Companies often face the dilemma of releasing their softwares and apps via hard launch or soft launch. A launch is rarely just about the product. There is the marketing aspect, the PR, as well as the need of an exhaustive confidence for the smooth functioning of the software.
Or one can take a slightly different route for gradual release of the software via updates. There are choices to go quietly or have a launch to gather publicity. We are talking about hard launches and soft launches. Both have their share of pros and cons. In this article, we are going to explore everything about them in detail.
What is the difference between Hard launch and Soft Launch?
Hard Launch is an inception of your product / service in the market with all its features and functionalities. It is the equivalent of showcasing your very best to the customers globally or in a targeted country without any restriction on who can avail the product or service.
A soft launch is more like a beta version launch or a deployment of a well tested MVP with the aim of getting a prime facie impression and evaluation from a selected group of people. The purpose is to identify the weak areas and gradually improve the product in further releases.
A hard launch requires intensive marketing whereas a soft launch can rely on word of mouth marketing if their service indeed fulfills the requirement of the consumer or the assurance of having a low profile in the market and keeping a safe distance from the harsh critics if their initial build are not upto the benchmarks.
While a Hard Launch does not mean that you cannot add, edit or eliminate some or the other features in the , it does signify that the software has come from its nascent stages and is looking to fulfill the services which it is claiming to offer.
Shouldering the criticism can be difficult after the hard launch as it implies that the software or service has been tested exhaustively and the technical pitfalls have been taken care of. In short, there is a lesser margin of error after the hard launch.
Benefits of Soft Launch
Soft launch offers plenty of advantages such as more refined strategies for lead generation, and retention. Early enthusiastic adopters are provided with the service, usually for free and their constructive criticism and feedback are taken into consideration so that the widespread launch of the product will offer immense value to the consumers.
Cross-checking the consumer’s reaction to the product is a smart business tactic so that functionalities, features and other facets of the service runs optimally, giving users the exact experience which they are expecting.
Soft-launching is also easier on the budget as the selected consumers are given an invitation, offered by personal means such as email, SMS or in-person.
Cons of Soft Launch
A major disadvantage of Soft Launch is risking the Unique value proposition of the product into the market, which is susceptible to be copied by the opportunist.
|Advantages of Soft Launch
|Cons of Soft Launch
|You can invite extremely relevant participants to get feedback that will allow you to quantum leap the improvements.
|The idea can be copied by competitors with improvised functionalities and features.
|Optimize data analytics and instrumentation
|Not really that cheap compared to Hard Launch
|Get insights about user-behaviour and their interest in your product’s niche.
|Extended time to market
Advantages of Hard Launch
While the superficial impression of the Hard Launch may not appeal so positive, it does offer a host of benefits such as publicity from the relevant demographic, instant revenue, lesser requirement of marketing in the coming months and years, and competitive advantage.
With a wide marketing campaign, you can expect eyeballs on the grand launch of your service. If the service turns out to be successful, the acknowledgement and publicity will attract more customers which helps in creating a snowball effect. When a service is launched as a beta version, it is unlikely to lure a wide base of relevant users.
Cons of Hard Launch
When the company opts for hard launch, they often run the risk of acquiring a negative impression if their product does not stand upto the mark of user expectations or competitor’s. As mentioned in the above paragraphs, Hard Launch usually requires a heavy marketing budget.
|Advantages of Hard Launch
|Disadvantages of Hard Launch
|Gets greater eyeballs and therefore can create more buzz about your product
|More expensive than a soft Launch
|Significant competitive advantage as the idea can be prevented from being copied by the competitor.
|Hard to tweak
|Faster revenue gains
|Sets high expectations from the users and lesser margin of errors.
How to decide going for Hard Launch vs Soft Launch?
Let’s say you have developed an app with comprehensive investment and testing. If the app has a clearly defined consumer segment coupled with solid brand engagement of your brand, opting for hard launch will only help. At the same time, care should be taken that all technical pitfalls and glitches have been dealt with the help of regression testing and that exploratory testing has been done thoroughly.
If your monetization relies on a heavy acquisition, it would be worth showcasing your service to a handful of relevant users in the initial run, who are not going to shy away from giving critical feedback.
The classic example is of the mobile games, where invited gamers engage in the gameplay in the soft launch. Once the feedback is implemented followed by testing again, it is launched for the masses.
Read more about: 9 Key Steps for Effective MVP Development
If you have a product where you want to gauge the pricing and engagement factor, then soft launch is the better choice. With refinement in technicalities and user-experience factors in the timely updates, insights can also be derived about user-behavior and marketing which helps the product to solidify its place in the market
|When to go for Hard Launch
|When to go for Soft Launch
|When you are 100% sure about the quality of your product
|When you want to dabble your services in order to gauge the interest of the consumers.
|When there is a clear and huge gap between supply and demand of a product
|When you want to gather insights and other derivatives that will help to polish the product for better acquisition
|You have taken the product through rigorous testing to eliminate all bugs
|When the finishing is likely to take a couple of months
|When you are sure of your product having significant reliability from a technical standpoint
|When you are looking for a round of investments from venture capitalists and angel investors.
|You are a known brand
|Your brand value standing is not that high.
|You have people to help you with advertisement and Public Relation
|You are not willing to invest heavily into the marketing but solely looking to acquire word of mouth product awareness.
Every business wants to adopt the marketing strategy to elevate their sales and brand awareness and reputation. Both Hard and soft launches help in different facets of marketing. No one is superior to the other.