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So, you're trying to launch a SaaS product of your own, are you? If you're looking to reach the same level of success as the likes of ServiceNow, Zoom, Slack, and Miro—this one's for you.

If you don't mind me "breaking the fourth wall" for a moment, I sometimes wonder how to introduce a topic and capture your attention, in hopes of inspiring and aiding you in your endeavors.

I could start by asking, “Did you know that, only 40% of products successfully reach the market? And, that within this 40%, only ~60% generate any form of revenue?”

Then again, I'm not one for scare tactics.

or am i GIF

My forte is music, so when listening to the song How Many Mics by The Fugees from their iconic album The Score, I realized that with a satirical angle, it speaks so much to successfully launching a SaaS Product.

Pick up your go-to-market strategy, ha-ha
Pick up your go-to-market strategy

How many SaaS Products are launched on the daily?/
Me say many money, Say me say many, many, many/
How many Saas Products are launched on the daily?/
Say me say many money, Say me say many, many, many/

I get mad frustrated when I launch/
Thinking of all them SaaS products who try to do this/
For all the wrong reasons/
Seasons change, mad things rearrange/
But it all stays the same, like the love Doctor, Strange/

(If this doesn’t make sense, here’s the source material. Funky, right?)

That’s why, in the article ahead, we will look at what makes SaaS product launches so unique, the challenges most SaaS orgs face (and why you should push forward anyway), the phases involved, and some hot tips to nail your SaaS product launch campaign.

What Makes Software Launches Unique?

Product launches are always exciting, but they generally involve the same core components:

  • Understanding the market
  • Building a product 
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • Launching the product
  • Collecting feedback

A SaaS solution, though, is a different animal, particularly for four key reasons...

The product is intangible. 

A massive challenge with any non-physical is—you guessed it! — customers can’t touch or feel it. Marketing and demonstrating value are more challenging as a result.

It’s global from the get-go. 

A software launch can have a worldwide impact from day one. This is different from most physical products, which demand complex supply chain logistics.

The product is iterative by nature. 

A SaaS product is never finished. The launch is just the beginning, with subsequent versions released regularly. Again something that isn’t typical for physical products. Take Marshmallow Fluff, for example, which hasn’t really changed since 1917.

SaaS products offer many different monetization models

So many ways to make money. Think about one-time purchases, subscriptions, advertising, or freemium models. Choosing the right product pricing strategy is crucial for a successful launch.

Challenges Of Entering The SaaS Marketplace

I hear you muttering, “How hard could it be? I’ll just take it head-on and launch my SaaS product.” 

Though you could do that, let’s first take a moment to think of the challenges that SaaS launches face so you can avoid making them. You probably can come up with a few just by looking at the different criteria that makes every SaaS product launch unique.

Global challenges

If you decide to launch your product worldwide immediately, you are in for a big surprise. Expanding into international markets requires dealing with cultural differences, language barriers, and compliance with local data security, privacy (e.g., GDPR, CCPA), and other regulations.

Managing fierce competition

Going global from the get-go means bracing yourself for a battle with many fearless competitors. Whereas in 2012, SaaS companies typically had fewer than three competitors on average, by 2018, this average grew to nine and has been increasing ever since.

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The need to differentiate

Finding market fit and differentiation are key to success in a competitive market. You must differentiate yourself from competitors to attract and retain customers. Finding a unique selling proposition (USP) and achieving product-market fit is even more challenging.

Catering to a buyer’s market

With many solutions to pick from, customers have high expectations for usability, performance, and customer support. Meeting or exceeding these expectations is critical for success. 

This also means that potential customers might not fully understand the benefits immediately. You need effective education and marketing to overcome this and demonstrate value.

Managing costs and profitability

Though various different monetization models sound great, it does mean you need to provide ongoing value to retain customers. This implies continuous investments in innovation and product development. It brings you the challenge of managing operating costs, including infrastructure, personnel, and so forth, in order to become profitable and grow.

Also, customer acquisition costs (CAC) tend to be expensive, especially if there’s a need for extensive marketing and sales efforts. You must carefully manage these to ensure profitability.

Increased competition and rapid technology developments make it very challenging for SaaS products to stay relevant over time. What’s popular today can easily become obsolete tomorrow. Customer centricity, short go-to-market, and continuous evolution to stay competitive and meet changing customer needs are crucial.

So, why do we do it anyway?

