SaaS

How to Launch a SaaS Product

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    Home / SaaS / How to Launch a SaaS Product

    Imagine Nike launching a new pair of sneakers.

    Their product launch plan would consist of coming up with a marketing strategy and preparing the distribution routes during the pre-launch phase.

    Then, during the launch day, the tasks would be to double down on the social media presence and create exclusive content and campaigns.

    And finally, in the post-launch phase, it would be lasting collabs with influencers to create a trend in the long run and making changes according to the first customer feedback while shaping distribution according to sales.

    Now, this is a physical product that's also pretty powerful in its brand name and, of course, its resources.

    how to launch saas product
    Is there anyone who doesn't think of Nike when they hear this?

    🔥 But hey, hot take incoming: when you get to the bottom of the idea of a product launch, launching a SaaS product launch works almost exactly the same.

    Let's get to the bottom of this idea ⬇️

    What is a SaaS Product Launch?

    ‎A SaaS product launch is the introduction of a new software service over the Internet. It marks the start of an ongoing effort to attract and retain customers by continuously improving the software based on their feedback.

    This requires not just unveiling the software but also convincing potential users of the SaaS product's value and integrating their input to refine and enhance its features over time.

    The goal is to ingrain the software into users' daily routines, making it indispensable for their operations.

    What about how it's super similar to a regular product launch?

    Let's take a look at...

    How a SaaS Launch is different from a regular product launch?

    As we said, there are many ways a SaaS product launch is similar to a regular launch, apart from a few differences. The main 3 reasons are:

    1- Continuous Updates

    A SaaS product is typically launched in a way that anticipates continuous updates and new features. This then gives the product and the user a different relationship dynamic where updates take shape according to user feedback.

    The launch is also often not a one-time event but a phased rollout that might include beta releases, early access for specific users, and incremental updates.

    In contrast, traditional products, especially physical goods, often have a fixed version at launch. Changes or improvements to the product can only be made in subsequent releases or new editions rather than being continuously updated in the existing product.

    Most Apple products can be a good example of both: they can not change the titanium design of the iPhone 15, but they can always send in an ioS update to fix a software issue.

    2- Customer Acquisition and Revenue Model

    Almost all SaaS products that automatically come to mind use a subscription-based model.

    This means customer acquisition for a SaaS product focuses on long-term engagement and retention. Thus, the launch strategies often revolve around building an ongoing relationship to gradually convert users into paying customers over time.

    Traditional products, on the other hand, use a one-time purchase model or a limited warranty period. Meaning, the revenue generation is immediate upon purchase.

    And while repeat customers are important, the initial sale is almost always the primary focus of the launch.

    You cannot expect a Chanel perfume to have a long-term marketing plan before the go-to-market strategy, but you can expect that from an Atlassian product.

    3- User Feedback and Adaptation

    The relationship with user feedback is also a very polarizing factor.

    SaaS companies heavily rely on user feedback right off the bat to iterate and improve their product. And since the software is hosted centrally, feedback can be collected and iterated quicker and easier as well.

    The difference then boils down to a matter of timing.

    Implementing a change via user feedback can take as little as a week for a SaaS product. Most traditional products will have to wait until a second product launch of the newer version.

    And I mean at least a year for most cases.

    Remember how everyone was creeped out by the 2019 live-action Sonic trailer, and they had to redesign and release it in 2020?

    how to launch saas product sonic redesign

    That might not be any traditional product, but believe me, that kind of time would be brutal for a SaaS product 🫣

    Now, if we have established the difference, let's waste no time and dive right into how it works. Folks, here it is...

    The Ultimate SaaS Product Launch Checklist: Step-By-Step Guide to Launch Stages

    We still have the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phases for a SaaS launch plan as in physical products, but the steps within them have been slightly altered. Let's start:

    Pre-Launch Phase

    During the pre-launch phase, we need to answer 3 main questions:

    • What are we offering?
    • Who are we offering it to?
    • How are we offering it?

    And when it comes to a SaaS launch, we take upon these questions in 8 steps.

