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Let’s end the endless debate on how to launch an app with a single phrase: it depends. If you’re an emerging startup with a nascent app idea, you’re going to start at the very beginning. Get a solid grip on your app idea, create an MVP, acquire lighthouse users, and analyze what you did wrong or right. 

If your product is at its growth stage and you know what you’re doing, you will take a different, more advanced path. Your mobile app should strive to reel in more users, unlock full monetization capabilities, and hopefully secure infinite growth.

Whatever your option is, you may find it challenging to prioritize which fire to address first, and the next best steps to take. That’s why our experts have drawn up a step-by-step checklist that includes the best product launch tips from *instinctools — based on your product maturity.

Round 1: From idea to pilot

If you are a startup with a vague product concept, your idea of a successful mobile app launch boils down to pushing out a pilot solution and testing it in the wild. In your case, you and your mobile app development team are scientists — you hypothesize, test the hypothesis by performing an experiment, and then, assess the obtained results.

From idea to pilot

Hypothesize

A good idea for an app is something that solves the problem your target audience encounters every day. In simple words, your hypothesis is all about finding a nagging problem that exists in an addressable market and solving it with a one-of-a-kind mobile application.

Conceptualizing an app

First, you have to formulate and define the idea behind a mobile application. To do that, your development team works closely with your team to understand the goals, requirements, and vision for the app. A tangible, viable, and functional app concept provides clear guidance to the designers, developers, and other stakeholders involved in the development process. 

Running market research and competitor analysis

If there’s one hard-and-fast rule in mobile app development, it’s to never skimp on the market research — unless you want to build a product no one needs.

Market research blends consumer behavior and target market trends to confirm and improve your app concept. Competitive analysis is a subset of market research that allows you to identify key market players and evaluate competitor apps to see where your product idea fits in. 

Both market and competitor research are crucial to identify opportunities for differentiation, scope out potential features, spot weaknesses and strengths of direct competitors, and assess go-to pricing and marketing strategy.

Setting your goals

Without understanding the destination, it’s very difficult to reach it. The goal-setting is focused on gaining an understanding of what the business is expecting to get from the project and how the team can contribute to this overriding goal. 

Usually, there are a few high-level goals behind a project that are then broken down into specific, measurable objectives. At this stage, you also set the KPIs specific to your product. These can include the activation rate, the number of app downloads, MAUs, and other success criteria.

Identifying your target audience

According to Statista, most app categories have an average 30-day retention rate of 1.5% to 11.3%. 

To stick around as long as possible, your product should be built with the potential app users in mind. 

Your product team can fall back on the various techniques to study the app’s target audience. Surveys, social media research, focus groups, and even a dedicated landing page can plumb the depths of your customer’s thoughts, demographics, needs, and goals. The design team then develops user flows to define interactions needed to achieve a common goal via your product.

With all of the flows captured, you can assume what app features are required to let the user achieve their goal. In parallel with this stage, your development team gathers functional and non-functional requirements for the application.

Running feasibility check

Next up, the team evaluates the technical feasibility of the project. Testing for technical feasibility, the team gains confidence in the proposed solution and ensures that the solution can be implemented with the available resources, technologies, and architectures. The proposed solutions should also meet the functional and non-functional requirements. 

If the mobile app development team has been part of the discovery efforts, then by this time, they already know whether the solution is feasible.  

Coming up with a unique value proposition

Your mobile app launch strategy is not complete without a unique selling proposition (USP) that embodies the core differentiators of your product. 

Your app’s unique selling point can be easily distilled from the app’s value map and user persona mapping. 

Deciding on a monetization strategy

So many mobile apps fail to generate revenue just because their monetization strategy is off-target. Understanding the preferences, behaviors, and spending habits of your potential users is crucial for choosing the right monetization strategy. The target operating platform should come into consideration as well.

For example, on the Google Play Store, users gravitate towards free mobile apps, while on the App Store, users are more inclined to make in-app purchases and download premium apps.

monetization strategy

Turn your idea into a revenue-generating reality

Experiment 

The previous stage is all about mulling over your new app idea. Meanwhile, the next phase is all about putting your hypothesis into practice.

Choosing a type of the app: native, cross-platform, or hybrid

The decision whether to build a native, cross-platform, or hybrid app depends on the app’s complexity, app’s functionality, and target users. Time to market, budget consideration, tech requirements, and other factors also play a role in decision-making. 

Dev Approach

Creating mockups, wireframes, prototypes

While the developers are figuring out the best path to implement your app idea, UX/UI designers are keying in on the looks. By leaning on the user flow, designers develop a realistic model of what the application will look like.