Now, these challenges don’t stop founders from launching their SaaS product, do they? Thank goodness! 

Over the course of my career, I’ve talked with many founders, and they all express a common quality that motivated them to launch their SaaS startups. That quality is passion!

GIF smells like potential

If you have a passion for something, especially if you’ve personally experienced or witnessed others facing the challenge you're trying to solve, SaaS offers a cheap way to test the waters.

It’s easier than ever before to connect with communities you believe would find your solution valuable and conduct a landing page test, smoke test, or create a crowdfunding campaign to validate user interest. Even building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be done cheaply.

The risk-versus-reward trade-off also makes SaaS attractive. The SaaS market is projected to reach 232 billion U.S. dollars in 2024. Lots of people want a piece of that pie!

Passion + Low-cost entry Barrier + Potential high rewards = Worth giving it a shot!

Phases Of A SaaS Product Launch

Before jumping into tips to nailing your product launch campaign, let’s take a short look at the three phases of a successful launch.

1. Pre-launch

In preparation for unleashing your product to the world, there are essentials that increase your chances of success. The pre-launch phase is about establishing the groundwork and crafting your launch strategy by covering three angles.

Understand the market and competition within

Knowledge is power. During the pre-launch phase, you'll conduct thorough market research to understand your competition and market landscape. Market research is about analyzing what sets your product apart from competitors and how it addresses unique pain points and gaps in the market. 

Ask yourself critical questions like:

  • What sets my product apart from the offerings of my competitors?
  • How does my product address pain points that others in the market fail to tackle?
  • Does my product share any similarities with existing solutions?

Define what makes you stand out

One key outcome of your market research is identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what distinguishes your product from all others in the market and why customers should care.

The USP is about finding the sweet spot between what your customers desire and what you excel at delivering. 

Determine your market and ideal customer

By understanding your market and defining your USP, you can determine your target market and create user personas representing your user groups. Include details such as characteristics, jobs to be done, challenges faced, collaboration needs, and the benefits gained from using your product. This information guides your marketing strategy and messaging.

2. Launch

In the launch phase, you use the information from the pre-launch phase to create and execute a mind-blowing go-to-market strategy.

Building a go-to-market strategy

Now I could write a lot about this but we have a go-to-market strategy guide, so I am going to encourage you to read it.

Establishing your launch metrics

The question you’ll need to ask yourself is, “What will make me happy with the outcome of the product launch?”

This is where you brainstorm and select your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and put SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Traceable) targets to them. 

A few you could consider are:

  • Monthly Active Users (MAU)
  • Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)
  • Conversion Rate (CR)

3. Post-Launch

After the launch, it’s all about measuring success and moving the needle on your KPIs. It contains two phases.

Aiding users in onboarding

It is essential to ensure that, once users register, they actively interact with your product and ultimately convert into paying customers. This requires effective user onboarding and follow-up. The path to success involves multiple stages, which we covered in our product onboarding guide.

Acquiring user feedback 

Gathering customer feedback is vital when trying to understand why the needle on your metrics are (or aren't) moving. This secret sauce uncovers those pesky pain points and empowers you to take action, making your product even more awesome. 

Top 10 Tips For Nailing Your Product Launch Marketing Campaign

As part of the launch phases, I highlighted the importance of having a go-to-market strategy. A badly executed marketing campaign results in high churn rates, increased win-back expenses, rising marketing costs, brand reputation damages, a competitive disadvantage, and—at the bottom line—impacts your business valuation.

imma put soap in your mouth GIF

So here are my 10 best tips on how to avoid botching your product launch through a bad marketing campaign.

Tip 1: Conduct comprehensive market research

I am specifically talking about the importance of brand and competitor research. 

Brand research helps you align your brand with your target audience and understand their perceptions. Knowing this, you can tailor your product launch messages effectively, ensure consistency, and build trust with them. 

Competitor research provides you with insight into your competitors, their target audiences, product positioning, pricing, and messaging. Knowing these data points allows you to tailor your strategy to fill gaps, capitalize on opportunities, and differentiate your product effectively. 

Additionally, it helps you set realistic benchmarks for success measurement.

Tip 2: Know your customers better than they know themselves

You won’t reap any campaign rewards when the target audience of the campaign is unclear—or worse, aimed at the wrong target audience.

This is why the effective use of user research tools is so crucial—robust, well-organized research helps you identify and understand your target audience. Knowing your target users inside and out helps you create tailored messages that address their needs and pain points and develop relevant content. 

