How to release an app in 2024? Part 2. Action plan after launch.

Co-Founder

Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

10.07.2024

14 minutes

From this article, you’ll know

  • The most converting focus points over the first month after the release
  • Why product manager will have to work even more, now 16 hours a day
  • Rollout strategies for app reputation safety
  • How things can go bad, and why it’s ok
  • Many names of useful tools

Vocabulary

Rollout strategy – a plan for gradually or immediately releasing a new app version to users. 

 

Pivot – a significant change in direction for an app based on user feedback or market trends. 

 

App Quality KPI –  key performance indicator that measures the technical performance and user experience of an app. 

 

MAU/WAU/DAU – metrics that track the number of Monthly Active Users, Weekly Active Users, and Daily Active Users of an app and summarize product stickiness.

 

Imagine you are a product manager, sleeping, and you receive a notification that your app has been finally published. Well, let’s open a champagne bottle and finally take that 2-week vacation to the Maldives. Maybe, let the marketers and the tech team know, of course, but now it’s time to chill and watch as app earnings reach the sky…

 

In reality, this story would probably have a slightly different start. 

  • The notification from the App Store tells you “You’re violating this and that.” 
  • After the 4th submission, you are finally published. 
  • Then, for some reason, you see a 97% uninstall rate. 
  • The whole team is burned out and asking for vacation. 
  • The 12-hour workday turns into a 16-hour one.

 

In this article, we will cover aspects of post-launch strategy that will keep the 12-hour workday a 12-hour workday, not 16. This article is written from the pain of the success of our team and the teams of our dear clients, so treat it as a forewarning and a story.

Addressing rejections and violations

Once a business idea is born, its twin sister – the monetization model – appears immediately. We typically see successful apps use a combination of monetization models, such as freemium, in-app ads, and in-app purchases.

From RedCat’s experience, here are some good starting points:

  • Have at least two monetization models in your app, if possible.
  • Have at least three payment methods (aside from crypto).

The majority of our clients’ real-life experiences with app launch and monetization can be summarized with the following:

  • Don’t try to get rich quick, focus on getting better quickly.
  • Be ready to drastically change your monetization policy and adjust it to what users want to buy.
  • Make the payment process as simple as possible.
  • Play by the rules of payment gateway providers and the App Store/Play Market.

 

Strategic planning on the app monetization

Statistically, every third app gets some kind of rejection from the App Store or Play Market for policy violations. Every fourth app submitted will eventually never see the light of day. This is especially true for apps with in-app payments, advertising, or those targeting certain categories (games, marketplaces) or containing adult content.

Typically, the solution for most rejection reasons lies within one of these steps:

  • Content adjustments according to age rating
  • IP claims resolution by replacing or removing disputed pieces of content
  • Changes in ad implementation (if relevant)
  • Changes in stated monetization method (if relevant)

Once the above is done, don’t forget to update the privacy policy accordingly.

As you can see, this is typically a business problem, not related to tech, testing, or design. From a resource planning perspective, this means that if a company faces several rounds of app review submissions, the tech team has to wait (read: burn money). One good idea if things turn this way is to focus the tech department on tech debt, minor visible improvements, and refactoring. With some luck, they may even fix some bugs before users report them.

Reinvesting and Avalanche effect

If you could take just four words from this article, they would be Traffic, Reviews, Referrals, and Feedback. These terms ultimately form a beautiful and logical strategy. This strategy is especially effective for local mobile apps.

The core idea is to focus on getting as many reviews as possible. You can achieve this by asking users to provide feedback through push notifications for immediate improvement. Here are some ideas:

  • “Rate this app” prompt
  • Feedback button within the app
  • Feedback request form after an unsuccessful purchase
  • Referral discount upon successful milestone completion
  • Engaging gift animation and a discount card when a user launches the app after a long pause
  • Offer a reward for completing a feedback form

Another effective tool during the first 1-3 months after release is referrals and promos. Referrals are used to bring in new customers, even if this type of discount means sacrificing ROI in the first few months.

Promos are used to close sales goals and re-engage customers. Good examples include 5% or 10% promo codes offered during the last five days of the month. Another commonly used option is offering 20-30% discounts for premium products, presented to users with a separate push notification. These discounts have an expiration date and aim to introduce the lower-spending segment of customers to more premium services or goods.

Ultimately, building reputation, re-engagement, and rapid progress in user experience is the number one goal for a product team.


How to Collect Feedvack from Users

Product perspective

Product management can be summarized in 3 words: Feedback, Data, Priorities. When an app finally meets the digital world, a Product manager doubles the effort. Here are a few tips, and warnings on what happens after launch. 

Metrics - cut off unnecessary ones

Measuring too much can deplete focus. At the same time, today’s analytical tools like Firebase and Bitrise offer so many metrics and insights for a reason… They’re there to be used! But the point is, that different product maturity stages have different KPIs that matter.

