How often should you update your app?
A mobile app is not a “set it, and forget it” tool. Once you’ve published your app, app updates can be a most effective marketing tool. If you want your app to continue to function the way it’s intended, your app requires maintenance and regular updates. You change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles. You mow your lawn every 1-2 weeks. Why not maintain your app?
Why update your app?
There’s a fine balance between too many app updates and not enough. To best serve your user base, you should understand your market and your users. Look to your industry and app store comments to guide you to your users’ expectations for new app features. You need to update apps continually for three core reasons: 1) improve performance; 2) roll out new features; and 3) to improve the user experience through app redesign and streamlining tasks. Here are more specific examples of reasons to update your app:
- New value additions/features – For example, a user comments on the app store requesting a specific feature or tweaks to your app.
- Critical issues – You should release an update immediately after discovering bugs, security concerns or app crashes.
- Updates to operating systems (OS) and devices – These updates can break apps if they’re not updated. For example, Apple just released iOS 10.3 and Android is about to launch their new OS dubbed O. Are your apps ready?
How frequently should you update your app?
Again, the answer comes back to knowing your market and your app users. You should based the number of app updates you make on qualitative user feedback, data analysis and understanding of the market. Put yourself in your users’ shoes. If you receive an update notification every few days, you might become annoyed by it and possibly uninstall the app. If you never see any notifications, you might think the app is unstable, stop using it or even give it bad review due to lack of support.
Another great tip is look to your competitors in your industry for an update frequency benchmark. How frequently do they update their apps? To compete in the space, you’ll need to keep up – both with your resources and financially.
So what is the app update sweet spot? According to a report released by Forrester Research on the state of mobile app development, teams with “best in class” development update their apps every two to three weeks with more substantial upgrade several time a year. But a continuous delivery of app updates is easier said than done. In fact, Forrester Research cites only 20% of digital business push out app updates at least monthly. The app update frequency needed to compete with new feature releases is every two to three months. For basic maintenance, you need at least monthly updates.
The primary focus of app updates should come back to your users. Always update features of the app according to priorities and customer feedback. Aim to give your users an enriched experience with new features. This helps word of mouth and paves the way for positive app reviews, increasing the ranking in the app store.