With mobile app marketing getting pricier and the cost of user acquisition increasing, it becomes especially important to pre-test marketing campaigns and the success of your apps in general. One of the ways to test how your app or game works and study all the aspects of its marketing without spending too much is a soft launch.
Marketing is quite a demanding process. And we are not just talking about the money you invest in the promotion: there are also the working hours to put into the promos, ASO, community development, communication with the press, influence marketing, etc. All these tasks require a lot of time and effort. If you do these haphazardly, you are risking to miss your TA and let all the effort and money go to waste.
By doing research, you will be able to collect preliminary data about the app, identify the bottlenecks where the users get stuck or drop the app altogether, estimate the LTV and CPI, draft your promotion strategy, and formulate and confirm your TA theories.
A soft launch is a process of releasing a product (game or app) and testing its performance within a limited market (audience). Soft-launching a product helps you understand how the app in its current state will be perceived by its potential users.
Effectively, this means testing your product 'in combat conditions' to determine the key performance parameters. This is an attempt to forecast your app's future based on a small test group. As the saying goes, “you won't get a second chance to make a first impression”, so a soft launch is aimed at honing that first impression using a small audience before the global launch.
For a soft launch, you usually select a country that is as close to the target market as possible but smaller in size and cheaper when it comes to the cost of attracting users. For example, with Europe as the target, the soft-launch country of choice is often Finland. For Asia, it's Thailand or Vietnam, and for US, it's Australia or Canada. However, it's quite appropriate to run such testing on any relatively small sample (for instance, one or several US states).
The important thing here is to correctly assess how relevant this sample is to the upcoming "large" user base. For example, if an announcement of the game on the developers' site gets you a few thousand users, this group will be enough for a soft launch when it comes to size — but not relevant at all if the game is aimed at teenagers.
You will possibly set your own goals for such an 'in-the-field testing', but generally, there are some key questions about the product that any soft launch needs to answer:
When researching these aspects, make sure that the metrics you collect are reliable, that they do actually reflect the product's quality and are not incidental. By the end of a soft launch, you should have enough data about the behaviour of your product's target users, about their attrition, about the key metrics of your effective marketing. This information will confirm your product hypotheses, while also helping you quickly and effectively introduce any changes necessary before the official release.
As a result, you will have a better understanding of your product: whether it is ready for its worldwide release, whether you yourself believe in its commercial potential and prospects.
No two soft launches are alike; however, there are some common areas of interest:
Just as with any part of your marketing plan, with soft launches, there are specific approaches, skills, and experience involved. A soft launch might even show that your product has no prospects at all. However, It might also surprise you with a greater-than-expected demand for it. In any case, you will not know that for sure until you run the test. Not to mention that such a test will save you money when compared to launching the product globally from the start.
If your product needs a soft launch, we at Appbooster will be happy to help you — by setting the correct goals and measuring your app's metrics at a minimum cost. Contact us via the online consultant or by filling in the application form on the main page. Successful hypotheses for all!
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