    1- Market Research

    So, in answering our first question, we need to know the context in which our product will exist — or if it will exist at all.

    3 motions define this step:

    • Analyzing the market trends and demands,
    • Identifying and studying your potential competitors, and
    • Validating the problem your product solves

    My go-to example for a good execution of these has been Slack for a while now. Slack saw the trend that remote work was growing popular, and they took their chance.

    People didn't know it yet, but they needed a way to collaborate remotely.

    This product, of course, needed to be in competition with a giant like Google Hangouts, which also launched in 2013.

    Slack's competitor research must have worked since it goes strong today still. But they didn't stop there and went ahead to Silicon Valley to validate their problem and the value of Slack's solution.

    how to launch saas product slack example
    Little did they know 🤭

    ‎All that gave Slack the launch push it needed, and 10 years later, it is the team collab tool.

    2- Product Development

    Once you've established your product on paper with a launch plan, it is time to put it into practice and actually build the tool.

    And that, of course, starts with developing an MVP (minimum viable product).

    If you don't know, now you do: 74% of startups fail because they try to scale too fast, too early.

    So, starting off with a version of your product that requires the bare minimum from your team and still offers value to the market is your first development goal.

    And it seriously doesn't even have to stay loyal to the product you will have in the end.

    Spotify's MVP was a landing page to prove to labels that they were trustworthy. Uber used an IOS-based text message system to call an Uber.

    how to launch saas product spotify example
    Not gonna lie, the lime green went kinda hard 🫣

    Only when you have an MVP that has garnered positive feedback and/or helped you fix the issues present can you start to work on scalability. Remember, you are not adding pieces of a car one by one. You are upgrading from a skate to a bike, a scooter, and eventually a car.

    Given that we're talking SaaS, this is also a good time to start incorporating security and data protection features as well. The earlier you create a trustworthy brand, the fewer problems you'll have when branding and positioning.

    Now, talking about branding...

    3- Branding and Positioning

    When it comes to branding, it is unfair to compare a SaaS product to iconic products like Nike and Apple.

    But can we compare it to Canva or Grammarly?

    Absolutely.

    In fact, I will go ahead and say that there is a lesson for any and every SaaS product out there in Canva's and Grammarly's branding and positioning. Let me do you the favor of dissecting it a little:

    👉 Both of these brands have uniquely positive and fun themes from their branding (brand colors, logo, how their platforms look)

    👉 Both of these brands have a clear position in their market, dare I say, even their own market. Canva created a hub for anyone to do designs, Grammarly made good grammar public property.


    how to launch saas product canva example
    Their value statement says it all perfectly ✌️

    That's how you create a brand image and your own position in the market.

    So, when it comes to your branding and positioning, focus on 3 motions:

    • Develop a strong brand identity that talks to that one user you are acquiring,
    • Craft a clear and compelling value proposition that will stand the test of time AND of the market,
    • Position the product effectively against competitors, which should come naturally once with a competitor analysis and good branding and positioning

    And do NOT try to be Canva or Grammarly. Find your own path. They are successful because they did exactly that.

    4- Target Audience and User Personas

    Now, that branding process has to go hand in hand with your user persona and target audience. We are slowly starting to answer our second SaaS launch question: "Who are we offering our product to?"

    Here are some best practices when creating your user personas in the pre-launch stage:

    📌 Do your research

    Because your resources are likely limited, and so is the data from product use, your first step has to be gathering all that from your target market.

    You can use beta versions of your product to know who reacts positively to your product.

    Early access feedback and continuous market research will be the base.

    📌 Iterate and refine

    A common fallacy when creating user personas is to create way too many, thinking they will naturally create different user segments.

    Now, I'm not saying leave it at one; if there are 2 or 3 ideal customers for your product —which is not unlikely at all —you should have 2-3 user personas.

    The trick is to know whether you actually need that many and to know that you will need to refine your user personas constantly.

    👉 The harsh truth is there are thousands of product managers who'll gain no success with your product, and it is completely natural. But there is a pretty big bunch who will be successful with it only when you seek them out.

    Your user persona cannot be a 35-year-old product manager in the US. That is, roughly every other person in SaaS.

