(Pssst, this post has been updated in September 2022 with fresh insights and examples. Enjoy!)
Good product launches build a much-needed buzz in your prospective user base ahead of your product’s release, but not all product launches inspire such awe. A hastily thrown-together announcement on LinkedIn and a handful of “Look what we’ve got here!” emails sent to your worn-out lead list are unlikely to thrill your target audience. And a lack of excitement over even the greatest product doesn’t bode well for your app’s future adoption and growth prospects.
Dozens of SaaS products launch every day, which means you need to coordinate a truly remarkable product launch to differentiate your product from the noise. The product marketing teams for apps that thrive use tried-and-true announcement tactics like email, social media, and in-app messaging in new and exciting ways to build hype. These new spins on familiar methods highlight the product’s value while enticing users to try it on for size.
You don’t need to look far to find ways that great product teams are reinventing the wheel. Here are eight product launch examples that highlight some of the innovative ways that companies have successfully announced their new offerings to the world.
8 successful product launch examples
You need to put your own brand-appropriate spin on that wheel to build anticipation in your prospective users. And while these eight examples of successful product launches may not fit your app or approach, they’re sure to inspire you as you look forward to your next big product release.
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? It would be a shock to some to log into a platform they used every day and find that it had changed completely—a shock that could very easily result in a loss of productivity. Feefo communicated with customers ahead of the upcoming change to avoid this change.
It started by teasing the redesign launch through Appcues, informing customers while they were already thinking about the software. The 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 also 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 new product launch, product manager Neil Terry 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% opt-in rate for the new UI, but it also gained a lot of useful customer feedback it could use to improve its redesign and minimized the customer churn that can come with such a big change. Customers became a little more invested in the outcome with a voice in the changes being made.
Your customers will notice when you’re massively redesigning a product. Prep them over time with short, upbeat reminders that give them something to look forward to.
2. Amplitude’s in-app redesign announcement doubled as a product tour
Emails help to communicate product redesigns to existing customers, but not everyone opens, reads, and retains the information contained within every email on any given day. Amplitude instead opted to use in-app messaging to announce its Amplitude 2.0 redesign launch. The company trusted that a few well-placed modals and slideouts would highlight new features and point out UI changes as users actively engaged with them.
If you think this product redesign announcement looks suspiciously like a product tour, you’re absolutely right. Amplitude smartly gave users a contextual heads-up on the changes from version 1.0 while taking the opportunity to explain how and why users should use 2.0’s newest and most valuable features. This helped customers use the app ASAP while minimizing the number of disruptions to the user experience.
Amplitude understood that its Frankenstein product announcement/tour might not assuage the anxieties of every loyal user. That’s why the company wrapped up the tour with a modal window that links to further help resources for those who require more information. It also offered a way to temporarily use Amplitude 1.0 for those who needed more time to adjust to the launch of the new product.
There’s no better way to announce a product that directly impacts your existing users than with messages that reach them while they’re using your app.
3. 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. However, it needed funds to do so. And 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. It partnered with the very people whose work would be featured in the book to raise awareness and the needed funds: influential industry creatives.
Influencer partnerships are a powerful way to promote your product launch. A Nielsen Catalina Solutions and TapInfluence study reveals that influencer content can result in an ROI 11x higher than that of traditional campaigns.
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.
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. You might be surprised at how willing your influencers are to share your message when you forge a strong partnership.
4. 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. The tech giant’s AirPods Pro announcement email reflected that style.
The email was set up like an infographic, with few words and plenty of graphics. Why does this work? Appcues Marketing Technology and Operations Manager Jared DeLuca explained, “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,” and “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.
Create an experience within the email that not only represents your brand but also creates excitement to make your product launch email stand out. Fewer words and more images will often lead to a quicker understanding of what your message is all about.
5. Robinhood built demand by making people wait
Robinhood is a stock-trading service that’s commission-free and offers online tools to help you manage your money. The company needed a way to entice consumers to sign up when it launched in 2013. It did this by offering perks for signing up more people.
