90% of startups fail. They can fail at any point along the way to their grand product launch and even after – especially after – when a product just didn’t catch on the way the creators intended. If there is fear in your heart about your app launch, the “lean startup” method is the a method startup app developers swear by.
Lean startups, a term coined by Eric Ries, are part of the methodology of speaking directly to consumers via your product. The core concept of creating your product is identifying and developing your minimum viable product, your MVP. An MVP addresses the problem your app is looking to solve (and there must be one or you are doomed from the start) by delivering the basics using as few resources and extraneous elements as possible. It must show that your app works, doing so with just the leanest cut.
AirBnb is a perfect example of the success that can be created from this method. The founders tested their MVP by renting out their San Francisco apartment to visitors in town for a tech conference. No app or tech involved, just the business model and a test “soft launch,” plus being in the right city and targeting the right people. Sure, some of it was luck, but in terms of MVP that’s as minimal as you can get.
Once an MVP is established, the lean startup methodology ensures that you learn and measure. This is done via the “Five Whys”, a simple method of figuring out each problem with a step by step solution that allows developers to make changes at every point in the process. This is the process of working backwards by asking your team and self five subsequent “why” questions to identify the root cause of your problem. This is the core philosophy behind lean startups; entrepreneurs adapt their plans incrementally.
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
If you have funding, a respectable reputation or resources, maybe you want go the traditional route for product launch. Similar to the MVP route, this requires communication with your audience before launch and doing so in a smart way.
You aren’t going to have a big release if you are a first-time startup app developer. If your product is quality then word of mouth will lead to sales, but you need to get your product in users’ hands before that can happen. Given that people like to feel exclusive, the rollout up to your launch is the most important time to get your app in as many places as possible.
Your rolling launch should start weeks before the release date. First and foremost, give the press access to your app. Those with a public platform to voice their opinions and desire to be ahead of the curve with tech coverage will be your best bet. Try to snag some key influencers in your field. Host an event and give free early download codes to the public. All of these practices create the opportunity to get people talking about your app in person and on social media.
It’s best to share your product in a rolling launch, but what marketing strategies work if you had a weak launch?
Mumbai based e-commerce app Fynd grew to 1 million downloads in 6 months, following a launch of only 10,000. They used a cohesive strategy of business and product improvements. On the development side, Fynd’s team reduced app size and made backend and checkout more seamless. On the marketing side, they implemented a referral program, which coincided with brand sale seasons. Fynd also used social media analytics tools to gather user data.
These intensive marketing efforts led users to discover Fynd’s improved feature set and boosted downloads tenfold (literally). This demonstrates the most important part of startup marketing, which is communication between teams. This is truly the only way to make this method work.