The soft launch of a mobile app is all about collecting data. But what happens if you’re a CMO, mobile marketer or a product marketing manager at a mobile startup unfamiliar with the necessary tracking and technicalities of data collection?
Don’t worry. This practical guide describes in detail which product and marketing analytics you need to have in place before you acquire your first cohort of users.
App and game publishers should approach the soft launch process with an open mind, without personal bias and with a commitment to using the data alone to determine what is and isn’t working. It’s crucial to collect information that allows you to make effective and informed decisions further down the line.
Your soft launch plan should have three main focus areas:
1/ To validate the product-market fit and collect feedback from early adopters.
2/ To optimize the user flow, retention and balancing for better monetization.
3/ To gain data for more effective user acquisition which can be scaled up with your hard launch.
We’ve witnessed several examples where publishers have jumped into the soft launch process without having detailed app tracking and any mobile attribution in place (the latest article about the attribution is here: https://www.appagent.co/blog/2019/01/09/the-principles-of-mobile-ad-attribution-analytics-and-tracking/). This can result in any money invested into pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns effectively being wasted. Buying data only works if you can track, analyze and learn from what you’ve measured.
When to implement mobile analytics in the app development cycle
Once you’ve completed your MVP and the feature set is frozen, it’s the right time to introduce analytics. At this point, your product should have enough content or functionality for about 20 minutes of usage, which the average person can enjoy over a couple of days.
Only when your app is at this stage will you have enough substance to be able to measure how effective the initial engagement is, and to make a decision on whether there’s a clear product-market fit – or if the product needs further development or reworking.
Mobile marketing analytics and how to set it up
As Tomek Chudzinski from AppAnnie stated at 4C Conference in October 2018, the top 50 games in the world have a 40% share of total of paid downloads. My bet is that the figure is even higher for apps.
Be prepared that organic growth among your user base will be slow in the beginning. As it gains momentum, users will come to the app – but in an unpredictable and uncontrollable manner. In this situation, paid acquisition is a necessary – and in most cases essential – source of attracting new users.
Here’s an overview of analytics SDKs for Android and iOS, including information on the best attribution tools and optimal setup (the latest summary about the right tool for you is here: https://www.appagent.co/blog/2020/03/02/whats-the-best-mobile-attribution-partner-for-your-app/).
|Pick the mobile attribution tool||Each tool offers a different business model and toolset||Consider pricing, if you need organic data and fraud prevention||Appsflyer, Adjust, Kochava, Branch, Singular|
|Integrate attribution SDK||To measure the quality of traffic||Ask developers. Don't forget at payments verification!
|Connect attribution with acquisition channels||To track every ad network you’ll use||Create ad network accounts, follow guides of your attribution tool||FB, Google Ads, Search Ads, Snapchat, Unity Ads...|
|Define post-install events||To better evaluate the quality of traffic and for the Cost-Per-Action optimization||If you start, ask the product manager / game designer what are the engagement indicators||FB SDK, Google Conversions or any other app analytical provider|
|Run a technical test||To ensure tracking is set properly||Acquire 200-500 users, analyze each data point and its correctness by cross-checking values. You will never get exactly same numbers from different tools. Descrepancies up to 5-10% are normal.|
|Set up marketing analytics||For more efficient and precise campaign optimization||Buy a SaaS tool, build your own tool or hire experts to build it for you||Appsumer, Singular, Tenjin, Clarisights, Acquired.io, AppAgent's ROY|
Which app analytics integrate to collect all soft launch data
When you’re planning a soft launch you should be always thinking of two “tracks”, including both marketing/acquisition activities and product activities. This means, for example, having a plan of A/B experiments both on the marketing and product side. Always remember the rule of analytics that: to improve it you need to measure.
To measure the engagement of users with your app it’s essential to control the technical quality of the app via developer analytics, and product quality via app analytics.
Here are the things you need to measure.
|Pick the developer analytics||These tools specifically focus on stability and technical issues||Choose either a specialist or use a module of a larger suite||Crashlytics, HockeyApp|
|Measure stability and technical performance||To avoid any crashes, slow loading times etc.||Follow main KPIs with every new app update|
|Choose product analytics||To measure KPIs such as onboarding funnel, retention, conversion funnel, but also economy.||Build or buy: the decision is strategic and depends on your BI team capabilities, timing, and money.||Amplitude, Mixpanel, DeltaDNA, Firebase, DevToDev, Leanplum or own solution|
|Setup tracking events||To understand 5 key values||1. Onboarding completion (do people experienced the a-ha moment)
2. Retention (comparison with industry standards, can be found on the internet)
3. Monetization (ARPDAU, ARPPU, ARPU)
4. No. and lengths of sessions (look at average and median)
5. Virality (sharing content, inviting people to join, publishing promo codes…)
|Build KPI dashboards and funnels||To visualize KPI and the progression of users through the app||Using previously set up events, now visualized in the analytical tool||Google Data Studio, Power BI, Tableau, Qlik|
|Build balancing/monetization dashboards||For optimal product experience and high monetization||Highly depends on the genre of your app and mechanics. Extremely important in games!|
|Set up live ops tracking||To evaluate the impact of the new content and events||Important for games and subscription-based apps where new content plays a major role in engagement and monetization. Again, very specific to a product.|
I hope that the benefits of a soft launch are clearer now and that you understand a little more about the value of data.
To help you with your own soft launch, I’ve selected two articles from experts that you should read. One from Eric Seufert who presented a case study of Jelly Splash launch at GDC back in 2014, and the second from our friend Matej Lancaric who went into a great detail with his Ultimate Guide on Gamasutra earlier this year.
If you have a question or comment that you would like to share, or if you are seeking help with the soft launch of an app or game on the Google Play or App Store, then please contact me today (vit at appagent dot co).
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Get help with the launch of your app or game, growth strategy, app and marketing analytics, ASO, user acquisition, video and playable ads production by reaching us at peter at appagent dot co
We have been awarded App Marketing Agency of the Year at App Growth Awards 2018.