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Launching & Marketing Your Software or SAAS

by Codelation

The software or SAAS market you enter might be populated with competitors that are already established and have more funding. Don’t have fear, we have some tips and tricks to get you through product launch and beyond. 

Launching’s Best Practices

You can’t just show up online one day and expect your product to be found by customers. Let’s roll up our sleeves and talk about what you need to consider before putting your software out there. We’ve set aside some hot tips and tricks to get you geared up for success. Some of these can be completed pre-launch and others happen in conjunction with your launch.

Develop a Launch Strategy

How are you going to make your launch make a wave instead of just a splash? We recommend making a calendar of tasks you’d like to be completed leading up to your launch. What are some things you can do to celebrate and promote your product’s launch? Here are a few ideas to get you rolling:

  • An email announcement for the contacts in your network.
  • An introductory blog post on your site.
  • Announcement posts on your social media using catchy graphics, video, etc.
  • Host a webinar for potential customers or investors.
  • Create a walk-through video to create a sense of familiarity.
  • Write a detailed manual for how to set up and use your software.
  • Any of our other great marketing tips found in our “Marketing Strategies” section down below

There are seemingly endless things you can do on your launch day, launch week, or launch month. However, ensure whatever you choose to do for your launch is a workload that is achievable for you (and your team, if applicable). If you’re a solopreneur doing it all on your own, focus on a few main things you’d like to get done well. It’s better to have a few well down pieces of content than a pile of half-baked content.

Timing

It’s going to be so awesome to get your software in the hands of users and the excitement is almost palpable! Take a moment and pause. We’ve been there, getting caught up in the hype of taking your software to market is very common! Double and triple check for any issues within your software and get your marketing and launch plans squared away. It’s better to take the time to be extra prepared than go ahead with launching prematurely (this is why we’re helping entrepreneurs with the Founder Community)! It might not seem like a huge deal, but launching and falling short makes a bad first impression on your first customers.

A second thing to consider is if now is a good time to launch in terms of the calendar year. It probably would be a poor choice to launch on a busy holiday weekend unless your software was somehow topical to the holiday because no one will have the time of day to be looking into your new software. The same thinking goes for seasons. If you were launching a product that was primarily used seasonally, like a garden planner software, it would be ideal to launch in late winter or spring just as everyone is gearing up to get planting. Capitalize on hitting the market at just the perfect time your potential customers will be looking for their next solution!

Know Your Competition

Odds are that you will have to face some competitors on the market. They might not be doing the same exact thing as you, but it’s likely you’ll find at least one business doing something similar on the market. Before jumping into the industry you should gain an understanding of the competitive landscape. Who has solutions that are similar to yours? What are their big selling points? What do their reviews say about their software? 

A valuable trick to learning about the market you’re going to be facing is to interview potential customers. Ask about alternatives to your software that they have tried or are currently using. What do they like best about the competition’s product? Do they have any pain points with them? Take what you learn and be aware of these competitors’ presence. Keep up to date on what their moves are in the space so you don’t get left in the dust and forgotten.

Know Your Audience

By this time in your entrepreneurial journey you should already have a pretty clear idea of who your audience is and what they need. While launching you need to think of your customer personas and find out how they talk, the channels they communicate through, and the news that they want to hear. That is how you can choose how, when, and where you’ll promote your launch! It wouldn’t hurt to ask for a little advice from your allies and potential customers to get better insight on when they’re on different platforms, do they attend webinars, etc. It never hurts to do more research on your audience to avoid wasting time and effort in an area to receive little fanfare. Know thy customer and reap the benefits!

Always Deliver Value

Have the mission of providing value to your customers first and foremost when launching. We know you might have the binoculars locked on getting money in your pocket, but if you focus on bringing value to your customers you will end up attracting more and more of them! Providing a great user experience leaves a great impression on your users and even potential investors or contributors.

What steps can you do to provide value to your customers? Even little things can make quite the difference in how a customer thinks about your product and brand. Here are a few examples:

  • Offer prompt customer service. If a customer is having an issue with your software or has any questions, make it a priority to get back to them as soon as possible whether it be by phone, email, or other means.
  • Make your onboarding process smooth and simple. Present tips on how to get the most out of your product in an email campaign or social media.
  • Be transparent and honest. Let users know about downtimes for maintenance, apologize for any inconveniences made by any mistakes, and let customers know about any upcoming improvements and changes to your software.

Any way you can make your user’s experience with your software a little more special, you’re adding value. Get creative, add personal touches, and be responsive to put yourself ahead of the competition.

