30 Jul 2018  |  Guide

Mobilizing your Audience for your Software Launch

39 minute read

Over the last 5 years we've seen hundreds of software businesses launch thousands of products across Mac, Windows and Web SaaS platforms. In this extensive guide we're focussing on the launch and how you can make the biggest impact.

Over the last 5 years we’ve seen hundreds of software businesses launch thousands of products across Mac, Windows and Web SaaS platforms. We’re diving into the lessons we’ve learnt to provide a guide for your next launch.

In our previous guide we looked at suitable pricing models, now we’re going to focus on the essential actions you need to take before your launch. From this you’ll be able to reassess and strengthen your launch plan.

In this extensive launch guide you’ll learn about:

  1. Communicating your launch
  2. Defining your pre-release strategy
  3. Mobilizing your existing customers
  4. Crafting the right landing page

Section 1: Communicating your launch

If a great product gets released but no one hears about it, did it really launch? You should be getting the news of your launch out to the right audience, communicating to media outlets, existing and new customers alike.

Release Strategy: Expert Opinion

To get an insight into the strategy behind a launch, we chatted to Marc Edwards from Bjango to get some advice on approaching a launch.

“For paid updates, it’s essential to let all existing customers know there’s an update. We prefer doing this within the app itself, rather than email.” - Marc Edwards, Bjango

Marc Edwards Bjango

Paddle: What did you find were the key elements for the success of your launch? Marc: For us, the most important aspects are trust and awareness. We need a long history of providing good software, and providing useful advice. I don’t think there’s a shortcut to a good launch — it takes a lot of persistence, but we’re finally in a place where I think having our name on a product indicates a certain level of quality.

For paid updates, it’s essential to let all existing customers know there’s an update. We prefer doing this within the app itself, rather than email.

How did you sustain excitement throughout the launch?
For iStat Menus 6, we had a lot more launch material ready, including Dribble posts with some behind-the-scenes info, and lots of very specific tweets for each new feature. Those were spread throughout the launch week.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Next time we should do a lot more planning and have a schedule for discussing all the new features and why certain choices were made in greater detail.

After the initial launch, were there any other sales spikes?
There were spikes for the initial launch day, 14 days later when the trials ended, and for an email we sent out. Minor updates usually get a small spike, too. So it’s a good idea to fix lots of bugs and provide an update a couple of weeks after launch (bug fixes are good anyway!).

How to word your launch announcement

That was some expert advice on the whole launch but what about your initial announcement? When launching, you want to build anticipation for the release. That’s why it’s important to showcase passion and excitement when announcing that your product is finally here. Your announcement should be short, clear and catered to your audience; be ready to emphasise specific features that would entice them to upgrade to your newest version.

“Showcase passion and excitement when announcing that your product is finally here.”

Lets breakdown Realmac’s announcement of Rapidweaver 8, from the first paragraph they directly addresses their customers. Instead of trying to sell the update straightaway, they present a story of how much time and effort they’ve spent on the upgrade. It helps give personality to the app and shows there’s human faces behind its development.

Rapidweaver Forum Post

Realmac hype up what this new update means for the app (“it’s going to be our most significant release yet”), but then back up this claim by how they’ve earned people’s trust through years of experience (“been around for 14 years!”).

They then talk directly to the reader again about how they listen to feature requests, but then acknowledge how they can’t fulfill every request. This is a way of managing expectations by demonstrating that the want to deliver a product, rather than delay over superfluous features.

Rapidweaver announcement 2

Realmac also preempt the question of whether they’ll shift to subscriptions, with this latest update. When there’s been a big shift in the industry it’s always good to address your stance, whether you’re changing or keeping things the same. It stops customers being in the dark and allows you to explain the reasons behind your decision.

In the closing paragraphs Realmac entice people with what they’d learn about if they signed up to the newsletter. In a post-GDPR world people have no obligation to subscribe to your newsletter, so it’s always key to make them aware of its worth.

Rapidweaver announcement 3

“In a post-GDPR world people have no obligation to subscribe to your newsletter, so it's always key to make them aware of its worth.”