    But it can be a product manager with an interest in AI and a designer background. Or a product manager who works from home and manages a big team in B2B.

    When you can profile your user personas based on their daily routines and business struggles, you can discover what they might suffer from daily doing their jobs.

    And when you know that, you know what pain points to address. Once you have a rough profile for your target audience, you will need to dig deeper.

    Because if you know that your user persona is the head of a product team of 5+ people and working from home, you can easily shape and tailor a product that would solve their problems.

    And when you know what these people suffer from and what they prefer, you know how to tailor your marketing messages.

    And knowing all this is how you can start to build trust.

    5- Pricing Strategy

    Deciding the pricing is among the first tasks for this stage.

    Your market research, competitor analysis, and certain factors during the software product development stage will dictate your pricing range.

    Some questions to ask yourself at this stage are:

    • Are you going to offer a subscription-based product?
    • Are you going to have a free version or a free trial? How long will it be?
    • What features can be included in the free version to promote upgrades?
    • Will you share pricing information publicly or offer custom quotes?

    Once these factors are decided, you can move on to planning for introductory offers or discounts.

    For example, Appsumo, a popular product launch channel for SaaS products, asks for tools to offer huge discounts as lifetime deals in exchange for a headstart in the industry.


    how to launch saas product appsumo pricing

    ‎In that same vein, the Product Hunt community has an unwritten rule for new launches to offer discounts that can range from 5% to 95%, depending on the tool.

    how to launch saas product product hunt deals
    An example from one of the latest launches on PH

    ‎If your internal teams and investors are also on board, there are very visible merits in playing around with your pricing during the launch period.

    Check out how to prepare for an Appsumo launch here 👈

    6- Marketing and Promotion Plan

    Though the marketing plan for a launch takes shape throughout each launch stage, it is important to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy early on.

    Remember, you need to promote your product before the actual launch, too.

    A comprehensive marketing strategy should at least have:

    • A multichannel promotion plan,
    • Teasers for the pre-launch stage,
    • Documentation for clear messaging and positioning,
    • Content marketing strategy for the long run, starting in pre-launch,
    • An email marketing strategy for each stage,
    • Clear objectives for each stage communicated to internet teams,
    • Metrics and KPIs decided during the pre-launch phase

    It is especially important to set the base for email marketing campaigns early to start lead nurturing.

    A search engine optimization strategy, though not fully established in the first stages, is also important to get relevant search engines working for you as soon as possible.

    Lastly, efforts and timing permitting, a social media presence can create a difference. The best practice here is to effectively use thought leadership and not rely on paid ads on social media.

    Unless actual people, the founder, investors, and team leaders don't boost the product personally, brand value and presence in B2B are harder to scale on social media.

    You simply have to have a compelling brand story.

    For example, Neil Patel co-founded KissMetrics and Crazy Egg, but he is also beyond these brands.

    If he were to launch another SaaS company tomorrow, you wouldn't follow how it's growing from the product's page; you would follow Neil Patel.

    how to launch saas product thought leadership neil patel

    7- Sales Strategy

    Once the ground is prepared and your marketing efforts are aligned, your next checkpoint is setting an effective sales strategy.

    Now, this isn't just about having enthusiastic salespeople; it’s about making sure they are fully equipped and informed. You have to make sure that your sales team knows your product from top to bottom.

    Of course, it is easy enough to go beyond the basic features.

    But beyond that, your sales team needs to comprehend the unique selling propositions (USPs) that differentiate your SaaS from the crowd. This training should be comprehensive and continuous, meaning you need to adapt as the product evolves post-launch.

    So what comes next?

    You need to start developing engaging sales materials like presentations and case studies that clearly communicate the benefits and features of your product.

    Additionally, craft compelling demos that showcase real-world applications of your SaaS.

    These tools are your team's bread and butter in convincingly demonstrating the value of the product to potential customers.

    Once you've prepared the materials, you will need a system to keep track of it all. Enter customer relationship management systems.