The company placed new signups on a waiting list for a year prior to its launch, promising consumers sooner access if they got their family and friends to sign up as well. The more people a consumer signed up, the sooner they got access to the new service. It turned waiting into a challenge that worked so well that the company had almost 1 million opt-ins on launch day.
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.
6. Yotpo used training to make a launch successful, post-launch
Social proof platform Yotpo found that after installing the software, its 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 Growth Omer Linhard and VP of Growth Yoav Aziz.
The Yotpo team discovered the solution 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. The team taught customers about important features using in-app messaging. 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 showed customers how to use its product step by step to increase new user product adoption—like with this tutorial on the reviews tab. 70% of users completed the new onboarding, one-week new-user retention grew by 50%, and 2-week new-user retention grew by 60%. Review tab installations grew by an astounding 300%.
But did revenue follow? You bet it did. Yotpo saw unique new users increase by 42%.
You need your customers to stick with the product to hold onto a successful product launch. 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.
7. Cash App cross-sold a complementary product to existing users
Companies with existing product lines don’t always need to launch new products to completely new audiences. Take Cash App, which developed its Cash Card as a complement to its core peer-to-peer payment product. The Cash Card serves as a debit card specifically for those with a Cash App account, so it wouldn’t make much sense to focus a Cash Card product launch campaign on anyone except existing users.
That’s why Cash App sent an email blast to existing users that highlighted the Cash Card’s benefits. It didn’t explain what the Cash App did because account holders already knew that. The email itself included a simple but attractive picture that illustrated the card’s key aesthetic feature: it's extreme customizability. The copy was short and sweet and focused on value above all else before leading to a quick CTA to sign up to receive the card.
These email features may seem simply like best practices but remember: Cash App undoubtedly has reams of marketing and product data on its existing user base. The company knows what kinds of emails its customers prefer to receive and likely built this email accordingly.
Any company announcing a new product to its existing user base stands to develop a high-performing product launch marketing campaign—so long as that campaign is grounded in user data.
8. data.world bundled a product announcement into its regular newsletter
The bulk of most product launch marketing campaign efforts focuses on a carefully researched demographic. Marketing and product analytics identify best-fit buyer personas, and the marketing collateral and distribution channels are chosen to accommodate them. However, many existing users will likely find a new product handy even if they don’t fit this best-fit mold. That’s why it helps to use your connections with existing users to let them know there’s something good coming down the pipes.
Take enterprise data catalog data.world. The company sends regular updates to prospects and users via email. These newsletters tackle topics ranging from upcoming events to links to recent articles and more. data.world timed the release of its August 2022 newsletter to coincide with the release of its new Eureka Explorer Lineage product. The announcement of the new technical lineage experience occupied the first position in the newsletter.
This above-the-fold placement made it impossible for regular readers of the newsletter to miss the announcement. The marketing team kept the copy below the headline and the image short, sweet, and value focused. This enabled interested readers to get the gist while allowing others to easily skip on to more standard content. And for those readers who wanted to learn more about the great new product, the blurb included a CTA that linked back to a blog that explained the product in far more detail.
Cast a wide net, using your existing marketing channels and relationships to capture interested potential customers who may not fit your predetermined target profile.
Measure now to succeed later
Data drives launch efforts—and this focus on metrics must continue long past the initial launch. Product teams must keep an eye on user behaviors to better understand what users use, what they don’t, and what they want next. And marketers need to understand which aspects of their product launch campaign worked, which didn’t, and where they can make improvements ahead of the launch of the company’s next great product.
Appcues users get to measure their product launch success in real time with Appcues Insights. The robust analytics platform enables customers to see how many new users at launch started and finished onboarding flows. Insights’ no-code tracking also lets your team see what features get used the most and which ones are critical to your app’s all-important product adoption rate.
Insights is a powerful complement to the user onboarding patterns we’ve made our name with—and it’s an essential tool in measuring the success of your next product launch campaign.