20 Ways To Get Pre-Launch Users
App Builder Appy Pie, December 18: Everyone is interested in mobile apps, everyone downloads them, everyone uses them, relies on them, and is excited about newly launched apps. When you start working on your app, you tend to talk about it with a select few who you seek ideas and feedback from. It is not uncommon that the people you share the idea with will have some sort of a reaction to it, even if it is negative. The point is that there is curiosity and conversation about something that is not even in existence. It makes one think, why limit your audience and generate excitement only in your immediate circle. It is not enough to market the app once it is out there, the process needs to begin long before that.
It is important to realize that the users are ready to buy your app, even if it is still not even available; all you have to do is make them realize it, make them want it, put it out there for them to covet it! If you begin the marketing before the launch and garner a certain amount of curiosity for what you are doing, you won’t have to wait for long after the launch for a sizeable number of downloads to happen.
It is a good idea to utilize the many months that you are spending in design and development of your app and begin promoting your app and getting it out there for prospective users.
1. It’s Never Too Early
The marketing or promotion efforts for your apps must begin the moment you start to work on your app. The process of building an app takes some time and it is the perfect time to begin working on strategies for the promotion of the app. It is a good idea to have a marketing activity curve planned out for your app, where it begins with some soft steps at the beginning and builds up gradually to reach a peak right around the time when it is meant to hit the market i.e. the launch.
2. Conduct An In-Depth Competitor Research
You are planning to launch a product – your app in a competitive market. The ground rule here should be to begin the process with an in-depth competitor study targeted at understanding their target market, the names that are being chosen, the reasons for popularity, the keywords they are ranking, and other loopholes in their apps. Studying the kind of feedback and inputs they are receiving from the customers would often give you insights on the key features the competing apps might have missed out on, or the features that are superfluous.
3. Define Your Target Market Clearly
No matter what product you are planning to launch – In this case your app, the target market or the user reigns supreme. Build a crisp and clear user persona who you are targeting and list out the criteria that matter. The demographic factors like the user age, ethnicity, location, gender, occupation etc. are important as they define the intent of the app. You probably won’t design the same things for a middle-aged woman and a teenage boy. The spending habits, limitations, and ability to spend in your target user would dictate the direction of development too.
While developing the user persona or profile there are certain questions you would need to ask & get answers to:
- What are the main jobs your user wants to accomplish with your app?
- What are the additional, less important functions your user will get done using your app?
- What are the actual functional tasks that the user would want to accomplish through your app?
- What is the experience that a user is looking forward to while using your app? There are two aspects to this question though – what is it that the user wants to feel themselves with your app and what is it that the user wants others to perceive about them as they use your app?
Once you have your answers, you will also have a deep insight about your user and more importantly, you would develop a clear idea regarding what it is that you would want to do for them.
4. Leverage Your Own Network
In the initial period, it is a good idea to approach the people you already know within your own network to use or try or test your app for an early feedback. If the app you are developing has a consumer facing side, then this step is greatly beneficial. People in your network like your friends and immediate family, Facebook friends, colleagues, followers on twitter or Instagram, various user groups, meetup attendees and other such circles that you are a part of. These people might be willing participants but might not be the right audience for your app; ask them for references of people who might actually be interested, or those who match your user persona.
5. Plan A Separate Budget
While planning the kind of costs involved in developing an app, it is important that a certain percentage is decided upon and set aside for the pre-launch campaign. It is this amount of money that will essentially decide the direction and methods of marketing that would be and can be employed finally.
6. Exploit The Medium Of Emails
An oldie but a goodie! Emails are still one of the strongest media to reach out and promote your app even before it is launched. Employ the apt ways to garner email ids of those especially who have exhibited any measure of interest in your app. Whether it is through subscriptions, twitter cards, landing pages or any such other tools, grab as many email ids as possible while making sure that they are relevant to your app. The medium of reaching out through emails is unique in the wider audience that it offers. These people are not just the tech savvy, or the technologically dynamic, they encompass the majority, the masses, and definitely a huge market for your app.
7. Build An Engaging Blog
Choose an appropriate blogging platform and create engaging content for your target market. This blog is a great medium to offer updates, information, insights, or simply connect with the gradually expanding user fan base of your app. It can prove to be a very effective channel through which you can get valuable insights and inputs while tying the user strongly to the app due to their contributions.
A blog however does a lot more than just creating an interest among the users; it provides you great visibility. In your blogs make sure you use the right keywords, provide quality content, and link back to chosen industry influencers as these things collectively go a long way in improving the blog’s search engine rankings. In doing so, it is important that you do not stray away from the real intent of the blog – offering quality and relevant content to engage your prospective users.
8. Tease The Audience With Teasers & Sneak Peeks
Visual content leaves a lasting mark on us; humans after all are largely visual creatures making teasers or sneak peeks more valuable than you’d think! This teaser might be a compilation or single screengrab, a small video promo, or insertion of text as image in the blog post; it should just give a little feeler about what the app is going to be about. The visual media or teasers have proved to be a very effective medium for generating interest, attracting subscribers and for getting a rich pool of interested users.
9. Get Yourself Some Beta Testers
Beta testers are a great way to get an honest feedback and valuable suggestions from the user group you are targeting. You already have a defined target user, all you have to do now is figure out appropriate channels to reach out to them and recruit some beta testers. Invest some time to engage with them and gain as much information from them as you can. Make sure you offer your beta testers some rewards to help you out and put them on an early bird list so that they know about the launch of your app first!
