5 min read

6 Scrappy App Soft Launch Ideas that Work

6 Scrappy App Soft Launch Ideas that Work

You’ve invested countless hours into your app or software creation. Now, it’s time to introduce your brainchild to the world. The only question remaining: how are you going to do it? If you’re interested in rolling out your app in stages or incorporating user feedback into development, then an app soft launch is your best choice. The method is also great if you’re on a budget. Here’s what you should know about app soft launches to help you with your app release.

What Is an App Soft Launch? 

An app soft launch (also known as a soft release) is a test drive for your app. A limited rollout, a demo stage, and beta testing are all examples. It gives the software a trial run in a controlled environment. With this method, developers can monitor user experience, using the data to optimize the software. 
An app soft launch can happen in a few different ways: 

An app soft launch can happen a few different ways: 

  1. The app rolls out to a small group of users. Initially, only a specific number of people or geographic areas can access the app. For example, when Pokemon Go first came out, they released it only in Australia and New Zealand. The developers took feedback from users in this area to make small edits to the app. They eventually released it to Europe and then later, to the globe. 
  2. Introduce the app or software idea in stages. You’re not releasing your grand vision in its entirety. Instead, the first release is the minimal viable product, which is the core functionality of your app without any added features. Let’s imagine you wanted to make a wedding planning app. Your minimal viable product would be software allowing you to book wedding venues. Over time, you scale up by adding features, such as scheduling cake tastings, reserving florists, and booking a hairstylist. 

Imagine app soft launch strategies as a tool that lets you wade into a pool gently, as opposed to cannonballing into the deep end. It involves a little more time but can be a smoother transition from software development to testing to release.

App Soft Launch vs Hard Launch

When speaking about soft launch vs hard launch methods, one is not any better than the other. They both serve different purposes. What matters is choosing the option that is best for you.

We know an app soft launch is a phased, step-by-step rollout. In comparison, a hard launch is your play’s grand opening night! All the behind-the-scenes work was leading up to this moment, where anyone can come to watch the show.  

An attention-grabbing hard launch requires a well-structured marketing strategy. This could involve paid advertising, making the cost greater in comparison to app soft launches.

A note here: Make sure your software is as close to perfect as possible. This is not a dress rehearsal, but your big Broadway debut and there is no room for error. 

Benefits of a Hard Launch

  • Beat the competition – If you are in a niche that has other app makers all with the same idea, you can earn a competitive edge by delivering your app first. You’ll likely amass more name recognition and press.
  • Publicity – The hard launch strategy lets you generate a lot of interest in the app’s introduction. It’s a big, loud announcement party, which can help it trend and garner user excitement. Sometimes the hype from a well-coordinated marketing strategy is the most important priority. 
  • Revenue – Sometimes people want to skip the beta stage and go straight to monetization. Again, you need to have an app ready to deliver on its promise. But if you do, a hard launch lets you monetize a large user base more quickly. 

Benefits of an App Soft Launch

  • Feedback – The importance of receiving early user feedback cannot be overstated. Discovering insights about the user experience early on allows you to optimize quickly. It’s easier to add a feature than build a complete program, only to discover something detracts from the user experience and requires fixing. 
  • Generate buzz – Nothing gets people talking like exclusivity. A soft release to a restricted number of users can generate hype as people wait for access. When the Clubhouse app launched, it was invite-only and restricted to iPhone users. The clamor for an invitation was booming! People were asking strangers on every online forum to get a coveted invite to the new social networking platform. We’re so used to having fast access, when something comes along and makes us wait, it stands out from the crowd. 
  • Cheaper – Soft-launching a bare-bones app with features to follow tends to be cheaper than starting with a fully-fledged app. You can monitor user engagement in the beginning, and then make real-time changes as you build your app in stages.  
  • Contain coding bugs – TKey questions to ask yourself as you plan for an app soft launch strategy and soft launch announcement:here is always a bug in software. Always. One advantage of an app soft launch is being able to catch these issues in a controlled environment, so only a few people notice the issue. If something has to go wrong, the problem ideally occurs in a sandbox environment where the impact can be minimized.

Planning for an App Soft Launch

Key questions to ask yourself as you plan for an app soft launch strategy and soft launch announcement:

  • How much money is needed? 
  • Which channels to announce the app soft launch? 
  • How many users will be included? 
  • What are my metrics of success to measure? 
  • How to gather customer feedback? 
portrait of an app creator

6 App Soft Launch Ideas That Work

1. Use influencers 

Find influencers relevant to your industry or software. Firstly, creators themselves are a great source of feedback. Also, working with creators who have an established user base in your niche is a great way to get the word out to your target audience. Do you have a new fashion app? Soft launch it to chosen fashion influencers and their followers, before a larger rollout.

2. Targeted “first look” opportunity 

Reach out to a group who would find demoing your software exciting. For example, you could collaborate with an online tech magazine by offering their 8k subscribers the unique chance to beta test your app.

3. Invite only 

As mentioned earlier, everyone wants to be invited to the party and feel like an insider. Invitation-only access paces out the flow of new users to your app while generating some buzz about your software.

4. Test messaging 

An app soft launch is a great time to try out different messaging styles and content to see what resonates best with your audience. Fine-tune your calls to action, brand voice, and ad copy, so you’re clear on your direction when you move out of the soft launch.

5. Founders club 

Sweeten the deal for people to use your app early. You can offer something in exchange, say a free lifetime membership, to the first group of people who demo your app. You’ll get a motivated crowd drawn in by the reward, yet eager to offer their feedback and feel a part of a special founders circle.

6. Behind the Scenes 

During your soft launch, you can create content that generates excitement for the full rollout. Take quotes from your demo users and turn them into a visual for social media. Record a video of someone using the app to let people know what to expect. Personal appeals also work well. Going live or recording a video on social media, for example, shows people what you’re doing in preparation for the app's soft launch. It gives your brand a personal and endearing touch.

Remember during an app soft launch, you’ll need to measure data, experiences, and performance. Then use these insights to prepare the next step or build for your app. Be clear on what you want to look for as markers for success. Are you interested in overall engagement? Time spent on the app? Purchases made? What do you need to change or improve? 

Final Thoughts on an App Soft Launch Strategy

In the age-old debate of an app soft launch vs a hard launch, both sides have their benefits. If affordability, testing, and early feedback are all important to you, then an app soft launch could be the winning strategy. If you have a flair for grandiose entrances and fast monetization, then a hard launch could be up your alley. Or get creative and combine elements from both strategies. After all, it’s your launch party, so you might as well enjoy it and design it to be exactly what you want!  

Curious about how we help clients build their product and determine the best way to launch it to the world? Find out how we make clients successful and get in touch! 

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