How to launch a successful mobile app in 2021

Tim Waldenback
More from Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest trends in modern business is having a dedicated mobile app. 

Many businesses have their own apps to boost sales or offer another platform for users to access content and services. In fact, you’ll find apps for everything from banks to local restaurants to community gyms and fitness centers.

If you’re considering creating a mobile app for your business, you’re in good company. Mobile apps can be excellent revenue generators, but the ease of creating them makes them more difficult to launch successfully.

Apps can be done inexpensively, or expensively, depending on how much complexity you add. One thing is for sure, though: the money and resources you put into developing your mobile app are for naught if you don’t make sure the launch is on point.

Learn how to conduct a successful app launch and retain users for a long time to come.

1. Do market research

As of now, millions of apps are available in the popular app stores, such as Google Play and Apple App Store. So, you’ll have some competition for your mobile app, and the best way to ensure you’re separating your app from the rest is market research.

Start by learning who your competitors are in the space and which apps are the leaders. Check out what your competitors do well, where they fall short, and what their users say. This can help you develop an app that delivers better value to users and avoid the pitfalls of your predecessors. 

2. Establish success metrics

What does success look like for your mobile app? Is it simply launching the app? Probably not. 

Set measurable and attainable goals for your app launch. Some of the results you can measure include the install rate, retention rate, number of ratings, average rating, and for paid apps, the revenue generated.

These metrics should give you a place to start. For comparison, most mobile apps have the highest install rate in the first month of launch, which eventually levels off. The average rating is three or four stars out of five, but you should aim for as close to five stars as possible.

3. Consider different versions of the app

One platform used to be sufficient for an app, but now, apps should be available across multiple platforms. Cross-platform development not only gives you more reach, but it’s more cost-effective to develop them all at once. You should consider having web browser versions of your app to allow users to enjoy your app on any device. 

4. Claim social media accounts

Before your launch, be sure to claim your accounts on social media and promote your app development. You can drum up excitement about your app and get early signups. While your app is in development, you may get ideas for features or capabilities from your audience to help you deliver the best product. 

Once your app is launched, change the link in the social media to direct users right to the app store download. The ultimate goal is downloads, and this makes it easier for users to find your app and download it.

5. Create content

As much as your app should be intuitive, users expect communication about how to use it and how to access certain features. Ideally, you should have blog posts, social media content, website pages, emails, and press releases about your app’s features, navigation, and uses. 

You can schedule your content to go live on launch day or send it out in advance to prepare users. Once the app is launched, make sure you check in with your users on social media to provide any updates about support issues or new features.

Also, think deeply about what content your users would benefit from. One of the states that is particularly important for us is Oregon. We have many users and aspiring drivers that download our app, so we in turn ensure we create content for that market. This manifests in an exam-like Oregon practice test page containing the most valuable information about the practice test and illustrates the specifics of testing in that state. 

6. Make a demo

If you really want to make your app easy for users, create a demo video that shows people how to use the app, what you can do, and what the features are. This is easy to do with different screen capture programs or presentation programs.

When you’re talking about the app and walking people through it, communicate the features and their benefits. For example, Zutobi provides content to help student drivers prepare for driving tests. 

If a user answers a question incorrectly, the app has a popup that explains the law surrounding the question to help them learn more effectively. This is the type of feature that would be best to explain in a demo to show how the app offers deeper learning experiences than just right or wrong answers. 

7. Develop a special site or page

Launching a special site or page for your app is a great way to complement your social media posts and provide more information about your app. This is especially true if your app acts as a business on its own. If you prefer, you can create a page that’s just for your app that users can find easily.

The site or page should have information like the demo video, features and benefits, device requirements, and a “sign up for a download” alert email with a link to the app when it goes live. 

All of this information can build trust and confidence and prompt a user to download the app to prepare for the practice test. 

8. Choose your app store

In the future, you can put your app on different app stores to widen your reach. But at first, it’s best to focus your efforts on just one store to generate the highest volume of users and ratings. 

In addition, the first few weeks and months after your launch will be a time for app updates, changes, and improvements. If you only have your app in one store, you can streamline updates with minimal disruption to users. Then, once all the kinks are ironed out, you can expand your app to different stores. 

The most common app stores are the Apple App Store and the Android Market, but there are plenty more out there. If you’re not sure which is best for your app, do some audience research and testing to see which store is used most by your target users. 

9. Implement app store optimization (ASO)

ASO is different from search engine optimization (SEO). Both are important to your ranking, but ASO is what improves your app’s visibility in the store and gets it out in front of potential users. 

The best practices of ASO aren’t too different from SEO. The most important part is keywords, which should be included — naturally — into the title, description, and any available fields. This will help users find your app when they’re browsing categories. 

Another helpful ASO factor is screenshots and previews. These help users understand what to expect from the app and encourage a download. Focus your keywords on the most common use cases for your app. 

10. Have a launch party

Congratulations! You’re ready to launch your app. Your work is far from over, but you can celebrate the official launch with an intimate digital launch party. Invite early adopters, journalists, and influencers and offer live discounts or prizes to share in the launch and spread the word. 

And now, it’s time to put your plan to action!

About the author

Tim Waldenback is the Co-Founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online driver education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.

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