- A SaaS product launch introduces your product to the market. This process can be divided into three phases: pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.
- Pre-launch is critical for a successful launch. This phase typically starts during product development and testing and involves tasks such as creating a launch plan, setting goals and metrics, promoting your product via various channels, and confirming the product’s technical readiness.
- After the product launch, it’s important to gather user feedback, evaluate your launch success, and decide on further improvements to your product and marketing strategy.
Imagine the moment when after months of building your SaaS product, you’re finally ready to make it available for users. You’ve designed an appealing user interface, written code, tested it, and deployed it to the production environment — it seems like everything is done and nothing is stopping you from releasing your SaaS product.
But there is another essential process your team has to go through: launching the product.
While deployment can be the final stage of the SaaS development lifecycle, a product launch is the beginning of making your SaaS software available for users and nurturing its success.
What is a SaaS product launch, and how should you plan this process to make your product succeed? You can find the answers in this article. We share best practices you can use to prepare for launch, tell you about the main launch activities, and explain how to maintain your product in the post-launch phase.
Overview of a SaaS product launch
A SaaS product launch refers to introducing your product to the market. It is a complex process that involves various marketing activities aimed at raising interest in your product among potential customers.
Launching a product is not the responsibility of developers but rather your sales and marketing teams. When you hire a software development team, they focus on building and delivering a high-quality product, while your internal team works toward building a solid SaaS product launch strategy. The role of developers, QA engineers, and other technical specialists is to prepare the product itself for release, not to prepare a market for it.
Launching a product usually means releasing new software, but a product launch also takes place when you migrate to a SaaS business model and make significant changes to your existing product: implement a SaaS application architecture, redesign your app, or rewrite code.
You can enter the market with either a minimum viable product (MVP) or a full-featured SaaS solution. As a SaaS development company, we find the best option is to create an MVP and launch it before continuing to improve your product. Why? There are a few reasons:
- You can enter the market faster with fewer investments.
- You can get feedback from early adopters and validate your product idea.
- You can identify flaws and plan improvements at an early stage.
Overall, launching a minimum viable product first will save you time and money and give you an opportunity to implement changes with fewer risks.
Now that you know what a SaaS launch is, let’s dive deeper and explore all the essential steps this process involves.
Pre-launch phase: How to get ready for a SaaS product launch
While you might associate a SaaS product launch with the end of development, that’s not quite true. Launching your software doesn’t happen once when the product itself is ready but rather overlaps with all SaaS lifecycle stages, including discovery, development, testing, and deployment. Announcing your product’s release requires thoughtful preparation, so you need to go through a pre-launch phase first.
How should your team prepare for a product launch? There are many aspects to focus on, from creating a launch plan to deciding on pricing options, considering a smooth onboarding process, and ensuring the product’s technical readiness. Let’s explore them in detail.
Start with market research
A good launch is organized and consistent. You need a well-thought-out plan that will align your team’s launch efforts with your business goals. A SaaS product launch plan includes comprehensive information about your target audience, a unique value proposition, marketing channels and activities, launch goals, and metrics to track launch results. And work on your plan starts with proper market research.
The good news is you probably have already done market research during the startup discovery phase — the beginning of every SaaS product development process. You know your competitors and their advantages and disadvantages. You also know your target audience and their needs. You may even have already created a proof of concept or proof of value and defined your unique selling proposition.
What you should do now is review the results of your discovery phase and refine your list of competitors, target audience, and unique selling proposition to reflect the current market situation. Did new players enter the market while you were working on your product? Does a company in your niche plan to release new software in the near future? Have customers’ expectations or behavior changed? You need to keep up to date on all these details to make sure your launch strategy is relevant to the current market.
This information will lay the foundation for your launch plan. After market research, you can decide when it’s best to launch, whom you will target, and what value you can offer your customers to stand out from the crowd.
Set goals and metrics to evaluate launch results
What do you want to achieve with your SaaS product launch? All companies share the common goal of having their product succeed in the market. But how will you measure your success? You need to set precise goals and decide on key metrics that will help you evaluate the results of your launch efforts. It’s the next step in preparing for your product launch.
We recommend setting SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. With well-formulated goals, you will be able to assess if you’ve reached them.
Goals are strongly connected to metrics, which are quantitative measurements that help to track the results of your SaaS product launch and your product’s acceptance by customers. Here are a few metrics you can track:
- The onboarding completion rate shows how many users finish the sign-up process. The higher the completion rate, the better.
- Time to value shows how much time it takes for a user to get the value they want from your product. Usually, it measures the time it takes a user to move from a free to a paid subscription. The lower the time to value, the better.
- The customer acquisition cost shows how much it costs you to acquire a certain number of customers during the launch. The lower the customer acquisition cost, the more cost-effective your approach to acquiring customers.
- The customer churn rate shows the ratio between sign-ups and canceled subscriptions. If more users come to your SaaS product than go, your product is succeeding.
You can use these metrics in defining your goals. For example, you can set the goal to reach a certain number of sign-ups during the first month after launch.
