A 12-Step Product Launch Checklist That Works
“Houston, we’ve got a problem.”
Launching a product isn’t as sophisticated as launching a spaceship, but it’s not easy. A successful product launch requires many steps. One small mistake and you will not just generate fewer sales, but also hurt your brand reputation.
To ensure you get each element right, we’ve created a product launch checklist to guide you before, during, and after your launch. We also created a free downloadable checklist you can quickly refer to.
Here’s the product launch checklist where we explain each step in detail.
1. Conduct audience research
Understanding the audience is the most crucial part of your product launch. So, start doing audience research before launching your product to ensure you create a product people actually want to buy. Audience research includes quantitative and qualitative research.
Quantitative research: This involves research through website analytics. You will be analyzing how your audience interacts with your site using data such as website traffic, page views per visit, bounce rate, link clicks, and scroll percentage. This helps you understand their interests and preferences better. You can use Google Analytics and a heat map tool like Plerdy (it also records the number of visitors) to collect this data.
You can also go through data from benchmark reports created by competitors and research organizations in your niche. For example, if you were analyzing your email marketing, you can go through reports such as this one from GetResponse.
Studies like this will help you gather a lot more information as they include data from several websites. You can use this data to compare your results against your competitors and see where you stand.
It is known as quantitative research as you study hard facts, as opposed to qualitative research where you focus on the opinions and feelings of the target audience..
Qualitative research: This is the data you get by analyzing a smaller set of audiences through surveys, polls, and interviews.
Qualitative audience research provides audience feedback about what’s working for your product and what’s not. Users can share their opinions and feelings (not measured by data) about your product.
While doing the research, you might also want to note down industry benchmarks as they will make it easier to set realistic goals for your launch.
2. Position your product with the right offer
By offers, we don’t mean discounts or a buy-one-get-one-free promotion. We’re referring to how you use the research to position your product to appeal to its target audience.
This is one of the critical aspects of a product launch that many people forget. Positioning your product as a solution to your audience’s pain point will help you drive more sales.
Amazon’s marketing strategy for their Amazon Fire Tablets is a great example of positioning. Around the time Amazon launched its tablet, other companies, such as Samsung, launched tablets that struggled to compete with the Apple iPad.
So, instead of marketing it as an iPad alternative, Amazon positioned the Fire Tablets as a different type of affordable tablet they could get for just $199 and drove a ton of sales.
Apple and its competitors position their tablets as advanced hardware with powerful batteries, cameras, storage space and promote its various functionalities and slap a hefty price tag. While Amazon positioned its tablet as a basic option for reading books, watching movies, and listening to music.
Amazon released the Amazon Fire (formerly Kindle Fire) in late 2011, and by October 2012, it became the second-best-selling tablet with 7 million sales (right behind the iPad).
3. Choose a goal
Of course, the goal of the launch is to generate more sales. But how many sales do you want and in what time period?
You need to choose a particular outcome here. You can figure this out by analyzing your past launches to see how many sales you generated. If this is your first launch, refer to the industry benchmark and calculate yours. You can use studies like the above mentioned one from GetResponse or this one from Unbounce. You can look for more through Google search.
Choosing a goal simplifies formulating a strategy and gives your team something to focus on. It will also make it easy to measure results during and after the launch. This will help you determine if the launch was a success or a failure. Tracking the goal constantly through the launch can also help you pivot a failing campaign towards success by making modifications.
4. Come up with a plan and time frame
Your plan should detail your path to the goal. Write down every step you will take including the time frame of the launch. Be as detailed as possible with the steps in your plan.
Include the dates on which you will go through a specific process. You can use project planning software to break down the plan into tasks and assign it to the different teams involved in the launch.
After you create the plan and assign tasks, you can have a Q&A session where members can ask questions. You can modify your strategy based on these questions and make things clearer.
5. Create a minimum viable funnel
If you are creating a funnel for the first time, avoid complicated funnels with dozens of steps. Instead, create a minimum viable funnel (MVF). An MVF is a basic funnel that will help you get the desired sales.
Your MVF will vary depending on the product you are promoting.
For example, if you sell a course or another product that costs more than $100, you can create a webinar funnel like this one from Amy Porterfield.
This funnel includes a webinar, webinar landing page, reminder emails, follow-up emails, and a sales page. In this funnel, people will sign up and watch the webinar. You can then pitch the product at the end of the webinar and in the follow-up emails and send them to a sales page where they can buy the product.
If you are promoting an ecommerce product that costs less than $100, you could use a much simpler funnel. This could include the product page, thank you page, and follow-up emails like this one from Chewy.
Allow some time to test out the MVF. If it generates sufficient sales, you can build on it with upsells, cross-sells, and other elements. But if the funnel tanks, you can create a new MVF from scratch.
