Don’t worry, it’s them, not you. The famous Cosmo magazine launched its own line of yogurt in 1999 in an already crowded space. Without something to differentiate it, the yogurt line went bad within 18 months.
The even more famous Facebook has tried a lot of new things to broaden its reach. In 2013, it was a user interface for your phone’s lock screen that would display your Facebook feed. Sounds great, but the product left consumers confused about how to use it.
Some 95 percent of new products launched in a year fail, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. Without a strong product launch, you could be dooming your product to the same fate.
We’ve collected 5 examples of product launches that did their companies proud and we’ll share what made them work so well. From frequent, engaging messaging to rewarding waits for launch day to post-launch training, these case studies show you how to make the most of your big day so that consumers remember the product for the right reasons.
1. Feefo primed its customers for a big change
Customer service SaaS company Feefo decided it was time to fully redesign its control center for customers, but how would customers feel about such a big change? Logging in to a platform you use every day and suddenly seeing it completely changed can be a shock, never mind the loss of productivity while you’re trying to navigate this new environment. Feefo avoided that shock by communicating with customers about th upcoming change.
It started by teasing the redesign launch through Appcues. This way, it could inform customers while they were already thinking about the software. Messaging was upbeat and focused on how the changes would improve customers’ experience.
Following the teasers, Feefo let users try out the new interface before the official launch. Not only did this help prepare customers for the change, but Feefo actively collected feedback on the redesign by letting customers switch back only if they first filled out a questionnaire.
When the launch was two weeks away, messaging changed again to eager anticipation.
When asked why Feefo chose this tactic for its product launch, Neil Terry, product manager, said, “We needed to be in close touch with our customers to get their feedback. It was essential to keep them aware of what was going on to avoid upsetting them and potentially losing them.”
And it worked.
Feefo not only achieved a 30 percent opt-in rate for the new UI, but they also gained a lot of useful customer feedback they could use to improve their redesign and minimized the customer churn that can come with such a big change. With a voice in the changes being made, customers became a little more invested in the outcome.
When you’re massively redesigning a product, your customers will notice. Prep them over time with short, upbeat reminders that give them something to look forward to.
2. Unsplash partnered with influencers to leap past its goal
Purveyor of free, high-res images Unsplash wanted to create a book of images and essays from some Unsplash creators to thank its creators for their work, but it needed funds to do so. Where do you go when you need to raise funds for a product launch?
Kickstarter, of course.
Unsplash needed to raise $75,000 for the project. To raise awareness and the needed funds, it partnered with the very people whose work would be featured in the book: influential industry creatives.
According to the study, an impression in influencer marketing represents someone who is “truly engaged.” “The Halo effect carries over to the brand the influencer creates content for,” the report states. “Not so with display ads. People know that ads on the side rail of an influencer’s site are not associated or endorsed by the influencer so there is no halo.”
That halo shined for Unsplash. The company raised over $100,000 for its book, which in turn helped promote not only Unsplash but also all of the creators whose work was featured in the book.
Unsplash created a beautiful book of images and essays, which it successfully launched with help from influencer partners.
If you don’t already have a relationship with your industry’s influencers, start now. Make your company more influencer-friendly by giving them access to your brand and allowing them to share even more of it. When your next product launch comes along, invite them to be part of it without any obligation. With a strong relationship, you might be surprised at how willing your influencers are to share your message.
3. Apple’s announcement email offered a rich, visual experience
Apple has built an empire on technology that’s not just functional but also designed with clean, simple lines, making it sleek and desirable. When the tech giant launched its AirPods Pro, its announcement email reflected that style.
The email was set up like an infographic, with few words and plenty of graphics. Why does this work? Says Jared DeLuca, Appcues demand generation manager, “Minimal copy and sleek imagery allow the product to take center stage.” The text focused on the experience: “magic like you’ve never heard,” “immersive sound,” “all-day comfort.” The images matched Apple’s sleek style, with few lines and a clean design. The email is both eye-catching and easy to scan.
To make your product launch email stand out, create an experience within the email that not only represents your brand but also creates excitement. Fewer words and more images will often lead to a quicker understanding of what your message is all about.
4. Robinhood built demand by making people wait
Robinhood is a stock-trading service for the rest of us. It’s commission-free and offers online tools and apps to help you manage your money. When it launched in 2013, it needed a way to entice consumers to sign up. They did this by offering perks for signing up more people.
For a year prior to its launch, Robinhood placed new signups on a waiting list and promised consumers access sooner if they got their family and friends to sign up as well. The more people someone signed up, the sooner they got access to the new service. It turned waiting into a challenge that worked so well that, on launch day, the company had almost 1 million opt-ins.
A delayed reward is only enjoyable if you remain excited about it while you wait. Regularly communicate with those on your waiting list, teasing out details and benefits to keep them engaged. Then give them a way to get that reward a little sooner.
5. Yotpo used training to make a launch successful, post-launch
Social proof platform Yotpo found that after installing the software, their customers didn’t know what to do next. Customers who can’t figure out how to use new software quickly abandon it.
“We watched a lot of videos inside of the product and saw that users were completing the installation inside the admin and then they were lost. Completely lost... There was no one to guide them and they would leave,” said director of product growth, Omer Linhard, and VP of growth, Yoav Aziz.
The solution, they decided, was to help new users create a habit of using the software. They knew if they could increase product adoption, revenue would follow.
Yotpo used Appcues to improve its user onboarding process. With in-app messaging, they taught customers about important features. The company also created customer emails that were triggered by customers’ actions in the onboarding process. Like a good fitness app, the emails encouraged users to reach the next milestone in the process.
Yotpo increased new user product adoption by showing customers how to use Yotpo step by step, like with this tutorial of the reviews tab. Seventy percent of users completed the new onboarding, one-week new-user retention grew by 50 percent, and two-week new-user retention grew by 60 percent. Review tab installations grew by an astounding 300 percent.
But did revenue follow? You bet it did. Yotpo saw unique new users increase by 42 percent.
To hold onto a successful product launch, you need your customers to stick with the product. The more complex your product, the harder that is. Customers won’t continue to use your product if they’re unsure of how to use it. Make it easy for them by providing directions and information right at the point of frustration. Not only will you be assured of having their attention, but you’ll also be providing relief when your customers need it most. Keep them learning with timely motivational messaging and further information about how to use the product. Early product adoption is key to creating devoted users for life.
Plan to succeed
A successful product launch is a possible make-or-break moment for your product and its future, but it takes planning and organization to pull it off. Consider how these lessons could improve your product launch strategy, so when it’s time for your product to finally go live, it can launch right into the hearts and minds of your user base.