A soft launch, also known as a soft opening, is a preview release of a product or service to a limited audience prior to the general public.
Why Soft Launch Is Important?
When you are about to finish your app is time to think about how to launch an app? But how can you discover the best approach and what is the right direction for a successful launch? The solution for your concern could be a soft launch. We need to know what exactly means and to cover the best practices of this technique.
What Is A Soft Launch?
Soft Launch is a smaller event, eventually in a narrowed, yet representative area where you present your app to test the waters for the big release. As with any other strategies, soft release also comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Soft Launch
The positive aspects of launching your app soft for a restricted audience are:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help you decide if your app is ready for the primary market or you need to invest more into its development to be sure that you have a complete product for meeting its users.
Optimizing Key Features
Features you think that will rock the world aren’t necessarily the ones that will impress your users. To discover which solution is the best and what factors don’t let users enjoy the app then you can go for soft launch.
The earlier you start tracking your metrics the sooner you will see the right path for your app. Having a smaller amount of users which will respond to your doubts will show you in what manner you should change your strategy to satisfy your larger audience.
Disadvantages of Soft Launch
The downsides of this decision could be:
Apparently, you will lose time preparing such a strategy, but thinking on the long-term you will realize that the result is the opposite. Tracking important metrics and deciding which variant of the app works best will make you save time with bigger modifications after the final release. Not to mention that catching errors in early stages is priceless.
Risk to Lose Competitive Advantage
For a more realistic picture of the entire situation, you need to make public your entire strategy even with the most powerful points. This will make your app vulnerable in front of your competitors. It is possible to see an app similar to what you offer until your final release.
Risk to Lose In Target Market
If you publish your app on secondary markets, you face up to lose a chance to be the first in your primary market. When your app in the secondary market, there could be a similar app release which also targets your intended audience. So you may face difficulties when launching in the primary market after such a similar release.
Furthermore, users from the main market could be bothered by the fact they don’t have the priority to access the app. You can decide if this is your case at the moment you really know your users.
Where To Soft Launch?
For a successful soft launch, you need to discover the right region which will show you proper results for the big launch.
Start by drawing your target audience for your final launch. Setting the appropriate criteria will allow you to create your buyer persona. Think about the language and the lifestyle of people living in the area where you will release the app in the end.
After you have a list of characteristics for your users you can select a smaller region which meets your requests. If your full launch will be for the US, then Canada can be a good solution. The bad aspects are the CPI which continues to grow because of its popularity and the French language is spoken by half of the population. Some alternatives could be Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the Netherlands because residents speak English and their economy is similar to the US.
How To Get The Best Out Of It?
Let’s cover the most important guidelines, which will allow you to have a soft launch as you wish.
1. Make Your ASO Perfect
In order to make sure you attract as many users as possible right from the start, the soft launch is the perfect occasion to optimize your ASO. Pretend that you are launching for all potential users and make sure that all the elements on your app page mirror the high quality of your app. Testing all the visuals before exposing them in front of a massive audience worth the effort of the soft launch.
2. Funnel Tracking To Know At What Point You Convert Users
In the same time, soft launch gives you valuable hints about the drivers for converting users. You can detect all the factors which can help you transform users into customers. What are the main channels that bring you the biggest number of downloads? Or, how you will convince users to try your app? These are essential questions which will receive the answer during this soft app launch strategy.
3. Eliminate Any Bugs And Flaws
One of the best advantages of soft launches is that you can discover some errors and small mistakes faced by a smaller audience. It prevents the spreading of bugs when your full release will happen. Crash reporting tools help you avoid creating a bad impression of your professionalism.
4. Improve UX
Adopting this strategy will allow you to observe the appearance of your app on all possible screens and devices. In the same time you will receive clues on how to improve user experience for maximum engagement. Early feedback is very significant for the overall impression. Discover more on our previous article to keep up with UX Trends of 2017.
5. Track User Retention Rate
If you go for a soft launch you will be able to discover which features make people coming back to your app and what is the best pattern for an onboarding which will engage users. With soft release, measuring your retention rate every day will show you the exact moment when people stop using the app. Knowing this fact, you can change the app accordingly until the final release.
6. Enable Social Media Sharing
Make sure that you help users to spread the word about your app by implementing social media buttons. Test their results and change their position by placing them in a more engaging activity. It is very important to create the right environment for attracting users in a free and convenient mode.
7. Calculate LTV Of Users
Another important metric which requires your attention for soft release is user lifetime value. You can say that you reached the triumph with your app if LTV is higher than Cost Per Install. If the result is different from what you want you still have time to improve your app and to change the situation.
8. Test Your Monetization Model
Now is the time to decide if your decision regarding monetization was an inspired one. If LTV is still small and you don’t meet your revenue expectations then modify your strategy before full launch. If you started with a premium model, maybe a better solution is to go for a freemium one. It is your call to select the best option for your app.
9. Adjust Your Soft Launch Duration Well
It is difficult to set the optimal period of time when it comes to soft launch. Period of time for soft launches depends on the app category. After you tracked the most important metrics and you gathered the conclusions you wanted then you need to move your attention toward the full launch. Don’t delay too much with this decision if you want to make sure you won’t lose money and users.
Soft Launch vs. Hard Launch
For many companies, a soft launch offers a more cost-effective approach to app releases that also provides more time to fine-tune existing offerings. However hard launches, offer benefits considering fast revenue from mobile app monetization, but they put companies to bigger risks.
Launching the app in a controlled zone for testing its performances can be the answer for some developers. However other app owners would consider that the negative aspects of such a strategy will weight too much in the final equation. Either way, your main goal, when you create your app, is to target users’ interests and to release the app according to their needs. You need to select the right path to accomplishing this purpose. We hope we answered the question: what is a soft launch?