How to plan for a profitable mobile app launch, by Taptica

Part 2: Gaining vital pre-launch user feedback

How to plan for a profitable mobile app launch, by Taptica
Matt Tubergen is VP and GM of Taptica, a performance-based mobile advertising platform and has over 10 years experience in the mobile app and content industry, bringing large brands and gaming properties to market.

His previous positions include senior management roles at THQ and W3i along with supporting multiple successful start ups as founder and co-founder.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Even Abe knew that planning is critical to any successful venture.

This, of course, does not exclude your mobile application. Far too often, app publishers push apps to marketing without proper planning only to be discouraged with the performance or worse yet, to not know what the performance is.

In this series, we will explore the top tips and tricks for planning a successful app launch. Oh, and I promise, no more cheesy quotes…

Six of the best

In my last column I talked about the importance of putting goals in place and planning for proper analysis of performance. In this post, I'll review six top tips for gathering user feedback in the pre-launch stage, starting with...
1. Everyone's a critic – use it to your advantage

Your mother, daughter, college roommate, the kids at the coffee shop and even your taxi driver can all be great beta testers. Over the years I have witnessed some fairly unconventional beta tester sources.

For example, you might like to consider: college or school classes (art or programming classes), senior homes/homes for the elderly, industry trade meet-ups, malls or shopping centres, parks, country fairs and public events, and Craigslist.
2. Identify your target customer

I wrote previously about the importance of knowing your goals and KPIs. However, understanding you're demographic is equally as important.

While everyone is a critique, if you are appealing to teenage boys 13-18 you might want to take feedback from your grandmother with a pinch of salt!

If feedback is being gathered from varying groups of users, think about profiling users for your reporting with the purpose of identifying patterns based on the demographics.

Thing such as age, sex and location are some great starters. Also think about asking the users if they play games and which games are they playing in order to help build profiles for later analysis.
3. Start fresh every time

Initial user experience, especially for free applications, is critical to the success of any application.

Consider wiping the slate clean before you start testing with each new beta tester. It's important to identify any initial hang-ups in user flow, vernacular or even button placement.

Sometimes the simple placement or design of a button in the initial user experience can lead to a 50 percent improvement in tutorial completion. Don't hand your app over to a new tester when half of it is completed. Test with a fresh build every time.
4. Sit back and just listen

Some of the most inexperienced users have the best feedback. It's important to listen and try to not lead users through the application.

I once witnessed a producer walk a user experience tester through the entire experience before the tester had time to review the app at his own pace. In many cases, this completely negates the value of the testing to begin with.

Most users who download your app will not have someone to walk them through each aspect of the app; letting them find issues in their natural environment is liquid gold!
5. Test online

Getting feedback face to face is meaningful but there are a series of online resources as well. One of the best services we have found is PreApps.

At PreApps you can submit your application to be reviewed by tens of thousands of highly engaged users who are interested in learning more about apps that have yet to launch.

You can easily commission them to provide feedback on everything from your level design to your app icon.
6. It's more than just the app

The product matters, but so does marketing! Don't forget to get feedback on your marketing materials such as your game's name, icon, description, screenshots and promotional imagery, videos and demo reels.

Trick of the trade: when creating demo builds, create multiple app instances with different icons but the same app name. Ask users to load the app name and see which one is clicked on most frequently. Beta testing icons can lead to improved app store conversion.
In the next column, we'll look at the fact that billions of dollars are spent every year on building pre-release awareness for movies, books, concerts and other entertainment consumer products.

We'll review the top tips used by the pros to generate pre-launch awareness and buzz for your application.

You can read Taptica's previous column series - A soup to nuts guide to mobile app analytics - here.

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