As discussed earlier, there are 4-5 key business metrics that always matter, and 5-10 additional metrics that cover software quality parameters and the tech team’s workflow quality. Here’s a typical list of KPIs for each of these groups.

Key Metrics of Product Management of SaaS

Business KPI:

  • Daily Active Users (DAU): Measures the number of users actively engaging with your app on a daily basis. High DAU indicates a strong and engaged user base.
  • Monthly Active Users (MAU): Similar to DAU but measured over a month. Provides a broader picture of user engagement.
  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): Tracks the average revenue generated from each user. Crucial for understanding app profitability.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Estimates the total revenue a user generates throughout their relationship with the app. Helps predict future revenue streams.
  • Retention Rate: Measures the percentage of users who continue using the app after a specific period. A high retention rate indicates a valuable and sticky app.

App Quality KPI:

  • Crash Rate: Measures the frequency of app crashes per user session. A low crash rate ensures a stable and reliable user experience.
  • Apdex (Application Performance Index): Scores app responsiveness on a scale of 0-5, with 5 indicating optimal performance. Helps identify areas for performance improvement.
  • Downtime: Tracks the total duration the app is unavailable to users due to outages. Minimizing downtime is crucial for user satisfaction.
  • App Launch Time: Measures the time it takes for the app to launch from the moment a user taps the icon. A fast launch time improves user experience.
  • Average Screen Load Time: Tracks the average time it takes for individual screens within the app to load. Faster loading times enhance user engagement.

 

Dev Team KPI:

  • On-time Delivery: Measures the percentage of projects or features delivered within the planned timeframe. Shows the team’s ability to meet deadlines.
  • Defect Escape Rate: Tracks the number of bugs identified after release compared to the total number of bugs. A high escape rate indicates thorough testing processes.
  • Average Cycle Time: Measures the average time it takes to complete a development task, from ideation to deployment. Helps identify bottlenecks in the development process.
  • Code Coverage: This represents the percentage of code within the app that is covered by automated tests. Higher coverage indicates more comprehensive testing.

Of course, there are other interesting metrics such as session depth, activation rate, etc., But this is relevant if the product has survived initail 1-2 months.

 

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Update strategy

It may happen (and often does) that some features aren’t accepted by users, seem useless, or even trigger app uninstalls. What to do?

Step 1: Conduct customer interviews or gather massive, rapid feedback to isolate the problematic user story. 

Step 2: Plan a pivot. 

Step 3: Happily release the requested changes. 

Step 4: Identify the next uninstall trigger within existing features and remove it.

This is actually an endless process, but it becomes less and less intense with each iteration. We call it product evolution

Prioritization of 4 vectors in development

From a product management perspective, there are four main directions where the dev team could focus their efforts:

  • Pivots and new functionality
  • Bugs
  • Refactoring and minor improvements
  • Tech debt and stability improvements (including automated test coverage)

As a decision-maker, along with hundreds of others, product managers define the focus and ratio of each of these activities. For example, after launch, the first four weeks could be devoted solely to bugs, followed by 2 to 4 weeks for a pivot, then a switch back to addressing bugs and stability. Let’s be honest, the term “code refactoring” typically becomes relevant in the third year of a successful product’s life. Regardless of the chosen priorities, the product manager should create a document outlining the release plan, and synchronize team effort

 

How to Coordinate Releases Between Different Teams

Marketing perspective

The loudest guys in a team finally stepped up in their full power! Everything that was carefully crafted and scheduled now bombards potential customers in all possible ways! But let’s talk specifics.

Preparations and waitlists

In a previous article, we listed all the artifacts that should be ready before release, including videos, screenshots, press releases, press kits, etc.

Now, preparation and scheduling in marketing are crucial. It makes sense to go all-out, creating up to 100+ pieces of content (including reposts and retargeting) during the first week.

But while planning and automating your content schedule, please explore limits responsibly. For example, if you choose a mass outreach strategy for your email waitlist, don’t forget to properly create email aliases, and subdomains, configure DNS, DMARC, etc., and warm up the domain. Also, listen to the advice of your outreach platform about recommended daily and hourly limits.

The same applies to social media networks like LinkedIn and Instagram when discussing network expansion and messaging. Ads are a completely different story; ensure you have a knowledgeable team member curating this process.

One additional strategy point: Location-based mobile apps require offline advertising as well. These activities focus on pre-launch brand awareness with a separate campaign following launch. Don’t forget about Google Maps, which offers the opportunity to have reviews for your company’s local office, further building offline trust.

And of course, ASO (App Store Optimization) is relevant for competitive niches. A good starting point is to invest $300 daily in ads during the first few days. As your app’s user base grows, reinvest up to $1,000 daily into promotion within the App Store. Sounds expensive? It might be, but these are real numbers from one of our clients with a successful app boasting over 500,000 downloads.

Loud SMM

Loud means really loud. 

Let us just mention when it is good to be noticed during the first 6 months after release. Ideally.

Ready?

