How to launch a successful mobile app in 2021

David Murphy

Tim Waldenback, Co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online driver education to help teens get their license offers advice on launching an app.

In today’s world, mobile apps are used multiple times a day by everyone with a smartphone in their hand, so it’s no wonder that publishers are having to find new ways to launch successfully and stick out from the pack.

One of the proven methods to do so is by practicing the strategies of ASO or App Store Optimization. We’ll cover several of these in this article and you’ll be on your way to success in no time.

Work with ASO for keywords that bring in high-value clients
To get the most revenue from your app, it’s crucial that the people most likely to need and/or want your app see it first in the app store search results. ASO does this by focusing on keywords much like you would with SEO. Ask yourself what a user would type in the search bar to find your app.

Our company helps new drivers get their CDL license, motorcycle license, and car license in the US. For example, we knew that if a new driver was looking for an app to help them pass their DMV test in Alabama, they may search for words such as driver’s test, DMV, Alabama test tips, and so on. We incorporated these keywords into our title, subtitle, and product description to help our app’s ranking.

Understand the purpose of your marketing efforts - is it to convert users or create a buzz?
As you’re building your app, you’ll want to be coming up with marketing ideas to increase downloads. Before you start brainstorming, start with the “why” behind your marketing campaign. Are you wanting to convert users or create a buzz?

For most apps, you’re probably trying to convert users or get them to buy into your business or product. Your marketing efforts for this would follow more traditional methods like incentives or discounts.

However, your goal may be to get people talking about your business. If that’s the case, you’d want to do buzz marketing by showing that your app is remarkable, outrageous, or even taboo. Following the same example of the driver needing to pass their DMV test, if they downloaded our app to ultimately help them ace their test the first time, they would likely share it with their friends and it would generate a buzz. Buzz leads to more downloads. 

A/B test your way to success and drive app downloads
Once your app has launched, the real work begins. You need to be constantly improving your app to stay successful and drive more downloads. One of the best ways to do this is with A/B Testing.

A/B testing is when you identify a component of your app that you may want to change and you see how that change would compare to the original product by having both available to the same target audience.

For example, maybe you want to experiment with changing your logo or the screenshots in your app description. To see if the app would perform better with the change, you have both versions available for 7-14 days and you see which one gets the most downloads. At the end of the test, you’ll know which version to stick with and you can delete the other.

How to monetize
Chances are, you designed your app to bring in revenue so one of your pressing questions is likely how to monetize your app. There are several options for doing this and you’ll likely want to use several of them to boost your profits.

To monetize your app, you can choose from the following:

  • In-app Purchases
  • App Ads
  • Subscription Services
  • Sponsorships

Going back to the driver looking to pass their test, if they were to see an in-app purchase for something relevant to what they’re studying, say a study guide that they could download, they would likely make that small purchase to increase their chances of passing the DMV test.

The key to monetizing your app is keeping the marketing efforts relevant to the user so that they can easily see the benefit of what you’re trying to sell them.

What the onboarding process looks like
Onboarding an app is something that you may need to do if you need to get your users used to a new design or element or if you need to give them special instructions and/or collect information from them. You won’t need to do this with every app that you publish and it’s not always for new users, it may be necessary after an update or as users get further into the app.

There are typically three types of onboarding:

1. Feature Promotion - showing the user what your app does
2. Customization - getting information from your user to customize their experience
3. Instructions - teaching your users how to use your app

For simple apps, you’ll probably be able to bypass this step. However, if your app needs more of an introduction or guidance, keep the process clean and straightforward so your users don’t get frustrated.

How to keep users engaged
Once you get a large number of downloads and have a following of users, you want to be sure that you can keep them engaged. There are a few approaches to this and it will likely depend on your app and audience. Two of the major ways to do this are the use of incentives and updates.

Keep updating to bring new value
It’s crucial to update your app every 2-4 weeks to show your users that you’re adding value to your product. While it can be tedious to put this into practice, it serves these purposes:

  • Increased engagement due to ease of use
  • Increased customer awareness due to notifications
  • Increase in user base due to your perceived dedication
  • Increase in communication between you and your users
  • Increase in performance due to fixing bugs and glitches

Put incentives in the app to keep people coming back
How many times have you stayed up late to get to the next level in an app? Or used a scanning tool to collect rewards? These types of incentives keep you engaged for a reason! If you have any way to use this with your app, do it. Users will keep coming back for more and will stay on longer to get the next carrot.

Give your app the best shot at success
So in a sea of 8.93m apps, how will you make sure that your app is successful? Perhaps some of it is luck but most of it is strategy and marketing. Using these tips gives your app a fighting chance at showing up at the top - and staying there.