Now let’s look at the Framer X launch video; this works well because the product is really polished and well designed. They’re marketing themselves to a design-orientated audience, so demonstrating that the interface is seamlessly smooth is key. The text is minimal, only serving to give the big-picture info of the name, release date and that they’re taking on users for their waitlist. This teasing of a gateway before release only raises the excitement.

Social Channels to Target

Different Social channels fulfill different functions, that’s why it’s important to recognise what your strategy is when using them. Here’s a list of the main channels and the best ways to utilize them.

Twitter

Twitter is conversational and allows you to hype up the launch in a genuine way. You can send shorter announcements, use the threads to go in-depth about the journey of the product or connect with followers through visual gifs.

Framer utilizes Twitter well. This is because they’ve learned how to tease updates and give users new content about the product, without bombarding them. By having a passionate fanbase, they’re able to create a dialogue through the content they post.

Framer Tweet

Facebook

Facebook lets you set up a community, a place where you can offer value to your existing fanbase through funny pictures and opinion polls. It’s not as immediate as Twitter though, so you’ll be fighting through a lot of noise to capture attention on the platform.

This recent Facebook post by Clean My Mac is a perfect example of shareable content showcasing their product’s development. It allows existing users to comment when they became a fan, but also mention the person who introduced them to the software in the post.

Clean My Mac Facebook image

Building on their fanbase; Setapp have created their own invite-only Facebook community, this gives them a place to talk directly to their fanbase. It works as a two way relationship with Setapp able to inform their specially-selected users of product news, whilst their users receive help and advice directly. Because these users are invested in the product and happy to provide feedback, they’d be perfect to offer an internal beta to.

Setapp Tweet

It works as a two way relationship with Setapp able to inform their specially-selected users of product news, whilst their users receive help and advice directly.

Instagram

Instagram lets you show off your company’s visual flair, be it through illustrating what people can do with your product, what changed with the upgrade or simply showing off your company culture.

Brainfever’s visual content works well on the platform, as they’re a design-orientated product that is very shareable. People see the shots taken with their Circular app, and then want to investigate how they can recreate the effect themselves.

Circular Instagram photo

Linkedin

If your product has a business-orientated audience, then Linkedin is a great platform to engage with them on. You should focus on the value you offer to customers and issues affecting your industry. This lets you build up a following within the Linkedin community.

Using B2B/B2C and Niche Channels?

This leads us to discuss the big difference in what’s right for you, depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company. Certain people see no difference between the personal and professional when using social channels like Twitter, whereas something like Linkedin is more for a professional persona and Facebook is more B2C orientated. Knowing these distinctions allows you to focus on where your audience would be.

There is also the consideration of whether to use more niche channels, the audiences may be smaller but you’d be able to stand out better because your interests would be more aligned. The main social channels are important, but if you see an opportunity to create a stronger community, which can be sustained throughout your launch and beyond, then niche channels may be the favoured choice.

We mentioned how Setapp built an invite-only Facebook community for their users, well Folivora are a perfect example of someone who’s brought this idea one step closer, by bringing things further in-house. Folivora built an organic forum based around customization. This community gives their users a space to share preset themes they’ve created with others, which brings further longevity to the product’s lifecycle.

Folivora Community

Similarly, Realmac post on their community forums to hype up their new launches. This gives their dedicated fanbase a chance to read about the launch first, and answer any questions that they didn’t have space to answer.

Rapidweaver announcement 2

Using PR campaigns and media outreach

Having a good social presence is just one aspect of ensuring success for your release, but being covered by online outlets is key to complementing your potential impact. Let’s look at the two most popular methods for getting press.

Organic Outreach

If you decide to take the direct route; reaching out to media outlets yourself, the best practices include:

  • Outlining what you do and who your customers are. It also helps to list any relevant newsworthy trends you may be a part of, particularly if that writer/site has written about it recently.

  • You can offer an internal beta to the outlet, if your new version hasn’t been released yet. This added level of exclusivity is what journalists and editors thrive on.

  • Keep it short and and to the point, sending a friendly follow-up to them exactly a week later.

  • Don’t spam an entire team with requests, but to be highly targeted. It’s all about reaching out to the right person, the commissioning editor may be better placed to help than a sporadic freelancer for the site.

