If you made your way to this article you probably know what AppSumo is and what it does.
It needs no introduction nor does it require any sugarcoating.
It’s risky business, possibly the biggest step you can take as a startup. But the outcomes are fruitful and the exposure is insane.
But to be fair, anyone could tell you that. So, instead of just telling, let me show you why and how you should launch your product on AppSumo.
Let’s dive right in.
What is AppSumo?
AppSumo is a daily deals website founded by Noah Kagan in 2010 to create a space for people selling digital products and services and potential buyers, aka Sumo-lings. What makes it special is that the products on Appsumo get huge discounts to attract buyers. In the end, the buyers or Sumo-lings, get low-priced deals and the sellers get new customers, constructive reviews, and a big buzz around their names.
So in short: AppSumo advertises your product by lowering the price super low.
Best-case scenario, your product gets popular. Worst case scenario, you get cash flooding in.
That is, if you play the game right.
And to play it right, you need to know the rules. Let’s take a look at exactly how AppSumo works.
How does AppSumo Work?
AppSumo operates in a pretty straightforward way.
Every week, they release around 3 new deals for Sumo-lings to feast on. These deals, as I said before, are super budget-friendly – you can find some that costs what you would pay for a month normally for a whole year.
Of course, Sumo-lings don’t buy them just because the prices are low.
AppSumo puts in a good deal of work into highlighting each deal. They only feature the best of the best, (10% of the applications they get, to be exact) so they do some of the most crucial work for you.
From writing your copy to beta testing your product and preparing a review, they become true partners.
Deals are live, codes are ready, customers are coming, reviews are shared. For around 2 weeks, or when the codes sell out.
Then the partner’s deal ends, and AppSumo moves on to other candidates to perform the same process. At the end, partners get recognition and customers, Sumo-lings get great deals, and AppSumo stays the best place to benefit both sides like that.
And that is precisely how it all works.
But of course, knowing how it all works doesn’t answer one big hefty question: is it worth it?
Is Appsumo worth it?
Yes, and no.
It all depends on where you stand on the market. To put it bluntly, if you are too small or too big of a company, you might not benefit from AppSumo to its full potential.
But if your business fits the AppSumo standards, there are 3 reasons why it is worth it.
1- High-quality feedback
AppSumo has lots of qualified buyers on its platform who are mostly seasoned in SaaS and digital products. They are the coupon freaks of SaaS, so they can tell a good deal from a bad one just as they can sniff out problems on a tool.
2- Startup headstart
Because AppSumo releases a select number of deals every week, Sumo-lings actually do look forward to each product launch. And when there is only a number of them, each product receives the attention it deserves.
Not only that but also because AppSumo launches are so exclusive, being among the launches of the week draws attention from outside the AppSumo platform as well.
Of course, AppSumo’s review videos and extensive email list help achieve this too.
3- Cash flow
Feedback and exposure are nice and all but as each and every small business knows: they don’t pay the bills. Cash money does.
And that is among the things you can get out of an AppSumo deal.
It is pretty hard to get all that push from AppSumo and not get at least a couple hundred purchases. And it so happens that if you can check all the boxes for launch criteria, you will make quite some profit out of it.
How do these benefits look in practice? Let me tell you about the UserGuiding AppSumo journey.
How we launched on AppSumo 🚀
Now, you’ve probably heard many AppSumo success stories but hey, give it a listen.
In our case, which was 3 years ago, we were on the verge of becoming a failing startup. As the classic startup story goes, everything was expensive and the one thing we didn’t have was money.
The founding team needed two things immediately: some money to keep going, and good feedback to improve the product along the way.
And that was when UserGuiding got the green light from AppSumo.
Let me tell you the three pros and three cons from our lifetime deal with AppSumo as explained by one of our founding team members Mert in this article:
✅ We got 3000 new users in 2 weeks – And that is a huge number when your team consists of only a few people and your product interface is not very easy to use. And 3000 users not only meant revenue but also feedback, which is what we stand on today.