Prepare and execute your promotion plan
Marketing activities are an essential part of any product launch. You need to define how you will communicate your value and what channels you will use to reach your target audience. Here are several proven ways to promote SaaS products:
Brand story. Create a story around your product that distinguishes it from competitors. With a brand story, you can communicate who you are, why you’re building your product, what you care about, and why people should use your software.
Basically, use storytelling to show your advantages. Does your product offer unique functionality? Tell about it in your story. Did you build an AI-based SaaS product that offers better efficiency for businesses? AI-based functionality is one of the biggest SaaS trends users want to try, so don’t forget to tell customers why you decided to implement AI in your product and how it can help solve their problems.
Search engine optimization. People are constantly looking for tools and apps on the internet, so making your product landing page SEO-friendly is a great opportunity to appear in potential customers’ search results. We recommend working with SEO specialists who will advise you on how to make your landing page attractive for search engines and therefore appear at the top of search results.
Social media marketing. Social media networks are perfect for creating buzz around your product release. On social media, you can engage with potential users, tell them about your product, get mentions, and get people looking forward to your release. You can also give users an opportunity to provide their email and join a waitlist so you’ll know who’s interested in your product and can reach out to them right before the launch.
Choose a social media platform wisely depending on your product type and target audience. If you’re building a B2B SaaS product, you may want to promote it via LinkedIn or business communities, while B2C products can find their first users via Instagram, Twitter, and other popular platforms.
Debut on Product Hunt. There are many web platforms dedicated to sharing new products. Product Hunt is one of the most popular. It is a reputable platform with over 4 million monthly visits on which over 100 million products have been announced. You can use Product Hunt to announce your SaaS solution’s launch and share a short product overview with potential users. Interested users can sign up to be notified of the launch. All you need to do is create a teaser and schedule it to appear in the Coming Soon list seven days before your launch date.
Market research, goals, metrics, and a marketing strategy are crucial to planning how to launch a SaaS product and ensuring that you target the right market, with the right message, and through the right channels. Note that you may start executing the marketing activities mentioned above during the development and testing phases. In this way, you will have time to bond with your audience and prepare the market for your product release.
Create a smooth onboarding process
First impressions matter a lot. As surveys show, around half of users will abandon the account creation process if they find it complex and opaque. Thus, you need to make sure the onboarding process for your SaaS product is simple and effective.
How can you achieve this? Here are a few ways:
- Convenient sign-up options. Instead of requiring users to fill out long sign-up forms, allow them to log in with Google, Facebook, or Apple accounts.
- Safe and quick subscription purchases. Make it easy for your customers to buy a subscription with Google Pay, Apple Pay, or similar services.
- Welcome pages and guides. Briefly introduce your product’s functionality with engaging welcome pages and interactive guides. This will help users understand how to use your product and therefore speed up onboarding.
Decide on pricing options
One benefit of the SaaS business model is affordability. Typically, companies offer SaaS products on a subscription basis, which allows them to get recurring revenue and makes it convenient for customers to start using the product. What you need to do before your SaaS product launch is decide on the pricing model. You can choose from the following:
- Freemium, when basic features are available for free but accessing all functionality requires a subscription
- Flat pricing, when a user can access all features for one fixed fee
- Usage-based pricing, when users pay according to what resources or features they use
- Per-user pricing, when the fee depends on the number of users accessing the product
- Tiered pricing, when users can pay for different packages of features depending on their needs
- Hybrid pricing, when several pricing models are combined
Choose your pricing model based on analysis of your target audience and software type. If your customers can choose the most suitable pricing for them, it will increase the chance that they actually subscribe to your service.
Confirm technical readiness
While marketers work on warming up the market before your SaaS product launch, your development team prepares the product itself. Developers and QA engineers make sure that your SaaS product aligns with project requirements, run final tests, and deploy code in a production environment. It’s important to ensure that everything works as expected and that real users will get a high-quality product. After all, your marketing efforts will mean nothing if your product itself shows poor performance and can’t meet users’ needs.
A common practice to test your software in a real environment without harming your startup’s reputation is a so-called soft launch: making a product available for a limited number of users known as beta testers. These are usually tech enthusiasts who are eager to try new products that enter the market. You can find them in different online communities on LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora, or on specialized websites such as BetaList and BetaBound. Another option can be to choose beta testers from your waitlist.
Why do you need a soft launch? It’s a great opportunity to get meaningful insights into your product’s advantages and disadvantages and identify areas for improvement. Geoffrey A. Moore highlights the value of having tech enthusiasts test your product first in his book Crossing the Chasm:
Beta testers will try your product, highlight major issues, show you flaws that impact the user experience, and therefore greatly contribute to your software’s market success.
It’s not actually the official “hard” product launch that will bring you your first customers and revenue. A soft launch is an important first step that will help you polish your SaaS product and make it more appealing to your target audience.
SaaS launch phase
When your product is ready and you’ve created a launch plan, it’s time to announce your release and let real users try your product. This is one of the most important stages of a startup in terms of building your customer base. At this phase, you finally release your product, making it available to everyone. At the same time, you continue executing marketing activities to attract more potential customers and make sure users from your waitlist are aware of its launch.
