Going Behind the Scenes: Launching Our Mobile App

Hunter Gluch

Hunter Gluch

Jun 17, 2024

8 min read

This campaign found many of us on the edge of our seats for months. For some team members, this app has been the culmination of years of work. And here we are, launching something beautiful, together.

On March 26, Going launched its first mobile app on iOS and Android. Our team watched with eager eyes as the app scaled up the charts and hit the top 10 travel apps in the App Store—and then the top 100 free apps—leaving industry giants like Etsy and Taco Bell in its wake.

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I’m Hunter, the Product Marketing Manager at Going. I’m the person who coordinates marketing efforts for our new features and products, which means I got to lead the marketing launch for our new mobile app!

Two months and 100,000+ app downloads later, I’m ready to share how we pulled off one of our most exciting and successful launches, ever.

Why an app?

For almost eight years, Going has sent cheap flight alerts to our members via email. While our website provides access to many great flight deals, our email alerts have always stood out because real people handcraft and curate them based on their flight pricing expertise. Our emails represent the specific deals that our experts themselves would book and ones they would recommend to their friends.

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"Babe wake up, new Going deals just dropped and Ren wants us to go to Peru."

As you can imagine, no matter how valuable that information is—and it is, as evidenced by the 2.4 million members opted into our email alerts—as a marketer, I have to come clean and say that, in 2024, email alerts have become an increasingly challenging sell.

Beyond the marketing challenge of selling email notifications as a core product, we know that high value deals like Mistake Fares (like that jaw-dropping $230 roundtrip deal to Paris), can easily get missed when buried in an inbox.

(Is this where I admit that my email inbox has 16,000+ unread notifications? Someone send help.)

And this doesn’t even cover the fact that you all (our members) said you wanted a Going app, repeatedly. So our product manager, designers, and engineers made you an app. It really is that simple.

Stakeholder alignment and buy-in

One of the most challenging aspects of kicking off a big marketing campaign like this is just taking the first few steps to get everyone on the same page. Getting alignment on when to start, how to start, who needs to be included and at what point—it’s intimidating!

To add to the complexity, our marketing team needed to build this campaign alongside the mobile team as they continued to work on the app. It’s not like the app was developed and sat there for months while the marketing team pulled together the campaign. We had to begin planning with some blind spots and trust teams to communicate updates that would impact each other.

To kick us off, I had a lot of team members I needed to rally early on. Months before we launched the app into the world, I scheduled meetings with the following teams to set expectations, understand their needs, and develop cross-functional plans:

  • Our creative team: This team includes our copywriter, designers, illustrators, and even a motion designer! These are the folks who would go on to bring this campaign to life (literally)—the emails, webpage, product video, social media posts—all 18 marketing tactics that we employed at launch landed in their court.
  • Customer marketing: Beyond the announcement of the app, how are we integrating the app into our existing communications? This is the team that needed to update all of our automated communications, schedule and send our announcements, and code all of our marketing assets.
  • Social media: We were transitioning Social Media Managers (SMM) during the planning phase of this campaign, so I worked closely with the hiring manager for the role to set up the new SMM for success with posts, videos, and suggested captions (with space for them to include their own personal touch). As it turned out, our new SMM joined the week before launch and did a fantastic job jumping in feet first with us by being the first person to announce the app publicly.
  • Growth marketing: Fortunately for me, we have a fella here who managed our relationship with our App Store Optimization (ASO) agency from the start. With his help, we set up attribution for our assets, developed reporting, and worked with our creative team to set up our store listings.
  • PR: Our PR team at Going is small but mighty, and I knew we’d want to leverage them to share the app with media connections. Plus, Scott, our founder, was slated to do a Reddit AMA, which drove public appeal to the app.
  • Cross-functional stakeholders: We knew we couldn’t launch a whole marketing campaign without feedback from folks across the organization, such as those who built the app, our leadership team, and the boots-on-the-ground support team. I set up regular checkpoints where liaisons from these teams could review the work, leave feedback, and approve it before moving forward. The work here really spanned all functions and teams, and collaboration would be the key to our success.
It literally took a village.

Strategy and positioning

Once we had the team informed, bought in, and eager to get started, our Marketing VP and I kicked off strategy & positioning conversations internally:

  • What do we need to tell our members and the general public about Going’s new app?
  • How will they hear about it? (i.e., which tactics should we employ?)
  • How will we differentiate our app from other travel apps?