Have a Team to Back You Up

If you don’t already have team members you’re working with, consider forming a super squad (or at least someone to back you up)! If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to do it all, consider getting more hands on deck for your launch and offer continued support afterwards. Marketing, sales, or even customer service are great areas to get a lift in. Whether you’re hiring people directly, paying for support from a marketing agency, or getting a hand from your best friend, it can be quite a life-saver. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur and there’s no shame in having knowledgeable people to back up your software.

Analyze the Buyer Journey

Get ready to put yourself in another person’s shoes! A great tip we have to do before launching is to walk through a potential buyer’s journey to downloading your software. Perhaps the trail begins at a paid ad you placed, leading them to your website through a call to action, then to the checkout or sign up page where they become a user. There are many different paths a buyer could come down, but try to analyze the most popular routes.

Take notes of anything that could lead a customer to break off from the journey. An inactive social media page, a slow loading website, or not many reviews to be seen are just a few things that might turn away a viable customer. Taking a look at your site and social media analytics can give you a peek into where people are coming from and dropping off. If you see a trend of people coming from a certain site or social platform, it wouldn’t hurt to spend more time nurturing that journey, therefore increasing your potential reach. If you see a pathway that isn’t doing so well, consider reworking how a customer travels through it or trying something new entirely. 

Define Clear Goals and Metrics

You may have heard of the term “SMART goals” already but we’re going to run down the details here because it’s a great tool for creating transparent and well-thought out goals. Defining goals for your launch (and beyond) is how you track where you’re shining and how you can improve. 

What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?

  • Specific. Make your goal clear and well-defined. Leave no grey areas!
  • Measurable. Define metrics that will indicate success and progress that can be reviewed.
  • Attainable. Make sure your goal can be reasonably achieved within a certain timeframe.
  • Relevant. Make sure your goal is aligned with your values and long-term goals. 
  • Timely. Set a realistic timeframe to complete your goal. Don’t give yourself too much slack though, be ambitious!

Addressing all five areas of S.M.A.R.T. while writing your goals for your launch will make them clear and unmistakable. You’ll know if you reached your goals or not plain as day if your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. There’s no grey areas to get lost in; you have goals you can hold yourself accountable with! You’ll be able to show off your wins or know where to put in extra effort post-launch to be successful with your business.

Marketing Strategies

We’re going to run you through some of our favorite marketing strategies to ensure you succeed!

Content Marketing

No matter what you’re selling, content marketing is your friend. It helps your audience understand what your product does and why they need it. We’ve already shared a few types of content marketing in the “Develop a Launch Strategy” section above, but there are so many types that you can use to grab people’s attention. There’s more under the sun besides plain old blogging! Host livestreams, write an eBook, make a datasheet, do workshops, start a video series, design infographics—the options are endless. Anything that grabs and holds your specific audience’s attention is good content.

Always be “SEO-ing”

We know, we know, everyone tells you how important search engine optimization is. While social media may be an outlet that potential customers come from, popular search engines serve as a huge source of traffic. Doing your best on your SEO will set you higher in searches than your competition. Here are a few ways you can improve your website’s SEO:

  • Consistently Add New Content. 
    • Adding new blogs and other forms of content keeps your website active. Promote any new content across your socials, emails, etc. to push yourself higher in search engine results.
  • Build Backlinks. 
    • Backlinks (AKA inbound links) are links on other websites that lead to your website. They are a strong signal for search engines to rank your website higher.
  • Test Various Keywords. 
    • Research what keywords are relevant to your business and your customers. Trying out which works best for your pages will rank you higher in different search results.
  • Improve Your Site’s Speed, Structure, and UX. 
    • Tweaking and trimming your website’s load times, site map, internal links, and overall user experience can earn you higher ranks in search engines!

Paid Advertising

Advertisements can work wonders if you know how to target the correct crowd. To begin you can test the waters and try placing ads across multiple channels (social media platforms, display ads, ephemeral content, video content, etc.) Try out any channels where your target audience lives! After your initial tests, note which have the highest conversion rates and focus on those going forward.

Taking extra time to develop quality ads is definitely worth it. Often they serve as a first impression of your startup to potential customers. Having creative ads, polished landing pages, great banners, and more help paint your brand as unique and worthwhile in the sea of marketing online.

Upload your Software to Directories

An easy way to get some eyes on your software is to add it to download sites and directories. A few examples of directories are GetApp, G2, and Capterra. Some directories allow you to upload web or cloud-based SAAS as well even though they don’t have a downloadable package. Spend some extra time and optimize your profiles on these sites and be active and responsive on them. A good reason to use these directories is that they create more back-links to your site which will in turn increase its ranking in search engines. 