✅ We enjoyed free PR and brand awareness – And it lasted for a long time too, people kept coming even after the deal was over. In fact, we still have customers from back then.
✅ We earned good money – I won’t (and can’t) tell you just how much but it was enough to keep UserGuiding in the game, and is the reason why we are here today.
Of course, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There are some drawbacks to launching on AppSumo that might get some startups out there hesitating.
In our experience, the three biggest cons were:
❌ Unattainable requests – Sumo-lings can be harsh when it comes to requesting features and improvements, and when it comes to reviews, they are straight-up brutal. You have to be ready to deal with a lot of tickets.
❌ The deal black market – Be ready to have your deal codes sold on Facebook groups for double (triple) the price, and even after it is unredeemable. Chances are, the buyers will blame you for not letting them use the codes and that might bring in some bad reviews.
❌ No weak support welcome – If your product isn’t “zero customer touch” yet, you might want to take a step back. Getting featured on AppSumo means you will have people literally flooding into your product. If you can’t deal with them the right way and in a timely manner, you are sure to receive pretty bad reviews.
So, this was the UserGuiding’s AppSumo experience which we are very happy to have been through. Oh, and you might have missed the lifetime deal, but we still have a free trial 😏
But this isn’t about us. Let’s talk about how you can do it and do it better than us.
More examples: how others launched on AppSumo
Juphy is a collaborative customer support tool that brings together all support-related messages and elements in one inbox. And they had the time of their lives during their AppSumo launch – and after that too!
In our interview with the co-founder of Juphy, Osman Erdi Balcıoglu, we found out that they held their own lifetime deal and gained 327 users and a whopping $35k.
But when they launched with AppSumo, it all doubled – tripled – up.
👉 Users and revenue – Juphy gained a total of 1627 new users and had a revenue of roughly $170k before AppSumo commission.
👉 The upside of launching on AppSumo – Juphy was able to build a strong community, mostly consisting of lifetime deal buyers. Moreover, they were also successful in growing a public roadmap and thus shaping the tool.
👉 The downside of launching on AppSumo – None, other than the name Juphy appearing next to the keyword lifetime deal for a while on Google.
Juphy’s advice for launching on AppSumo 🚀
Replybutton is an email follow-up automation tool. They had a turbulent launch but ended up getting good results.
Let’s take a look at our interview with the co-founder Muzaffer Selimbeyoglu.
👉 Users and revenue – Replybutton gained 1200 users and a revenue of $60k.
👉 The upside of launching on AppSumo – Replybutton enjoyed the quick cash the most, but proof of concept was also an upside for them.
👉 The downside of launching on AppSumo – It was hard for Replybutton to upsale, and they also suffered from constant customer support needs.
Replybutton’s advice for launching on AppSumo 🚀
HockeyStack is a no-code SaaS analytics tool for marketing and product marketing teams, and they sure did score big with AppSumo.
Here’s what we talked about with co-founder Bugra Gunduz.
👉 Users and revenue – HockeyStack gained a total of 1900 new users and a revenue of $130k after the revenue share.
👉 The upside of launching on AppSumo – HockeyStack was able to get lots of quality feedback and discover bugs they didn’t know existed. The quick cash was, of course, a plus.
👉 The downside of launching on AppSumo – There was way too much pressure on the support, and because of that HockeyStack couldn’t focus on the subscription revenue as much as they wanted to. They also realized later that it was a mistake to conclude that their target audience was agencies.
HockeyStack’s advice for launching on AppSumo 🚀
Surely, not all AppSumo launches are guaranteed to succeed. Here’s an example.
MoovBuddy is an exercise app for physical wellbeing, but according to founder Güner Bayram, their AppSumo launch didn’t go too well.
👉 Users and revenue – MoovBuddy gained around 50 users while making a revenue of $1k.
👉 The upside of launching on AppSumo – MoovBuddy was able to receive quality feedback and reviews from AppSumo users, though they were scarce.