10. Create A Landing Page
Having a landing page for your app is a great way to help you start creating an email list of people who are interested in your app. You can create a landing page on your own website or you may even opt for a landing page service. However, just creating a landing page and forgetting about it does not help; you need to promote it either through paid advertising on various social media, through emails, and even get it shared from influencers. On this landing page, a visitor should see some information about and key features, benefits, screenshots (if possible), and any promotional or teaser video. Apart from this, create a small form where the visitors can sign up to join your email list. This sign up or subscription need to be super simple so that more people lean towards actually doing it.
11. Post On Preapps
Preapps is one of the few sites where you can put your app up and generate some queries and curiosity about your app even before launching it, by posting your details on the website. These sites generally are attended by a host of early adopters who can serve as a pool to source your beta testers. This community on the website may also prove to be a good source of subscribers for your emails. All you have to do is put up some of your details on the website like App Name, App Description, Price, Category, Device, Expected Release Date, App Icon, and App Screenshots. It is possible that you are not really ready with all these details, but it’s quite OK because you have the option to go back and change it.
12. Develop A Content Marketing Strategy
Today, content and its marketing has gained supremacy over all else in the digital world. A well-designed content marketing strategy may evolve to become one of the most important acquisition channels for you. The goal of a good content marketing strategy is to develop a community around your app, so that you have an army of enthusiastic followers, even before you have launched the app.
The user persona that you developed so painstakingly will be of great use here, as it would help you decide what is the kind of content that you would want to put out there, more importantly what would your user want to see and on which channel. There are a good number of apps that use their own websites to develop a blog; this way you can draw a good search traffic and channel more signups to your emails.
13. Build A Buzz
Doing all these things pre-launch, are important but it is important not to let it all fizzle out. It is natural that you as an app developer or owner get lost in the work that revolves around developing a stellar app and forget entirely about the marketing aspect. This can prove to be quite a loss for when the time for the actual launch approaches, you tend to realize that the buzz around your app might have dies down. It is imperative that you keep the buzz alive through emails, updates, run a contest, or any other relevant activities around the app right up to the launch, so that your app is etched in the memories of the prospective users.
14. Formulate Clear Objectives
Like most other tasks you take up, it is important to set some clear objectives for the pre-launch campaign you are going to employ for your app. It is not a great idea to keep posting some random updates or tweets, or posts that serve no clear objective. Employ the app marketing strategy that suits you the best.
To decide which strategy suits you the best, you need to determine your final goal first. The moment you have a clear goal set out, then you can begin working backwards to figure out the best suited pre-launch campaign strategy for you. Your goal could be anything from creating brand awareness, to brand consideration, or even lead generation, but you need to have a clear goal to be able to benefit from a marketing strategy.
15. Consider Running An Ad Campaign
This one totally depends on the kind of budget you have set aside for the pre-launch campaign. The kind of money involved in an ad campaign depends on the size of the ad and duration for which you are planning to run it.
16. Time It Right
Time is indeed of the essence. Using timing to the benefit of your app’s promotion is a great idea. Festivities or big political events, or any other world events that might relate to the app you are planning to launch need not only be observed carefully but also taken advantage of.
17. The Right Call To Action
The call to action button on your landing page is why you went through the trouble of actually building the whole page. This call to button page is actually what gets you the desired action from the user. It is important to keep a few points in mind while creating this CTA button. Never confuse the visitors with multiple CTAs. Just keep the one CTA which tells them to sign up instead of multiple options like following them social media or get more details or see more and such. Make it easy for the visitor to locate your CTA button. Make your CTA button stand out with bright contrasting color and a size big enough to be noticed easily. Go a little creative and instead of the good old “Sign Up” look for some interesting customer centric lines like “Keep Me Posted”, “Notify Me Before The Launch”, “Tell Me First” etc. Place the CTA button in proximity to the sign-up field so that the visitor knows without being told what to do next.
18. Incentivize Actions
Everyone is reaching out through emails today and this means we are getting a little too many emails, whether we want it or not. When you are asking your visitors to leave their email ids with you, what would you be offering them in exchange for it. Some of the most interesting things to attract the visitors to cough up their email id are exclusive content like article, videos, sneak peeks etc. an early access to the beta launch, a free trial (if you are charging the users for the app), discount of waiver of charges during in-app purchases, raffle or a draw coupon for prizes later. It is important however, to figure out offers and deals that would be related to the app and the users’ interests.
19. Thank Them For Showing Up
The visitor on your landing page just handed you their precious email id and all you said was “you are now subscribed”! There has to be more to this story. Put a human touch to your interactions and thank them for the help. Affirm the user that they have done the right thing by signing up or subscribing to your app. The thank you page also gives you further opportunity to place another call to action where you may ask them to follow your blog, or follow you on the social media etc.
20. Prepare A Curated Press-kit & Relevant Launch Material
A well-prepared press kit is how you reach out to all those who are interested and those you want to be interested in your app. A press kit for your app might include a fully functional website, press releases, promo video, screenshots on the app store, some goodies, and other materials related to the launch. At this point, it is a good idea to reach out to the right media for reviews. Shed your inhibitions in reaching out to big names in the blogging world and industry influencers as they can help you get a big bang entrance. However, it is important that you realize that it is only your fan base and users who will be the longest lasting medium of promotion for your app.