So you’re planning a product launch.
Maybe it’s your first time. Maybe you’re a seasoned product marketer with 100 launches under your belt.
Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’ve got a Corporate Approved template of exactly what launch tactics should be included based on your designated launch tier.
No matter where you fall, we all know what you’re feeling. You’re staring out at a future launch and thinking what should I do? How can it be different this time? How can it be better?
Most marketers are using the same tactics. This is fine since there are a couple of proven strategies that simply work well for particular industries or audiences.
But bland, formulaic launch thinking creates bland, formulaic results. The best launches involve someone stepping out of their comfort zone. Trying something new. Thinking differently. Even if they are also ticking off boxes on their bosses launch template.
Bonus: Want a free launch template that you can use to plan every aspect of a launch? Check out our free product launch plan and template.
That’s what we’re tackling in this piece: a mix of classic and out-of-the-box product launch ideas. This is the list we, as marketers, product leaders, and founders, wish existed every time we kick off a new launch plan.
If you're planning a launch and trying to decide what activities to include, take a look at this list for inspiration. We’ve reached out to other SaaS brands who’ve already tried many of them to get their thoughts and insights.
We’ll be actively updating this list as we get more ideas. We plan on treating this page as a living document. So bookmark this URL and come back for more anytime! And if you have something you want to see added, jump into our free Slack community and say hi!
Cover each new product thoroughly in an announcement blog post. Go over why you built the feature and how it will help users. Don’t forget to tie it to your overall company and product mission.
A short, well produced video can go a long way in terms of inspiring potential customers.
One of the most effective strategies to help you get your new product in front of relevant ideal customers is cold outreach. Make a list of your one hundred dream customers and put together a plan for reaching out and engaging with them.
Tim Osterbuhr, Co-Founder at Kosmo recommends pairing this strategy with your content efforts:
"We reference a post, highlight a favorable quote, and ask the recipient about their feedback. This is a great way to create a connection to early users that went beyond a simple signup."
Michaela Mendes, Head of Content and Strategy at SetSail, is a big fan of digging into your sales data and using that to make a target account list:
"Answer these questions and rank each target account accordingly:
"Overlay your existing target account list with this data, and score your accounts so your internal team can get a clearer view of which opportunities should be treated with a higher priority, and where to best focus their efforts."
Most new products need a landing page to cover common use cases for the product, benefits, social proof, and extra compelling copy and calls to action. Not ready to create a dedicated product launch landing page yet? Just add a mention on your homepage or other relevant feature pages for now.
This one just kills us. How many times have you seen a company go all out with a product launch: they’ve got a landing page, a press release, ads, the works. But you go to their homepage (the front door of their business!) and it’s … just another Tuesday? This is a big missed opportunity. Go to Apple.com any day there’s a big iPhone launch, the homepage is a full takeover about that launch. You may not want to take it this far, but at the very least consider a special announcement bar and link at the top of your homepage. If your launch is successful and creates some buzz, most people are going to head directly to your homepage to see what’s new. Please, give them an easy way to find the launch.
It may seem “old school” to send a press release. But a well-placed press release can create a lot of articles and backlinks from places you’d never expect. Our friend Tammy Le, VP of Marketing & Strategy at Arize, shared his thoughts on press release benefits in this excellent episode of the Launchnotes Podcast.
Chris, Founder at Idiomatic, has noticed that Product Hunt can be super effective at generating attention toward a brand and upcoming launches:
"You can post pre-launch to maximize buzz and invite your team and peers to ‘upvote’ the product so that it rises to the top of a leaderboard on their homepage. The site gives you access to early adopters and tech aficionados who will be interested in your product. Plus, it’s free!"
Take a hint from how big Apple’s own launch events are and put together your own version. It gives you serious visibility and allows you to connect with other industry movers and shakers you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Jack Geddes, Founder at BeRemote.io, suggests inviting influencers to speak at these events in order to garner extra credibility from day one:
"When you invite influencers to speak, they'll spread the word to all their followers, which is great for word-of-mouth marketing. Plus, each attendee is a potential customer and you get instant feedback on your product."
Virtual event’s have some great benefits too. For one, the cost and logistics is typically way more manageable. And there are some excellent platforms available that make running a high-quality event accessible for almost anybody. Another bonus: All the content you create during the event can be recorded, published, and shared out to further support your launch.
One of our favorite launch hacks: Hijack someone else’s event. Ok hijack is probably too strong a term. But think about attending a relevant conference or trade show as a sponsor (and potentially booth vendor). You tap into a large, captive audience and the event organizer does all the work of bringing the audience. Just be sure the audience is a relevant fit for you.
Pre-launch efforts matter! So get started early and build a waitlist. Mike Kilcullen, Founding Marketer Feathery, shares his best tips for putting together a successful waitlist:
"By creating and adding a waitlist signup form, you can begin capturing emails and building a warm audience of interested users that can be promoted to successfully at launch. Additionally, you can reach out, interview, or analyze these signups to begin identifying target roles, verticals, and other attributes that will further empower you to create a successful strategy and launch to the right audience."
