Our ten-point checklist for successfully bringing a digital product to market
A well-executed launch can help get your new product off to a great start. But organizing the activities leading up to and after the launch can often be overwhelming .
A product launch checklist helps to ensure that nothing is overlooked and that you’re bringing new products to market. We’ve outlined 10 tips for a flawless digital product launch, from researching competition in the current market and building a Minimum Viable Product with a prototype, to staggering your product releases and keeping users interested post-launch.
Step 1: Conduct market research to determine user needs
“Any general market you choose should meet certain simple criteria before you try and niche down further and create a winning positioning statement.” Daniel Ndukwu, Creative Entrepreneur
Building a digital product is like building any other product – you need to know what people want before investing resources in production. Taking stock of market trajectories is the first step to knowing whether your digital product will fill a gap in the current market. Then, you can establish your advantage against your competitors.
Start off with a simple Google search, then look at search engine and site analytics, check backlinks, revise keywords and monitor your competitor’s traffic onsite and on social media. This should be an ongoing process leading up to and beyond the product launch. So, keep tabs on your competitors from day one.
Step 2: Identify target user groups to establish your customer base
Once you’ve researched your competition, you need to start thinking about matching your product’s capabilities to the market’s needs.
Do this by (1) conducting robust market and user research: who are the users using similar products? (2) Analyzing your data: use the data collected from your user research to identify patterns in responses and establish distinct user groups (3) creating user personas: What characteristics, attitudes, behaviors, and goals do your users have?
Establishing target customer profiles will help you make sure that you’re creating something indispensable for someone, as well as help you decide on which metrics you will use to measure the success of your objectives.
Step 3: Track your milestones effectively
Clear goals and measurable milestones are essential in the lead up to a smart product launch. Spend some time organizing your project so that you and your team know exactly what is needed to launch on time, with all the components that you’ve committed to.
Product roadmaps, agile sprints and kanbans will help you to create actionable plans for your project. Software project management tools, such as JIRA and Trello, help you keep on top of individual tasks as well as the overall status of your product life cycle.
Additionally, decide which metrics you are going to measure the success of your objectives by. For instance, downloads, leads and lifetime value per customer.
Step 4: Launch a minimum viable product with a prototype
Creating your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with a prototyping tool will reduce the resource load early on because you’re essentially producing a working model of your final product quickly and easily – no code required.
You can create the visual layout and add interaction, and then share it with external stakeholders or test run it with user testers to improve positioning before any development begins. It’s a great way to reduce the risk factor when things are still pretty new and uncertain.
Follow these steps to create your own MVP with Justinmind.
Step 5: Beta test your MVP
Beta testing in the run up to a product launch lets developers tackle multiple tasks quickly and inexpensively – thus ensuring launch date readiness, helps to evaluate the customer experience early on, confirms MVP status and allows to for competitive analysis because many testers will have tested competitors’ products as well.
But above all, beta testing can help to build awareness of your product – gain an engaged audience with very little effort. Martin Jones on beta testing for better marketing says that “with their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot and new, beta testers are typically very industry-savvy.” Imagine you have 100 testers. That’s 100 potential influencers who already know about your product, plus all their connections.
Step 6: Promote your product to potential users early on
Early promotion of your product will help to spread the word whilst you develop. There are plenty of ways to get on the promotion band wagon and give your product an online presence early on:
- Google AdWords – a measurable and cost effective way of enhancing your marketing strategy and gaining insights into user behavior
- Facebook Ads – relatively few active Facebook advertisers (although on the up) so take advantage of the lack of competitive strain!
Free outreach techniques
- Guest blogging – increase your product’s exposure and credibility by having it promoted across different editorials
- Events participation – make new contacts and reach out to potential customers by speaking at events
- Leverage influencers – build trust with potential customers by having their favorite bloggers market your product
- Write your press release and have it ready before the release – you don’t want anything holding you back on launch day
Step 7: Establish analytics and metrics as you go
Lack of data is a common barrier to a successful product launch. Milestones need to be evaluated and measured at regular intervals throughout the product life cycle in order to measure progress.
Tracking the right metrics helps you set the right goals, make better decisions, and ultimately determine your product’s success online. In order to collect the right data, leverage your metrics to compare these results against your project’s objectives.
Use an analytics dashboard that allows for easy tracking of key metrics such as performance of brand/non-brand keywords, top landing pages and useful information about your users. There’s a great list of custom dashboards for Google Analytics here where you can create your own conversion funnels.
Step 8: Use a staggered roll out for your product launch
A staggered or phased roll out of your product release essentially means that you’ll be releasing your product in stages in the form of small and frequent updates. Rolling releases offer the user more current software and products because less development effort is spent keeping old versions up to date and more on ensuring new versions are released with the latest features.
A staggered roll out is a great way to keep the conversation going. Use this opportunity to promote your product over several weeks or months whilst the roll out continues and gain more exposure without bothering users with the same old drivel.
Step 9: Perform a launch follow up/evaluation
Traffic spikes after successful launches feel wonderful. But sadly, launches are not that highly targeted, and therefore the associated metrics don’t ring true.
For an accurate account of your product’s progress, you’ll need to perform continuous analysis of the metrics. Gather customer feedback by analyzing your conversion funnel metrics in Google Analytics, and then determine what changes you need to make.
Remember that your customers are your end users, and it’s important to listen to their suggestions and make changes where necessary. Gathering user feedback during a launch follow up with also empower your users by allowing them to shape future iterations. Smiles all round!
Step 10: Keep up momentum post-launch
Post-launch, encourage conversion with compelling creative assets such as free trials, downloads and resources, product videos, and demos. Consider organizing a webinar to onboard new users.
The bottom line: market awareness is key to a successful launch. Plan your product launch around your product objectives and measure your metrics against them in the lead up to, during and after your launch to stay ahead.