; they handle the uploading process on their own. This is because the App Store wants to make sure that it’s really you sending the app, and not someone else trying to change or add harmful things to it. To ensure it’s you, they require the right certificates. On the other hand, with Android, you can upload your app manually if you want to.
How Does the Process Differ With Cross- or Native Platform?
How to Launch an App? | Conclusion
Remember that success is never guaranteed. However, you can do certain things in order to increase the likelihood of your app launch hitting not only the sky but also the target audience and customer satisfaction.
As you can see, the process of launching your app into the app store is a much more complicated thing than a lot of people think. We advise you to take it into consideration and take care of all the above-mentioned points at least a few weeks before the set launching date or/and before finishing off the app development process. This way, you ensure yourself the best start possible.
Moreover, if you’re looking for an article about the whole software development process, from the very beginning till the very end, I recommend you read our blog post that covers this topic. Gabriela guides you through all the steps during the software development life cycle and provides you with numerous tips on how to launch an app successfully.