Additionally, Will Yang, Head of Growth and Customer Success @Instrumentl, says you should also focus on creating an intuitive and easy-to-use experience for users from day one since this helps ensure that they find value in your product quickly:
"I recommend running pilot programs with early adopters before you launch to get feedback about the usability and features of the product. You can also consider offering discounts or free trials to encourage people to try out your service.
"We've found success with our product launch by planning ahead and building relationships with our early adopters. We invested in creating materials that explained the value proposition of our software."
Found a subreddit that might just be responsive to your launch? Give it a go. Loads of products launch on Reddit, but their founders are active Reddit users themselves. So build up your karma points and gain the community’s trust first. This can be really tough to crack, so it's better to build up a reputation in the community authentically well before you have something to share.
Slack is a good place to look through if you want to find like-minded audiences. Just keep in mind you’ll still have to be active in them before you promote any new launch. Or, you can always start building your own community.
Remotive, for instance, relies on community support for their launches:
We start by asking our Slack Community how they feel about what we’re doing. If there's interest, we put out some feelers in other Slack communities with similar interests.
When we feel like we have decent traction, we start asking adjacent questions on social networks (Twitter and LinkedIn) to refine our launch. That helps us find early support and customer verbatim to improve our copy and targeting
When we're ready to launch, we do so on Product Hunt and Twitter, relaying links and mass-emailing our community. When that's done, we push content on Reddit, Hacker News, and other Slack communities or LinkedIn groups.
— Rodolphe Dutel, Founder at Remotive
You don’t need to launch your app first to start building a following and potential user base. You can safely start with a different product like a newsletter, book, course, or community and then launch a product.
This is a must-do product launch activity if you're targetting active users. While it only works if you already have some users, it guarantees you’ll get the news in front of them wherever you have their attention.
Abhishek Shah, Founder at Testlify recommends email marketing as a great way to keep your audience informed and engaged leading up to a product launch. You can use email to share teasers, provide exclusive content, and offer early access to the product to your most loyal subscribers.
Alvin Wei, CMO and Head of Strategy at SEOAnt, also successfully used email campaigns to generate more interest and offer pre-launch access to anyone interested:
"We launched our app after running our website for an extended period, within which we were able to build an email list. When launching the app, we used email marketing to generate interest from our recipients and gave exclusive pre-launch access to those who were interested.
"We tracked metrics from this group to understand how the app helped them enhance their e-commerce stores and made this data part of our subsequent emails to entice more e-commerce merchants to try the app. We managed to convert 45% of our email recipients with this strategy."
While you will want to grow your audience on these networks first, going live adds to the excitement of the launch as it lets people jump in with questions in real time. Sure, you’ll want to promote the live event beforehand to ensure you’ll get a decent number of attendees, but remember you should always re-use these live sessions as part of your video marketing strategy.
Even if your site is a well-oiled, organic traffic machine, your SEO efforts for previous products won’t perfectly align with what you need for a new launch.
SEO can take anywhere from three to twelve months to start seeing results. So we started building up our SEO tactics before launch to have a well-positioned website already ranking for our target market by the time we have something to offer.
"Rather than focusing keywords on the new product, we focused on how new users would search for it and the specific pain points our product was helping. Our proactive content, meta tags, and keyword efforts helped us place our product in front of the right faces by launch time."
— Fernando Lopez, Marketing Director at Circuit
If you’re not following a freemium model (like most SaaS solutions), then for the first set of customers go with a higher price than you want to be at and then offer a one-time discount to the entire first set of customers. This is the approach Vincen Mathai Arivannoor, Senior Consultant at VeUP, advocates for:
"Make these customers clearly understand they’re getting the discount because they’re your first set of customers to make them feel special. This tactic is beneficial in the following years because when you go into the market and find that your product is getting strong demand, you can stick to that higher price without discounts and get better profits. Now, if you see that the demand isn’t as high as expected, you can continue the discounted price for this first set of customers as a thank-you for their patronage."
This product launch tactic worked for a lot of the experts with talked to, but Cece Lee, CMO at Enable Us, also shared her process for determining its success:
Past results demonstrated we could get at least one hundred attendees to our webinar. That’s a mix of prospects and customers depending on what we were launching and to whom.
"We then determined that the webinars were driving pipeline opportunities for both net new and upsell/cross-sell. From a level of effort perspective, the numbers were relatively low since we were using internal speakers. So we leveraged the messaging and positioning we had developed for the launch already. The prep was thirty to forty-five minutes for an initial meeting, slides, and a demo sync. On the marketing side, we needed emails, a landing page, and a clear schedule."
An affiliate or referral program lets you use the power of your brand fans and followers to spread the word. Think of the incentives you can provide (e.g., money, gifts, free user seats) to motivate people even further and reward them for sharing.
