If you asked me, I\u2019d say:\r\n\r\nThe biggest reason most startups fail is because they don\u2019t build up to their launch and they don\u2019t market from day one.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s like the 50\/50 rule from\u00a0Traction:\r\n\r\nTraction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50% rule: spend 50% of your time on product and 50% on traction.\r\n\r\nImagine the following scenario:\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ve worked hard to build the \u201cperfect\u201d app. You\u2019ve fixed any possible bugs, made it look beautiful, and just \u201cknow\u201d your market\u2019s out there. On the day of the launch maybe you get lucky and a couple of people write about it, and maybe you even get on Product Hunt. You\u2019re thinking, \u201cwow, I\u2019ve made it\u201d. After the buzz dies down, you\u2019re left with a thousand or so customers who don\u2019t stick around much, and your bounce rate is so big, it would look great if you replace \u201cbounce\u201d with \u201cconversion\u201d.\r\n\r\nWhat happened?! Simply put, you relied on things that don\u2019t last: both press and Product Hunt will give you a nice boost, but you need to build a steady foundation first in order for the buzz to continue building.\r\nWhat\u2019s Your Main Metric?\r\nEven when you think your app is doing well, it might be dwindling, and by the time you realize, it would be too late, and you\u2019d have to start from the beginning. That\u2019s why you have to have someone on the team who cares about metrics and measures practically everything.\r\n\r\nQuestion:\u00a0What are you measuring?\r\n\r\nIf it\u2019s traffic traffic, that won\u2019t help you long-term.\r\n\r\nIf it\u2019s conversions, great! But are people who converted sticking around or have they abandoned your app right after they installed it? If it\u2019s the latter, I suggest you devise an evil plan to email them a week after and see what went wrong. Maybe there\u2019s a good reason and they can tell you what to improve.\r\n\r\nIf it\u2019s how engaged people are with your product, I congratulate you. You\u2019re on the right track because retention is the most elusive of metrics but also the most beautiful. Basically, it\u2019s the white fox of the startup world.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m fed up with unicorns anyway.\r\nTiming Is Everything (That, and foreplay.)\r\nSo you\u2019ve got an app. And a landing page with cute pictures, maybe you\u2019re on twitter, facebook, and you\u2019re going through the motions to be social and human and\u00a0\u2026 wait a second, how long have you been doing this for?\r\n\r\nIf you just started because you\u2019ve just launched, I think you missed a few steps in between. Experts advise to start marketing as soon as your idea is born.\u00a0Guy Kawasaki, for example, uses a very clever publishing model where\u00a0he crowdsources his books\u2019 chapters and asks for feedback. So what he\u2019s doing is getting people\u2019s interest and their investment into the product\u00a0way before it gets out.\u00a0That\u2019s classic foreplay.\r\n\r\nThe longer you stagger the release, the better, but there\u2019s also the other side of the coin\u200a\u2014\u200atelling people \u201cthis amazing app is launching soon\u201d and one year later it\u2019s still a vacant twitter account and no updates in sight.\r\n\r\nYou have to find the balance and set your own pace. It\u2019s worth it.\r\nHow Are You Luring Potential Users?\r\nI was going to write an entire blog post about \u201cthe common denominator of viral apps\u201d, but this will do. You\u2019re probably thinking it\u2019s something super sexy, but it\u2019s rather something super simple\u200a\u2014\u200ait\u2019s freebies.\r\n\r\nWhy do you think all the best marketers offer free ebooks on their sites?\r\n\r\nBecause freebies equal subscriptions. And every good marketer knows that email is the Holy Grail. Content may be King and Social it\u2019s Queen, but email is the ultimate goal because it\u2019s the most direct way you can contact someone. Everybody has just one inbox (or at least one main one) and they covet it, so when they subscribe, you\u2019ve entered their shrine.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s what the experts do\u200a\u2014\u200aset up a landing page and give something for free. Or only give early access to some people. Or better yet, release your app for free and show people how fun it is to use before they have to subscribe.\u00a0Meerkat\u00a0shows everyone the streams without signing up.\u00a0Slack\u00a0and\u00a0buffer\u00a0are free until you want the \u201cspecial features\u201d and\u00a0by then then you\u2019re hooked.\r\n\r\nMy point is, give something for free before you ask for anything in return. And NEVER ask for my credit card at the start. Huge turn-off.\r\nAlways Look For New Channels &\u00a0Laser Focus On The Best Ones\r\nI\u2019m a fan of the book Traction. In it, you can read about the \u201cBullseye Framework\u201d. Basically, you have to do little experiments to find the channels that work for you, but you must never say \u201cno, this won\u2019t work\u201d until you\u2019ve tried it.