 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Reddit, Quora, Nextdoor, Capterra, G2 Crowd, GetApp, TrustRadius, SoftwareReviews, Product Hunt, SaaS Mantra, AppSumo, Crowdboosted, Open Collective, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Clutch, TheManifest, SourceForge, Pinterest, The Next Web, SaaS Magazine, Software Development Magazine (SD Times), Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Industry-Specific Publications, Online Communities and Forums, Podcasts, Webinars and Online Events, Influencer Marketing, Google Maps, Google Business, All possible Conferences and Trade Shows.

 

Wooh! Good Luck, no joke!

 

Marketing Specialist in Startup

Development perspective

Developers, Support, and testing engineers – heads, and hands are ready for feedback. But let’s talk rather not to create a mess when a new update comes every 8 hours. 

Types of rollout strategies

This is a powerful tool for a product manager, but it should be implemented and configured by the development team. A CI/CD specialist, together with the PM, can manage the overall feature launch using one of three modes:

  • Immediate
  • Staged
  • Gradual

This is relevant not only when the product team introduces a new feature to all users but also as a tool to facilitate A/B testing.

Here’s a breakdown of the three main rollout strategies:

Immediate Release: This strategy makes the new version available to all users simultaneously. While it offers benefits like instant access for everyone and a consistent product experience, the potential risks are high, and A/B testing becomes absolutely crucial for such releases.

Gradual Release: A time-consuming approach focused on early risk identification. This approach involves introducing the new version to a very limited group of users first, meaning 1-10% of the user base. As you gather feedback and address any issues, the release is progressively expanded to a wider user base. 

Staged Release: Similar to a gradual release, a staged rollout targets specific user groups in phases. This allows for targeted testing, segmented feedback, and stage-by-stage issue resolution. While it offers more control than immediate release, the management and coordination involved can be complex, and some users might have to wait for access to the new version.

To get a better understanding of this tool you can watch this and this video – tutorials from 2 widely used SaaSs for rollout management.


Interventions in existing code

“By nature, mobile apps don’t always allow for immediate interventions and quick fixes. Every time the code is changed, an APK or App Bundle needs to be uploaded to Google Play or the App Store console, validated and approved.

But there’s always “but”. The approval time for app store updates depends on the significance of the changes introduced.

We know app versions typically follow a format like “1.0.0.” When major changes are introduced to users, the version number changes to “2.0.0.” Minor changes, like bug fixes, performance improvements, and small UI adjustments, only change the second number (e.g., 2.1.0). And for very slight changes called patches, the app version changes only the third number (e.g., 2.1.1). Patches are crucial for urgent bug fixes and security breach detection.

Why is this important? Because patches, versions, and subversions – once approved – can also be managed by user permissions upon software update requests.

From a user’s perspective, software updates can be categorized as:

 

Mandatory Updates are essential for continued app usage. Users might be prompted to install them before accessing the app.

Optional Updates provide new features or bug fixes but are not required for basic app functionality. Users can choose to install them at their convenience.

Background Updates: These updates download and install automatically, often when the device is connected to Wi-Fi and charging. Users can typically control these settings in their device’s app store.

 

Summarizing the above – small updates are approved faster, but app users also manage on their side the update mode – automatic, manual or individually controlled.

A few more tech tips (rollbacks, stability monitoring)

Pro Tip #1: Backups and rollbacks are a new religion.

Pro Tip #2: Monitor app stability (crashes, freezes, performance slowdowns, faulty APIs, launch failures, excess power consumption, network traffic overloads).

Pro Tip #3: Always do regression testing.

Pro Tip #4: Complement each app update with clear release notes and an achievement tone.

Pro Tip #5: Instead of ignoring bad reviews, turn your haters into contributors.

Pro Tip #6: Crashlytics, load balancers, and real-time monitoring and alerts save thousands of dollars.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. Launching an app isn’t a fairy tale ending, but the exciting beginning of a new chapter. It’s a rollercoaster ride filled with challenges and triumphs. But with careful planning, relentless iteration, and a touch of grit, tons of effort, and focus, you can turn your mobile app into a success story. Hope we helped you to see some unobvious details, at least a tiny bit, which will help your product to stay on track!

Why Partner with RedCat

Launching your app is exciting, but the real challenge comes after. This guide gave you a crash course on post-launch essentials: app store approval, monetization strategies, and user engagement. Remember, a successful app is like a long party – it needs constant tweaks based on user feedback.

 

But you don’t have to go it alone! Partner with RedCat, your expert pre-launch and post-launch companion. We’ll navigate every step, from product backlog creation to app store submissions and pivots. Let our seasoned developers, product specialists, and Design wizards handle the technical complexities while you focus on celebrating your app’s own story.

 

Transform your app idea into a user magnet. RedCat’s experienced mobile developers craft user-centric apps that exceed expectations and drive engagement. Let’s discuss your project and get started today.


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How to release your mobile app in 2024?
Part 1.


App launch got you stressed? This guide unravels the secrets: release managers, App Store vs. Google Play, and hidden costs!

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Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

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