6. Set up tracking
You will only know if your funnel is working if you track results from the start. So, install the tracking code as soon as you set up the MVF. For tracking webpages, you can use a tool like Google Analytics. If you add its tracking code to your website, you can check out the number of visits and details such as visitors’ demographics.
Google Analytics also has a Goals feature that helps you track the sales and leads you generate from your launch campaign.
If you are sending traffic using paid methods, you might also want to add the pixel provided by the platform. It will help you check if the traffic converts to leads and sales. The pixel will even help you retarget people who visited your website from the ad.
You might also want to use a heat map and screen recording software to gather even more data.
Along with tracking webpages, you should track your email opens and clicks. Most email service providers like Mailchimp allow you to do this.
7. Have an organized customer support plan
Customer support should be an essential part of your product launch. During the launch, customers will have questions about the product. So, add the chat widget or contact button to your landing page as Marie Forleo did here for her B-School course.
People can either browse through the FAQs and find the answer or contact support.
You can also let people contact you via other methods such as phone and email. Tools like Intercom make it easy to offer excellent customer support.
A good customer support system will also help you improve your funnel as customers can point out issues that prevent them from buying. This could be a slow-loading website or a button not working.
8. Start with organic methods
You can announce the launch of your product through organic methods such as social media, press releases, and email and start sending traffic after the MVF and customer support system are up. Marketers usually face a dilemma at this stage of the launch as they’re unsure if they should start with organic or paid methods.
Paid methods can help you send an unlimited amount of traffic and quickly figure out if your funnel works. But if the funnel performs poorly with paid traffic, it could lead to considerable loss.
This is why it is best to start with organic methods. Organic methods won’t lead to a loss, but you can expect limited traffic. If you decide to go the organic route, you can start by sharing your landing pages with your email list like Todd Brown did here.
You could also share the landing page on social media and place ads for your products on your blog.
Another organic method you can try is to list your product on the AppSumo Marketplace. It’s a great place to reach over one million customers for free.
You can list software, online courses, templates, ebooks, and WordPress plugins.
9. Optimize funnel with data
Organic traffic sources will help you gather some data about the effectiveness of your MVF. If it generates optimum sales, you can simply add other elements such as upsells and cross-sells to it and drive more organic traffic to see how well they convert. But if the funnel generates few sales, consider creating a new one from scratch.
You can also split test landing pages, sales pages, checkout pages, and emails in your funnel to see which one works best. Don’t just look at sales while split testing. Also, pay attention to other KPIs such as bounce rate, page views, and time spent.
10. Scale with paid methods
After you have a funnel that works, you can implement paid methods to scale traffic. But take baby steps here too. Just because you have a funnel that generates sales, it doesn’t mean that you can go all out and spend thousands of dollars from the start.
Running ads is like a science experiment. You must create several versions of your ad and split test them simultaneously to see which one generates the most traffic and sales. Here’s a simple process and some tips for creating an ad:
- Start by getting tools like Canva and BeatFflyer to make your creatives.
- Try to use more videos in your ads, as they have a 7.5X higher click-through rate than images. Video ads can seem complicated to make, but tools like Beatflyer will make your job easy. You can create a simple one like this ad from SlideQuest.
- After that, you can write the copy and publish the ads.
You can run each ad at a $5 a day budget for a week or two. This should be sufficient time for you to find a winner that generates the highest ROAS (return on ad spend). Once you find it, you can simply pause the others and scale the budget for the winner.
11. Accompany with influencer marketing
Another paid tactic you can use with ads is influencer marketing. This can sometimes achieve better results than any of the above methods because people trust recommendations from people who don’t directly work at your company more than what you say about yourself.
Some influencers (especially micro-influencers) will promote your product for free if you give it for free. In contrast, those with large followings will charge you upfront.
If you don’t want to risk paying an influencer upfront, you can try affiliate marketing. This is where influencers promote your product using a special link, and they get a percentage of the sale for everyone who purchases it after visiting through that link.
For some affiliate marketing ideas, check out Adam Preiser’s WPCrafter.com’ YouTube channel.
He regularly publishes videos like this one and shares affiliate links to tools he mentions in the video, in the description.
12. Get customer feedback
At the end of the launch, you should use a survey to get customer feedback. There should be two surveys—one for people who purchased the product and one for those who didn’t. Use these surveys to figure out what helped you generate the sale and what other products the customers are interested in so that you can create them.
And through the survey for people who didn’t buy, you can figure out if they didn’t purchase because your promotion didn’t work or if they just weren’t interested in the product. If they aren’t interested in the product, find out what they want. This could be something you can make.
Now use the product launch checklist to get maximum sales
There are so many steps to a product launch, but these are the crucial ones. To help you quickly recollect these steps, we have created a product launch checklist you can download for free.
You might also want to check out the AppSumo store. We have deals on software, templates, and ebooks that will help you generate maximum sales.