Since this is an experiment, there’s no point in creating a full-blown user interface. Instead, designers can envision the look and feel of the future product by developing:

  • A wireframe — a basic, low-fidelity blueprint for UI designs.
  • A mockup — a more detailed, yet static iteration of the wireframe outline with detailed visual elements 
  • A prototype — functional, pixel-perfect simulations of a ready product used for usability testing and user feedback sessions.
user interface

In real life, design teams can start anywhere from low-fidelity to high-fidelity models depending on the project specifics and the team’s experience with the product. 

Starting small with a Proof of Concept and/or a Minimum Viable Product 

At this stage, you piece together the insights and drafts to give your idea a real turn. There are two popular approaches to giving shape to the hypothesis while also testing the assumptions: you can either start with a PoC or go into developing an MVP

If the idea has been implemented before or there is a similar product on the market, your development team can move on to building a Minimum Viable Product. For example, something as tried and tested as a food delivery app or a dating app can start its journey as an MVP.

However, if it’s a unique product concept, your app development team might need to assess whether the tech assumption can be implemented (without consuming excessive resources or time) and will function as envisioned. In this case, your team should resort to a Proof of Concept that would allow verifying the overall idea’s feasibility. For example, this might be true for IoT-based applications that integrate with a variety of smart home systems.

Incorporating analytics instruments into the app

Just like with any scientific experiment, you need enough data about the app’s performance to draw a conclusion. 

That’s why app developers embed analytics tools like Google Analytics, AppsFlyer, and others into your MVP. 

The tools track application data via SDKs and enable you to get a bird’s-eye view of the user journey and drill down into specific metrics like retention rate, engagements, drop-offs, and others. Along with user behavior, you can crunch the numbers to analyze the performance of marketing channels and calculate ROAS.

Testing

Testing your pilot product is another preparation step in the mobile app launch process. Although you create a product for the sake of functionality, you also need to make sure that the product is reliable and usable. In this case, you don’t have to cover all use cases. Usually, manual testing is good enough to validate the product’s usability.

Submitting the app to the stores

Once the MVP is polished, it’s time to debut it to the audience. Advertising campaigns, word of mouth, robust social media presence, and other marketing magic tricks can help you generate more buzz for your product and attract users. 

Analysis

Publishing an MVP on app stores is only half the battle of setting it up for future success. Post-launch, you need to gather user feedback and estimate the app’s performance to see whether your hypothesis has been a dud or a hit.

If your hypothesis is proven right and your pilot solution manages to rally a lighthouse audience, you can move on to growing your MVP into a full-fledged solution. If not, you rinse and repeat. 

Build a mobile product your users will love

Round 2: Growing your product

When your pilot solution has gained some traction and got some admirers, you can up the ante by turning it into a popular, mature, and resilient product with a high Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). 

At this stage, business owners come to us with a well-defined set of requirements and a well-shaped idea of how, where, and why to grow their mobile applications.

Mobile App Evolution

Performing business analysis

Business analysts scope your business requirements and translate them into tech requirements. Together with tech experts, they scope and document the limitations, dependencies, major features, business context, and other crucial input to provide a baseline for development.

Developing a solution architecture that checks all the boxes

Following the tech requirements, technical architects design an optimal architecture for your product. The mobile app architecture lays the foundation for your product and defines what data is collected, how it is transferred, etc. An easily scalable and flexible architecture makes product growth simple and minimizes usability challenges and security issues. 

Choosing a development approach 

There are many options available when it comes to the development approach. Each differs by the level of flexibility required, the ability to handle change, and the level of collaboration within your team. 

Most common approaches fall under the Agile group and break the development process into small, manageable iterations so your development team can release functional increments more quickly. In most cases, the team doesn’t use a methodology in its pure form. Instead, your developers combine different techniques to create a unique workflow that goes with your project.

Deciding on the tech stack and the app type 

When validating a hypothesis, you don’t need a solid foundation for your product. When building for growth, however, it’s important to choose the right tech stack. A tech stack includes languages, frameworks, and tools used to build your app, so it’s crucial to choose your technologies wisely. But keep in mind there’s no silver bullet, it all comes down to your unique needs.

Naturally, the choice of the tech stack also depends on the target operating system. If you’re building for iOS, your development team will rely on languages like Swift or Objective-C, while Android apps are typically built using Java or Kotlin. Cross-platform technologies such as Flutter and React Native make your application fit for both platforms. 

