If your software-as-a-service (SaaS) company is just starting out, here are a few questions that probably didn’t come up too often during the product concept and development phases:
- How do you launch a SaaS product?
- What measures do you need to take to prepare for the launch, implement your marketing strategy, and onboard new users during the post-launch stage?
- Do you need to track any metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)?
To help answer these questions, we've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide that walks you through the various phases of a SaaS product launch cycle. You can use this software product launch plan to reach your sales targets, show prospective customers how you solve their problems, and retain these customers long-term.
Step 1: Pre-launch marketing and research
Doing your due diligence at the start makes it easier to tick off boxes from your SaaS product launch checklist and deal with unexpected hiccups later.
Use the following steps to understand your operational environment and create a solid foundation:
Perform competitor research
According to Grand View Research, the global SaaS market was valued at $165.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.0% from 2022 to 2028. Unless you're developing truly revolutionary or groundbreaking technology, you likely already have competitors.
Analyze these competitors and their products to identify your competitive advantage. Determine if there are customer pain points that are going unresolved that your product can take care of. One of the best ways to realize there is a market vacuum you can fill is by talking to past, prospective, or target customers about solutions they have tried, what they liked about them, and what was missing.
Know your unique selling point (USP)
Performing market research will also enable you to recognize your unique selling points (USPs). A unique selling point is an overlap between market demand and what your SaaS product does better than anyone else. It's what makes customers choose you over your competitors and can be central to future marketing efforts.
Get feedback from friends and current customers
Start small initially and invite only friends, family members, and existing customers to test out your SaaS product. While there may be some bias but these people are more likely to think carefully about their feedback. Best of all, it takes little to no effort to reach out to them.
Identify your target audience and develop buyer personas
According to a Price Intelligently survey, 99% of SaaS businesses couldn't describe their buyer personas beyond a few generalities. You need to do better than that. There are several buyer personas for B2B SaaS buyers, each with a different motivation and goal. Research your target market and use this information to develop your brand messaging and marketing tactics for the product launch.
Step 2: Product rollout strategy
By this point, you should have already done your market research and refined your product based on that feedback. Now, it’s time to roll out your go-to-market strategy and obtain leads that convert to paying customers.
Here are some ideas to help with that:
Product promotion using product launch platforms
Product launch platforms can be a great way to create hype around your product and showcase it to potential customers. Research different platforms, such as Reddit, Product Hunt, and BetaList, and choose one that fits your requirements and budget.
SEO content marketing
Content creation with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind can be your friend during a SaaS product launch, but only if you combine it with SEO marketing efforts to reach the top rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). According to a SEMrush report, when it comes to content marketing, 42% of brands are taking their first steps, 36% say they have fairly developed operations, and only 19% believe they have a mature system.
Providing value should be at the core of your SEO content strategy. Keep your blog posts and landing pages informative and educational to establish yourself as a thought leader and increase the number of people searching for your content. Results don’t come overnight, so patience and persistence are equally important.
If your budget allows, paid advertising through Google Ads or social media can speed up your customer acquisition and SEO content marketing efforts.
Influencers and word of mouth
Social media celebrities who have already connected with your target audience and gained their trust can help push your product promotion to new heights. You can find these influencers on your own or contact a professional agency to reach out to them on your behalf.
Word-of-mouth marketing is another powerful tool in your product launch arsenal. Make it easy for people to recommend your product to their social groups by providing one-click links. Remember to give perks and celebrate these advocates publicly.
Launching a new SaaS product and acquiring customers can often be an uphill battle despite your best efforts. A well-executed product demo can turn the tide in your favor and convince prospects of the potential benefits of your product.
If you’re concerned about creating and running a bug-free demo environment, and the time and resources involved, consider using a demo experience platform like Demostack. We enable SaaS companies to create, share, and analyze personalized demos that can be incredibly convincing and helpful for prospective customers.
Check out this webinar to see how we helped Gloat design customized demos for analyst briefings and events.
Use storytelling to build your brand recognition
Stories appeal to human emotions and can be a potent message-delivery medium. Incorporate storytelling within your brand messaging to leave a lasting impression on your audience and convert them into loyal customers. Describe what prompted you to create the product, why you care about what you’re trying to achieve, and connect with prospects on a deeper level.
Track the following metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your SaaS product launch strategy:
- Conversion rates: Some important conversion metrics to track can be visitor-to-signup rate and signup-to-customer conversion rate.
- Percentage of users reaching the activation point: This metric tracks the number of prospects who realize the value of your product after experiencing the free trial.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC): An important metric that shows how much it costs you to acquire new customers.
Step 3: Post-launch user onboarding process
Your software product launch efforts are finally bearing fruit and new users are signing up for your product. In this final step, you must capitalize on the momentum you’ve created and focus on making the new user onboarding experience as smooth as possible.
Here are some methods you can use to improve your post-launch phase:
Segment users according to roles and personalize their experience
Have a customized welcome screen that includes a quick survey on how the user plans on using your product. Use this information to divide them according to roles and personalize the rest of their user experience (UX).
Provide interactive guided tours to help them get started
If your SaaS product is complex or has a steep learning curve, it's a good idea to provide interactive guided tours that remove friction points and educate new users on product features while keeping them engaged.
Gather feedback to optimize your product
Customer feedback, negative or positive, can give you valuable insights into how to improve your product and service. Users can also help identify bugs or other UX issues.
Demostack: Your essential SaaS product launch tool
With Demostack, you can create customizable demos, product tours, and leave-behind sandboxes before your product is even live. The process can be as easy as entering a URL into our platform and getting a perfect showcase-ready clone of your product within minutes. You can also collect user insights and track relevant demo metrics to gauge engagement levels and improve your demo delivery.
Frequently asked questions
How do I find my first SaaS customer?
You can usually find your first SaaS customer by leveraging your network. Ask friends, former co-workers, or acquaintances for introductions and referrals. Another good way to find customers is to spread the word on your social media pages.
What are examples of some SaaS products?
Famous examples of SaaS products include:
- Netflix’s on-demand video software.
- Slack’s cloud-based collaboration platform.
- Salesforce's customer relationship management (CRM) platform.