👉 The downside of launching on AppSumo – For MoovBuddy, there wasn’t a major downside; but it could have been a waste of time if they reshaped the product just for AppSumo. It was also unfortunate that they launched on AppSumo Marketplace.
MoovBuddy’s advice for launching on AppSumo 🚀
Powered by Sertifier Inc., Sertifier is a certification creation tool that makes smart certificates and open badges easy to issue, earn, and analyze.
Let’s take a look at our interview with Sertifier’s founder Arda Helvacılar.
👉 Users and revenue – Sertifier has sold 1003 LTD codes and gained 244 new customers while gaining around $44k revenue.
👉 The upside of launching on AppSumo – Sertifier was able to discover new user segments and revisit their product roadmap for a better and improved tool.
👉 The downside of launching on AppSumo – The two biggest downsides for Sertifier was that the harsh comments of some reviewers demoralized the support team and that it was hard for them to explain to the feature requesters that some of them made no sense regarding the product at hand.
Sertifier’s advice for launching on AppSumo 🚀
Now that you have heard our AppSumo story as well as some others’, let’s talk about YOUR AppSumo launch.
How to get featured on AppSumo 🌟
After all that we’ve talked about, you’d think getting featured on AppSumo is hard. They pick only 10% of the applicant after all, right?
Well, yes but not really.
It is true that not anyone can get featured on Appsumo. But this is because the spotlight can be hard to be under. AppSumo doesn’t want to send you to your death, is all.
If you haven’t picked up on it after the cons of an AppSumo launch, let me say this again: Sumo-lings can be brutal.
Even though the product they are purchasing is more than half off, it is perfectly natural for them to expect good quality. It’s AppSumo after all. And that is why Appsumo has a few criteria to make sure you can handle the launch.
1- Have a working product
This should go without saying but to launch with AppSumo, your product needs to be up and running. Beta doesn’t count.
What does a working product look like?
- It has to have running functions and features
- It has to have a few people already paying to use it
- It has to have the basic integrations with Google or Slack, etc.
2- Have relevancy
If you want to launch on AppSumo, your product can’t be too niche.
Of course, we appreciate all SaaS, but if it won’t get enough attention from Sumo-lings, AppSumo wouldn’t want to put you in that position and spend marketing dollars on nothing.
Still, don’t let this discourage you. You never know what gets popular over time.
3- Have at least 3 people on the team
AppSumo requires you to have at least three people on your team which in my opinion is quite a reasonable request.
You don’t want to be caught off guard and under-staffed when the tsunami of Sumo-lings hits you.
4- Have stability
AppSumo simply doesn’t care where your fundings come from. But they need to know that there is a plan and roadmap ahead.
Likewise, if you’ve been on too many deal sites, it just might lower your chances of launching with AppSumo.
Show just how stable you can be, people.
Now you are thinking: “okay, but how do I actually launch on AppSumo?”
Let’s take a look at what a successful launch with AppSumo looks like, step by step.
6 Steps to a Perfect AppSumo Launch
1- Nail the application
Your journey with AppSumo starts with a single application.
But don’t underestimate the importance of this first step. You could have the coolest tool and a crappy application could still take you out of the game.
“I will let my product do the talking.” said many.
Yeah, no I wouldn’t.
The people at AppSumo need to know what you are made of to actually start caring about your product. If you can’t woo their attention by introducing the tool, telling them what you do and what you want to become, they just can’t help you.
And how do you nail the application? Simple.
Truth is, after launching so many products on their platform, people at AppSumo have to have a keen BS detector. So, your humble origins story or paragraphs of how much you need help may not be what they are looking for.
Instead, go for honesty. Tell them what you do and what you hope to solve with it. Be honest about your team’s capabilities and future plans.
That’s how you can get AppSumo to see your product for what it is.
2- Listen to the Beta-lings and act on it
Got accepted? Cool.
Now it’s on to the famous phone call with AppSumo’s team and the product testing with the Beta-lings.
At this stage, where your product is being critically reviewed before actually launching (keep in mind that they can still turn you down) the best you can do is one thing.
