"No amount of marketing can save a bad product, but a good product marketed horribly will fail just the same."
- Brian Halligan, HubSpot
Launching a new SaaS product is exhilarating. You've spent months or years perfecting your offering, obsessing over every detail. Your messaging is tight, your website is slick, and your sales deck sings.
You're ready to unleash your masterpiece onto the world.
But your launch day comes and goes, and...crickets. Hardly anybody signs up. Your traction flatlines.
Where did you go wrong?
Having launched multiple products myself, I've made plenty of mistakes. Many were avoidable.
SaaS Launch Checklist
☐ Create a written launch strategy and document goals
☐ Identify target customers and channels to reach them
☐ Build a list of early adopters to test the product
☐ Craft a clear value proposition that resonates with customers
☐ Publish pricing details prominently on your website
☐ Create a dedicated landing page for conversions
☐ Load test site and scale up capacity as needed
☐ Set up user onboarding flows and tutorials
☐ Prepare automated post-signup email sequences
☐ Install analytics and set up tracking for key events
☐ Set up monitoring for uptime, errors, payments, etc.
☐ Drive traffic to your landing page, not homepage
☐ Keep an eye on analytics and intervene if goals aren't met
☐ Address any technical issues immediately
☐ Offer promotions or discounts to accelerate signups
☐ Collect feedback from early adopters
☐ Analyze metrics to identify issues in conversion funnel
☐ Survey users and use feedback to improve onboarding
☐ Optimize drip campaigns to increase engagement
☐ Add testimonials and case studies to landing page
☐ Consider releasing new features or enhancements
In this essay, I'll share the most common SaaS launch screw-ups I see — and how you can avoid them. Get these right, and your launch will be in a far better place.
Mistake #1: Launching Without a Strategy
The biggest launch mistake I see is having no strategy at all.
You build a product, create a website, and just...hit publish. Now what?
Without a plan, you're launching blind:
- Who exactly are you targeting?
- How will you get your product in front of them?
- What does your funnel look like?
- What levers will you pull to generate interest?
Ideally you developed a pre-launch strategy. But either way, have a solid plan for launch week and the critical period after.
Document your launch strategy answering questions like:
- What are our launch week goals? (e.g. 100 signups, $2k in revenue)
- Who are our ideal customers?
- What channels will we use to reach them?
- What content will we publish to engage them?
- What promotional tactics will we use? (e.g. giveaways)
- What does our post-launch funnel look like?
Launch with intent. Don't just throw spaghetti against the wall.
Mistake #2: Launching Without Early Adopters
So you're ready to launch. But are you really ready?
The acid test: do you have a small group of early adopters who are eagerly awaiting your product?
If not, don't launch. Early adopters act as launch accelerant:
- They'll instantly create social proof
- They'll help refine and debug
- They'll act as evangelists
Early adopters are your launch MVPs. Don't deploy without them.
But how do you get early adopters?
Simple: sell before you build. Pitch your idea out manually, identifying people who resonate. Collect emails, refine based on feedback, and keep prospects warm.
Once you launch, this built-in audience will ignite your flywheel.
Mistake #3: Launching Without a Clear Value Proposition
Imagine you're an ideal prospect first hearing about your new SaaS.
Will your messaging clearly convey who the product is for and why they should care? Can you distill this into a tight value proposition?
Many products can't. Their messaging is vague, full of fluffy claims like "revolutionary" or "cutting-edge AI."
But blurry messaging makes for an inert launch. People don't resonate with fuzzy value propositions.
A strong value prop clearly states:
- Who this product is for (ideal customer profile)
- The acute problem it solves for them
- The tangible outcomes they can expect
"Leadin helps seed-funded SaaS companies double their trial-to-paid conversion rate in 3 months or less by streamlining their in-app experiences using proven best practices."
Test your messaging with target users pre-launch. If they "get it" instantly, you've nailed your value prop.
Mistake #4: Launching Without a Clear Pricing Strategy
Many products launch without clearly communicating their pricing online. But hiding your pricing is a cardinal sin.
Prospects want pricing info upfront. If you make them request a demo to find out, most won't bother. They'll bounce.
Publish your pricing table prominently on your site. Make sure it clearly conveys:
- Your pricing model
- Price points for each plan
- Exactly what features are in each tier
- Any setup fees or contracts
Consider offering a free or freemium tier to attract signups. But have a clear upgrade path to paid plans.
Also prepare bundles and discounts to convert power users. Come ready to negotiate on price.
Set clear pricing expectations upfront. Your sales and marketing will function better as a result.
Mistake #5: Launching Without a Dedicated Landing Page
Don't send launch traffic to your generic homepage. Create a dedicated launch landing page instead.
This page's sole focus is converting visitors into signups and leads during launch. Declutter navigation, highlight your value prop, and explain why now is the time to get involved.
Good launch landing pages often include:
- Headline and subheading conveying the product's purpose
- Email signup form front and center
- Brief explanatory paragraph describing the solution
- Short video overview
- Founder's story explaining motivation
- Social proof section with logos, testimonials, or traction stats
- Clear call-to-action to sign up or schedule a demo
Send all your launch promos to this page to effectively collect leads. Don't distract visitors with generic homepage navigation.
Mistake #6: Not Preparing Your Site to Scale
Nothing kills launch buzz like a site outage. But many products aren't built to handle a traffic spike on launch day.
Stress test your site ahead of time. Can it handle 10x your expected traffic without crashing? If not, reinforce your architecture or leverage a CDN.
Also prepare your payment stack and data pipelines. Lost payments or inadequate logging will create major headaches.
Plan for scale by:
- Load testing your site
- Optimizing databases and queries
- Caching aggressively
- Using a CDN
- Rate limiting if needed
- Beefing up server capacity
- Preventing backend outages
Also monitor uptime and errors closely during launch. Be ready to quickly fix any issues.
