We just had a crazy sleepless month, and the next month sounds even crazier. Just two weeks after our new promotion launch on AppSumo, more than 3,000 new businesses joined Formaloo, and every day, more are signing up compared to the day before.
In this story, I want to talk about our experience on how Formaloo became one of the best-selling tools and also an AppSumo launch checklist you can use to ensure a successful launch here.
How to launch on AppSumo
Our story began around three months before our launch. We were just reached out by Genevieve, a Business Development Manager in AppSumo to talk about a possible launch on AppSumo. I had a limited understanding of how AppSumo helps promote startups and how they operated.
We had a couple of calls with them and their team showed us a clear vision and plan of what this promotion is going to achieve. I was impressed by their dedication and being result-oriented.
Our collaboration made a lot of sense, they have a huge network of no-code enthusiasts, startups, agencies, and freelancers that are looking for the best tools to grow their business. On the other hand, we were changing our focus from big enterprises to SMEs and SMBs. So it was a perfect match!
I learned a lot from our launch, so I want to share with you the checklist we had and revised many times since then, that I think made our launch more successful.
Setting up the AppSumo product page
1. Set up your Product Detail Page
2. Think of a killer title for your page!
Let’s face it, 80% of visitors won’t open your product page, no matter how great you are. BUT, they’ll see your title.
Don’t be boring and simply tell what you do. Think of fun ways to differentiate your product from others. A hook that will attract your audience.
3. Add an eye-catching description for your product
It’s not only about your startup, it’s about the story behind your startup. Why did you start this company? What do you do? And, How do you do it? How are you better than others?
People love to know about the history of your company, your challenges, and your achievements. So tell them your story!
Talking about features could become boring very fast! A good practice is that always state the benefit and value of the most important features you have instead. By stating their benefits, people are more likely to understand them and give them a try.
Also, by stating their benefits clearly, you can make your features attractive and discover what’s not working. If a feature cannot clearly be communicated via its benefits, something is wrong.
4. A picture is worth a thousand words
Most people won’t even read your description, but they’ll look at your banners and graphic designs. Make sure they’re both beautiful and in line with your branding.
Each banner should have a clear “message” and a “unique audience”. Think of each banner as an informative billboard for a specific group of customers, not all of them.
5. Add relevant contact links to your account (Helpdesk, Knowlege base, Support, Twitter, LinkedIn, Website, etc.)
6. Add contact links for yourself too!
People like to be able to get in touch with co-founders, so make yourself available and add your contact info as well. Make sure you’re active in the community and participate. You can learn a lot from your customers!
7. Prepare launch strategy
The goal could not simply be more sales and more awareness. These are end results, your strategy will make all the difference. Your strategy should first of all focus on “why” and then “how”.
You can’t attract everyone, and you shouldn’t try to. You should have a specific target group and you should have a damn good reason why you chose this group of customers rather than others.
“Stop trying to make everyone happy. You’re not tequila.”
Try to focus your product on a very specific group of customers. It’s better to have a small segment of your customers “love” your product rather than a large segment of them just “like” your product.
When the “why” and the “target” is clear, then the strategy on how to attract them, what to do before launch day, what to do during the campaign, and what to do after the campaign is over will become so much clear.
Learning about your audience and building a community
8. Study similar products and your alternatives
No product is unique and without alternatives. Research and study all of your alternatives. No alternative is too small if your customers are using them instead of you.
9. Get inspiration from successful launches and take notes
10. Learn from the mistakes of your competitors
A good practice is to monitor your competitors very closely. Use their mistakes as your leverage and learn from their good practices.
11. Reach out to the people who use similar products
Learn what’s important for your target customers, what do they like about those products, and what they hate about them. Look for clues in their experiences to make your product better and more useful for them.
12. Value beta testers’ opinions and instincts
One of the great practices that AppSumo does, is that they ask a few tech enthusiasts to deeply test your product before launch. Take note of their feedback, and what they didn’t mention!
Early adopters and tech enthusiasts can be harsh but they can save you thousands of dollars by showing you what’s necessary, what they don’t want, and what could be better.
It’s always better to fix what you have rather than add some new feature that might work. UX and CX are not one-time jobs, it’s a process. Your product can always be better, but as long as you make it just a little bit better every day, your customers will be happy.
13. Join and contribute to relevant communities on Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms
14. Reply to relevant questions on forums (Reddit, Quora, ProductHunt, Indie Hackers, etc.)
15. Test everything
In the history of software, there was not even one that’s bug-free! We work with Google, Facebook, and Microsoft services every day and you won’t believe the bugs that even they have.
That being said, buggy experiences are one of the primary reasons why people will leave a product. So product testing should be at the center of every team in your organization.
A best practice that I’ve seen for testing is to, whenever possible, use your own product in your company. Using your own product constantly will show you what’s really working and what’s really not, even if it’s not a bug.
16. Make sure your onboarding process is perfect
Making a great first impression is maybe the most important job of your product. Every step from visiting your website/app for the first time, signing up, setting up their dashboard to really start using your product should be as smooth and as enjoyable as possible.
Remove unnecessary steps, make your sign-up page as lean as possible. Don’t ask for too much information, you won’t need it.
