SaaS Product Launch: How to Launch Your SaaS Product Step by Step
What does a successful SaaS product launch look like? What are the pre-launch and post-launch steps (hint: user onboarding is a part of this)?
You’re in the right place if you’re looking for answers to the above questions.
Whether you have a brand new product launch in the pipeline or planning to release a new version or feature, our article will guide you through the process step by step and help you develop an effective launch plan.
- A successful SaaS product launch campaign consists of three stages: the pre-launch stage, the launch stage, and the post-launch stage.
- The aim of the pre-launch phase is to get your product and your business ready.
- During the pre-launch stage you need to conduct market research, define your UPS (Unique Selling Proposition), identify your target audience, and define user persona
- The launch phase revolves around building and implementing your go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
- marketing teams use GTM tactics like launching the product on Product Hunt, content marketing, paid advertising, and product demos.
- Setting your KPIs will help you track the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
- The most useful performance indicators include the visitor-to-sign-up rate, the sign-up-to-PQL rate, the PQL-customer rate, the sign-up-to-customer rate, and the activation rate.
- The post-launch phase is all about user onboarding.
- Use UI onboarding patterns and elements like welcome screens, checklists, interactive product walkthroughs, and microsurveys (for user segmentation and to gather feedback).
- Userpilot can help you build successful onboarding experiences that help you retain customers long-term (what’s the point of launching a product that no one uses?).
How do you launch a SaaS product?
There are three main phases that will ensure a solid SaaS product launch. Call it a short version of a SaaS product launch checklist if you want.
- The pre-launch phase: this is where you prepare for the product launch date
- The launch phase: this is where you implement your go-to-market strategy
- The post-launch phase: this is where you focus on user onboarding
Your SaaS Pre-Launch Phase: Prepare
There are a few things that your product and development teams need to get ready before you show your product to the world and start filling your sales pipeline with leads. This is the stage where you lay the foundations for the launch and develop your launch plan.
Research and understand the competition
Do your homework and research the market you are entering. Make sure you understand your competitors and how your product fits into the market.
- What makes your product different from your competitor’s offerings?
- What pain points does it solve that other players on the market don’t?
- Is it similar in any way?
- Is there any vacuum that you could fill?
Answering these questions will allow you to plan the next stages of your launch.
What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
Use the findings of the market research to identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which in short is what distinguishes your product from others on the market and makes customers buy it.
Defining the UPS is like locating the common ground between what your customers want and what your business can deliver well.
Define your target market and user persona
After defining what your product does well and how it compares to your competitors, it’s important to map out your user persona.
As a SaaS product manager, you need to understand what job your product helps the user achieve. User personas are the representations of the groups of users that are likely to benefit from your product.
For a B2B SaaS, there could be 3-5 different types of users with different motivations and goals.
Identifying these groups will determine your target audience and steer your messaging, the choice of media, and the tactics you will use for your SaaS product launch.
Here’s an example of what to include in your user persona description:
- job title
- jobs to be done
- company details
- team collaboration
- gains of using the product
The SaaS launch phase: Implementing your Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy
Now that you’ve done the market research, defined your UPS, and identified your target users, it’s time to build your GTM strategy.
At this stage you need to decide on the tactics you will use to acquire leads. Don’t rush through this step as this is what can make or break your SaaS product launch.
Where do I promote my SaaS product?
There are a number of useful go-to-market tactics that will help you get your SaaS product noticed on your launch date:
- launch your product on Product Hunt
- use an SEO content marketing strategy
- use paid advertising
- showcase your product with a demo
- recruit beta testers from your existing customers
Of course, these are relevant if you are planning a prospective customer launch. If it’s an existing customer launch, there are more direct ways of reaching your users like in-app messaging or launch emails.
Launch your product on Product Hunt
Product Hunt is a fantastic tool for launching your product. It’s a free platform that allows you to showcase your product to other tech geeks out there.
Product Hunt is a reliable and trusted place for product reviews and you can use it to create a proper market buzz around your product.
The catch is that you need to get it right the first time as it doesn’t allow you to relaunch the same product for six months and that’s allowed only for major redesigns!
Here’s an example of what a Product Hunt launch plan could look like.
Poptin 2.0, a no-code tool for creating web and mobile pop-ups, used Product Hunt for a successful launch.
They did it by embedding a Youtube video showcasing how their new feature update works and by listing down the features and updates together.
The rocket emoji was a cool touch to retain the attention span of customers.
Increase trial signups with an SEO content marketing strategy
Content marketing is all about serving content that doesn’t openly promote a product but is designed to stimulate interest in it.