Notify users from your waitlist
With active promotion of your product on social media, SEO optimization of your landing page, and your debut on Product Hunt during the pre-launch phase, you should have a list of users waiting for your SaaS product launch. Now it’s time to notify them that your product is live.
While Product Hunt notifies signed-up users automatically, you need to reach out to those who came from other channels. Be active on social media on launch day and a few days before, spreading the word about your product release and showing off its functionality and advantages with engaging visual content.
Another way to notify users is by sending announcement emails. The advantage of email marketing is that emails feel more personalized than public social media posts. You can mention specific pain points your product can solve for a specific group of users, show personalized content that will resonate with users’ desires, catch users’ attention, and provide a link to your product.
Offer interactive demos
Interactive demos are great tools to present your product’s features and let potential customers feel what it’s like to use your SaaS app. With a demo of your solution, you can show exactly how your software works and what tasks it can be used for. By creating personalized demos that cover various scenarios, you can target users’ main pain points and show how your product can cover them.
You can place your demo on your website and share it via email, allowing potential users to see how your software helps with their specific challenges. Such an engaging demonstration can help users understand what they can get from your product and therefore decide to try it.
Continue to promote your product
After the launch, you need to continue investing in your ongoing marketing campaign.
For example, you can attend industry-specific and tech conferences and forums. Events are great places to meet people who might be interested in your product and pitch it to them. This way of marketing is suitable for B2B SaaS software, as many business leaders and companies attend conferences and forums in search of new business solutions. You can prepare a presentation or bring a demo to show your product and its benefits.
Content marketing can also be a powerful way to attract customers. Create blog posts and share them on your website and social media, reach new audiences with guest posts on external websites and platforms, and start an online advertising campaign.
SaaS post-launch phase
Work on your product doesn’t end with the product launch. Continuous work is almost always key to a product’s success and further growth. If you look at the fastest-growing SaaS companies in recent years, you will see that they haven’t stopped improving their products after reaching initial success. For as long as you want your product to exist and succeed, you need to work on it.
What are the key steps you need to take after launch? In short, gather feedback, monitor product performance, assess your product’s success, and make a decision on your product’s future. You can find details on how to do this below.
Gather feedback and react quickly
Gathering user feedback after your SaaS product launch is critical, as it lets you assess the software’s initial success and make pivotal decisions for further growth.
By analyzing customer feedback and key metrics you set at the beginning of the launch, you can understand whether your product meets user expectations. After that, you need to answer an important question for your further strategy: Should you continue to work in the chosen direction, or should you implement significant changes?
Eric Ries, in his book The Lean Startup, calls these two decisions “to persevere” (stick with the initial strategy) and “to pivot” (correct your strategy and recalibrate your product idea).
Pivoting is a hard decision to make for any business. However, you need to be objective and be willing to part with your initial product if you see that it doesn’t perform the way you expected.
After all, a successful product is a user-oriented product. If users are unhappy with your solution, you should listen to them and implement changes. In this way, pivoting can be your way to growth and success.
Plan and implement improvements
You’ve built a product, launched it, got feedback, and measured your success. Now, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned from your customers to improve your SaaS product.
At this point, your development team is back in the game. Typically, the best option is to continue working with the same team. Whether you’ve built your SaaS solution in-house or chosen IT services outsourcing, your developers know your software’s peculiarities and can effectively maintain and improve it. However, you can also change your software engineering team structure or even choose a different vendor if your improvement plan requires it or you’re not satisfied with the results your current team provides.
In this article, we won’t tell you how to work on a product after pivoting but will instead focus on how you can implement improvements if your product strategy is successful.
Our case study on developing a SaaS platform that backs up data from GitHub, Notion, Trello, and other services is a great example of continuous work. We built this product from scratch, going from defining project requirements and choosing the right technology stack for the SaaS product to developing and testing it.
After its launch in 2021, our client gathered feedback from the first users and we started to improve the platform, scaling it and adding new features and integrations to make it even more convenient for users to back up data from various services. All these improvements are helping our client retain customers, ensure customers’ satisfaction with the SaaS platform, and prepare to enter new markets and accelerate business growth.
A SaaS product launch is a complex process that requires time and a lot of effort from all team members. The pre-launch phase is essential for a smooth and organized launch. Only after thorough preparation will you understand how to launch a SaaS product to successfully introduce it to the market.
After launching your product, make sure to closely monitor your app’s performance and gather feedback from users. This is a moment for your startup when you can make pivotal decisions for product improvement.
Overall, there are many steps you need to take to effectively launch a product and make it thrive. You can create a SaaS product launch checklist to track the progress of your launch activities and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Also, the quality of the product itself matters a lot. If you are only at the start of your SaaS project, make sure to choose a software development company with solid expertise in your niche and experience building SaaS products. With the help of professional software engineers, you can build a user-oriented solution that shows great performance and helps you reach your business goals.
If you’re looking for a technical partner for your SaaS project, take a look at our SaaS product development services and reach out to discuss your project.