Make sure any lead can visit your website, signup, and start using your product in less than a minute.
The second part is harder even, especially for B2B startups: Make sure people can use your product from the very start. I’m not talking about product tours and intro slides, I’m talking about enabling people to get their hands as fast and easy as possible to “what they need”.
17. Don’t make your users start from 0!
Make sure you have some kind of “Jump Start”: Templates, Samples, anything that they can duplicate and customize to reach their desired outcome faster.
18. Create a “community” around your product
This maybe is the most important checklist. Community is the key that makes a product successful. The first members of any community are die-hard fans of that product. Having a community is not about communication, it’s about “finding new opportunities” to make the product even better.
Big corporations pay big bucks to marketing firms, focus groups, and management consulting firms to understand what’s working in their product and what’s not. You can have a much better version of that when you talk directly to your most active customers!
Your community will provide feedback and perspective that’s priceless. Your community will find new ways to use your product that you couldn’t even imagine before, thus unlocking the hidden opportunities for the future of the product.
The community will help a product to “evolve” to an idea that’s bigger than the product itself. Don’t underestimate the power of crowdsourcing, it could be your biggest ally.
When we started creating our community of no-coders, we wanted people to be attracted to Formaloo and use it, but soon enough, it went bigger than that. Now no-code experts are teaching us how to make Formaloo, and other no-code tools, better just by sharing their points of view.
For creating your community, I would suggest picking a platform where your customers are most active. We picked Facebook over Slack or LinkedIn but based on your product, you might find a different platform to be the right choice.
Building and improving your product in public
19. Make sure your landing pages are crystal clear for your audience, not just a bunch of taglines
20. Create a public roadmap
Roadmaps are not just for showing what’s coming up to your product. It shows your vision, your long-term goals.
It also can play a major role in creating your community, if you involve your customers to play a part in the development of your product. When we created our roadmap, we wanted to hear what our users needed and the reason behind it. That’s why we implemented a voting system so our customers can vote on the next features and select them, just like a democracy.
The features with the most votes will be chosen and published first. Crowdsourcing ideas and features can open you up to a bigger world.
For creating our roadmap we used Formaloo, the other good platforms to do this are Canny and Frill.
21. It’s ok to say no to feature requests if they’re not aligned with your vision. It’s actually important to practice saying NO.
22. Actively invite people to be part of your community
23. Share your progress and keep a changelog
24. Have an active blog and write about your product and your stories
25. People search for “use-cases” and “case-studies” more than anything else, make sure you cover both extensively
26. Don’t be afraid to ask for 1:1 meetings with your target audience to share your product and get feedback
27. Create as many tutorials as you can. Video is the winning media right now
28. Create a database of all comments, feedback, and reviews that you’ve received in every channel and analyze what they mean
Getting ready for launch week
29. Double-check every aspect of your product, website, and helpdesk
30. Prepare your team for any scenario possible
31. Make sure your infrastructure can handle all the extra traffic on every level. It’s best to run a couple of stress tests.
32. Prepare social media posts, banners, graphic designs
33. Prepare announcements for communities, channels, and groups
34. Clear your calendar for the launch day and a day before and after (The first 3–5 days are hectic)
35. Prepare weekly email updates for your early users (Use a workflow automation tool like Drip, Sendinblue, etc. to automate this)
36. Double-check all the details of your product detail page
37. Update your roadmap
38. Update your landing page with the latest features and social proof
39. Schedule your emails, social media posts, and announcements
40. Make sure your analytics are in place to track all of that extra traffic
41. Prioritize the customer support
All successful startups have one thing in common: They invest heavily in customer success and customer support. Every team member in your organization should help with customer support. Some organizations take this even further, for example, all employees of Automattic, the company behind WordPress, start their job there by working for at least 1 month as a customer support agent! That’s how important this is.
Prepare your team for an extraordinary amount of support requests. It’s best to have your team work in shifts to cover the timezone differences of all of your users.
Most of your users don’t have an issue when they contact you, they just have a question or couldn’t find something that they need. So for your and your customers’ sake, create a full helpdesk and knowledge base system that covers everything basic and advanced in your product.
Make sure you have:
- FAQ Pages
- Helpdesk and Ticketing system
- Knowledge base, use-cases, and samples
- Live chat
- Product tours and video tutorials
It’s best if all of these are linked together so you can save time. We use a combination of Intercom and Formaloo for our whole system. Other good options are Crisp and Helpshelf.
Setting yourself up for success on launch day
42. Announce everywhere you can! Make a huge buzz!
43. Update your social media profiles with a links
44. Ask your current customers to promote the launch too
45. Check if all scheduled automated tasks worked perfectly
46. Post in your active groups, forums, and communities
47. Reply to all comments, emails, reviews, and questions as fast as possible
48. Share progress and goals on social media at the end of the day, week, and month
49. Forget about going to sleep 😉
What to do after launch?
It’s very easy: Go back to the first step, and repeat! Again and again. The job is not done.
When you have come this far, the only remaining job is to get better, every day. So make sure to not only update your product but to supercharge your community, your roadmap, your support, and every single aspect from UI, UX, CX, and any other X that you can think of.