We spoke with the mobile team directly to learn why they loved what they were building, and then we researched go-to-market strategies for apps and product launches from successful brands like Apple and Airbnb.

I moved into exploring what our app beta testers were loving most about the app, as we had kicked off our iOS beta in October and already had some great directional feedback from them. In leveraging ChatGPT to pull out core themes from the feedback, we discovered:

  1. Beta testers loved the globe feature in the app. The globe was our lead engineer’s passion project, and with it, you pinch and pull to explore a beautiful and dynamic map, sprinkled with amazing flight deals.

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  1. Beta testers enjoyed getting quick, real-time push notifications whenever our experts found an especially exciting deal. It gave a sort of “surprise and delight” moment every time the notification hit.

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  1. Beta testers appreciated how easy the app was to use, while still providing everything they needed to know to book great flight deals.

So with the team on board and the major themes established, we kicked off what would become a months-long journey of developing the go-to-market campaign for our app.

Pulling it all together

You know those how-to-draw books and how you’d follow along by drawing a circle, another circle, and now you’re expected to have a detailed owl?


This campaign kind of felt like that to me, as the project manager.

I had the job of connecting teams and people, developing briefs, requesting copy and designs, leaving feedback, asking stakeholders to leave feedback, pivoting plans based on that feedback, setting goals, reporting updates, and generally trying to keep this whole thing on track. Then suddenly, with the helping hands of an entire company, we had an owl.

A beautiful, beautiful owl.

Like look at this product video, for example. Our internal creative team of just five people made this happen. Just one copywriter, a few designers/illustrators, and one motion designer. Not a top agency—us!

This campaign found many of us on the edge of our seats for months. For some team members, this app has been the culmination of years of work. And here we are, launching something beautiful, together.

As we built out this campaign, we also set a primary goal for our marketing launch, which would be focused on downloads. Since this would be a net-new product for us, we used proxies (such as our beta test response rate) to give us a goal to rally behind. Our estimates indicated that achieving 20,000 total downloads within the first week of launch would be considered a success.

Pre-order & launch results

Early in planning, our Marketing VP advised launching a pre-order campaign to help boost the visibility of our app prior to its official launch date. I had success leveraging another type of pre-order in a past life and was eager to try it again with our new app. However, none of us could find evidence that a travel company had ever launched an app pre-order before, let alone left any bread crumbs to help guide us. We were on our own, but with the support of an entire company (and much time poring through pre-order documentation via Apple, Google, Reddit threads, you name it), we made it happen.

On March 20, six days before launching the app into the world, we set in motion our pre-order campaign, inclusive of emails, in-house ad placements, social media, PR pitches, and more. We also snuck in some novel tactics, such as listing the app in Product Hunt and hosting a Reddit AMA (huge shoutout to our founder, Scott, on this one). By finding paths to get in front of our current member base and the public, we were able to establish a healthy mix to maximize downloads on launch day.

Each day during our weeklong pre-order, we watched the numbers climb: 1,000 downloads, 2,500 downloads, 10k. By the end of pre-order, we had 19,400 downloads—almost reaching the 20k goal we had hoped for, before we even launched the app.

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Then, on March 26, we opened the floodgates to the app to the world, leveraging similar tactics as our pre-order. By the end of the week, we had almost tripled our goal and surged into the top 100 in the App Store.

And can I PLEASE remind you that we beat out TACO BELL in the top 100 free apps?! Some folks here will point to this as our crowning achievement. I might agree.

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Looking forward

Today, more than 100,000 Going members use our app to find amazing flight deals for their next trip.

It didn’t come without challenges and last minute pivots. It didn’t come without tears. It didn’t come without at least one gray hair that we have identified amongst us. But it came with a lot of heart, passion, and some of the highest level collaboration we have seen here at Going.

Now we are setting our sights on bringing in the most requested features into our app. We are listening to our members, taking your feedback, and are continuing to improve the in-app experience. And while email alerts and our website will remain a great option for uncovering deals, we really do see ourselves as a mobile-first company now, and that’s pretty exciting to us.

PSST… if you got this far and haven’t downloaded our app, what are you waiting for?

Published June 17, 2024

Last updated June 17, 2024

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