Mike Butcher’s classic guide on how to pitch to journalists “the press release is dead- use this instead” forces you to ask yourself questions like “in simple terms, what does this startup/product do?” ,“what is the problem this company is solving?/ how has this product solved this problem?” and “describe it as if you were describing it to a non-tech person on the street”. Being able to answer questions like this allows you to get to the heart of what you do, and certainly the most concise way of explaining it to the press.

Additionally, Realmac founder Dan Counsell’s blog on getting press coverage for your app outlines the importance of having a story to tell, researching blogs you actually read and keeping a press list of people that work for each outlet. Being able to pitch to this list of contacts is a major key to getting press organically.

Dan Counsell

The PR Agency Route

If you prefer to utilize the services of a PR agency and their ready-made contacts, there’s a few things you’ll need to discuss to get the most out of them:


  • Whether you should hire them in-house, on retainer or on a project by project basis?
  • What their goals should be? Especially in terms of coverage for you. Are there certain trends/outlets you want to emphasize as well as things that have no interest to you?
  • Feedback is key to a good PR relationship, you’ll need to be honest with your agency. Its a two-way relationship though, and they can definitely help you manage expectations for realistic goals and potential deadlines.
  • You also need to find a way to measure these goals and standards and that they’re being adhered to. This can happen through regular catch-ups or a spreadsheet tracking what’s been done.

Press Kit

For either approach you’ll want to create a press kit, this gives easy access to resources for anyone looking to write about you. It could be sent out by your PR agency or available on your website. Let’s break down the essentials for a comprehensive press kit:

A Bio
This focuses on who you are and what you do. Basic information, yes, but essential to someone needing all the relevant info to write a story on you. If you can, showcase unique points of your story and how this could be honed into a feature for a journalist. Are you siblings who founded a company or did you come up with your concept when the problem personally affected you?

Pronouncing your Name
A consideration for those with a unique company name should be to provide clarity on how its phrased, with capitals in the middle, numbers or seemingly random punctuation? This ensures consistency when people search come from reading an article about you.

Digestible Facts
How many customers have you served? What are your total sales figures? How many countries do you operate in/sell to? These facts help a writer to flesh out how well your company is doing and what metrics you excel at.

Team Bios
If you’re expecting people to write about your company, they’ll need who’s running it. This comes in the form of team bios, you can add a bit of personality in your expertise, where you’ve previously come from or just what you do in-between running the company.

Team Bios

Visual Assets
Your logo, product screenshots, pictures of key staff. To find the essential sizings of a press kit, check out this Hubspot guide.

Shoutouts/ Press Mentions
Any recent press coverage you’ve had, be it through articles/influential fans. Highlighting the best sound bites that can be quoted by journalists for their future pieces is a big help.

Contact Information
You could create a separate email address for PR/list your PR agency’s email, for the press to contact you.

Life without paid ads is unthinkable to many company’s marketing strategies. Paid ads allow you to hone in on your ideal target audience, accelerating growth, scale how many customers you can find delivering on the needs they hadn’t even considered yet.

Some of the places where you can implement paid ads include:

  • Adwords (good if people are searching specific keywords you can target)
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. (good if you can identify communities or ideal profile interests)
  • Youtube etc. (good if you can identify communities and have a visual product)
  • Specialized advertising networks for your niche (good if one exists and has already pre-selected the right websites / newsletters / is where your audience lives).

These are some of the essential metrics you’ll want to track during the campaign:

Impressions
This is the number of times your ad has been served, specifically the amount of people that have seen your ads.

Clicks
This number tallies up the people who saw the ad and then clicked on it.

ClickThrough-Rate (CTR)
The CTR is the amount of impressions that turn into click, in the form of a percentage.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
This number is the cost that you’re paying every time your ad is clicked. It can go up or down depending on a variety of factors including the value of the particular keyword market you’re targeting and the relevancy of the ad.

Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA)
CPA is when you only pay for a customer/sale/lead, it’s the least risky option but is harder to find people willing to work on this system.

Cost-Per-Mille (CPM)
CPM is where you pay a fixed amount for 1,000 impressions - most risky but is a very scalable solution.

Quality Score (Google)/ Relevancy Score (Facebook)
This is score, calculated from facets of your campaign, that quantifies how relevant your ads are to an audience. With a high relevance your cost will go down, with a low relevance you’ll end up paying more, so this is a key metric.

