Launching a Mobile App to Success: 6 Mistakes to Avoid
The mobile app marketplace is more competitive and lucrative today than it has ever been before. For organizations thinking about launching a mobile app to success, getting the key first steps right can be the difference between single-digit downloads and thousands of active users right from day one.
While the difficulty of competing in such a crowded marketplace has never been higher, neither have the rewards for doing so successfully. In the last year alone, mobile app downloads have exceeded 230 billion while revenues have increased to over $400 billion per year.
With both figures only expected to grow in the next 5 years, building a team that can successfully deploy the strategy, planning and technical skills necessary to succeed in the marketplace has never been a more valuable asset.
So what are the missing links and key steps standing between your next app and its future success? In this guide, we identify the 6 key mistakes that organizations often make when launching a mobile app into the marketplace. By making sure your organization avoids the most damaging missteps and blunders we can guard against these key errors to maximize your chance of success and ensure your app finds its users.
1. Lacking Research
A brilliant idea, or bolt of inspiration, is great to have when it comes to the next big app. But, the best idea in the world isn’t worth much if it’s not backed up by good evidence to show there’s an audience there looking for it.
Verifying your initial assumptions about a problem is essential to ensure you take your first steps in the right direction. Teams can easily get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of an app idea or strategy that’s unique to the marketplace. But, it’s the user’s excitement that will dictate app store success in the weeks and months to come.
Finding out exactly what the user wants will require some early investigation. Questions your early-stage app research should answer should include:
Choosing the right target
The first step is to understand the specific challenges your audience needs to solve and what they need to solve them. Find an audience that is looking for an app, already uses one of the two main mobile app platforms, and are primed to purchase the app you want to produce. Are they already using a competing app? What functionality of popular apps can yours do better? Are you answering an unmet need that users are asking for?
Answering these questions should assist not just in finding your market but also add to the app’s big idea and help you discover future avenues to follow in functionality and design.
How Does Your App Stand out Next to the Competition?
With more than six million mobile apps available there are a lot of competing ideas in the marketplace. To succeed amongst them you have to look closely at the applications out there competing for the attention of your audience.
- What would make you want to pick up the competition’s app?
- What would turn you away from purchasing or using their app?
- How will users compare your app against competing options?
- Why would existing users give up a familiar app for your new one?
Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the competition can help you to meet the needs of users in your own app. Pay close attention to where you think your app will fit in the market and where you think you can stand out as a strong solution.
Define a Business Plan Alongside a Technical One
The single best way to ensure mobile app teams are pulling in the same direction is to define the goals they are striving towards. Having an effective plan beyond an app’s launch date ensures it will have the support it needs long into the future.
- How many users, sign-ups, or purchases does your app need in the first 30 days?
- What number of users will make it sustainable long-term?
- Are there any strategies to increase your app’s success?
Before you even begin development, sketch an idea of what success should look like and think about how to construct the development team that will get you there. Highlight any monetization strategies you can take to support the app and find out the metrics you can track to monitor the health of the project.
2. Ignoring User Feedback
Closely related to app designers not doing the ground-work ahead of time, designers and developers who ignore the feedback of their users are missing out on huge opportunities.
There are times when it pays to be headstrong on bold ideas. Revolutionary change often happens in tech when creators pursue something entirely new. Revolution is difficult to sell to app users, however. More often than not, users know what they want from their apps and they’ll only be convinced by an app that can provide it.
Hiring the right mobile app developers is a key step you can take today to ensure your teams know how to benefit from highly opinionated users.
While it’s never easy, or fun, to receive critical feedback on your next big idea—this feedback is the most valuable kind when it comes to apps and the most important to your firm’s improvement. If many similar comments are pointing out the same flaws and weaknesses, it’s a good idea to pay close attention.
Good user feedback is the most valuable resource you’re ever going to get for free. When the customer is telling you what they want to buy—don’t disregard it lightly. Collect feedback early and often to boost your chances of project success.
3. Including Too Many Features
The most fun and exciting parts of mobile app development are in creating new features and functionality. You can easily convince yourself of the practical need for the additional work, but doing so isn’t always in the best interest of your app or your business plan.
In reality, there are more pitfalls than positives when it comes to bundling over-the-top features and functionality into your app. Getting features developed and tested to the standard required is going to add time that the user might now be willing to wait.
Adding risk and costs to your development, without any concrete assurances that they’re going to pay off is reckless at best.
It’s for precisely this reason that minimal viable product (MVP) is the most common strategy teams pursue today. MVP is the safest way to develop an application to incorporate iterative user feedback and a development approach that improves the service offering over time.