Engineering, testing, and managing risks

Although some may assume that mobile apps are a simple facade that doesn’t require substantial engineering effort, the very nature of mobile app development makes it an uphill task. A mobile app developer has to consider many different platforms and devices while creating an application to make sure the app works perfectly across all target devices. 

To prepare for the engineering stage, your development team sets up the development environment, code servers, and testing servers. If your team is going down the Agile path, they divide the entire development phase into short time-boxed sprints. Each sprint is dedicated to developing specific features and functionalities.

At *instinctools, continuous testing is an essential ingredient of our engineering undertakings that allows our team to spot and address issues early on in the development process. Our QA engineers also rely on automated testing tools to streamline this process and maximize the quality of the deliverables. The implementation of various risk management tools makes it easier for us to guard the project against inevitable risks, issues, and changes.

At this stage, app developers also strike the right balance between innovation and compliance, making sure your solution is up to the industry standards and regulations.

Adding a secret ingredient of a successful launch: beta release

Movies have advanced screenings before the big premiere. Software development has beta testing where your development team makes a beta version of your mobile app available to the public. This pre-release exercise allows the team to test the beta version under real conditions, collect end-user feedback, and resolve any remaining issues before the software’s final release. 

A beta release can be open or closed depending on the group of beta testers. In any case, it gives insights into what enhancements should be made before the roll-out and ensures that the final solution meets the desired quality standards. 

Publishing your mobile product on the app marketplace

The stable application version is finally all set up to be published on the app store of your choice. Before submitting the application, your app developers make sure it’s in line with the Google Play Store and App Store guidelines, including the application’s analytics services, third-party SDKs, ad networks, and more. 

To pave the way for a successful launch, make sure your app’s name, icon, description, and app screenshots are ready for your product page. 

Adopting app store optimization to make a splash

According to research, almost 65% of downloads happen directly after a search on the App Store, while 70% of visitors discover apps through search. It means that if you don’t put your product in front of your audience, users might walk past it, carrying their money to your competitors. 

App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) helps rank your app higher in the app store listing and makes it more visible to potential customers. ASO includes optimizing your app name and app title, keywords, description, and other elements for search. Other common ASO tactics include paid ads, category rankings, and top charts.

Monitoring app performance

No one likes having lag issues or using a bug-ridden application. However, bug fixing is a significant time suck for developers. That’s why developers integrate real-time crash reporting tools and analytics into the app before publishing it on the store. 

The tools automate collecting, organizing, and prioritizing app crash reports, giving your app team a better idea of how the app fares in the wild. Developers tackle high-severity and high-impact bugs first, while minor issues are put away for later.

Pushing out regular updates

A constant release schedule is a concept that developers incline to as updates positively impact user experience. The rule of thumb is to present 1 to 2 small improvements per month that include minor upgrades, redesigns, and new features. 

However, the cadence may vary depending on your improvement roadmap, user feedback, and stakeholder requirements. All updates are planned and implemented sequentially based on the roll-out roadmap. Usually, developers release new features through a phased approach by gradually increasing the number of users who get the updated version.

Providing continuous support

New features may provide additional value to your updates, but the most important reason to keep an eye on your app post-release is to make sure it has relevant functionality and faultless performance. A dedicated support team keeps your application in step with advances in hardware and makes sure it stays compatible with new OS versions.

You can also implement a tier-based user support structure to improve your user experience management. For example, the first support tier is your defense line which solves basic usage issues and updates users on the issue resolution process. The second support tier serves as the second point of contact that handles more complex issues related to app or server configuration.

Give your idea a go with *instinctools

Timing is crucial for emerging companies. If you launch the product too early, you risk releasing a half-baked application that fails to take off. Enter a market too late and you might be stuck competing against more established companies. Along with timing, the right team and execution also determine the success of your idea and make sure it hits big.

At *instinctools, we know exactly when the critical mass point for an opportunity arrives and how you can grab it. Whatever your product maturity stage is, our experts can take it from there and ensure your application the success it deserves.

Hit the ground running with your mobile app project

FAQ:

How do you successfully launch a new app?

The success of your app depends on how well you plan and execute your launch strategy. First and foremost, you need to make sure that your app idea stands a chance in the market and aligns with the needs of target users. You can check the viability of your idea by developing a Minimum Viable Product. If your MVP manages to attract early users, you can gather their feedback and continue transforming your MVP into a full-fledged solution.

How much money does it take to launch an app?

The cost of app launch depends on your application’s complexity, marketing strategy, and maintenance needs. On average, it may cost you between $30,000 to $150,000+ to launch your application. Keep in mind that this estimate includes only development costs.

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Anna Vasilevskaya
Anna Vasilevskaya Account Executive

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