Fiksu is the world’s leading mobile app marketing platform. We’re experts in app marketing and engagement – it’s is our sole business and we’ve been doing it since 2010. We help app marketers get better results by applying programmatic technology to mobile media buying. This lets us reduce costs and scale ad campaigns cost effectively. Our clients include 40 of the 50 top grossing apps in 2013, and cover a wide range of business models – everything from apps for major brands, mobile games, and apps by smaller indie developers. We work across the globe. You can see here our office locations. And we also do a lot of soft launches – around 3/4s of new apps from our clients go through some sort of soft launch process. The important point behind these statistics we have the experience, technology and scale to make your app successful in the marketplace.
Gives you an opportunity to test your game’s market readiness in a representative environment before launching to the wider world. Note we’re talking games here – that’s the most common use. While a soft launch can provide useful info for any mobile app, it’s much more widesrpead for games – and part of that is due to the way games and other apps behave. Games are more like movies: a big opening weekend is essential, so you have to get everything right in advance. With apps, often it’s more like a TV show that starts with a small loyal following and builds over time – with a core of loyal users, you have the chance to make fixes as you go and continue improving the experience and bringing in more users.
-- platform game recently -- found out their game was too short! Excellent completion rates – but only took a couple of hours of gameplay, and was ad-supported – didn’t lead to enough ad views to pay off. So they went back and added an endless racer version to lengthen sessions, and added IAPs to boost monetization. TRANS: So that’s an example of why you should do a soft launch – now let’s start looking at the how’s and the what’s.
Example: card battler game wanted to find out how their tutorial video was impacting performance. They soft launched and tested – and realized they had a 10% completion rate. Well it’s not actually a surprise, because as it turns out the video was almost 5 minutes long. They chopped it down to under a minute and completion rates spiked to over 75% - a tangible improvement that was good for their app overall. TRANS: Knowing what data you need to gather is also closely related to a more tactical point: what exactly do you want to measure?
User experience—also—are they get stuck at a certain level? Are they registering? Is there functionality they aren’t using at all?
User retention—also—how long do they stick around? What threshold od they have to reach to most like become long-time players?
Monetization—specific to revenue -- also—how much are players spending? Who spends more? Are IAPs priced correctly? Virality—also—at what point do they share? Do you have the right sharing tools in place? Overall economics – and this is the single most important factor for many apps: is the revenue potential of the app more than the costs of acquiring new users? It’s not unusual for Fiksu clients to find out that it’s not, and go back to the drawing board. That’s actually the most common lesson our clients learn during a soft launch. Whether the fix is making changes within the app or finding a new acquisition strategy, it doesn’t make sense to launch without it. We had a major brand client recently who did a soft launch and found out that their users were worth about $0.15 each. You can’t drive a steady flow of users for less than $0.15 each – there’s just no way to make the economics work at that monetization level. TRANS: Once you have your goals in place and know what you want to measure, you’ll need to figure out how to do your tracking – and generally, that means a tracking partner.
UA-this type of tracking tells you where new users come from, how much they cost, and how much revenue they generated. Need to make sure your tracking provider can track on all types of traffic (social, display, RTB, incent, etc). Granularity of tracking providers reporting and analytics is also important.
UX-this type of tracking will show you what users do in your app, where churn occurs, what features they use, and where they get stuck. Also gives you info on user flow, session strength and social sharing. Some questions straddle both: it’s often worth comparing ipod vs. iphone vs. ipad behaviors. User acquisition costs can vary, usage habits and monetization habits can vary – sure, most people are probably aware of iPad vs. iPhone, but often find differences in ipod as well. Can your UA tracker break those out? Can your UX tracker? TRANS: poll
if targeting US, want to make sure you test in an English speaking country. Very well known brands have started avoiding Canada to reduce press coverage of their new titles before they’re ready: too easy to be spotted. Outside the US, not so easy. Want to prepare for Japan? Out of luck, no significant markets outside Japan that speak Japanese, so in addition to changing cultural factors, you’ll have a language change. TRANS: Now you’ve got your goals and measurement in place, you’ve picked your test market, you’re almost ready to launch – but not quite. Couple more things to consider, the first of which is boring but essential:
A soft launch is not for QA! You don’t want to be paying to acquire users just to learn that your registration page doesn’t work. We have seen these mistakes made, which is why we mention them. It’s easy to overlook the basics. Another thing to make sure of is that your infrastructure is prepared for a surge of new users-you don’t want your server to collapse. TRANS: Once everything’s triple checked in your app itself, it’s worth spending some time thinking about another important but often overlooked component: your app store presence.
you can make most updates on the fly but updating your screenshots in the App Store does require re-submitting your app for approval. TRANS: OK now you’re ready to start – what does a soft launch entail?
Internal resources- if possible, sync up your testing with your engineering cycles so you have resources available around the end of your test.
Budget- the quicker you want those users, the more you’ll have to spend, because you’ll have to bid more aggressively to get visibility and user numbers. Expect 5 figures. TRANS: There you have it – with the scope planned out and the budget in place, you’re ready to kick off the soft launch and start collecting data. Then what?
After completing your soft launch you should analyze the data and make changes to your app. Once you’ve learned enough to be confident, get ready for your major launch. TRANS: With that in mind, we wanted to share a little bit more of a case study of a successful soft launch.
This was the app with the tutorial change. They also added some new features like automation and an improved UI. TRANS: If you want to get results like these, Fiksu can help.
Soft Launch Strategies for MobileApp Companies
Learn First, Start Strong
Soft Launch Strategies for Mobile
Manager, Content and Communications
June 17, 2014
41 of 502014 TOP GROSSING APPS
World’s leading mobile app
What Is a Soft Launch?
A controlled release of your
app or game in a test market
outside your primary market
Why Do It?
• Getting it right the first time is essential
• Time in app: 6X growth in 4 years
• Mobile game usage grew 66% in 2013
and games command 40% of app usage
• Can isolate success factors and problem
areas and quantify user response to
game mechanics or app features
What Data Should You Gather
from a Soft Launch?
• What outcome would prove your hypothesis or give you the
information you need?
• Is there a possible outcome where your data is inconclusive
because of either lack of granularity or insufficient data?
• Will the data lead to tangible improvements?
Know your goals and think about the testing
What Do You Want to Measure?
• How much does it cost to bring in users?
• What’s your organic lift?
User Experience and Retention
• How are users interacting with your app or
• Are they moving beyond the first level or two?
Monetization and Virality
• How long does it take players to make a
•Are people sharing your app or game?
Choosing a Tracking Partner
• UA: App marketing and
• UX: In-app analytics
Accurate detailed data is critical
Use both UA (User Acquisition) and UX
(User Experience) tracking
Choosing a Test Market
• Pick a country that has market
similarity to your target audience
• Developers targeting the US typically
test in Canada, New Zealand, or
Getting the Details Right
• Links are working
• Ratings tools and comments are
party integrations are active and
• Images and content are in correct
Triple check your app before releasing it
to a test market. Make sure:
App Store Presence
Your first impression to users when it’s time to launch
• Test different banners and app
• Put lessons into effect
A soft launch typically takes 2-4 weeks,
but depends on:
• How many users you need to get
• Your internal resources
• Your budget
Case Study: Card Battler Game
Soft launch led to improvements:
13% increase in the % of returning users
95% increase in the % of purchasers
Then in US:
28% increase in the % of returning users
31% increase in the % of purchasers
15% increase in the number of purchases