10 Roadblocks That Can Derail Your Apps Launch
Bringing an app to market successfully is about so much more than a great idea. Gaining traction in today’s crowded marketplaces also requires advance planning, proper execution, market savvy and even a stroke of good luck.The complexity of this process, unfortunately, means that launching a new app is fraught with potential roadblocks that threaten to derail your future app’s launch. To increase your odds of success, watch out for all 10 of the following possible issues:
1. Poor Market Research
If you’re not a marketer, and are a developer, shouldn’t you be putting your energy into actually coding your app, rather than creating buyer personas or analysing competitors?
Not so fast. One of the first challenges facing everyone involved in the creation of a new app is the question of scope. What problems will your app solve? And what features will it need to address these issues?
Take the example of a weather app. At its core, the apps functionality will help users check current temperatures. But will it also offer future forecasts? Include interactive radar elements? Automatically hail an Uber if the app detects that it’s raining outside?
Since every feature you add will increase the time and money it takes for you to go live, you need to decide upfront which elements are worth pursuing – and making that decision comes down to understanding what your customers want and how your offering will compare to others that are already on the market.
2. Exceeding Your MVP
The result of your market research and advance planning should be your “MVP” – the “minimum viable product” required to meet what you’ve identified as your market’s critical needs.
Continuing with our weather app example, you might decide that, while a ride-hailing feature would be nice to have, it isn’t necessary to deliver what you’ve defined as your app’s core functionality. Saving this idea on a “future features” list lets you go to market faster, at a smaller expense.
That is, unless you skip over the idea of the MVP altogether. Trying to create the “perfect” app right out of the gate is an expensive, needlessly time-consuming proposition; albeit a tempting one. Don’t let your perfect app vision be the enemy of the “good-enough” version you’d be better off launching.
3. Developing for All Devices/OS Platforms at Once
In a perfect world, your app would roll out across all devices/OS platforms on the market as part of a carefully-coordinated launch, designed to reach the maximum number of people possible. But unless you’re fully-funded with an expert team behind you, attempting to do this for your future customers, could be a recipe for disaster.
Attempting to launch on multiple devices/platforms means multiplying both your costs and the amount of time you need to go to market. As your time-scales increase, you risk missing any first-mover advantage you’d otherwise be able to capture by being the first to meet the market need you’ve identified.
4. Ignoring Your Technical Debt
Ernesto Marquez of Concurrency Labs relates the idea of “technical debt” to the way you’d borrow money from a financial lender at different interest rates, ranging from 5% to 50% in his definition. Marquez states:
As you work towards your MVP, the idea of technical debt is a useful one to keep in mind. It’s one thing to code only the features your app needs right away; it’s another to leave major structural issues unaddressed in a way that could compromise your product’s future success.
5. Inadequate Testing
We’re hardly an impartial audience on the subject, but we believe the importance of pre-launch testing can’t be overstated. The benefits of a strong testing program on customer satisfaction are obvious; no user wants to run into bugs that proper testing would have otherwise caught.
But beyond this, think about testing in the context of the potential roadblock described above in point #3: developing for multiple platforms.
If you were to roll out multiple versions of your app at the same time, without proper testing, you’d risk the same bugs going live on every platform. Fixing them all would be a much costlier proposition than testing your app on one platform, addressing any issues you encounter and then rolling out subsequent clean versions.
6. Unaddressed Security Weaknesses
One of the things early testing will help you identify are security weaknesses which, if they go undiscovered, could derail your app’s launch in the form of negative publicity and unhappy users.
In an age when American consumers are more worried about their data security than they are losing their source of income, issues with app security – especially from a relatively unknown developer – won’t be tolerated. Guides from AppKnox for iOS and Android developers provide an important reference for finding and addressing these potential problems.
7. A Lack of Marketing and Advertising Planning
In August 2016, SensorTower predicted that the Apple Store “will be home to more than five million active apps by the end of 2020, a catalogue 73 percent larger than we project it will have at the end of 2016.”
That’s great news for consumers – but it’s not-so-great news for the developers who are hoping to get their newest offerings noticed amidst all of this noise. That’s why one of the biggest roadblocks threatening your app has little to do with the program itself, and everything to do with how you market it.
Put simply, having no marketing and advertising plan isn’t a plan at all. It’s a recipe for app disaster. Viral app success stories are one in a million for a reason; don’t assume you’ll be one. Instead, give your app the best possible odds of launch success by investing in its promotion.
8. Missing Strategic Pre-Launch Marketing Opportunities
On the subject of marketing and advertising planning, avoid the mistake many new developers make in presuming app promotions should begin the day their app is released on its first platform. Krista Mclandress of AppLift makes it clear that these activities should start well in advance of an app’s launch, stating:
“Promoting your app before it’s available via a website or landing page can help you build a mailing list and generate buzz via social sharing. And while you’re at it, why not put out updates or teasers on your blog, social media or via email to engage your community and make them even more eager to download the app!”
Setting up a landing page for your app is simple, as is loading profiles on your preferred social networks with interesting updates. You may even find it beneficial to list your app on marketplaces that promote pre-launch apps to early adopters. Taking these easy steps could add up in the form of eager prospects who will become your app’s first users.
9. Ignoring Your Industry’s Influencers
Public relations for app developers is a heavily-covered subject; tutorials abound on everything from writing your first press release to submitting it to the industry publications that are most likely to cover your app.
What much of this advice ignores is the fact that sites like Mashable, TechCrunch and popular app directories are so bombarded with requests for coverage that yours is likely to fall on deaf ears. That’s not to say that you should skip these activities entirely; only that you should supplement them with influencer outreach that aims to build genuine relationships with your industry’s experts.
10. Failing to Budget for Paid Acquisition
Finally, while it can be tempting to assume that your app will grow through organic, viral interest alone, budgeting for paid ads can be a smart move – even if the costs seem unnecessary upfront.
Consider your company’s monthly operating expenses. If you intend to acquire users through free promotions – such as ASO, SEO, social media marketing and app directory listings – be aware that it may take several months (or more) to build a large enough user base to cover your costs.
On the other hand, a well-managed paid ad campaign could send enough new users your way to reach profitability shortly after your app’s launch. As long as your per-user acquisition costs stay lower than the average lifetime value of your customers, a paid ads campaign can be a great way to get the early traction needed to fully capitalize on your app’s launch.
Certainly, there are a lot of variables that go into running a profitable paid ads campaign; just as avoiding each roadblock on this list requires multiple steps deployed in a thoughtful way. It may not be realistic to expect that your first app launch will go flawlessly. But by learning from others who have gone ahead, you can at least minimize the odds of a possible roadblock derailing your app’s launch.