You should never be alone when you launch a product. Whether you choose to partner up with your current users, media outlets, blogs, or other tools selling to a similar audience, build up these relations prior to the big launch day. Partnerships can look like joint webinars, blog posts, communities, events, and other co-marketing opportunities. Even tech partnerships like integrations or apps with a third-party tool.
Jamie Cohen, Growth Marketer at Accurate Append, notes that partnering with influencers and industry experts can be a cost-effective high ROI strategy for product launches:
"This strategy has been an efficient way to boost a product's visibility at launch time. Look for influencers whose values align with your brand, and give them a compelling reason to promote your product to their audiences. Depending on your vertical, there are usually an endless amount of influencer options on LinkedIn. This tactic has helped me generate significant interest, build credibility, and provide initial sales for product launches."
You can use social media as one of your go-to channels for launching a product.
Travis Wingate, Vice President of Marketing at Supermove, relies on it to share glimpses and information about their products:
"Teasers like this serve as clues that build the excitement and expectation of our customers. Also, we use unique, easy-to-remember, and simple hashtags in every post on social media. In this way, it’s easier for our potential users or customers to learn more about the product, and they can also share it with the world with just a few clicks. We turn the narrative of the launch towards our customers, like how the product or its features will positively affect the lives of our users and how easy to use, and how enjoyable our new product is."
Big moves will always happen offline too. So whether you want to put up billboards in relevant areas in San Francisco, get yourself broadcasted on TV, or highjack radio streams, go for it!
Vladislav Podolyako, Founder and CEO at Folderly took advantage of a new Google update that caused a significant drop in their own email marketing KPIs:
"We saw it as an opportunity to solve a common pain point for businesses struggling with email deliverability. By quickly delving into technical details and developing our expertise, we were able to create a comprehensive service that improves email deliverability.
"Our tactic was to use an industry crisis as a trampoline, which allowed us to develop a product that was immediately in demand. We focused on making Folderly pay off from the first days, starting sales before we even had a complete product. By doing this, we were able to achieve success and grow our customer base."
If you want quick results and have a budget, ads are a good option that can get you your first users. Choose platforms that work for your target audience and be careful about the segmentation you use to run these.
Listen to what your audience and users are saying. If you’re just getting started, schedule quick calls with your target customers to get an idea of what product launch tactic would get them to convert. Tom Higgins, Head of Product Marketing at Voxpopme, says:
"Every new product or feature we launch is based on continuous feedback we’ve received from our customers. When we make updates or launch new products, we explain how the product will help customers solve their problems more easily and efficiently."
Katheriin Liibert, Head of Marketing at Woola, came up with the perfect solution for ensuring credibility from the start:
"Collect two to three customer testimonials before the launch. These could be private beta users or similar. These testimonials should be from the likes of your target customers and can be used throughout launch communications."
Another brilliant tip from Katheriin is to not be afraid of launching more than once. These new launches can happen every time you make new updates or additions to the product. You can also extend your launch period by choosing to focus on two to three channels every quarter. The idea is to keep communicating about the product over a longer period of time, with slightly different newsworthy angles.
We’re big fans of a well-executed product screenshot. Putting a little care into making a marketing-grade screenshot can make a huge difference.
Steve Klein from LaunchNotes puts it:
"Underrated tip: go the extra mile on the images used in your announcement. A demo gif that appropriately zooms in on the product in action is a thousand times better than a screenshot you can barely read."
We already talked about using beta versions and waitlists before your launch. But there are other pre-launch efforts that are worth considering.
For example, Kenneth Burke, VP of Marketing at Text Request, is a promoter of product teaser:
"Even existing customers need time to make a buying decision before upgrading or purchasing an add-on. A pre-launch product teaser gives them the needed time to make those decisions, so when launch day comes, you can start taking in revenue immediately. This gives you multiple opportunities to create excitement and momentum (pre-launch and launch day).
"Before you release the product, tell your target customers it's coming soon. ‘Soon’ usually means a few weeks, but can be a few days or a few months depending on your industry and target customer. Create marketing assets like a landing page, video, educational content, in-app announcement, and emails, and start promoting them. Your call to action can be to ‘learn more’ or ‘request early access.’ Your goal is to either start conversations about the product or to get people to register to be notified on launch day. This helps you build a ‘hot leads’ list so that you can see success ASAP."
Pre-launch efforts can get complex. Hy Nguyen Hoang, Marketing Assistant at Katalon, leverages an existing community on their website, forum, blog, email, as well as through targeted advertising. They segment their audience to deliver the most relevant insights. Then, they create and showcase content that offers a sneak peek of the new features, generating interest and curiosity.
This might seem like a lot, but the good news is: You don’t have to do it all!
We recommend starting with the basic activities all new product launches should cover:
Then, pick two or three channels to fully focus on. You’ll want to dedicate your resources primarily to these launch campaigns first.
Take special note of the “Launch your product several times” tip above.
You can gradually try different product launch strategies if you spread them across several different months. This will also allow you to test what works best for your target audience. When it’s time to launch a different product, you’ll know exactly what to prioritize first.
Best of luck with the launch!
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