\r\n\r\nOnce you find something that works, you must really hone in on it. For example, it might be a specific user segment or a specific social platform. Whatever it is that\u2019s really bringing the big bucks,\u00a0milk it until the cow\u2019s empty.\u00a0And then do more experimenting to find other channels.\r\n\r\nI think you\u2019re supposed to focus on 3 channels and work on those, but never spread yourself too thin. I\u2019m assuming you\u2019ve done your market research and you know where your users hang out by now, so get going.\r\nHow Are You Engaging Users?\r\nYou can\u2019t just expect people to use your app. It doesn\u2019t happen.\r\n\r\nWhat happens is\u200a\u2014\u200apeople see something cool, they think about trying it but without context or an additional reason to carry on, their interest fizzles out.\r\n\r\nIn this case, I recommend finding a way to engage your early users. I mean the ones that are really excited about the product. Whether they have four stars on\u00a0MailChimp\u00a0or they\u2019re the ones who always give you feedback or reach out on twitter, whatever they do, they\u2019re easy to spot.\r\n\r\nThink about it like this: Your goal should not be finding new people endlessly.\u00a0It should be keeping your most engaged users indefinitely.\r\n\r\nProduct Hunt\u00a0is an excellent example of this:\u00a0Ryan Hoover\u00a0personally reached out to a bunch of people at the start, he constantly asked for feedback on everything\u200a\u2014\u200anew features, new mockups\u200a\u2014\u200aand thus kept the most engaged users equally as engaged as the day they signed up.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s why I open Product Hunt daily. Because he gave me a reason to stick around, then the product became a habit, and BOOM. I am hooked.\r\nEncouraging Users To Spread The Word\r\nReferrals are usually the most dependable source of conversions. Whether you have launched already or you\u2019re building up to it, it\u2019s important to encourage your users \/ beta testers to share the app with their friends.\r\n\r\nSome marketers use \u201ctweet to download\u201d gimmicks, but I personally prefer well-placed buttons and opportunities to share on social. Furthermore, if your product is good and you\u2019re engaging your users, chances are word-of-mouth will happen naturally. That\u2019s usually the tipping point.\r\n\r\nFinally,\u00a0never assume your work is done.\u00a0Keep experimenting and iterating because people will not be interested forever. Haven\u2019t we seen enough\u00a0buzzed-out products that have disappeared a month after launching?\r\n\r\nPresenting: The Meeting Facilitator Canvas\r\nAll Of The Above? [Case Study]\r\nI can\u2019t really give an example other than my own startup because those are the metrics and results I know best, so let\u2019s go with that.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s how we do it at\u00a0Amazemeet:\r\n\r\n\tKey metric:\u00a0Engagements with the Meeting Facilitator Canvas (yep, the pasty thing on the left there)\r\n\tTiming\/foreplay:\u00a0We\u2019re staggering the launch by doing a 3-wave-beta process where we invite some of our subscribers to test the product so far. That way we can both engage and iterate on the product until it\u2019s market-ready. Also, we have been marketing from Day One. \u263a\r\n\tLuring users:\u00a0We gave away the Meeting Facilitator Canvas for free, so we were able to collect some emails for further promotion of our app. The app is based on the Canvas, but way cooler.\r\n\tChannel focus:At first we went with content marketing, twitter, and trying to build a community on LinkedIn, but honestly, people were just not interested. So we switched to email marketing, viral marketing, and press (because of the results we got from Product Hunt), which according to analytics and product features, hold most promise.\r\n\tEngagement: We\u2019re constantly encouraging people to try the Canvas and tell us how they liked it. Also, we\u2019re building in-app (unobtrusive, we hope) features that will ask for their feedback and soon we\u2019ll be building a community wherever we see fit.\r\n\tReferrals: Since we have a large list of subscribers already, this is not a priority\u2026 yet. What we need now is mostly feedback.\r\n\r\nIn the end, everything comes down to this:\r\n\r\nYour app needs to have a userbase when it launches. Even if it\u2019s not big, as long as it\u2019s engaged, it will spread.\r\n\r\nMike (my co-founder) and I have come up with our own\u00a0ideas of launching. For him it\u2019s like a rocket\u200a\u2014\u200ayou know, all the parts releasing and boosting the important ones in space. It\u2019s because he\u2019s a developer.\r\n\r\nMy idea is that pre-launch is like a tsunami (hang in there)\u200a\u2014\u200aeach wave builds up on the last until one huge wave floods everything and brings after-waves until it settles. After that, ideally, there\u2019s steady growth.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s in the molding of both that we have found our strategy.\r\n\r\nSo how have you\u00a0been building up to your launch?