May 4 2016

In a post on Pollen Insights, noted growth hacker, Oliver Kern, stated that contrary to popular belief, an app’s launch phase isn’t the stage that decides its success or failure – it is actually the soft launch that matters.

The soft launch determines whether your app is ready to make a positive impact in the market – for both your business and your audience.The idea behind a soft launch is to release the app to a restricted audience in the market prior to a full launch. It helps the businesses test the viability of the product, form an initial user base and meet the KPIs before taking it to the market.

A soft launch is the business’s opportunity to gather insightful user data – how comfortable is their onboarding, what are the features they are easily interacting with, which pages will need more promotion, what is keeping them engaged longer and how their entire app experience could be more optimized.

Why does early on engagement and creating a community matter?

Usually a soft launch is aimed at acquiring up to 100K users to form the initial database for drawing insightful and actionable insights. But the most common challenge most apps face after a soft launch, is acquiring these users in their predecided timeline for the final launch.

Buying users is one approach that most app developers resort to. But it has two downsides to it – they might not be the quality users you are targeting and the churn rate is equally high.

No matter what your app has to offer, the only way to growth hack your soft launch is to engage with your users right from the start and form a loyal community. This loyal community not only is the first to try out all your features, but also advocates the same in their circles.

Here are two reasons you app needs to focus on this aspect:

  • Retaining existing users is 10X cheaper than acquiring new ones and in-app engagement can reduce the cost of user acquisition by 90%.
  • Referred app users have double the retention rate than those acquired via other paid advertising campaigns.



How to create an engaged community of users?

1. Enable real-time communication

The first and foremost thing you want to be doing during a soft launch is collecting data and insights from the user that you may have not considered during development. This is where real time communication comes into play. Incorporating in-app chats enables you to hold one-to-one or group conversations with your initial users.

Be it asking for their feedback or giving them tips on how to leverage from a feature, this communication will give you the opportunity to identify the loopholes and possible market.

2. Create clan based communities

Another way to stay in touch with your initial users and consistently keep them updated on the app developments based on their interests, is to form clan based communities. GetSocial enables an easy community management wherein you can inform these users of updates and upcoming features, acknowledge negative feedback, provide support and maintain user engagement with promotional activities.

3. Make inviting and social sharing easy

Your initial users will have a fair amount of role in your future user acquisition. If their in-app experience is good, they’ll indulge in some word-of-mouth and promote your app in their circles – getting you more users. Hence, it is important to make the sharing easier for them.

GetSocial Smart Invites enable you to create a customized in-app referral program for your users. It encourages and makes it easy for them to invite their friends via popular provides like Whatsapp, Kik, Kakao, etc alongside Facebook and Twitter. The ability to deep link the shared messages, helps developers offer a personalized first app experience and boost the conversion rate.

Also read: Acquiring Users With The Help Of Social Media

4. Leverage from webhooks

Continuing on the point above, it is also important to keep your community as motivated to keep the engagement levels high. Using GetSocial webhooks helps you track all install events generated via Smart Invites – how many invites a user sent, how many of them got clicked and the number of successful installs. This enables you to reward or incentivise the user’s activity to keep him thoroughly engaged with the app as well as promote it in his circles.

With the increasing mobile market competition, it is important for app developers and marketers to focus on sustainable growth. This includes creating strategies that not just help acquire new users, but also keep them engaged over a long period of time and encourage a word-of-mouth marketing for your app.

What other growth hacking tactics have you used to grow your app during soft launch?