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Product Management

5 Winning Tactics for Your Next Product Launch

2 minutes read

You've created your first product, and you're ready to announce it to the world! 

But, do you have a plan of how to actually get it off the ground? 

We put together 5 of the best tactics for new product launches to ensure your release is a resounding success.

1. Start with a small group of committed beta users

Inviting a select group of customers to a limited beta of your product gives you the ability to learn and use real-life feedback in a more focused way. This helps you make your product better, faster. 

By exposing your product to a small group of users first rather than opening it up to the whole world, you're able to make more intimate connections with your customers. It's easy to identify why a feature works for one group and not another. When you roll out changes, you can watch how they affect the user experience of each team. 

Team collaboration tool Slack saw success with this product launch tactic during their initial release. Members of Slack begged friends at other companies to implement the tool with their teams and provide feedback. They saw success with smaller teams, but when a much bigger team started using the tool, problems emerged. 

Slack spread quickly from a small front-end team to the entire development group, and finally the entire 120-person company. They saw how the product performed for a much larger team, and it wasn't good. Slack learned that it was very difficult to keep conversations organized with a team of 100+ people.

“In Slack, you create channels to discuss different topics. For a small group of people, those channels are relatively easy to manage and navigate. With a team that large, though, everyone was creating channels, and there was no way for people—particularly new hires—to figure out which ones they should join.”

Once Slack understood this problem, they added the ability to include a description for every channel. 

A screenshot of Slack's channel description
Slack channel description example

Within the list of channels, they added fields for a description and the number of people using that channel. Slack identified a small change with a very big impact.

“In the grand scheme of things, that’s a fairly trivial example, but those were things that would make Slack unworkable for certain teams. Beta-tester feedback is crucial to finding those little oversights in a product design.”

As Slack grew and started adding progressively larger teams, that change wound up being one of many that allowed their product to catch on and take over whole organizations.

2. Seed your blog with pre-launch supporting content

Using your blog to prepare customers and prospects for an upcoming product is a great way to educate and to build excitement for an upcoming release. 

When you provide prospects and customers with strategic blog content, it gets them thinking about the problem your new product is going to solve. You're able to get people invested in a particular topic without directly mentioning your product. 

HubSpot did an excellent job of this at their 2015 Inbound for Everyone release event

HubSpot's product and product marketing teams spend a large part of their year on a massive product launch that goes live every September. This launch centers around a keynote presentation to a crowd of 14,000 attendees at HubSpot's INBOUND conference. 

For 2015, HubSpot's big product release had everything to do with advertising and lead scoring. They published the scores of different posts in anticipation of that launch, each taking a different perspective on lead scoring and advertisements. Here is their blogging schedule for the weeks leading up to the launch:

Each post is geared toward educating customers on one aspect of the problem HubSpot was trying to solve with their upcoming release. 

HubSpot primed blog readers to think about their advertising strategies and how lead scoring could help them improve that process. This not only gave customers a better understanding of the topics discussed in each post but also helped to boost engagement with the product launch. 

When people are invested in the problems your company is trying to solve, they're more likely to see the full value of what your new product has to offer. This product launch tactic helps to frame your release in a larger context.

3. Announce on Product Hunt (at the right time)

Product Hunt is the savvy marketer's and product person's one-stop shop for product announcements. Posting on this platform is a great way to connect with a highly engaged and motivated audience. 

A platform like Product Hunt helps you amplify your product launch, increasing awareness in an audience that otherwise might not be keeping track of your blog or social media accounts. You can also use this product launch tactic as a way to distill the value of your product into something compact and easily digestible. 

When posting on Product Hunt, you have to be strategic. You have limited space, so each piece of information you include needs to speak directly to the value of your product. Make sure you're optimizing the post based on their suggestions

Newsletter tool Revue was successful in their feature release post on Product Hunt. They used the platform's recommendations to publish an update that reached the number one spot. 

A screen shot of Revue's annoucement on Product Hunt
Product Hunt post example 

Revue utilizes every inch of space effectively. Their tagline “Build a newsletter that pays 💌💰” is short and to the point, but it also tells people exactly what they're going to learn by clicking on Revue's post. 

They include a one-minute video that explains a bit more about how the service works, as well as graphics that reinforce the value proposition they make throughout the post. The comments section is also well utilized, with makers from Revue interacting directly with customers. 

A screenshot of Product Hunt's comment section showing the maker interacting with the community
Example of Product Hunt comments section 

Revue used this product launch tactic to increase awareness of their new feature and highlight the value it provides in a concise and easily understood package.

4. Use in-app messaging and email campaigns

Contextual communication is key when you're talking to customers about an upcoming product launch. Using in-app modals and dialogue boxes as well as a targeted email series is the most reliable way to let customers know about exciting updates. 

You can use in-app messages to connect with customers while they perform specific tasks. This lets you personalize the interactions based on the needs of the customer. A well-timed pop-up or modal within their account can help reinforce the value of a new feature. 

A great example of this is Feedly's new feature walk-through, which appears as soon as the customer logs into their account. 

A screenshot of a feature announcement modal overlayed on Feedly's product page
Feedly feature announcement walk-through via Really Good UX 

By notifying users as soon as they log in, Feedly catches them at the right time to introduce a new workflow. Each of the five cards is short and to the point, effectively highlighting a very specific and valuable addition to their tool. 

Feedly also launched the product via email and a blog post, helping to cast a wider net and reinforce that a new tool is now available. 

Feedly's email that promotes it's new prodcut feature
Feedly product announcement email 

You can set up a series of messages to your prospects with content aimed at helping them understand the value of your product launch, and you can target your current customers with content that supports your in-app messaging. You can also use these emails to create buzz and excitement about your upcoming release. 

Implementing a multichannel messaging strategy helps reinforce the importance of your upcoming release. Combined with a tactical blogging strategy, you'll be able to tease the upcoming launch as well as educate customers.

5. Manage your internal launch processes

Don't be a company that doesn't care enough about their product launch. Not only are product launches a way for you to release an awesome new thing to your customers, but they're also one of the ways your company grows. 

You need to put a lot of thought into your product launch tactics for them to be successful, which is why it's vital that you set up internal KPIs to track how each new release performs. With a systematic approach to tracking your success, you can easily repeat your wins and learn from your mistakes. 

Your team should establish ownership of a product launch and make sure that everyone involved is up to date on how the process is moving along. If you're not sure where to start, ask yourself five questions:

  • Why did we build this product?
  • Who did we built this product for?
  • What happens if everyone uses it?
  • What happens if no one uses it?
  • How did our last product launch go?

These questions are a great way to think about your next product launch and how it affects not only your customers but also your team. You can also try a product launch plan template as a jumping-off point. The better you manage your internal messaging, the easier it will be to communicate the value of your product to customers.

The best products have tactical launches

Every project is different, and you won't be able to apply the same tactics to every product launch. It's important to build excitement and communicate the value of a new product or feature you release. 

What tactics have been successful in your recent product launches?

Ty Magnin is the Director of Marketing at Appcues where he helps software products improve their new user onboarding experience. Ty was the first marketer at Work Market and has roots in poetry and film production.