For more info on these metrics in action, check out Marketo’s blog here.

What budget should I place for the campaign?

When setting a budget for the paid ads campaign, a good number to start with is 10-12% of your overall marketing budget. Key metrics to help you work out a new budget include

Within this number, you could place a daily budget of how much you want to spend, or you can have a budget shared between multiple campaigns.

Once you’ve sorted your budget, Hubspot’s Ad Spend Calculator can help you combine budget and acquisition costs to find out the ROI from your budgeted spend.

Affiliates

Affiliates work by bringing business to your site, gaining themselves a commission in the process. This is what you should bear in mind if you haven’t used affiliates:

  • Affiliate marketing is a long-term strategy, you can’t expect to see instant result but instead need to spend a great deal of time focussed on making it a success. You should consider hiring an affiliate manager depending on growth.

  • You’ll need a constant social presence/to refresh the content you give to your affiliates, allows them to have useful resources to hand. Affiliates should also be given content unique to them

  • Streamline communication, allowing your affiliates to contact you if there’s any problems or suggestions they have.

  • It’s important to be tracking your affiliates every day, working out who/ has/hasn’t been active on a daily basis. As well as who is sending people but not making sales.

Metrics

The affiliate metrics you’ll want to track include:

Clicks
The amount of clicks coming from your affiliates channel can be reflective of overall awareness. If their number of clicks is high but their conversion rate is low, you’ll need to investigate the accuracy of their figures and at what point users are leaving to find a solution.

Conversion Rate
This is the amount of clicks that convert to sales. A good conversion rate could be anywhere from 7-20% depending on your vertical.

Return-on-Ad-Spend
This is calculated by dividing the affiliate revenue by the amount spent.

Incremental Revenue
The new revenue delivered by the affiliates.

Cost-Per-Click/Cost-Per-Sale
This is how much you’re billed per the cost of a click/sale. They allow you to measure when an affiliate is bringing in conversions, but their commission is overshadowing the overall benefit.

Section 2: Defining your pre-release strategy

Personas

In all of our previous chapters we like to take a minute, to restate the importance of customer personas. They allow you to place your ideal customers into clearly defined personalities - considering their pain points, perspective, routines etc. This is informed by talking to existing or potential customers - asking them about their experience with the product, when they had a problem, why they decided to look into it, and how things went from there.

“They allow you to place your ideal customers into clearly defined personalities - considering their pain points, perspective, routines etc.”

They come in handy, especially when targeting an email audience, by allowing you to segment what message should go to which persona-categorized customer. For example, if you were targeting customers in pricing tier, with their favoured features or those who are more interested in a subscription plan. With these segments to hand, you’d know exactly who to target when sending emails. For more information on refining personas check out our previous guide on pricing.

Sending pre-release emails chains

By sending your customers pre-release emails, you can build and maintain a level of hype before the launch. Informing and entertaining them with product offers and exclusive content.

You need to work out an objective and message for each particular email. Is your objective to push a particular tier, have people sign up on a waitlist to upgrade or gain more buzz by holding a competition for people?

It’s also particularly important to let your audience know how often they’ll receive emails, this stops them perceiving the emails as an annoyance but rather as added value in their inbox.

The sequence of email you can send should have four main stages:

Teaser
This is the email which is mysterious and aims to build anticipation. It can be as cryptic as you like, perhaps only offering a veiled picture and a mysterious release date.

Introduction
The elevator pitch of what your product offered before and its forthcoming added value. Asserting why it’s important to upgrade now.

Build-up
Bringing the excitement and maintaining interest should be your main objectives at this stage. Long promised features that your audience has been dying for can be teased, leaving the potential for what this opens up for them. This is also the time to bring in some ticking clock offers, that your audience has to act fast on before the launch if they want to get themselves a killer deal.

The Finale
This is when everything comes together and you can unveil the product in a visually stunning way. A call-to-action (CTA) drawing the reader in will be key. You’re now also able to expand on your key product features and their value proposition to the customer.

Evernote Email

Evernote distills their product in the first paragraph “lose the paper and stop jumping between apps. Evernote has everything you need.”

