For the last few months, one of my main projects has been working with Matt Carter on The BadChristian App. It was a tremendous learning experience for me, and I’m really happy about the final product.
At the time of this article, it has been roughly a month since we launched. Analytics are telling me that we’ve received nearly 6,000 downloads, 45,000 app opens, and 250,000 impressions. And the numbers keep going up.
In this post you’ll find some of the key elements that made The BadChristian App launch a huge success, and get some of the honest truth about where I failed along the way. If you’re looking to launch a new product or service with essentially no budget, this will be massively helpful to you.
Here are 7 lessons I learned while launching The BadChristian App.
1. 5-Star Reviews Across the Board
In total, I believe that we received over 100 5-star app reviews in the first week.
Initially, this was not something I asked for, but such a great number of amazing reviews have no doubt had a major influence on our success. I have since followed up with many of our users asking for an honest app store review that corresponds with how much the like the app because I care about what they think.
Charlene Cunningham, Google Play: So easy to use! I love how easy it is to download episodes so I can listen while driving and don’t have to use any data. Haven’t had any issues so far–the app is really fantastic overall!
zachstelly, App Store: I was so excited when I heard about the app and I downloaded it right away. It’s got the Podcasts, Blogs and Music, all conveniently placed into one source. And the fact that it’s free is a plus as well.
Daniel, Windows Phone: Thanks for not leaving out your fans who use Windows Phone! Great interface and easy to navigate! Lots and lots of content!
2. Community is Powerful
The BadChristian community is incredible (huge shout out to you guys). It is by far the most engaged online community that I’ve ever been a part of.
When I talk to folks about our email engagement rates, they are usually stunned. We have better engagement rates as an incredibly young community than many 20 year-old mid-size organizations.
To make it easy to share, we did a number of things such as utilizing click-to-tweet, share groups, mass emails, and personal emails.
On the landing page, we used two absurdly obvious click to tweet links—one right under the fold, and one near the bottom of the page. We had a ton of folks clicking those links and sharing with their friends.
We also have a private Facebook group called the BadChristian Share Group. There are around 800 folks in the group who love BadChristian and want to share what we’re doing. It works really simply—when we start a campaign, we just post digital assets and copy in the group and ask folks to share. They always do.
The biggest lesson from this is start giving to your community (or audience) now. Don’t wait to give them something when you need help, start now. Give, give, give, give, give, give, give. Referring to Tim Ferris’ blog, Charlie Hoehn writes, “a lot of bloggers are constantly trying to extract from their readers. They are in a perpetual state of pitching products and injecting ads. Tim rarely asks for anything; he just focuses on putting out quality content that his readers will like.”
Take a lesson from Tim—focus on adding value so that when it’s time for you to ask them to help you out, they’ll be obligated to do so. A great resource on this topic is Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
3. Tap Into Your Team Member’s Networks
Here is an email that I sent out to our entire team the morning of launch, which I think is instructional for those wanting to ask their team to help them out on a project.
I focused on how sharing to your friends and family is really easy—all they had to do was click a couple links and copy and paste an email I already wrote for them into an email window and hit send. Download my email here.
4. Get Your Hands Dirty
On March 14, 2015 at 5 a.m. I was on Instagram and Twitter responding to our users questions. Hop on social, forums, email, and more and talk to your customers. Show them you care and you’re there to help.
Additionally, I wanted to hear direct feedback from customers. Since we don’t have a full-time customer service team, any inquiries would have just gone to our amazing admin, Reva. To spare her insanity and get immediate feedback on the product I had designed, I put my own email address on the main landing page.
Many folks are scared to get direct feedback or post in your organization’s social media feed in fear of getting slammed with hundreds of angry customer emails. You don’t have to be. Your customers value openness and honesty—for them it feels super comforting to know they can ask questions to the exact person who managed the creation of the product. Remove those personnel layers and answer questions yourself.
The thing most people are scared of is that they might wake up one morning to 400+ emails in their inbox. Does that happen, yes, but here’s a simple hack from Become A Technical Marketer to organize the madness. This will auto reply to your customer letting them know you care and are working to respond quickly, then you can take the time to work through your email, or read them and send them off to someone to respond for you.
The trick is to get an email address specifically for the product launch. We used “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Second, you’ll want that email address to be the one CC’d or BCC’d in step 1.
Third, you’ll want to create a rule in Gmail to apply a tag to emails going to that address that match criteria from your suggested share text . Or maybe just whenever that email address is CC’d or BCC’d. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out this guide to Gmail filters.
Fourth, you’ll go to Zapier and create a Zap for automatically replying to emails that have that tag on them with some thank-you text, and a link to the FAQ page. This way you don’t have to manually respond to each one, and you’ll save a ton of time. And you’ll be good to go! Now whenever someone ask a question, they’ll be assured their question matters instantly and you’ll be able to respond when it works for you. And it all happens automatically.
5. BadChristian vs. Bad Christian
The official BadChristian name is “BadChristian” without a space, but many users initially searched for “Bad Christian.” If you have a name like us, then you should consider including both in your description.
It was a major oversight on my part when I forgot to add a note in the app description so that users who were searching for “Bad Christian App” with a character space would still be able to find our app. The problem was that I only included “BadChristian App” without a character space, so to find the app via search, you had to search the first way.
My goal was to drive all traffic to the landing page anyway so people wouldn’t have to waste their time searching, but folks will always search.
6. If You’re Ignoring Tablets People Will Get Pissed
The majority of emails I got from users were something along the lines of, “I installed your app on my phone, but tried it on my Samsung Galaxy tablet and it won’t work. Are you planning a tablet app anytime soon?”
The answer is no. Here is my response:
Tablets are going out. The problem is that they are too small to function similar to a laptop and too big to function like a phone. On a laptop you feel comfortable writing a 3,000 word blog post or working on new design assets for your website, but not on your tablet. It’s also too big to fit in your pocket. People will look at you funny when you take it into the bathroom at work while you do #2. On the other hand, with your phone it’s completely acceptable (I know you do it!).
When creating a new product, mobile is always first on my mind. I create in this order: responsive website, mobile app, desktop app, tablet app. The tablet app is last on my list.
7. Create a Kick-Ass App
The majority of this post has been about tips, trick, and hacks to reach more people and better market your product. The truth is, marketing is the easy part. First, you’ve got to start with a great product.
The honeypot is creating valuable content, an easy-to-use system, and a beautifully designed product. This happens by holding your product to the absolute highest standard.
The Subsplash team created a killer app for us, I enjoyed putting together the design, Reva and the music team curated our best tunes for the app, and Nick and the podcast team did a great job giving the user an incredible experience on our podcast tab.
I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t do a perfect job, but I worked hard and am very happy with the product we’ve put together. I’m always making improvements and open for suggestions. In the end, I learned a great deal of incredible product management lessons and I hope that this post helped you learn some as well.
Let me know what you think in the comments below—it would mean a lot to me and I’d really appreciate it. And don’t be afraid to share!