Launching a SaaS product is hard.
This is something we know from experience.
It's not just the tech side of things or the marketing side. It's not just one thing or two things. It's a lot of things. A lot of decisions and a lot of people, all coming together to make your product and your business a success. And sometimes it feels like there are so many choices that it's nearly impossible to keep track of them all!
That's why we're taking a look at the top 5 roadblocks facing SaaS product launches today, and how you can use them as an opportunity to learn more about your customers and your product. These are challenges that all product teams must overcome, but with a bit of strategic thinking and creativity, you can ensure that your product launch is a success.
Obstacle 1: The SaaS model is confusing to customers.
Subscription-based or "Software as a Service" (SaaS) products are hugely popular, but they can be confusing to customers who don't quite grasp how the model works. The new software paradigm is simple: instead of making money in big chunks from selling shrink-wrapped software to individuals and companies, SaaS businesses make smaller amounts of money on a regular basis from monthly subscription fees. In exchange for their subscriptions, customers get access to the latest version of your product at all times and support when they need it.
The key to any successful SaaS launch is a free trial that gets people excited about committing long term. If your potential customers can't see why they'd want to become paying subscribers, they're going to walk away--and you'll lose out on their business forever. Make sure that your free trial is long enough (no less than 30 days) and fully featured so potential customers aren't left feeling like they've missed out on something great.
Obstacle 2: Your software can’t compete on price.
Your SaaS product is expensive. Or maybe it's not, but you don't want to compete on price. Either way, this is a common problem for many of the startups we've met with over the years.
In some cases the solution is easy: reduce your price! But that's not always an option. If you're just starting out and are still trying to find product-market fit, your product might be worth more than what you're charging for it. Or maybe you're currently profitable and want to maintain a healthy profit margin as you grow. Whatever your reasons for avoiding price competition, these strategies can help:
- Offer a free trial or demo - This approach works especially well if your customers are willing to pay because they see value in your product and believe that it will help them accomplish their goals faster/more effectively/more efficiently than anything else on the market (i.e., they perceive an ROI). If they have low switching costs from their current solution then offering up a free trial or demo will give them time to test drive yours before making any decisions about whether or not it's right for them long-term! Free trials also work great when people are willing to pay but don't know how much value they'll get from using your software because there are so many options out there (i.e., competitive pricing). The more data points consumers have access to before making that commitment - either in dollars spent per month or hours spent learning how best this new tool fits into their workflow - the less likely these potential buyers will feel like they've chosen wrong once signing on!
- Focus on elements other than cost such as customer service - While this strategy may seem daunting at first glance, its benefits far outweigh any initial fears one might have about changing course midstream; after all, who wants an expensive plan without great support? Great customer service will set apart those companies -- both big and small -- intent on providing top quality products while at scale continuing
Obstacle 3: Your audience isn’t aware of your product.
You don’t want to launch your product only to have it fall on deaf ears. How will you get the word out? Content marketing, press releases, social media, and SEO are all great ways to build some buzz around your product launch. As you do this, consider how the features of your SaaS app can help solve real problems for your customers.
As you begin to raise awareness about your product, be sure that you are also building a website that is built with SEO in mind. Your target audience should be able to find your website organically through relevant search queries.
Obstacle 4: You have no idea how to launch a software product.
Here's the plain truth: if you're reading this, you do not have much idea about how to launch a software product. That's OK! I'm here to help.
Let's start with your product itself: is it actually complete? Is it ready for users? It doesn't matter how complete or popular your app is if the core functionality isn't there. You don't want users to be frustrated by incomplete features or buggy code—they'll bounce faster than a ping pong ball on steroids. Make sure that all of your features are complete and tested for bugs before you start building up a user base (and getting bad reviews).
I recommend building an alpha version of your product, then inviting people from within your target audience to test it and share their feedback. Once they've given their approval, ask them to beta test an updated version—this will ensure that everything still works smoothly now that you've made changes based on their initial feedback.
Obstacle 5: You think you can launch your software and forget about it.
Your launch is only the beginning. You can't expect to just put your product out there and then assume that it'll be enough. You need to keep up with feedback and modify your product accordingly. You also need to stay in touch with marketing, so you can keep pushing that brand image while ensuring people stay interested in what you're putting together. If you don't keep track of the competition, remain knowledgeable about the trends in this field, and continue to evolve your product, you'll risk getting lost among other SaaS companies.
Now that we've covered the top 5 roadblocks to SaaS product launches, you have the tools to keep your launch well-fueled and on track.
Whether you're a first-time founder or a veteran in the industry, there's never been a better time to build products that turn heads and drive growth. Just remember: everything is possible, but not everything is probable. The most important thing is to be prepared for what could happen.
And if you find yourself floundering in the middle of your launch, just refer back to this article. Good luck!