Is your 2018 ambition to launch the next big app? With so much competition on the market, you need to be strategic in your approach. Nick Hucker is the Head of Business Development at Preoday, providing branded mobile and online ordering technology for hospitality businesses across the year. Here he chats to us about four things you can do when launching a mobile app.

Preoday - Four things to do when launching your mobile app

I remember when, in 2009, Apple started using the phrase "There's an app for that" in its ads. At the time there were approximately 250,000 apps listed on the App Store - now there are more than 2.3 million (not including games). Google Play, meanwhile, has 3.5 million apps. The point? If there wasn’t an app for it back then, there almost certainly is now.

When there’s such a huge choice available to consumer, it can narrow the chances of success for a business. The smallest mistake or oversight when launching can have a big impact on an app’s downloads, stickiness (continued use) and reviews.

The thing with most failed apps is that no-one’s heard of them. They’ve just sunk into oblivion. Still, there are some known to have launched with a bang before getting negative feedback. One is Starbucks’ ordering app which allowed customers to order drinks in advance for fast collection.

Unfortunately, it didn’t think through the implication on operations and service actually slowed as customers gathered and baristas struggled to meet demand. The mistake gave the new service a bad reputation and while the issue is now fixed, inevitably, some customers will choose not to use it again.

My goal today is to offer advice to ensure sure your app launch is a success. Given that example, the first piece of advice I have is this: adapt your operations proactively, don’t assume that they will evolve naturally.

Aside from that, here are four other elements to tick off pre-launch.

Thoroughly research the market

Marketing research provides a wealth of information about your competitors, customers and the industry in general. It is the foundation of all successful business ventures and should never be overlooked. Without carrying out research, how can you identify your target market’s preferences and needs? You can’t, and so successfully developing an app that exceeds customer satisfaction and provides value is unlikely.

Aside from examining customer trends and needs, research should include a review of competitors’ app feedback, and ratings. This will help you learn what potential audiences like and don’t like and will contribute towards the creation of an effective strategy for your own app development.

Tell the world about it

Depending on its purpose, an app can increase sales and enhance the customer experience, but to do this you want need a well thought-out marketing strategy - or a heck of a lot of luck! Without one of these your customers and potential customers won’t know about your app and you won’t maximise your ROI.

There are many ways to promote an app. For instance, let’s go back to the example of Starbucks and assume you’re a food/drink business. Your target customers might be the morning commuters rushing to work, or employees on a short lunch break. Think about how to catch their attention at the right time - activate promoted social posts between 7am and 2pm, use hashtags like #hungry and think carefully about who your audience is when putting ad targeting in place.

What you don’t want to do is launch an app with absolutely no marketing plan in place and hope for the best. There is no point in developing a good app if nobody knows about it.

Pay attention to feedback

Read, listen to and understand the value of feedback from your customers. Not doing so and failing to respond to user reviews can damage your brand. What comes next is this, customers will stop seeing the point of your app, they will delete it from their phones and will be uninterested in using it again.

To avoid this, before publically launching a mobile app, I suggest you first carry out a soft launch, notifying loyal customers and asking them for honest feedback. That feedback will inform you of any final amendments you need to make to the platform before rolling it out to a wider audience. If there are any bugs in the system, your customers are the best ones to spot them.

Train your employees

Without effective communication and training of team members, launching a mobile app will almost certainly have unsatisfactory results. Before your customers know about your app, your employees will be your greatest advocates. They can’t advocate anything they don’t understand or appreciate.

So that your employees can fully realise the benefits of the platform and its implications, organise training sessions and developing detailed marketing plans to share across the company.

In a world with more than approximately 6 million apps available, it is important to develop something that has your customers coming back for more. If I can leave you with one more piece of advice it is this: don’t jump the gun. You might be in a rush and excited for launch, but go too soon and all your efforts will come to nothing. Take your time, make sure you’re ready and when you are, and only then, press go.

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