What is a “soft app launch”? In many cases it is a carefully constructed period of time when the app is live in the app store and the developer and marketing team are working in concert to give exclusives and previews to media folks like Mashable. It is a delicate balance between wanting to get it in the hands of key influencers quietly (assuming you have registered all of the devices you can during beta testing with actual beta testers (whoops) rather than a mix of beta testers and press and influencers) , and not wanting to use up your apps time on the “new app” apple list.
So the app launched on 6/23 and that first day I had one sale. Thanks mom. Really, thats not a line. It was my mom.
Remember I was “in person” at the Type A conference, so in my wildest dreams the 500 parent bloggers would be downloading the app right in front of me. With such a professional booth display as this how could they resist me?
So the next day I used my $15/ month upgraded mailchimp account to send an email to my 3100 contacts. The cost of those contacts is a fact under high debate. At least internal debate. About 800 of them are people I have met and emailed with personally over the past 3/4 years. The other 2k+ came from my old restaurant email list. I knew using such an outdated list would put me at risk of going to e-mail jail. But after working 100 hour days I felt that darn list needed to net something. I owned the restaurant, so I felt I owned the list. Lets call the list free. So cost of mailing is $15. It was the only mail I sent to a list that month that triggered the upgrade to the paid mailchimp account so I will make that send bear the full brunt of the $15.
As expected I got sent to email jail. Or got written an email jail warning note from mailchimp. My bounce rate was significantly higher than mail list averages, probably due to the age of the emails from The Waiting Room list.
So the click rate on the campaign is shown below:
Those unique number of folks that visited the app store was 115. Out of 3100. So those clicks ran a CPC of .13- pretty good. Then 68 of them converted, thats a 2% conversion from the overall pool and a 59% conversion from app store visitors to sales. The cost/sale for that $15 email was .22. Even though some on that list represented the low hanging fruit of family and friends the cost is low enough to tell us all for the upteenth time that building and maintaining our email lists has to be a core priority of any marketing effort.
So that was day 1-2 of soft launch. At 68 sales on day one I felt pretty good. I mean 30 or so of those were my core group, but I had distributed 75 free copies of the app during beta test via Test Flight, so most of my people already had the app.
What would happen next?
For the next few days my grass roots marketing efforts were slowed some by travel home to Vermont from the conference in Asheville, some time with the kids etc.
During soft launch I spent roughly $2100 in my own time promoting the app. (14 days at 3 hrs/day at $50/hr ). I gifted 17 copies of the app which cost me $3.17 each (2.10 of which comes back to me when apple pays me back. $15/email, $14.98 in app gifts, $2100 in my time, and $1583 in PR (that time period’s portion of the monthly retainer.) I also spent $100 for a local ad placement. So the total marketing cash outlay was $1712.98. If you add in my time it comes to $3812.98. My total sales during this soft launch period are shown in the second image below. How big was my email spike compared to organic sales?
Pretty big. An average download of 8/day (skewed wildly by the 68 on day 2) A total profit of $302.12. For a net cash loss of $1410.86. Sort of like a mortgage payment. Except I can’t live in my app. How will things change once the PR engine starts working? I will write more in a month. I can give you a teaser that the Press Release itself was picked up by 290 outlets. Which is solid but not outstanding. Tune in for part three where I start paying for reviews, blog posts, and more!