Listen. Listen. Listen.
In all possible scenarios, you will be receiving quality feedback from AppSumo’s most trusted Sumo-lings. So even if they decide you are not up for the launch yet, you will be getting a pretty long report on how to improve your product. Win-win, if you ask me.
And in the scenario where they tell you that you are good to go after some improvements, what you do is again, listen and act on it.
This is not the type of feedback you can just ignore.
3- Give the Sumo-lings what they want
Once your product is reviewed and improved, it is time to prepare a deal at which point you will be advised by the famed business development team of AppSumo.
Here’s what will happen: the team will tell you to put a huge discount on the product. You will hesitate. But in the end, you will do it.
The thing is, no one is pushing you to actually give away your product for free. But these are the people who know the audience to the core. They know exactly what they want and what they will pay for. And it is crucial that you follow their lead.
Sumo-lings love to check out products with:
- Good integrations
- Management features
- Customer domains
- Anything unlimited or free
- Actually good deals (or they mob you)
So when they tell you to introduce these features into your product and deal, you do as they say. You are in it together; your success means their success, your failure is their failure.
4- Be crystal clear with the content team
The improvements are done, the deal is set and now it is on to marketing.
No need to fret, you have the AppSumo content team to help you. And for them to help you properly, you actually have to educate them properly.
So now, it’s all a matter of clear communication.
The thing about marketing is that it can be very hard if you don’t fall in love with the product yourself first. It’s almost like cooking, the best chef in the world can’t imitate your mom’s cooking unless they understand the love behind it.
That is why you need to get the content team to fall in love with your product which you can’t do unless you relay your resolve and the problems you are solving with it to the team.
Once they understand how special your product is, you know you are in good hands.
5- Put on your seat belt
But right before the launch, there are some things you have to double-check without AppSumo’s help.
Is your customer support team ready? – I said it before and I’ll say it again: Sumo-lings make up a pretty big crowd. If your product is half-decent, you will be drowning in support tickets. Prepare your support team before walking into battle or you will be getting pretty bad reviews.
Do you have support documentation? – Whether it is a full-fledged help center or a simple set of FAQs, if you think your support team can’t take the pressure, you have to have documented support. And even if your support team is up and ready you still need at least some written support, as literally everyone hates talking to support.
Can your servers keep up? – Big influx of customers means your servers can possibly go down. Don’t lose time in boosting them up.
If all of these are ready, you are good to launch.
6- BONUS: Keep the hype going
Your product’s launched and you think that’s it?
The hard part starts now.
To prevent the Sumo-lings from losing interest or worse, getting riled up about unanswered questions, you have to be present at all times.
If you prepared your support team well enough on the previous step, you should have no problems.
Another thing is marketing.
“But wait, wasn’t AppSumo handling that?”
Well, yes. But reaching out to possible buyers from your own social media channels and your own email list can only help leverage the launch. Put in every single bit of effort and you will be rewarded accordingly.
Of course, the deal doesn’t last forever. As you approach the end of the deal, it is time to use the spotlight to invite everyone to the after-party. You can do this by hosting Q&A sessions, webinars, events, and promoting additional deals yourself.
The AppSumo deal might end but it is up to your capabilities to elongate the campaign as long as you want.
There is no denying it, AppSumo can be a make-or-break situation for businesses.
But if you know how to play your cards, you can get fast money, good feedback, and customers in the long run. Just keep in mind that an AppSumo launch is the means, not the goal.
Have a great launch!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get my software on Appsumo?
Getting your software to launch on AppSumo can be hard if you are just a newly found startup. But if you have customers already using your software, you just might be ready. All you need to do is send AppSumo an application, and they will decide if your software is ready to launch or not.
How long do AppSumo deals stay up?
AppSumo deals last around 2 weeks or until the codes run out.
How can I leave a review on AppSumo?
To leave a review on AppSumo you need to be a Sumo-ling, a user, and a potential buyer on the platform. Since Sumo-lings can get aggressive, there are some rules you can find on the AppSumo help center.