Sometimes during the app development process, a soft launch is exactly what you need. When companies have run out of money to finish developing an app, a soft launch is a useful, low-cost option that can allow the development to continue.
Besides cost concerns, there are more reasons why companies might decide to move slowly before fully launching a product. If you don’t know if your app has all the right features to succeed, a good soft launch strategy will provide the answers.
In this article, we will talk you through what a soft launch is and how it can benefit your company. The article will cover:
- What is a soft launch?
- What are the advantages of a soft launch?
- What a soft launch is not
Going small can be a good idea. We firmly believe that with a soft launch, you can put your product out in the market to get powerful and useful feedback from your customers even before the app is completed.
What is a soft launch
A soft launch is a way to test how your app will perform in the market. By releasing your partially developed app to a limited audience of generally less than 100,000 users, you can get rich feedback on the areas in which you need to improve.
Companies typically employ a soft launch before the official launch to find out how their product works in the real world. Companies like Airbnb and Facebook have done this successfully.
In the case of an app, this could look like developing only part of the app screens, rolling them out, testing for responses, and then continuing development after you get more feedback and funding.
A key part of the process is to use the initial user base to extract targeted feedback so your developers can understand how the app can be better and what it needs before fully going to market.
A soft launch is the best opportunity to collect useful data from a specific customer base. You can extract excellent feedback on key areas such as onboarding, user experience, engagement statistics, and which bugs need to be fixed.
What are the advantages of a soft launch?
So, why deploy a soft launch in the first place if you have every intention of launching the final app later on? Well, the answer comes from knowing without doubt what are the best features of your app before launch.
Test user engagement
A soft launch allows you to test early user engagement. How long are users spending on the site, and what features are they enjoying?
These are metrics that will determine the success of your app once it is fully released. We know that 24% of users abandon an app after only one use. Knowing this statistic makes focusing on user engagement so important.
If you have great in-app engagement, you have a better chance of retaining the customers who use your app. Remember also that it is much easier to retain customers than it is to find new ones, so if you lock them in during the soft launch, you are on solid ground.
Incremental reveal of the product
You can show the product to the market in carefully coordinated steps. That way, you can observe the behavior of people who use the app and decide what changes you need to make.
If your budget is tight, you can save costs by making targeted improvements at every stage. Let’s be honest, asking financial leaders in your company for more money is always easier if you can use concrete information to show why it’s a good investment.
Making sure customers are even more engaged
Now that you have tested for user engagement, what are you going to do with that feedback? You are going to improve on it. According to the mobile app user retention rate statistics, only 32% of users return to an app over 11 times.
Soft launching will allow you to know if your app is truly ready for the market. If you were planning for an official release, but your engagement stats are not good, you now have some information that could make you reconsider.
You can target your audience in smarter ways
Information is powerful, so it is very useful when you can segment your audience as this means you can better target them. You can create tiers that segment customers by value, or any other metrics you find useful.
How do key demographics respond to your app? What is the gender balance? What about the age balance? Is there a demographic that is not engaged by your design? All this is valuable information.
What a soft launch is not
You might be thinking, this sounds very much like a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) launch. But a soft launch is not an MVP. We will agree that there are similarities between the two, but there are also key differences.
An MVP is when you release a product with only enough features to be used by early customers whose feedback goes into your product development.
The main way an MVP differs from a soft launch is that an MVP involves experimentation to validate a business hypothesis. Business leaders embark on an MVP with the full intention of terminating the product if the feedback is not good.
The important word with an MVP is minimum — companies only invest what is absolutely necessary. With reduced investment often comes reduced attention to detail.
But with a soft launch, typically, companies have spent money on the app design, they are already invested in it, but now they just need a little push for app development.
Soft launch vs hard launch
A soft launch is the opposite of a hard launch. A hard launch is when a company releases a product in full with all features and functions locked in.
You can still make changes to the product after the hard launch, only it will be more complicated to do so. A hard launch takes more time and money as you have to account for full app development costs and pre-launch marketing.
Why go with S-PRO
At S-PRO, we understand the intricacies of mobile app development. As app development experts in fintech, healthcare, hospitality, and many more, we have developed deep experience in helping companies understand the pros and cons of going with a soft launch.
When your budget is tight and the future of the project is on the line, talking to a collaborative and highly skilled partner like S-PRO can help you make a soft launch work for your business.