They then demonstrate their key features in the second “super-sized uploads, amazing search, presentation tools, and lots of other great features designed to help you keep things together, in one place.”

Evernote Email 2

Our one suggestion though would be that their call-to-action (CTA) lacks a real bite to convert a user to a premium tier. They could bring something more action orientated like “upgrade to premium?”, this connects with the users own thought process and lets them respond by clicking. This should of course be subject to A/B testing to gather concrete data, to find out what works best for your product.

"A call-to-action (CTA) drawing the reader in will be key"

What are best practice on Call-to-Actions (CTAs)?

But what are the best call-to-actions, the ones that will persuade people to click “buy now” at the end of the email? There is no one magic secret but certain things you should be doing.

  • Keep it action orientated, people want to visualize how the button will benefit them. Instead of “click here” go for “download (product name)”.
  • A sizeable CTA helps, but don’t go overboard and take up valuable space with it.
  • Go for no more than five words for a CTA, anymore and you’ll confuse your audience.
  • Keep the copy direct about what action will occur, once the CTA is clicked.
  • Testing placement is key, as this lets you know when customers want an action.

A good example is Realmac’s monthly newsletter.

Realmac email 1

They start the email with a graphic outlining the release date for RapidWeaver 8, how much users have influenced the new features and they tease that more updates will be coming soon.

Realmac email 2

Also included in the newsletter is the sale on their other app Squash, they’ve kept the copy short and clear, added the relevant hyperlinks and even a ticking clock by ending with a deadline.

They’ve also incorporated the Mac App Store (MAS) button into their CTA, letting their users know where they’ll be directed straight to.

They’ve kept the copy short and clear, added the relevant hyperlinks and even a ticking clock by ending with a deadline.

Fournova’s’ email publicizing their beta uses a few notable techniques to entice their users. This includes bolding important sections for added visibility.

Fournova 1

They also employ other users feedback to persuade people to sign up for their next private beta. Including actual names and faces to legitimize their opinions.

Fournova 2

Social strategy

It’s at this time your chosen social channels to target should be be utilized for the launch. Your strategy should be to showcase the latest features, to start by teasing them out then elaborating on what’s been updated.

One technique is to do this visually, through the power of gifs! The right gif could say more than whole thread of tweets can. It also is less hassle to open than a short video. By creating your own demos of certain features in visually-appealing way, your followers can see the impact it’ll have to their experience. These can be animated or created using a screen-recording app like Cloudapp.

Slack uses gifs to demonstrate their latest features, keeping the copy peppy and letting the image do most of the talking. You should also be prepared to answer user questions about said features and how it will affect them directly.

Slack Tweet

By creating your own demos of certain features in visually-appealing way, your followers can see the impact it’ll have to their experience.

Alongside your email campaign, Twitter is also the place to tease new announcements. Once you’ve decided on a release date, you can work back to find dates where a teaser could be released. Depending on the hunger of your followers for new knowledge, you can work to a longer period of giving cryptic clues or give more concrete details to keep people in the know.

Users were so hungry to see Framer X, that a tour was arranged to preview it to certain selected companies, doing Framer’s work for them. Reactions from these previews were then collected by people not even working for Framer into a Twitter Moments collection.

Framer Twitter Moment

It’s all about creating content that’s conversational and the people want to share. Your followers want to be informed but also entertained and see something their like-minded friends would love to see.

"Your followers want to be informed but also entertained."

S3: Mobilizing your existing customers

Existing customers

One of your key assets in the lead-up to the launch should not be forgotten, this being your existing customers. Their greatest strength is that they already understand your product, this is why it requires extra care when persuading them about the value in upgrading. They’re also best placed to convert potential new customers, let’s discuss the best ways to do both.

Upgrading By Email

Using an email campaign to entice upgrades, you can get across a detailed but concise message over multiple emails. Our advice is to focus on features, those that they’ll gain with an upgrade, how everything’s improved and reminding them of previous upgrades and how much ground has been built from them.

Fournova’s upgrade email for Tower thanks their internal beta testers, by offering them a discount.

Tower 1

There’s also the direction of being transparent about what they’ll lose if they don’t upgrade, but wording this is much more trickier. As trying to force someone to upgrade may leave them to wander over to your competition.

