Launching a new product is always a risky move. And as technology grows by leaps and bounds each day, SaaS companies are churning out new products to keep up with the demand. Just forty short years ago, personal computers didn’t exist. And smartphones? A decade ago, they weren’t even close to what they are now.
Personal computers, smartphones, apps and SaaS products all have one thing in common: not every product makes it to market. However, having a seamless product launch strategy can increase your chances of success.
The perfect product launch strategy includes ten critical steps your company should take, from defining your audience, to delivering a superb customer experience. Whether you’re new to the game, or you’re sitting on the sidelines ready for go-time, it’s time to plan. Let’s get started.
Why You Should Strategize Before You Sell
Marker.io was featured on ProductHunt within a month of its launch. But during that time, they collected only 20 upvotes and 2 comments. The problem? The company had forgotten one critical detail: a launch strategy.
After that frustrating failed start, they went back to work and made the product even better. They decided to relaunch, and implemented a detailed action plan. The result? A whopping 600 upvotes and around 3,000 new sign-ups – in just one month.
Here’s the bottom line: strategize before you sell. Marker.io jumped the gun, costing them money, time and effort, not to mention a hit to their reputation. A strategy includes clear goals, set budgets, achievable objectives, and clear communication, keeping your team on the same page.
10 Action-Steps to Take for the Perfect Product Launch
So, where do you start? Simply pushing your product out the door will cause you to come up short on a product that deserves more. Here are 10 action-steps you can start taking today that will prepare you and your product for market.
1. Define Your Audience
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone wanted to buy your product? Of course, that just isn’t going to be the case, especially with SaaS products. Chances are, your product is meant for a very specific user. But how can you effectively sell a product to someone you don’t know anything about?
To get the most out of your leads, you need to define who your ideal user is and get ready to market and strategize accordingly. Start with a basic method to create a buyer persona for your target. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What does this person do? Are they an IT manager, project manager, or CEO?
- What will this individual use your product for? Will they be using your product to manage projects, improve ticketing support, or communicate?
- What problems does the person have that your product can solve? What does your product deliver to your audience?
This is a critical step, so be as detailed as possible. This persona is who you’ll gear your marketing, your customer experience, and your future product strategy towards.
2. Gather Your People
Even the most successful products need a little help from friends. A successful product launch includes an outreach plan comprised of individuals and influencers in your industry. Why? Their voices will be beneficial to your product’s reach.
In your outreach plan, outline why these individuals should care about your solution and why they might feel inclined to share it, then get your product in front of them.
FrontApp, a team management app, did this with their outreach plan. The app was featured on three relevant and very reputable tech websites the company chose. FrontApp then monitored the performance of the three channels and discovered each had its own unique benefits for promoting the app. One site drove over 6,174 unique visitors, and another generated 173 sign-ups.
Getting featured on relevant websites can help your campaign by getting eyes on your product, driving traffic to your site, and generating leads. It can also help you build credibility and boost your brand image, since you’re linked to reputable sites.
3. Create a Media List
As a supplement to your outreach plan, include a media list. This is simply a list of various publications and websites that your marketing and PR will be tailored to. Which tools can you leverage to further your product’s reputation? For SaaS products, there’s a multitude of tech magazines, blogs, and websites that tailor their content to an audience looking for innovation. Use your buyer personas to understand where your audience finds their content so you can be there, too.
4. Define Your Measurements for Success
Well-known snack brand belVita understood the importance of using key performance indicators (KPIs) and measurements to test the success of a product launch. Aiming to improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency, belVita used Brand Lift and real-time insights to make changes to their campaign. As a result, they experienced a 26% lift in brand awareness and a 15% view-through rate.
To see where your product launch is faltering, you must have measurements for success. Start by defining your KPIs. By understanding these measurements, you’ll be better able to make changes quickly, maximizing your launch potential.
5. Create a Schedule for Everything
You should have a master schedule of each step in your product launch with specific dates and times. Why? Everyone needs to be on the same page and understand what steps must happen next to keep your launch moving forward.
You should also drill down to include each employee or department in your schedule, complete with their own responsibilities and timelines. If a part of your product breaks, or, during the process, someone believes changes need to be made, there will be a chain of command to make it happen.
6. Content, Content, Content
Your product launch is a big deal. That’s why it requires content that tells your brand story and explains how your product works. Content comes in many forms, including press releases, website pages, sales pages, screenshots, videos, blogs, and more. Content is important for displaying your know-how, gaining respect from your audience, and building a following.
You can choose to create all of the content yourself, or hire an internal employee or professional copywriter or agency to help you. Often, it’s best to find someone to help so you can focus on the fundamental pieces of your launch.
Your audience will be looking at your website, following you on social media, and perhaps subscribing to your blog. You should offer high-quality content that adds value each time, convincing them that your product is the real deal.
7. Test Your Product … Again
Sure, you’ve tested your product before, multiple times. However, it’s important to test your product again prior to launch to check for any final updates or changes before it’s too late. Launching with a faulty product will damage your company’s reputation.
A seemingly-simple upgrade to SaaS product CloudFlare resulted in 785,000 of its customers’ websites being brought down simultaneously. If mistakes like this can happen to established products, what more could happen to those fresh on the market?
Test, test, and test some more.
8. Prepare for Your Launch
Setting a date and specific time for your product launch is a critical step. The date should be easy to achieve, giving you enough time to strategize and execute your product launch plan. Start by completing some research about which dates and times are best for a product launch for products similar to yours.
Being too early will jeopardize your product’s completion and your strategy. Being too late will leave customers waiting around after hearing all the buzz, causing you to lose steam.
9. Market It
Using your buyer persona and marketing avenues, take advantage of your social media and website real estate first and foremost. Where does your audience hang out? Which social media platforms do they frequent most often? Market your product in these places first.
PPC can be beneficial to your marketing efforts – however, it can also be costly and difficult to scale. Consider your options and your budget before entering the realm of PPC. Will you use AdWords or another PPC platform? How much is your PPC budget? These answers will build the foundation of your PPC campaigns if you choose to use them.
10. Be Available
Finally, you must make sure your customer service is up to par. The customer experience depends on your service. In 2012, Barclay’s mobile payment service app Pingit was released, and real-time feedback via social media was gathered. Although most of the reviews and mentions were positive, there were a few negative ones. Barclay’s addressed complaints and made changes to the app right then and there, garnering huge support and respect from their audience.
At first, it might be challenging to be as available as customers prefer. Start by creating a detailed FAQ section on your website so customers are able to find answers to their questions quickly. Keep customer service contact information available in many places for customers to see. And as you launch your product, remember to always be improving your service.
Are you launching a product? Do you have any steps you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments below: