You or your bosses came up with a new software as a service product. That’s great. Now you’re supposed to create an effective marketing campaign. Perfect. Make sure you start with the right steps and don’t miss any of the milestones. In this blog post I share the steps of launching new SaaS product based on my experience as Product Marketing Manager that has proved effective.
1. Create your playground
The creative part of planning your product launch is fun and most of marketers want to jump right into it. However, before you come up with all your awesome ideas, you should create a background for your activities. I call it a “playground” that describes the area where you are going to play and who you want to play with.
Check out your closest competition.
Do they offer the product you want to launch? If so, how they market it and what’s their pricing strategy? If not, you have a strong unique selling point (USP) that you can communicate to your audience.
Describe what problems your product is solving.
Make sure your product is a “Painkiller” rather than a “Vitamin”. If you make people need your product, they will buy it. Otherwise, it will be a nice to have and they will expect that you’ll give it to them for free.
Describe your target audience.
Who do you market to? Describe the demographics of your target audience and the level of expertise they have so that your communication is in line with their needs. For example, if your target audience is Small Medium Businesses and Solopreneurs – you will use different benefits than for Enterprise companies. A KPI for online marketer in a big company can be a number of conversions e.g. unique visitors or new subscribers. A Solopreneur, on the other hand, will expect direct effects e.g. instant sales.
Describe the USPs and Benefits of your product.
Create a list of your product’s USPs and related benefits for the user. You should address these benefits in your marketing communication.
If you offer more than one product, think how your new product can complement your existing products and how your customers can benefit from this.
Finally, create a document with the USPs and related benefits of your product based on your prior research.
2. Create your pricing strategy
Pricing is the crucial part of your product launch. If you’re selling your product separately, think of its features and list them on your pricing landing page. If you’re selling more than one online product you can think of upselling. Create a special package with more products and market it as a “one-time opportunity to get all these awesome products for such a low price.”
Here comes the fun part. Once you gather all these strategic data, you can move on to the creative approach. Run a group brainstorming session with the most creative brains in your team and think of 3 adjectives that best describe your product. Pick 3 top benefits of your product and try to match them with these adjectives. Second part of the brainstorming session should be about creating a tagline for your product. The tagline should be consistent with your benefits and the 3 adjectives.
This will not only add structure to your brainstorming session, but also make your communication more consistent. The brainstorming coordinator should take all these creative ideas together and send them out to everyone who will be involved in the creation of the content for the new product, including designers. The content team should also receive a document with the USPs and matching benefits to maintain consistency across all marketing materials.
4. Plan inbound marketing activities
Inbound marketing includes all your internal marketing channels e.g. blog, email marketing, social media, landing pages, ebooks, etc. It’s cheaper than outbound because you don’t have to pay for the ad space in your own media. You can reach your existing customers and prospects using inbound marketing and use the power of sharing to reach new customers.
To make the most out of it, you should think of the channels you own and plan your activities across these channels. Plan an email marketing campaign including a teaser, a launch email, and maybe a reminder. Think of blog post topics where you can introduce your product. Create a landing page for your product. Record video tutorials. If you’re launching a big product, change the cover picture of your business profile on Facebook and Twitter. Think of all the media you own and use them to introduce your product.
5. Plan outbound marketing activities
Outbound marketing includes using media that is not owned by you e.g. paid ads and email lists. Marketers use outbound marketing to reach new audience and acquire new leads.
Outbound marketing is a very important element of your marketing strategy and you should create a list of paid media that will be in line with your product. Paid media is much more than Google products e.g. Google AdWords or Google display network. There are many other ad networks that offer ad space in media that is relevant to your product. Get quotes from some of them and pick media that best match your audience. In my experience, Google AdWords is still the number one lead gen outbound marketing tool, followed by Facebook and Twitter ads.
Display ads are not the most effective lead gen tool but they’re great for raising brand awareness. Think of the different goals you want to achieve with different media and pick the ones that will help you achieve them. For example, if your marketing budget is not huge and your main goal is the number of free trials, then display ad may not be cost-effective and you should rather try Google AdWords and Facebook ads. However, if your goal is to raise brand awareness, display ads can give you tremendous reach that will pay you off in the long run.
6. Product trainings
Never assume your team will know your product. Run product trainings to make sure your team, especially sales and support, have the right knowledge about your product. If you’re launching a product that will have a big impact on your pricing, you should also train your billing and compliance team, and ask them for their critical feedback. You can avoid many mistakes simply by asking different teams about the impact the product will have on their work. Never underestimate critical feedback.
7. Outreach strategy
Authority is one of the Cialdini laws that will add credibility to your marketing efforts, which means people will get this extra push to buy your product, because an expert in the field or someone they know recommends it.
Choose the influencers you want to support your new product and think of the benefits they might have from supporting your brand. Your outreach marketing can include guest blogging (remember that you can also ask to write on other blogs to promote your brand/product), ebooks, or webinars.
If you want to make sure you pick the RIGHT influencer, simply attend an event where he or she is a speaker. This is how I find the best influencers for the products I work for.
8. Pushing the launch green button
Before you push the “green button” and officially launch the product, make sure all your marketing activities are in line with each other and come out in the right order. A simple Excel spreadsheet is extremely helpful when it comes to execution.
9. Be responsive
This time I don’t mean responsive design. Real-time is very important in mobile era. You should have at least one person that will respond to the buzz about your product, especially in social media and blog comments.
10. Measure and optimize
Pushing the green button doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. First, you need to watch the buzz, answer the questions, and collect feedback. Then, you need to check conversion rates and think of ways to optimize your campaign. This can mean trying a different banner line or running A/B tests on your landing pages and emails. In marketing good is never enough.
Launching a new SaaS product always sounds exciting in the beginning and is always tiresome in the end. I’m a strong believer of “make your life easier” approach and this is why I always make a framework for the projects I work for. Surprises are nice in your private life but not necessarily at work. These 10 steps will make your product launch more predictable and your nights more peaceful. Share your ideas or questions on the products that you’ve launched in the comments below.