Tower 2

After that section they mention that they’re offering cross-platform (a big plus to a section of their audience!), they then transparently relate why they’re making a shift to an annual fee and the reasons behind that.

Tower 3

The link to buy is clearly-marked but is placed ¾ of the way down. The email first sells why you should love Tower before enticing you to make a purchase decision, whilst offering a discount code.

Tower 4

On top of that, they’re offering tangible merchandise like a t-shirt, to bring people further into the brand.

Upgrading Through In-app Interstitial

Another way of persuading people to upgrade is through in-app interstitials. They’re already inside the app, so isn’t it the perfect time to see if they’re ready to make use of your new version?

Your prompt can be as simple as “there’s a new version of (PRODUCT NAME) available, would you like to upgrade?” Though we think this is the perfect time to get creative. Was there a feature that was top of all of everyone’s wish-lists? Now’s the time to show off the value to them. The key is to make it as smooth as possible for them to upgrade, keeping everything on the same screen and with little effort on their part, is sure to help them convert.

Project Wizards live up to all these rules for their upgrade. They relate that this upgrade is a continuation of their relationship with Merlin Project (“as an active user of Merlin Project”).

Then they handily list the new features that they’ll be “impressed by” in bullet-points.

For those unsure of whether the upgrade is for them, Project Wizards give them a free 30 days trial. Which like Bjango’s Marc Edwards mentioned about in our interview earlier, he saw sales spike after the initial launch “when the trials ended”. So this can definitely aid in persuading unsure customers and giving sales a boost after the launch.

Merlin Project 5

On the other-side involving free-upgrades, Findings have gone for a minimal design informing the user that they’re eligible. Though, the fact that it’s a free upgrade definitely influences their relaxed sell.

Findings In-app

Moving from the Mac App Store (MAS) to Direct Sales

Thinking about making a move from selling on the Mac App Store (MAS) alone? This may be a complete jump to direct sales on your own site or you may be selling on both.

Your instant concerns may be:

  • Does this impact my relationship with Apple? E.g. am I less likely to get featured?
  • What impact does this have on my overall sales?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the MAS to see what it offers.

Pros:

  • The MAS handles a lot of the infrastructure for you.
  • They’re brilliant for the discovery aspect, placing emerging apps in front of new users. You only have to look at apps like Bear or Ulysses who got a lot of traction from this aspect.

Cons:

  • You’ve established your product now and can rely on your own marketing, organic traffic and word of mouth to promote your product.
  • You don’t see the point in paying a 30% commission to Apple, for just hosting your app.
  • Especially when you’re dealing with subscriptions, whereby Apple takes a recurring cut of your revenue for just hosting.
  • With direct, you can change pricing more easily.

Apple have recognised these concerns, so at WWDC they announced that they were lowering their commissions for subscriptions from 30%, down to 15% after a year.

One strategy is to offer the first version in the App store for free, then they can upsell version two in-app for more revenue when selling direct will make more sense. This combined strategy allows you to take advantage of the discovery aspect and then reap a higher commission once the user decides to upgrade.

This can be made easier by a process of receipt validation whereby:

  1. The user purchases the app on the app store. They unknowingly receive a digital receipt within the app, validating their purchase.
  2. When you launch your next major version; in order to do the upgrade you can write a small bit of code that finds the digital receipt.
  3. This allows you to offer the user a discounted purchase flow for a licence upgrade.

More information about this process can be found here.

Once you’ve signed people up to your newsletter, you can easily advertise the benefits of upgrading to them. They can then upgrade through the email or in-app.

Two sellers to take note of are Dash and Rogue Amoeba, who successfully moved from MAS and found “more revenue as a whole without much damage to sales”. Rogue Amoeba and Dash had sophisticated buyers, who were already aware of the product and ready to a new major version, or new products. This is also true of B2B products as well, who find the move to direct sales more fruitful, this worked for apps like Sketch or Panic who transitioned well because buyers are less likely to discover and/or buy apps via the MAS.

Pre-orders

Pre-orders during the launch campaign are great, for rewarding loyal customers/early adopters. They also aid with revenue and cash flow for independent software devs. Because it’s often an intangible benefit to pre-ordering, your first thought should be, what value can I add for my users by pre-ordering?

