Why Soft Launching Your App is Not a Great Idea
Many companies soft launch their apps, but this practice is mainly a habit that is done despite its many disadvantages. There is a better alternative to doing a soft launch and we’ll discuss that, but first, let’s answer the first question – why is doing a soft launch for your app not such a great idea?
A soft launch can be a deceiving option. Usually, during the bring up time, you share your app with a small percentage of your potential user base (starting probably with 5% and then 10 % and so on), and you learn and gain insights about your app by getting feedback from the users.
At first, this seemed like a very sophisticated way to launch: its fast, simple, provides exposure to a targeted audience and helps you optimize user acquisition. Looks like a cost-effective and smart way of moving forward? Not quite.
What are the disadvantages of soft launching?
Despite some obvious advantages, the reality can actually be very different. Real-life examples taught us that the damage done by doing a soft launch this way is much greater than its advantages. These big risks include:
- Losing real users: This is the primary risk. These days, when companies fight over every user, losing 5% or 10% of potential or existing users over an update can be devastating for an existing app, and even cause a chain reaction negatively affecting other users. The effect is even worse when it comes to new users getting their first impression of your app and brand.
- Damage to reputation: Your app and brand can suffer greatly because of bad user experience and even lack of credibility. For example, a user experiencing glitches or crashes while using an airline company mobile app will start doubting whether it’s safe to fly with them.
- Longer time-to-market: A long bring up time increases the time-to-market period, and it becomes an even bigger issue when you are working in the Agile world.
- Skewed user insight: Most user feedback doesn’t provide real insights because of a lot of variables that effect user experience (for example, internet quality). The feedback from the user doesn’t necessarily point out the right conclusion, which requires companies to conduct further investigations and spend more time and money to get to the right conclusion.
How are companies trying to eliminate risks?
Companies usually communicate the fact that they have a new app/features, sometime adding a “beta” icon and encouraging users to give feedback. Some companies use heavy users or even find a Beta user community that test their app before launch.
While those solutions can only perhaps minimize the risks or damage, they don’t provide enough insights to optimize the app: heavy users tend to be biased and mostly only give feedback on the things that are important to them, which may not align with the insights companies hope to get. The reality is that companies need to spend a lot of resources during an app launch to understand user behavior and experience. The reason is that most feedback from users is partial and not systematic, distorted by noise from unfiltered data from users, which instead of helping, ends up removing companies from the right path, unless they are very experienced and put a lot of effort into being able to successfully filter and sort all the data to get real insights.
What should companies actually do?
Companies should launch apps only after they achieve enough maturity and pass strict testing, in order to avoid damaging their brand or lose users.
One of the most effective ways to achieve the best outcome is to integrate several tools and methods during the testing cycles, like recording the user actions and the device performance.
At Qualitest, we use automation along with crowd testing and run a sophisticated AI-powered tool called Qualisense to get true insights from tests, which enables us to help companies launch their apps faster and better.
The capabilities of crowd testing today, with real users, devices and tester fragmentation, with supporting platform and tools, allow companies to conduct controlled tests that simulate a soft launch with all its advantages, while eliminating most risks and providing insights that then help to create better user experience, which produces loyal users.