These could be resources like blogs (like Userpilot’s one), videos, or case studies.
The goal is to create content that is educational and inspiring, and most importantly SEO optimized.
When prospective customers are looking for tools to get their jobs done, they start their research on Google.
If they come across your content (thanks to the brilliant SEO optimization) and they find it worth their time, they are more likely to take action.
This may mean booking a demo or taking time to explore your product in more depth.
Use paid advertising
If you have the money in your budget, you may want to add paid advertising to your product launch plan.
There are a few possibilities here like Google Ads or social media ads. If you need to choose one though, paid search is probably the best way to win the attention of customers who start looking for tools via search engines.
Paid ads will help you boost your organic SEO efforts and speed up customer acquisition.
Showcase your product with a demo
To take your marketing efforts even further, consider creating a product demo.
There are two options here: a pre-recorded product demo or a personalised live demo.
The first option is less personalised but also much more cost effective. It can be as simple as a narrated screencast showcasing the best functionalities of your product.
Personalized demos require a team but may be worth it if your product has a steeper learning curve.
You can use live product demos to highlight the exact parts that are important for a specific user segment and answer any questions your potential clients might have .
This is a tactic we actually use here at Userpilot– want to check out how our tool can help with your product adoption?).
Regardless of whether you choose a pre-recorded or a live demo, it is a good way to add value and show prospective customers how your product can solve their problems.
Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of your launch
The first thing you want to track is conversion rates because they show if your tactics are working.
The four touchpoints that show you how your users are progressing through the customer lifecycle are:
- visitor-to-sign-up rate – the proportion of visitors that turn into leads
- Sign-up-to-PQL rate – the percentage of leads that have experienced the aha moment and have reached the activation point (Product Qualified Leads)
- PQL-customer rate – the proportion of the Product Qualified Leads that have committed to the paid version of the product
- Sign-up-to-customer rate – the rate of the users who have turned from free trials to the paid versions
Another solid KPI is to track the success of how many users actually use the product and get to the activation point.
Users who experience the value of the product firsthand are more likely to convert to paying users.
That is why tracking how many users reach this milestone gives you an idea of how successful you are at showcasing your product and onboarding your users.
Your SaaS post-launch phase: user onboarding
Now that your plan of acquiring users is in motion, you need to make sure that once users sign up for your trial or freemium accounts, they engage with your product, reach the activation point and become paying customers.
You can achieve this through user onboarding.
Here are a few tactics that should be a part of your onboarding plan.
Use a welcome screen to segment your audience
There is a big chance that there will be different kinds of users interested in your product, so it’s crucial to build personalized user experiences based on their needs, using data.
You can personalize your user onboarding in different ways, and some of them are:
- by user role (for example: product team, marketing team, sales team)
- by user state (new customers vs. existing customers)
- by user behavior (successful users vs. new sign-ups encountering friction points and requiring guidance).
That’s the quickest and more direct way to get them to experience value and consequently reach the activation point.
Have a look at the welcome screen Backlink Manager uses to segment its users into four distinct groups:
Use checklists to get users to the activation point faster
Once you have segmented your users you know which features are more relevant for them. Build a checklist and prompt them to engage with the ones that will bring value to them fast.
Try to keep your checklists short and focus on getting your users from one milestone to another. In this case, you are aiming to get them from signup to the activation point.
Have a look at an example of a checklist from Kommunicate:
Shorten the learning path with interactive product tours
The simple addition of a checklist with tasks you want the user to complete may not be enough.
Especially if the product learning curve is steeper. For the user to gain value, you also need to make sure they know how to perform each of the tasks, without encountering any friction.
You can achieve this by designing interactive product walkthroughs to guide them step by step through the process.
Look at the checklists from above.
Here is what an interactive tour for ‘ Customize Chat Widget’ would look like. A series of tooltips and driven actions that are triggered sequentially once the user has engaged with the previous one.
Gather customer feedback and improve
Collecting customer feedback is essential. It helps you identify the areas that cause user friction and acting on feedback will improve your product so that it delivers more value.
More value for the customer often results in a relationship that they want to remain part of.
You can use them at different points in the user journey to understand what’s helping users get the job done and what is causing friction.
For example, use a microsurvey to collect feedback when the user engages with the feature for the first time.
Feedback should be an integral part of your launch strategy, especially if you are still working on your achieving product market fit through beta testing.
A successful SaaS product launch can be broken into three main stages, all of which are equally important.
If you need help with the user onboarding part check out how Userpilot can help you drive conversions with great in-app experiences.