It increases your chances of building trust with the right people and supports your campaign’s success.

Tip 3: Understand the unique value the product unlocks

If you can’t communicate the value of your product clearly and concisely, how do you expect your target audience to understand it? A strong value proposition that identifies your product's key differentiators and advantages is essential for your product launch marketing campaign. (74% of marketers agree!)

Your value proposition is the foundation for clear messaging, customer-centric targeting, competitive differentiation, and effective content creation. It guides the emphasis on benefits, ensures message consistency, and informs the call to action. 

Tip 4: Talk about how to unlock the unique value

To build on tip 3, the next tip is about product education. 

Whereas your value proposition provides a high-level holistic overview of the benefits, product education content gives users a deeper understanding of how to use the product’s features and reap its benefits. 

This content also reinforces your customer success team and helps to boost your product adoption rate.

Tip 5: Marketing Budget

Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon that—when the time to launch the product is near—most of the budget has been used to create the product. Little is left for marketing, which puts a huge constraint on reaching the target audience. 

It’s important to establish a marketing budget. You can do this based on a percentage of your projected revenue. How much? Well, for start-ups and early-stage companies, this could be anywhere from 15% up to 50% of the revenue.

Tip 6: A well-balanced marketing campaign spending

Having a budget is one thing, but your success depends on the marketing channels you pick. Do you want to spend your budget on social media, ads, influencers, public relations (PR), search engine optimized (SEO) content, customer events, a mix of them, or something else? You can only spend your money once, so choose wisely and use your research to figure out the best fit for the audience you're trying to reach. 

(Just sayin', social media is used by >85% of SaaS buyers as part of their decision-making process. Do with this information what you will.)

In addition, keep in mind that after launching the campaign, you want to sustain your marketing momentum. You’re going to need a budget for that. 

Tip 7: The importance of finding the right timing

I could understand why someone might think that, once a product is ready, it's best to launch it ASAP and start recovering your investment.

...Or is it?

What if the product is ready between Christmas and New Year's Day? Or during a period when a large number of your target customers are out of office?

The takeaway here is, use your research to define the best timing. Always. Timing is everything. 

Tip 8: Set realistic product expectations

Probably the worst thing you can ever do is over-promise. By that, I mean selling your product as more shiny and powerful than it actually is. Customers will come in with high expectations and will be let down quickly. The result? They churn.

To avoid disappointing your users, be honest and transparent and give customers realistic expectations. Consider formal independent testing to support any claims you make.

Tip 9: Test, test, test!!

Tip 8 brings us to tip 9: always test your product campaign materials before launching. 

Especially when the marketing campaign is developed in-house, bias tends to creep in undetected. You would be surprised at how often seemingly obvious things get past marketing teams who are too "in it" to see things from the customer's perspective.

A billboard uses a decorative font that makes the slogan 'This is Island flavor' appear to say 'This is bland flavor.'
Just think, a whole room full of execs didn't see the issue with this! Source: bmediagroup

Testing your campaign assists in refining and optimizing your marketing efforts. It helps improve messaging, segments audiences effectively, helps you select the right marketing channels, enhances conversion rates, and ensures alignment with your campaign goals. 

Think about testing the campaign through, for example, A/B testing, focus groups, surveys, social media engagement, or ad campaign testing to optimize your approach.

Tip 10: Evaluate and refine your marketing campaign over time

Launching the campaign is just the beginning. A well-run digital campaign should be data-driven—meaning you should be looking frequently at what's working, what's not, and optimizing your marketing spend accordingly.

Did you know that about two out of three customers buy products that have been around for a while, and only one out of five like to buy as soon as it launches?

Analyze data, gather customer feedback, and continually adapt your content and strategy. It’s an iterative process.

Prepare to launch in 3...2...1...

Today, we dove into the world of launching a successful SaaS product. Whether you dream of creating the next big thing or have already embarked on this journey, every SaaS product launch is a unique adventure with its own blend of challenges and triumphs.

While passion may drive you, it's essential to take time, allocate a budget, and think about the tactics you'll need to make your product launch campaign one that resonates with your potential customers and converts them to qualified leads (or, better yet, paying customers!)

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By Klaas Hermans

Klaas Hermans, has 10+ years experience in product management, digital and innovation, ensuring value delivery daily. He enjoys energizing and motivating teams that create and exceed product expectations.