Is it worth trying to outrun everybody right after a release? Not always. Sometimes it’s better to use a special marketing approach and make a warm-up round. Such a tactic is called a soft launch. In this article we’ll tell you why is it useful.

What soft launch is needed for?

Even professionals make mistakes sometimes and it’s difficult to ideally set up all the app mechanics and monetization without a check. That’s why mistakes may cost you a lot if you use a harsh start. What’s worse, it may lead to a total failure of a product.
Soft launch allows testing an app on a small but real audience. Tests in “laboratory” conditions (when a special team is created and friends and acquaintances are attracted) don’t always allow developers to find all the mistakes.

So a soft launch will help you to:

  • Find and fix bugs,
  • Polish all the app mechanics,
  • Carry out a delicate monetization setup,
  • Elaborate interface and usability,
  • Get feedback from “live” users,
  • Collect necessary analytics data.

App “running-in”

Using a soft launch method, a little number of advertisements are bought. A fixed sum of money is spent which can attract enough of an audience and provide representativeness of the sample. $3-5 thousand is needed on average for an app oriented to a wide circle.
The selection should be made in such a way so that it would be possible to collect authentic data and make a forecast on their basis after a full-scale launch. It’s necessary to calculate LTV, ARPU, an average check, and retention after a soft launch. Besides, there’s a chance to calculate the virality coefficient on definite conditions.

The next thing you should do is to analyze audience behavior. You should track attentively on which stage do users linger, what confuses them, and what functions interest them most of all. For example, a training level is necessary for games, a more transparent catalog organization in e-commerce apps. You should necessarily check all the monetization mechanics and maybe you need to change something. For example, it’s often difficult to find the right moment to offer IAP in games.
A soft launch is a time for making interface and design better. User behavior will show you where you should make a button larger or change its color. If you want to carry out an A/B-test, there’s no better opportunity.

Let’s discuss bugs now. Now you are obliged to find and fix the bugs you haven’t caught during pre-release testing. It especially concerns Android, as the range of devices on which your app may be launched is many times wider.

Advertising campaign test

A soft launch is extremely useful for “running-in” of both the app and the marketing campaign:

  • Test purchases

Do you have to make a choice concerning an advertising network? Don’t guess, check which one suits your app better. In order to do this just buy advertisements in various networks and choose the one which will bring you most of the traffic.

  • Choosing platforms

Having launched an advertising campaign on social networks, blogs, and other websites, you can track where good traffic comes from. But don’t focus on the install quantity only. Pay attention to traffic quality as well. It’s important to get loyal users.

  • Targeting setup

Audience analysis will show you how to set up targeting while placing advertisements. Did you plan a game for teenagers only? It may turn out that it will be more popular with housewives who will give you most of the income.

Where and how to do a soft launch?

The soft launch may be carried out in 2 ways: a “soft” advertising campaign and a local release.
The first approach means purchasing a small number of advertisements as we have already mentioned. It will attract some traffic which will be enough for the app “running-in”.
The second approach will do for those who plan to launch an app in many countries. The essence of the method is to make a release on one country at first. For example, Supercell, one of the major players on the market, launched its product in Canada at first and only then presented it to the whole world.

But there are some problems with a local soft launch. They are connected with the peculiarities of a definite country. The audience may differ in various regions that’s why you may lose the sense of it.
How not to miss while choosing a testing ground before a full-fledged release? You should be guided by the market of the country you orient to. Great Britain’s audience is similar to the largest market — the USA. On Thailand data, you can make a forecast for an app on South-West Asia.

A soft launch is a peculiar “running-in” of an app and advertising campaign in real conditions. The method will allow you to make a final app “polishing”. Besides, it will help to correct a marketing strategy and choose the most efficient platforms for advertising.

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