One of the biggest challenges we see founders face when they develop a new app idea is finding their first users.
With around 35,000 apps launched each month on the App Store, it’s hard to overstate how difficult it is to cut through the noise and secure those crucial first downloads. And of course, if you can’t - all of the blood, sweat and tears (and money!) could come to nothing.
You really do only get one chance to launch your app, but the good news is - launching a successful app isn’t quite as hard as we’ve been painting it. There are some mistakes you can avoid to set yourself up for App Store greatness…
…and that’s what we’re going to look at today.
So, here are 10 mistakes we see when working with app founders, and some ideas for how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Launching an idea, not filling a need
We know it can be tough to rein in your enthusiasm when you‘ve struck upon a great idea, but a great idea needs to fill a real world (sometimes dull and boring) need. Before you invest in developing an app and bringing it to market, proper market research and user testing can be invaluable - sometimes helping shape a good idea into a great app, and sometimes saving you from the heartache of building and launching an app that doesn’t find a home on users’ phones.
Mistake #2: Developing an App that already exists
Whilst it may sound obvious, the first thing to do before investing in developing an app is to check if there’s an app that already does what your new app is planning to do. And bear in mind, that should include apps that may not have the same features but which people are using to get the same outcome. Even if your app has better features, users may not feel the effort involved in moving is worth it.
Mistake #3: Trying to appeal to everybody
You’ve probably heard of an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), and they’re something we’re big believers in here at Fortnight. However, it’s also useful to think of your app’s “minimal viable audience” - that select group of people whose needs align perfectly with what your app offers. By focusing on them you’re not only more likely to maximise downloads and retention, but will find it easier to target your advertising and marketing to a single audience.
Mistake #4: Leaving marketing until the launch
Don’t wait until you’re ready to launch your app to think about marketing. Build out your social channels by publishing useful content aligned to your app’s purpose, gather email addresses with a waitlist or newsletter, drive people to the Meta pixel on your website so you can retarget them with ads once you go live, and invest the time in finding and building relationships with key media and influencers serving your audience. And one last thing - set a launch date. Not only does it let your future users know what’s coming, it gives your teams something to aim for (and be accountable to!)
Mistake #5: Launching with poor marketing
From day one you need to have an eye on where your future users are going to come from and how you’re going to get them. That means not only planning a marketing campaign, advertising, PR outreach and more - but also setting a budget aside to invest in those things. The great news is not everything has a cost, but app marketing shouldn’t be done on a shoestring - even apps that spread by word of mouth benefit from a little marketing nudge.
Mistake #6: Having a poor onboarding process
If your app requires registration or setup, take the time to get that process right. The initial experience your users get will not only set their expectations of what’s to come (and even shape how they filter them to a large degree), but often contribute to the uninstallation of your app. Make it smooth, make it engaging, add in little UI moments of delight and - above all - make sure it works!
Mistake #7: Launching with bugs
Be careful of going to the effort and expense of securing new users, only to lose them because of bugs in your app. Take the time to sufficiently stress test your app with a decent beta testing period (and, if we’re getting technical, to unit test it throughout development). Then, once you’re live, constantly monitor for issues, keep an eye on reviews and feedback, and issue quick and frequent fixes to your app when you need to.
Mistake #8: Ignoring App Store Optimisation (ASO)
App Store search has always been one of the most effective ways of finding new users, and there are no signs of that ever not being the case. With that in mind, it pays to really get to grips with ASO. Test different app listings, optimise them for different user personas, and optimise the keywords you use to maximise the number or organic store impressions you receive. And, if your app is available internationally, don’t forget that you can add foreign language listings.
Have questions about ASO? Get in touch with one of our app marketing team.
Mistake #9: Poor images on the App Store
Downloads are won - or more often lost - on the quality of the screenshots and imagery in the App Store. Make sure you upload screenshots that not only show off your app’s design, but which visually explain the value your app offers and the outcome people will get from using it. Oh, and one more thing - make sure you avoid duplicate images!
Mistake #10: Not managing user reviews
We understand that sometimes it can be tough to read negative reviews - especially when they’re overly critical or sometimes even unfair. However, bear in mind that your reviews are one of the most important things people considering installing your app look at. Take the time to reply to both positive and negative reviews, share news of any updates and fixes in response to bug reports, and show your future users that not only is maintaining your app important to you, but that you care about them.
Mistake #11: Ignoring analytics data
This is a pet peeve of the marketing team at Fortnight! As dull as analytics data can be (yes, we said it) there is a lot you can learn about your marketing and your users which will help you improve your app and secure more downloads and opens. Install a good analytics SDK in your app and keep an eye on things like traffic, downloads, daily active users, monthly active users, average revenue per user and so on - and measure the impact of changes in your app on the numbers.
Whilst there are no shortcuts or “hacks” to launching an app successfully (and whilst it’s a much bigger subject than we can capture in just one article) we hope we’ve at least been able to give you a taste of some of the ideas to consider and tactics you can use. Marketing an app is an ongoing task, and one that’s just as important to your eventual success as the design or development phases. And if you get ahead of it, you really can set yourself up for app success.
And don’t forget, whether you’re building an app with us, working with us to get product:market fit for an app that’s struggling, or just want bigger and better results - our app marketing team will be with you every step of the way. We’ve achieved amazing results for clients you will no doubt have heard of - so why not give us a call and find out exactly why they chose us and what we can do for you too?