This can come in the form of a subscription discount if they choose a lifetime option. It can also involve offering an internal beta, because people who pre-order are often early adopters who want to use the product before anyone else.

By having pre-orders you also need to be able to set expectations, especially in terms of a release date and what are the final (not interchangeable) features. These things can’t shift drastically without informing your customers, as they’ve already paid for a specific product on a specific date, anything different will make them question the purchase decision.

Someone who ran a successful pre-order campaign was mSeven for mSecure 5. One of the reasons for this success was their use of internal beta, which they then aligned the external beta with their pre-order campaign. The external beta helps build trust, makes the product more tangible helps makes the release feel closer.

mSeven

Internal beta

An Internal Beta can be a big boost to both you and your customers. It can be offered to your early adopters who want to get into the product first, and lets users give you instant feedback on what could be changed before the launch.

Deciding when to offer internal beta, will involve you considering what is open to the beta and what is closed. There may be elements that you’re saving for a launch and don’t want to unveil just yet.

If you’re offering internal beta as a paid incentive, they’re more likely to give you feedback. Given that they feel like they should receive a product that works (if they’ve paid).

Fournova blog on planning and scaling a Beta, relates the importance of having 20-50 early adopters. They also state that you should feedback at every stage and create tickets for the meaningful suggestions or bugs. This had a big impact when they were testing Tower and paid off by creating loyal customers for them.

Customer Referral

Customers can often altruistically refer new people to you, but how about we sweeten the deal for them by offering them a reward for doing so?

This could come in the form of a free month’s subscription or upgrading their plan, if they exceed a certain number of referrals. The people they’ve referred could also take part in the free month or be allowed special access to pro-features in their first month.

Extole is a platform you could measure your referrals through, if you prefer to lighten the work of tracking everything in-house.

Framer has its branding on-point when sending emails to people who’ve signed up to their referral waitlist. They allow users to jump up the waitlist depending on the amount of people that use their Framer X referral link. This social currency is key to Framer’s appeal, people love to ascend higher up the waitlist and will happily be evangelical about a product they love.

Framer Waitlist

Influencers

Through your previous versions you may have got a bit of buzz, perhaps with people who have wide influence in your niche. If they’ve enjoyed using your product, now is the best time to get them to shout about it to their followers.

You’ll have to first think about the kind of platform you want to involve them in; do you want them for a sponsored blog (either on your or their blog), to be featured in a case study or just a number of social media posts shouting you out?

Depending on how vocal they’ve been about your product in the past, here’s three types of influencers and ways you can outreach to them.

  • If you’ve had direct contact before, through them positively shouting out your product and communicating to you the benefit for them. You should encourage them to help you during the launch, providing them with your release information and perhaps the internal beta for them to test for themselves. This strengthens their recommendation if they can demonstrate what they love about your product. Using this they’ll be able to talk about your product on social media, in the same tone, this time focussed on your newest upgrade.

  • If they’ve previously complimented your product but not got in touch with you before, then now is the perfect time to outreach to them. Mentioning their previous comments and how now would be the perfect time to work together.

  • If you’re aware of an influencer, who could be closely aligned with your brand’s marketing, then you could reach out to them. Depending on their willingness, you could offer them a cash incentive to further persuade them.

You should also look at their level of influence; outwardly as well as in niche communities. This will inform you how wide their reach will be, you should also consider whether this reach has the purchase power of their followers or is just an empty metric.

Depending on what territories you’re influencer is based in, they also may need to include a disclosure, depending on whether you’re influencer has been paid for their post.

Cliffe Spence Tweet

This picture retweeted by Framer is a perfect example, of someone’s convincing recommendation being able to persuade those on the fence about a product.

As well as this retweeted Medium post from a Framer user, detailing how the app improved his design mindset.

Framer Tweet

S4: Crafting the right landing page

What makes a great landing page?

With your product already in the bag, your landing page should be your priority. This is where users scope out your product and either convert or exit the site.

We talked to Marc Edwards from Bjango about his best practices for a good landing page.

