Market research is the most important part of launching an app, you must understand the market you are to compete in. You need to know who your competitors are, what features of their app engage users the most and which features users don’t like or would like to see, as well as gauging if your product is needed in the market. App stores and forums are good places to conduct secondary market research. If you fail to research your market your product can ultimately fail such as Hailo. In March 2017 the brand was dropped and became MyTaxi following a merger with Daimler in 2016. (Business Indsider, 2017)
Hailo – ‘Nearly Uber’
Hailo offered a similar service to Uber and had great success in London. When they hit New York in early 2013 with $100 million backing the product failed. Their premise was to help NYC cabs find fares, however NYC cabs were fine without Hailo. They withdrew from North America in 2014 and Uber started a price war with them which Hailo couldn’t compete in. (PlaceItBlog, 2015)
Accounting & Marketing
Once you have conducted your market research and raised capital you can start creating the app. However, whilst in this stage you must be very careful on managing your finances and maintaining interest in the product. Everpix was a photo organisation tool and had great success early on, boasting 55,000 users merely a year after its launch, however a year later in 2013 they were broke. (PlaceItBlog, 2015)
This was attributed to two main issues. Firstly, they took too long to develop the app meaning by the time it hit the market they were out of money and time to raise capital. They didn’t have enough users to sustain growth. Secondly was not marketing the product, as they were a team of developers who hoped the high quality performance of the app would be enough. It is vital to market your product, especially today as the market is dominated by major players who see how lucrative this industry is currently and how it is forecasted to grow, as shown below.
Worldwide global app revenues for 2015,2016, 2020
Beta testing is vital for any app. This allows major flaws to be identified before launching to the mass market. It ensures the app is of good enough quality and can launch without bugs avoiding potentially expensive re-designing costs. Not having a feedback loop can be damaging to the app. You must decide between a public beta test, giving you a wider range of feedback but could backfire if the beta test is poor and lead disappointed customers to not download the final release. The feedback can often be far more generalised and not accomplish the test goals. Another problem can be companies using beta testing as a marketing tool, this effectively markets your problems to your customers so be sure you are beta testing for the right reasons. Companies can opt for focused beta testing, opting for a smaller feedback pool. This provides higher quality feedback and doesn’t damage your app’s reputation before it is released. The downside is it requires more time than public as you need to recruit the correct testers and often offer them incentives to do the test. (InformationWeek, 2012)
Defining success and goal management
Once launched you must understand what success looks like for your app. You must set measurable goals, looking at active install rates, retention rates, rating in the app marketplace and revenue generated if the app has to be purchased. You must understand the market when setting these goals to make sure they are SMART goals. Such as:
- free mobile apps have a higher active install rate during the first month as they start at 50% and tend to level off at 30% and (HubSpot, 2017)
- to maintain a healthy active install rate you need to have a higher rating than the average in the marketplace. (HubSpot, 2017)
Even companies such as Google must manage expectations and define success as they found out with Google Wave. People were calling it ‘the new g-mail’ among other things without knowing what it offered, when it launched following much hype the result was underwhelming. This among other reasons is why it was pulled six months after launch. (PlaceItBlog, 2015)
Monitoring and understanding relevant metrics
When your app is launched you must be constantly monitoring it. The goal is to know exactly how users interact with your app then react accordingly to enhance their experience. Monitoring performance early allows immediate recognition and resolution of any problems that may occur. Localytics ran a survey in 2015 showing 23% of users abandoned an app after one use, which led the industry focus more to retention rates than acquisition rates. Despite this, downloads are a very important metric during launch as you want as much exposure as possible, downloads are a good indicator of interest and usage.
One final risk to be aware of prior to launching your app is data breaches with the threat of cyber-attacks. If you’re app requires users to enter personal information such as name or email, then make sure that information is well protected. Application security firm tCell revealed 90% of applications had unused code leaving them open to data breaches and cyber-attacks. Nothing will damage your app more than users not trusting it. (eWeek, 2017)