Even the most promising app may fail if it gets updated every now and then. The updates should be regular, as such a strategy can help your product grow. How? That’s a good question, and we have a very detailed answer! But before we go to it, let us quickly remind you what can actually hide behind the word “update”.
What Types of Updates Exist
We would distinguish 3 types of updates, and here they are:
1. Bug Fixes
Bug fixes are probably the most popular type of activities involved in a product release. We know, you and your team do your best to make the app perfect, but bugs are something which can be found virtually everywhere. Even in case the testing was done several hundred times, problems can still occur when the app is used by a wider audience.
What is worse, even the most insignificant bug can lead to problems — some impatient users may give your app only 1 score just because of a tiny issue. As a result, the average rating can become lower, and the number of app downloads may decrease.
So, after your app is released, we recommend you to focus on fixing bugs, not on adding new features. But after the most serious problems are solved, you can combine the bug fixes with the next type of updates — adding new features.
2. Adding New Features
Adding new features is an important part of the evolution of your app. Fixing bugs is a great thing, but users may simply get bored of your product in case it stays the same for, let’s say, a year. Don’t let this happen! Besides, always pay attention to the users’ opinion to understand what features they need the most. We recommend you to do this even in case you have a strict roadmap — the happiness of your users is more important.
Here is one more crucial thing — after you equipped the app with a new feature, inform your users about the update. This trick will help users to understand that you take care of them. Besides, the notification won’t let users to miss a new feature.
3. Removing Certain Features
Removing features is not an obligatory thing to do, but sometimes it is essential. For instance, if a certain feature causes too much strain, it may be better to remove it until you and your team will optimize it.
And again, focus on your users – their reviews will help you to understand if there is something to remove. For instance, Instagram and Snapchat temporarily removed the Giphy feature after their users found a racist GIF offered as one of the options. At the moment, the feature is back to Instagram, but it happened only after the library of GIFs was reviewed several times.
How Regular Updates Can Benefit You
Finally, now it is time to provide you with 5 answers to a question “How can regular planned releases help the product grow?”.
1. Regular Updates Remind Users About Your App
A lot of users tend to download an app and then to stop using it after a while. According to the data provided by Digital Marketing Community, over 20% of users simply forget that they have a particular app. However, regular updates can solve the problem. When an app is updated, it is a great opportunity to inform users about new features through a notification and also remind them about your app. Unlike ads which can be irritating, that’s a really nice and gentle way of promotion.
But, unfortunately, it won’t work in case a user didn’t allow notifications. To avoid this unpleasant situation, do your best to make a great impression. Equip your app with a stylish and informative welcoming screen and interactive tutorial (if necessary). Show users the value of your app, and they will be more likely to opt into notifications.
Apart from this, regular updates may help users to make a final choice in case they have several apps of the same kind and try to discover which one is more suitable for them. Notifications about updates catch users’ attention, and this can be really important if the rival application is not updated as often as yours.
2. Regular Updates Maintain Loyalty
After the product is released, it is essential to collect the users’ feedback — in this way, you and your team discover if there are any bugs to fix and what new features can be added. That’s obvious, and we have already mentioned this. But here is an interesting thing — if you regularly update the app according to the feedback, this will assure users that you care about them and consider their opinion. Such a wise strategy will increase users’ engagement and loyalty.
Besides, happy users may recommend your product to other people: their friends, family members, colleagues or just random people who read their reviews on the Internet. By the way, around 50% of users start using a new app exactly after such a recommendation. As a result, the number of your app downloads will increase.
3. Regular Updates Can Make Your App More Noticeable
When you update an application, you can change its description, screenshots, and keywords. That’s not something you have to do every time an update is released, but that’s a good chance to optimize the page, make your mobile application more noticeable, and, therefore, attract potential users’ attention.
4. Regular Updates Improve Your Reputation
According to Business Insider, frequent updates help apps to earn higher ratings. Across 2013 and 2014, there were no applications which released fewer than 9 updates per year and got above-average ratings. (We bet in 2018 the situation is even more representative).
In turn, in 2014 such apps as Amazon and Walmart updated their apps from 20 to 25 times, and deserved much higher ratings. We know, it is hard to compete with Amazon and Walmart, but no one forces you to reach the same level in a month or two. We just recommend you to follow the same strategy — update your app often enough, just like big companies do. This trick will improve your reputation.
However, keep in mind that too frequent updates can have the opposite effect. 20-25 updates are good, but 40-50 may be too much. As Digital Marketing Community says, 15% of users stop using apps exactly because they must be updated too often. That’s a pretty low rate, but keep it in mind.
5. Regular Updates Keep Your Product on Top
When an application is released, it usually gets to the page with novelties. But, unfortunately, it can’t stay there forever, so at some point the app gets lost among other applications. But regular updates can move your product back to that section! App Store and Play Market have separate pages for updates and new releases, so your product will appear there every time you update it. Therefore, it will attract more users and increase your number of downloads.
How to Choose the Best Time to Organize Your Product Release
We have already talked a bit about frequency, and figured out that 9 updates are not enough, while 20-25 releases are a strategy of big players. This means that it would be great to update your product 2 times per month. On the other hand, the old survey from Sensor Tower says that popular apps, such as Instagram, Facebook, Spotify Music, and others, are updated, on average, every 30 days. However, some apps which took part in the study were updated every 3-4 days, while the other ones had more than 40 days between the updates!
So, is there any reliable way to define a perfect schedule? Unfortunately, there is no universal answer, but here are several factors which you should consider when working on the timetable:
The Team’s Flexibility
Opinions of your users matter, but the flexibility of your team is also an extremely important factor. This is where Scrum and Continuous Delivery can come in handy. If your development team is still small enough, that also can help them deal with the tasks quickly, without spending extra time on endless negotiations, discussions, etc.
Otherwise, it is better to release updates more rarely, but to meet the deadlines. Sure, a non-isolated team can still work hard and release something every 3 days, but this strategy will lead you to nowhere, as releasing updates which are not ready is a right way to spoil your reputation. So, when planning a schedule, consider your team and their flexibility.
Number of Apps
Scheduling updates for 1 application is a rather difficult task, but things get even more complicated in case you and your team work on, let’s say, 5 applications at the same time. It may be hard to update each of them several times per month, so you may need to revise your plans and update all of them, for example, only 1 time per month.
Updating your app when new versions of Android and iOS are released is a great idea. When you update your product to make it compatible with the latest technologies, it can become featured in app stores. And if you succeed to get to the Featured page, this means that your app will become more visible and noticeable, while the number of downloads will increase.
Regular updates are a crucial part of your app’s success — they help to keep the existing users interested and happy, and to attract the new ones. Now you know all the advantages and what things to keep in mind when developing a schedule for the updates. Obviously, the first updates should be devoted to bug fixing, but then feel free to be creative with adding new features. And don’t forget about your users’ feedback!