Launching a mobile app with just enough features and functionality to be useful to early adopters is key to success. Better testing, user feedback, strong reviews, and a solid user base can be built with ease by successfully navigating this approach.
4. Neglecting the Testing
When it comes to launching a mobile app, you only get one chance to make a positive impression on users. More than a quarter of the apps downloaded today are used once and then forgotten about in an unused app drawer or uninstalled.
Bad user experience, a clunky UI, and app-breaking glitches account for the most common reasons users give up on apps. Good testing practices and effective quality assurance can negate the majority of these issues and ensure your app keeps its users.
Hiring experienced teams means taking on experts who know how critically important it is to win the user over when launching a mobile app. It’s for this reason that these teams put testing front and center in their processes. By knowing how to apply testing intelligently, and reinforcing the features that are critical to success, the biggest advantage of experienced developers isn’t in building apps faster, but in ensuring they function to very high standards.
The first few minutes users spend in your app, for example, are crucial ones. Key features, the sign-up process, and the learning phase should be particularly robust to show users your app’s best side and ensure they stay to see more.
Some questions to ask about the design of your app in these areas should include:
- Is the app intuitive both for users familiar with similar apps and those that aren’t?
- Can users get to the advertised benefits, or are ads going to get in the way?
- When things go wrong, how does the app crash? Can it recover in a user-friendly way?
- Are there troubleshooting steps for common issues?
Being prepared for oncoming challenges means that it’s easier to create on-the-fly solutions when it comes to launching your mobile app. The difference between success and failure can be as little as an unintended glitch.
5. Neglecting the Platform
Knowing how your app is going to be deployed and who is going to use it is every bit as important as what it’s going to do.
The instinct of many organizations is to dive into developing two apps for both major mobile platforms in parallel. However, creating both an Android and iOS app will dramatically increase the costs of design, development, and testing with no guarantees of good results.
Verifying both applications against each other, and any potential compatibility concerns, means the final product will be much more than just twice the cost of a single-platform application. A successful double-app approach is out of the reach of most major development studios.
Cross-platform development may be another viable solution, but even that can limit the functionality of some apps to features available on both platforms. Android and iOS each have strengths and weaknesses of their own. Each platform has unique user profiles with their own habits, requirements, and expectations.
Carefully consider what your app does, the devices your target audience uses, and how your application might be extended in the future before choosing a platform that will fit your requirements.
6. Neglecting the Marketing
Like most fields today, successfully launching a mobile app needs more than just a good idea.
Developers often imagine their next killer idea and a fully-featured app will do more than enough to blow marketing out of the water. In truth, even if your app can achieve all it claims and more, nobody can find out if they can’t see it in the marketplace.
Finding a way to stand out amongst the six million apps out there is a huge challenge. Good marketing is the key to success, and answering a couple of key questions can get you most of the way there.
Who Are Your Users?
Think carefully about who your target audience is and where they go when they’re interested in related subjects. Early research done in step 1 will pay off again here. Identify where your audience gets their news, entertainment, and content. Do they use Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Reddit? What do they search for when solving the problem your app tackles?
Think about how you can capture the attention of your audience wherever it’s likely to be placed and how you can get promotional content to reach the widest number of potential users. If your target audience are TikTok users then create short-form videos to capture their attention. If your audience are Reddit users then well-written posts and interesting content can help win them over.
Buying ad space on any of these platforms can guarantee some results, but may prove a costly way to attract users in large numbers.
What’s Your App’s Message?
When announcing your app to its target audience, sending the right message is key to building expectations and keeping users once they arrive. Many high-quality apps and games on the mobile marketplace have received overwhelmingly negative feedback purely because their audience came to the platform expecting something entirely different.
The most important thing to remember at this stage is not to over-promise and under-deliver. Users should come to your app with reasonable expectations that are exceeded by the experience they get. While this strategy might attract slightly fewer users, the ones that arrive will be far more likely to stay.
Launching a Mobile App to Success
The right mobile app deployed in the right way at the right time can be truly game-changing for organizations. A great idea, an exceptional team of developers, and a highly performant application can accelerate the right company to new heights. It can all be for naught, however, if your mobile app is launched to poor reception.
Each of the mistakes listed here has been made many times before by experienced companies launching their own mobile applications. They’re almost certain to be made again by inexperienced companies and developers launching their next big idea. A little planning when it comes to hiring, managing, and developing with your team can put your app head and shoulders above the competition in a few easy steps.
Simply being aware and guarding against these mistakes is a guaranteed way of boosting the launch of your apps and ensuring your reach the users you target right from day one.
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