Launch Phase Planning for Alter

Alter (Codename: Instalist) has been approved and is pending developer release. Before releasing it into the App Store I want to do a few things, like create a teaser site and produce a video. In this post I’m going to take a look at my goals for this launch phase and then some specifics on what I’m going to do and the timing of those efforts.

Goals of the launch phase.

Simply put, I want the launch day to be as successful as possible. Broken down:

  • I want to let potential users know about the app, what it does and when it’s going to be released.
  • For those interested in the app, I’d like to coordinate their (potential) purchases around the launch day, or close to it.
  • I want to let the press know about the app, give them enough to (hopefully) be interested, and ask them to cover the app in some way.

Planning the launch phase.

Announcing the website. I will start by announcing the teaser site, The teaser site will, very simply, show the problem that Alter solves.

It will also communicate that the app is coming soon. At this stage I’m pre-production on the video. We’ve got a schedule in mind but given that this is the first time through, I’m not yet ready to fix a date.

Sign up form. The teaser site will include an email sign up form, designed to collect a list of interested people, who I will email the day that the app is released.

Not everyone is pro- sign up form, but I am. They’re passive, can be designed in a way that doesn’t interfere with the flow of information, and entirely optional. If a user really is interested in the release of a new app – being notified when the app is available is beneficial to them.

Announcing. When I say announce, I mean to broadcast the app/website on the following channels:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Direct email to the 2 press contacts I’ve had dialogue with in the past
  • Cold calling emails to press (I don’t expect any traction but it almost seems silly not to try)
  • This blog (e.g. this post)

Announcing the video and release date. When the video is ready I’ll publish it using the teaser site. At this point, everything will be in place so I will set the release date…

Question: the aim is for the video to generate interest prior to the launch day – so how long should I should I run the video before releasing the app?

Input from other app producers has suggested somewhere between 2 to 5 days, but potentially up to a couple of weeks. In my view, the scale of the app comes into play here. Anticipation will hold longer for more significant things; consider the release of iOS 8, or a film like The Lord of the Rings.

With Alter my plan is to let people know, get them interested, follow up with a video, then make the available to them. 2 – 3 days seems like seems an appropriate gap between video and launch.

I will again reach out using the above channels, letting people know that there’s a new video showing the app. The website will be updated to communicated the exact launch date.

Which day-of-the-week is best? Twitter chat from David Barnard and Jeremy Olson suggested releasing on a Wednesday or Thursday, if you’re expecting to be featured:

  • Apple updates their featured apps every Thursday, so this timing works well.
  • Consider going a day early, Wednesday, as this allows time for initial reviews to populate in the store; if the app is featured it looks better having already received ratings…

Conversely, if you’re not expecting to be featured it may make sense to avoid Thursdays, specifically, to avoid competition with other major apps launching on that day.

For Alter, the timing of the video will factor. I’m not expecting to be featured, but Wednesday seems like a good fit. Ideally I’d like to announce the video first thing Monday and then release two days later, on Wednesday.

Watch this space.