Bjango Screenshot

Paddle: What is the best way to present a landing page and CTA?
Marc: We take a very direct approach. The top of the page shows an elevator pitch for the app. The Download and Buy buttons are near the top. All new features are listed under that, followed by everything else. If the page is long, we replicate the Download and Buy buttons again. This covers the two main scenarios:

  1. Someone knows they want iStat Menus 6, so they can quickly download or buy without scrolling.
  2. Someone isn’t sure if they want iStat Menus, so they read the page first, then download or buy.

What customer flow works best for you?
Our main goal is for people to download the software so they can trial it. We hope to convince them through use that it is good. That’s it! It’s a very simple, transparent and direct transaction.

Documentation

Documentation is very hard to get right, it should reflect a variety of perspectives; those curious about what the product offers, those keen to get started and finally people who are unclear about certain aspects. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between all three.

Titles are an important part of users being able to navigate your documentation. Instead of one word titles outlining the sections, use it as a chance to answer your user’s immediate questions when arriving at the section.

Having annotated screenshots of the process, will definitely cut down on time spent finding a solution. Certain users may only need help with one facet of an issue, seeing a screenshot of the solution process allows them to scroll and work at a faster pace. You should also consider using video tutorials for more involved processes, where a second by second wouldn’t miss any gaps in the process.

Whilst you should definitely own your own documentation, making it open source is a potential option. This creates a sense of community for other users to being informed by those using the product just like them. By allowing it be open-sourced, users will hone in on what’s relevant and how it can be fixed. Even just by adding a comments section or a “was this helpful?” button allows you to gain a feedback loop on what’s working.

Having to rework sample code mentioned in a solution to is a developer bugbear. If code is involved in a solution; have it an a markdown format that can easily be copy and pasted. Making it easier for developers to try out your API.

Folivora have well designed documentation that is user-friendly, with well labelled sections that ascend in their depth of information for users.

Documentation 1

They’ve use a step-by-step bullet point approach, also incorporating gifs of what actions need to be completed. They also offer related sections for those seeking further information on the topic.

Customer flows

The ideal customer flows leads the customer in smoothly and allows you to convert them with little to no hassle on their part.

Live-chat greeting copy best practices

Having greeting-copy allows you to engage a casual visitor to your site and turn them into a customer.

Visitors who’ve been engaged are more likely to share their initial doubts, stopping them from converting. This allows you to deal with them head-on and persuade them of your value. Gaining crucial customer feedback at the same time. You’re also less likely to miss out on a customer issue. If they leave a message, you can just return back to it in a timely manner.

You can engage with customers in a variety of situations with direct copy;

  • Asking a new customer “how can I help?”
  • Asking a returning customer “welcome back, anything I can help with?
  • Engaging a returning visitor with an unfulfilled purchase “we noticed you haven’t checked out yet, is there anything we can help with?”
  • Engaging a visitor lingering on the pricing page “looking to choose a plan for you?”

Flixel’s live-chat is a great example of covering questions that people may have, before they use their service.

Documentation 2

Demo Video best practices

Having a video available of your product, is a great way to convert time-strapped users.

Writing a clear script of what will happen in the video and each shot’s duration. If there’s a voiceover be clear in what features you want to get across and how it would excite your audience.

A mesmerizing opening is key, you need to talk directly to your audience. This isn’t just a chance to screencast you using the product. Engage people with an offer they can’t refuse, your product should offer value for them, all in the first few seconds. Keep it short; you don’t have to showcase every facet, just the features that will get people hooked.

Avoid information overload. You’ve worked hard on a product and it’s technically amazing, but that’s maybe not the first thing your audience wants to hear. You should address the problem that they’re having and how your product solves it.

Agenda Demo

Agenda’s page perfectly utilizes a demo video, drawing in the visual appeal of their note-taking app. Instead of an embedded Youtube video, they have a full web-based animation. Its deliberately slow pacing, draws you in on how note-taking has progressed and how they differ from their competitors. This approach of emotional branding works best for apps that need to have a strong USP when marketing to customers.

In Conclusion

We’ve reviewed the wide variety of launch elements to plan and how to mobilize your audience to gain the widest coverage from your launch.

We’ve already delved into billing and pricing. The next step is to take a look at our forthcoming e-book, featuring exclusive data and advice from more software companies! So if you want to make the most of your launch, subscribe now to receive more helpful guides in the future!