Have an idea of a cutting-edge product that would conquer the SaaS market? We understand your desire to immediately show it to the world, but the launch campaign is not the process to hurry up with. It usually takes long months to go through all the stages to successfully launch a SaaS product. Since Eleken has collaborated with a number of successful SaaS companies, we have prepared a checklist to have everything done in advance.
Find your competitive advantage
Before launching your business, determine whether your idea is effective. The most obvious way to do that is to discuss it with as many potential customers as possible. Besides, you can test your idea for adequacy answering this list of questions:
- What problem does it resolve?
- Will people buy it?
- Does your product have a market niche?
- Who are your competitors and what are their advantages?
After you find the answers to the questions above, you can come up with a clear description of your business idea and understand its unique value. As soon as you have studied your competitors in the niche, you should determine a competitive advantage that will allow your product to stand out.
A lot of SaaS businesses try to compete on their market, establishing low prices either directly through cheap services, or indirectly through sales and discounts. This allows attracting more users, but on the other hand you will struggle to win their loyalty. It means that in order to retain them, you will have to constantly stick to low pricing strategy.
Competing on value implies producing the best quality products. The opportunities to add value to your product are endless. All you need is a strong team and enough investments. On the other hand, this may be quite challenging and requires lots of resources.
Besides, you can always mix low price and high value strategies in the proportion that best fits your business.
Set your goals and targets
To achieve the result, you should understand how to measure it. That is why goal-setting is important. Start with the market investigation. Make competitive research, predict the timeline of your product development, and establish the metrics to check up your project at different stages.
You must have already heard about the SMART concept. It means that the goals you set should answer five criteria, such as specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. How does it work with SaaS? Let’s see an example.
Imagine, you are ready to launch your product and want to increase your sales by the end of the quarter. This goal meets only one SMART criteria - it is time-bound and you have chosen your deadline to review the results. Nevertheless, this goal is neither measurable nor specific. And it is quite difficult to define if it is specific or attainable.
What would SMART goal look like?
S is for accuracy what you want and how much you want it
M is for specific numbers that would allow you to determine if you have achieved your goals and analyze your results
A is for the real market situation that allows your product to grow
R is for your internal situation, resources you have and abilities of your team
T is for establishing checkpoints to review the results.
Thus the SMART goal looks like: “I expect a 20% increase in customers, 50% website traffic growth, and 15% conversion growth by the end of the quarter resulting in $100,000 revenue.”
Develop your brand story
Imagine you enter an extremely competitive niche with products similar in price and quality. Even if you have chosen your competitive advantage before, you need to communicate it properly for your customers to find and follow you. Proper branding is your key solution. The best way to incite customer’s emotion is to develop a proper brand concept. Transmit this concept through the design of your product, website and marketing materials; storytelling strategy, brand voice and values you communicate.
One of our customers launched a startup missioned to promote deliberate and eco-friendly lifestyle. The founders have chosen the concept of handprints as a symbol of eco-contributions done by every person in the community, such as travelling to work by bike rather than by car, or planting a tree. The project is called Handprinter. It is a unique product with no analogs on the market. We needed to clearly communicate the idea and create both human and eco-friendly app design with unique and understandable visuals to reflect the main concept. You can study the case precisely and see the results of our work on our website.
Involve influencers to test your product
Influencers are social-media celebrities often connected to a specific market niche. They are highly trusted by their audience, and, according to BigCommerce, influencer marketing is growing at enormous speed. Nearly 89% of all marketers agree that influencer marketing is comparable to or even better than other channels.
SaaS market can benefit from influencers with the same effectiveness as e-commerce. For example, Canva, which is a graphic design software, is closely working with niche influencers and industry leaders. Their cooperation with Guy Kawasaki, an Apple marketing specialist, allowed them to stand out in their segment and reach out to users all over the world.
Looking for influencers to speak for your brand, you should consider their industry, audience, and professional status. According to the statistics gathered by BigCommerce, Instagram and Youtube are the most impactful social media platforms, while Snapchat is considered the least important marketing platform. However, you should follow your target audience and channels they use. You can look for influencers by yourself, or collaborate with a professional agency that can suggest the list of influencers according to your requirements.
Survive during the pre-launch period
The pre-launch period is a very important phase to test your business livability. You attract your first users, start a marketing campaign, test your product, and receive the first feedback. For this reason, let’s pay special attention to this phase.
Announce a product launch
The first thing you should do is estimate and announce your product launch date and prepare a Coming Soon Page for your website. Your main goal here is to create intrigue and motivate people to subscribe to your page. You can use different strategies, but the most popular one is to ask people to bring their friends in order to receive a free subscription for a certain period.
Find beta testers for your product
You should also find beta testers for your product through beta platforms or relevant treads on Quora, Reddit, or Hackernews. There are no recommended numbers, but the more people from inside of the industry know and like your product, the more chances it will produce hype after the release.
Prepare a strong product description and short pitch video that will explain your product to users. Prepare to gather feedback and make changes on the spot, as your main task here is to fix all the bugs before the official release.
Consider Freemium VS Free Trial
Freemiums and free trials are specific SaaS business customer acquisition models that help you show the benefits of your product to your target audience. But before you decide, whether to choose freemium or trial, let’s have a closer look at both.
Freemium allows your customers to receive part of your product functions free of charge, while free trial gives full access to all of the functions for a limited time period. Depending on your product specifics and go-to-market strategy you choose, you can mix these two models.
Dominant Growth Strategy
This strategy is aimed to win all kinds of users. This is a strategy used by market giants, such as Netflix or Uber, and is based on a combination of freemium and free trial acquisition models. However, it usually works well with high-quality products acting on a big market with a big pool of users. Customers need to understand clearly the value of your product and how it functions. Besides, your niche should be of a really high demand for lots of users. Here you will need to focus on the user experience and attract them with premium features. Otherwise, you will simply give away your product for free without establishing customers’ loyalty.
Differentiated Strategy Model
This model is used when you want to compete with popular products that monopolize the niche. You discover their disadvantages or underestimated services they don’t suggest and create your own product that covers them all, attracting those users who need these specific features. This strategy usually works with free trials and demos.
Disruptive Growth Strategy means that you create products with more simple features, compared to competitors and charge less. This may not seem to the best idea, but it actually works. For example, Canva functions are much simpler and less variable than those suggested by Photoshop. Nevertheless, they attract those users that don’t use all the features, suggested by a more expensive competitor. Disruptive strategy works well with the freemium model mostly, as you need to stick to lower prices.
Prepare to Act Fast
Once you go through all the steps above, you are ready to finally launch your product. But, predicting what happens next, you should understand that the things that worked well during testing and pre-launch period might go wild when you get your first real customers. So, prepare your team to cope with that.
Right after the SaaS product launch, you should gather as much feedback as possible and be ready to make on-the-spot improvements as fast as possible. Work well with your team, build up agile processes, and assign responsibilities in advance. You should be flexible and suggest the best customer experience, despite all the shortcomings.
All in all, starting a project on an extremely competitive market, such as SaaS, has never been an easy task. But we have thousands of successful examples from companies that won their customers and turned into successful businesses. Eleken has prepared design for some of them. Check their cases and get inspired.