A secondary positive to being present in most of these directories is that they host reviews. Users and sometimes even staff behind the site can offer honest feedback that everyone can see. See what people are liking and what could be improved in your software. Potential customers value seeing reviews and take them heavily into consideration before downloading.

Press and other Media

Extra, extra! Have them read all about it! Prepare press releases and reach out to local and topical media outlets. There are endless online outlets that feature software news that could post your press releases, but it is also valuable to target where your target market gets news. If you’re launching a software that helps plan hiking trips, reaching out to a popular outdoors news site would be a great place to start. 

Another option to get your name out there is to become a contributing author on one of the outlets that focus on topics relating to your product. A contributing author is a thought leader who doesn’t work for a publication full-time but occasionally submits niche articles. They use their knowledge to provide research-based, first-hand, and authentic information for readers. What do you have to gain from spending time writing for a publication? Some outlets may pay you a small amount for your contribution, but the main draw is to reinforce yourself as someone that knows what they’re talking about and channel readers to become your customers. Keep your writing professional and don’t go into sales mode. Your first goal should be showing readers how to solve a problem, not putting your product on a pedestal. 

Ask for Referrals and Reviews

Your existing fans and customers are powerful assets in the marketing wheelhouse. If you’re anything like us, you’ve compared products and software by using what we’ve heard from friends and family and by comparing reviews online. If you want to gain referrals, make sure you’re staying connected with your users. Fostering conversations and paying attention to their feedback leads can lead them to becoming advocates. If you make your people happy with your customer service and your great software, they’ll be more open to helping you out.

A great way to get the ball rolling on referrals or reviews is to offer incentives for doing so. Creating a customer referral program can use incentives like small gifts, discounts on your software subscription, or even charitable donations to a good cause on their behalf.

Email Marketing

Tried and true, emails are still a valuable tool in the digital marketing arsenal. Unlike ad campaigns on social media, sending out email campaigns can cost little to no money. You also are guaranteed to get your emails in front of all your contacts, while an ad being placed in front of certain people on social media is up to the algorithm and how detailed your targeting is. If you use an email marketing platform like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Active Campaign you can expect a fee, but the added benefits of things like email templates, A/B testing emails, automated campaigns, and in-depth analytics add quite a lot of value and allow you to always be improving.

Affiliate & Influencer Marketing

Gaining the trust of potential clients by leveraging someone else’s’ brand and audience is a trick used by many these days. You may think it’s not a space for software and SAAS, but we can tell you there’s room for you to give it a shot! Think of a few blogs, brands, local leaders, or social media celebs that you could partner with, whether they be potential users or thought leaders in the target market.

What is the difference between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing? Both involve partnering with an outside source with the goal of gaining credibility (for you and your product) as well as gaining new customers. Affiliate marketing typically involves having another business show an ad, link, or some sort of marketing piece that promotes your software on their site or social media. Every time a customer signs up for your software through the special affiliate link or ad, you pay their business a commission. Influencer marketing involves working with a single person rather than a business or organization. You could offer free access to your software to an influencer in exchange for their promotion of it or set up a link or ad with the same process as you would with an affiliate. 

How can you get affiliate and influencer marketing to work for you? Carefully choosing who to work with and knowing how to approach them is one of the keys to success. While looking for a brand or influencer to partner with don’t dwell on only follower counts or readers. See if their audience overlaps greatly with who you’re trying to reach with your software. Engagement rates are also greatly important to consider. A good option may be to reach out to multiple micro-influencers that have great engagement from an audience similar to your target rather than one larger influencer to get the most bang for your buck or effort.

Network & Attend Industry Events

Attending software events as well as industry specific events can help boost your marketing game. Conferences, trade shows, dinners, and product unveilings are a great way to get you and your business’ names out there. Take the opportunity to table or present if you’re ready! Networking and discussing your idea with people firsthand can create magical connections and win over new customers. If you’re not ready to present in front of hundreds of people, use event opportunities to research what your peers (and competition) are doing to market themselves. Take notes and see how you can stand out from the crowd at your next event. Industry events are overall great to learn industry trends as well as grow awareness for your brand.

Ready, Set, Launch!

There is no one size fits all launch strategy, but we hope that you’ve gotten a decent idea of where to start. Having a great marketing plan to back you up after your launch helps continue the hype for your product and keep interest going into the future. TIme to get your software into the hands of your customers!

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