For the uninitiated, a SaaS product launch is a big deal. It's when your company launches a new version of its software—or any other type of digital product to market for the first time. You've worked toward this day for months or even years, and maybe you've built up to it over several smaller launches. But now that it's here, it's almost time to hit send on your email newsletter and watch as customers start signing up en masse!
Hold up: not so fast there, buddy. Before you go ahead with that extensive launch email campaign and start charging customers for new features, there are some things you'll need to do beforehand to ensure everything goes smoothly on launch day—and beyond:
Review your core audience
To communicate a product launch successfully, you need first to know your core audience. You should be able to describe their issues, their pain points and needs, and what matters most to them. From there, you can figure out what they want to hear about your product and how it will impact them.
For example, if my primary audience is small-to-medium businesses in the US who want more sales leads without increasing their budgets for marketing efforts, then I would focus on how my SaaS product is cheaper than traditional advertising methods (e.g., PPC) while also being effective at driving new customers into their business because it's easy-to-use and highly customized for each client's needs. Once you know your audience, it's crucial to figure out their pain points and needs. What are they struggling with? How can your product alleviate that struggle? This will help you create a unique value proposition (UVP) that speaks directly to the problems of your core audience.
Create an FAQ and distribute it to the team in advance
For your product launch to be successful, you must ensure that all questions are answered. So, provide an FAQ that answers the most common questions and allows people to submit new ones. You should also have a way to track the answers so they can be updated as needed.
You should also create an FAQ page on your website that answers the most common questions about your product and its launch. This will help people feel more confident about purchasing and participating in the launch.
Develop a concrete product positioning
A position statement is a sentence or two that succinctly summarizes your brand's unique value proposition to your target audience. It can be as simple as "We help busy people create better habits" (Cue) or as complex as "To make it easy for everyone on Earth to use their computers with ease and comfort." (Apple). There are plenty of ways to write a good one—just follow these guidelines:
- Focus on what makes your product different from other products in the same category
- Identify who will benefit most from using it
- Don't be afraid to get creative with this part!
Know your competition
It is one of the most critical steps in any business strategy, but it's imperative when launching a SaaS product because it enables you to understand what works for other companies and what doesn't. You can learn how well competitors are doing by looking at their marketing, customer acquisition, and sales strategies.
For example: Are they using landing pages? If so, are those landing pages converting? Which channels do they use to engage with customers once they've made contact? What kind of content do they publish on social media or email list blasts?
You also want to take a look at pricing strategy—does your competitor offer free trials or freemium plans? Is there an enterprise version that costs more than $10k per year? How much does each tier cost per month (if applicable)?
Develop a comprehensive communications plan
To ensure you're effectively communicating your product launch, you should have a comprehensive communications plan which should include the following:
- A list of all the channels through which you'll be communicating—email marketing campaigns, webinars, live events, etc
- A timeline for each channel that includes the content you'll be using and when it will be released
- For each channel, an outline of how users can opt in or opt-out
- A contact list for all team members who will be involved with executing this plan
A plan for what will happen if you receive negative feedback from users or have to make changes to the product in response to customer feedback. Once you've created a communications plan, stick with it. Be consistent about how often you communicate, and ensure that your messages are aligned.
Reach out to media influencers & product reviewers in advance
If you have the opportunity to reach out to media influencers, don't wait until the last minute. Make sure they are interested in what you're doing and have an audience that might be interested in your product. Make sure they have the right tone and format for your product. And make sure they have time to help promote/review it!
If you can get a few important people on board before launch day, then it will go much smoother than trying to scramble around last minute trying to find someone who can help spread the word about your new product.
Assign tasks & develop deadlines for PR, marketing, customer service, sales, operations, & management
Each of these teams will have its own specific responsibilities and areas of focus regarding the launch.
The PR team should clearly understand what you want them to do during the launch and how they can support this effort. They should be tasked with pitching stories about your product launch or providing insights on why it's important for customers or prospects.
Marketing should help determine when you want to announce the product launch and what content needs to be created for it to go smoothly (e.g., blog posts, feature comparisons, battlecards, etc.).
Customer service should know how many people will be on call during different hours throughout the day to effectively handle expected spikes in traffic/usage after making social media announcements while also answering customer questions.
While you should be clear about what needs to happen during the product launch, it's also important that everyone on the team understands why this is necessary. As a marketer, I would explain how announcing a new feature or update can help generate more leads and sales while making customers feel valued.
It all comes together with some preplanning!
The best product launches are planned with care and attention to detail, which means you must communicate effectively, be aware of your audience and competition, and, most importantly—know your product inside out.