Mistake #7: Not Having Clear User Onboarding
Customer onboarding checklist
|Signup flow built||✅|
|Core workflows identified||✅|
|In-app tutorials created||❌|
|Support docs written||❌|
|Video demos recorded||❌|
You'll lose many new signups if it's unclear how to get value from your product. Design a structured onboarding flow to prevent this.
Guide users through:
- Logging in
- Configuring their account
- Learning your UI
- Running their first core workflow
- Getting that "aha" moment
Prioritize onboarding in your launch prep. Many products show a dashboard first, before explaining how customers actually use them. Don't make them guess.
Ensure your signup funnel, in-app tips, and messaging all help users successfully onboard. Offer demos if needed.
Convert new signups into engaged, retained users with concise, intuitive onboarding.
Mistake #8: Launching Without Automated Emails
Don't just onboard users then ghost them. Set up automated trigger emails to re-engage new signups.
Send a drip campaign covering:
- A "Welcome!" email on sign up
- Tips for getting started
- Educational tutorials on how to use key features
- Reminders to finish setting up their account
- Surveys asking for feedback
- Offers for upgrades or add-ons
This prevents signups from going cold. Keep them learning and progressing through your funnel post-signup.
Prepare these emails beforehand so they go out automatically after launch. Don't just wing it.
Mistake #9: Not Having Analytics Set Up
How will you know if your launch is working without analytics? Too many products fly blind.
Install tracking like Google Analytics on your site. Custom event tracking can be helpful too.
Track key conversion and activation metrics:
|Pageviews||Views of key pages like homepage and blog|
|Signups||New user accounts created|
|Trial Starts||User progressed to trial/freemium tier|
|Upgrades||User upgraded from free to paid plan|
|Retention||% of users still active after 1/7/30 days|
|Activation||Users completing setup and first core workflow|
Closely monitor analytics for insights into your funnel's weak points. Then optimize accordingly.
Mistake #10: Not Having Monitoring and Alerting
Your launch will assuredly have technical issues. But will you know right away when things break?
Set up monitoring and alerting to catch problems like:
- Site downtime
- Page errors
- Payment failures
- Signup issues
- Funnel drop-offs
- Server capacity limits
Choose a stack like AppSignal, DataDog, or CloudWatch. Monitor key business and technical KPIs.
Alert yourself immediately when issues arise. Be ready to intervene to keep your launch on track.
Proactive monitoring helps you preempt churn from avoidable technical mishaps.
Launch Smarter, Not Harder
Launching any product successfully is tough. But avoiding these 10 common mistakes puts the odds in your favor.
Have a sound pre-launch strategy. Close early adopters. Clarify your messaging. Set pricing expectations.
Make your website conversion-focused. Scale it to handle traffic spikes gracefully. Automate post-launch sequences.
Instrument analytics and monitoring so you know if you're on track.
Do this, and your big launch day will be one of the most exciting — not stressful — days in your company's life.
1. What is the most important thing to have in place before launching?
The most critical element is having a group of early adopters who are eager to use your product. Trying to launch without validated enthusiasm from real potential users is a recipe for failure. Make sure you have manually identified and collected intent from future ideal customers before you fully build and deploy your SaaS.
2. How much traffic should I expect on launch day?
It depends on several factors like your industry, marketing spend, and promotional tactics. But prepare your site to handle at least 10x your projected daily traffic, if not more. Many products underestimate interest on launch day. Err on the side of over-engineering your site's capacity before launch rather than risking downtime from an underestimated spike in traffic.
3. What is an ideal pre-launch sequence?
- 6 months out: Start collecting emails from potential users interested in your idea. Refine your concept based on their feedback.
- 4 months out: Send out a "sneak peek" video or demo to your list for more validation.
- 2 months out: Open pre-orders or "priority access" to your early adopters.
- 1 month out: Tease launch date and start drumming up buzz on social media.
- Launch day: Unleash your product on the world!
4. How much should I budget for paid advertising during launch?
Aim for at least $5,000-$10,000 in ad spend during your first 1-2 months, if not more. This paid advertising will be critical for amplifying your reach and generating buzz. Don't solely rely on organic traction. A healthy ad budget is table stakes for a successful launch.
5. What metrics should I track during launch?
At a minimum, monitor: signups, activated users, retention cohort rates, churn, conversion rates through your funnel, pageviews, and revenue. Segment users by channel too. This will reveal how your launch marketing is converting.
6. How long does launch period last?
Plan for an intense 3 month post-launch period. Month 1 is launch week and ensuring things aren't breaking. Months 2-3 are crucial for optimizing based on data and doubling down on what works. Don't take your foot off the gas until you have clear traction.
7. When should I start spending money on paid ads?
Start spending at least 1-2 weeks before your official launch date. This builds up interest and intent pre-launch. You want people already visiting your site and primed to buy on launch day. Don't wait until you've already launched to start paid efforts.
8. What is the #1 mistake brands make during launch?
Having no documented strategic plan or concrete goals. Launching without clear objectives and tactics mapped out ahead of time is a recipe for failure. Know exactly who you're targeting, what success looks like, and how you'll achieve it.
9. How much time should I set aside for launch prep?
For a product founder, at least 6 months of full focus on launch is ideal. For larger companies, 9-12 months. Launch prep includes everything from strategizing, marketing, and technical implementation to ensuring your team and support lines are ready.
10. When should I start sharing launch details publicly?
Start posting teasers and hints on social media 1-2 months before your target launch date. Then 2 weeks out, share your launch date and start driving preregistrations. Give people time to get excited, but don't tease too early or risk losing anticipation.