    Implementing a CRM will serve as the backbone for:

    • tracking all interactions with potential and existing customers,
    • managing sales funnels,
    • analyzing customer data to refine sales strategies

    8- Legal and Compliance

    Your SaaS product will likely handle a whole lot of user data. Making compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR (for the EU) and CCPA (in California) non-negotiable.

    So, for starters and in the long run, this step includes:

    • implementing appropriate data protection measures,
    • conducting regular compliance audits,
    • ensuring transparent user data handling practices

    The most substantial part of this during the pre-launch phase is preparing the terms of service and privacy policies for your product.

    These documents should be easily accessible and written in plain language to ensure users understand what they are agreeing to. This is not just a legal requirement but also builds trust with your users.

    Meta does a pretty good job handling its terms of use and privacy policies in a way that will be accessible to its users with its "Privacy Center."

    how to launch saas product facebook privacy center

    ‎And while we're at it, protecting your own intellectual property (IP) is also crucial.

    This could involve securing patents for unique technologies or processes, as well as registering trademarks for your product name and logo.

    Taking these steps early can prevent costly legal disputes and reinforce your brand’s market position.

    Now, assuming you are ready, let's take a look at...

    Launch Phase

    You've got it all prepped up, your go-to-market strategy is flawless, your tests are looking good, you've no legal problems in sight, and you are ready to roll.

    9- Launch Day Planning

    With everything ready, you need to call a date.

    But don't get me wrong, deciding the right date can be hard unless you do your homework right.

    And by homework, I mean a thorough market analysis for upcoming events in your industry and in-depth competitor research and their activities.

    These can be other product launches, competitor feature launches, or even irrelevant events from big enough companies, which can be disruptive at times.

    So, pick that date wisely.

    Once the date is decided, you can focus more on the actual launch. Now, you probably already decided whether you're doing a soft launch beforehand or if you're going all in with a full-scale launch.

    Depending on the type you go for, planning an on-premise, physical launch, or a webinar —or both—can make sense.

    A well-marketed webinar should do the trick if you're doing a soft launch.

    If you're doing a full-scale launch, a physical event can have advantages, especially if your product's merits are a bit more physical than your regular SaaS.

    👉 As an unofficial rule of thumb, more often than not, B2C finds more advantages in physical live events, while B2B sticking to a webinar is more impactful.

    Think Apple and Slack.

    Both can easily afford a physical live event, but you know which you can imagine actually doing it 🫣

    Now, whatever the medium might be, you cannot just introduce your product on the day and call it a day.

    You need some collabs and even influencers.

    For example, when ClickUp was launching its new popular music library, they collabed with Apple. Not only that, they also turned it into a contest to garner maximum marketability.

    how to launch saas product canva collaboration apple music

    ‎Remember, not every single one of your potential customers is automatically interested in your product launch.

    You are the one who needs to grab their attention with good marketing.

    When you feel confident you're ready for the event, there are a few more preparations to be done ⬇️

    10- Customer Support Preparation

    The launch stage equals the point in time when your product seizes to be a private project and turns into a very public endeavor. Especially after all the marketing we've done 😬

    And what exactly do we want from this now public entity?

    For it to sell.

    Now, you might have set up the most sophisticated one-click payment system there is, and you might have prepared such an extended knowledge base. But there will always be those who will run into problems.

    So, before the actual launch, the most important task is to make sure your staff is prepared to help and assist.

    They need to know all the answers to common questions or should have access to those who can answer them. Troubleshooting capabilities are also vital.

    And it doesn't end there.

    You can equip your team with the best tools and valuable information, but they should also be reachable.

    So, set up your customer support channels— live chat, email, phone—whatever you're going for. If your potential users will try to reach you via a letter, you simply have to be there.

    11- Monitoring and Analytics Setup

    This isn't just about knowing if users click on a specific feature; it’s about understanding the journey they take, where they come from, and what makes them stick around. Think of it as your product’s heartbeat monitor.

    Using tools like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, or Amplitude can provide a window into user behavior, acquisition sources, and conversion rates.

    Real-time monitoring dashboards are also non-negotiable.

    A real-time dashboard lets you keep your finger on the pulse. It alerts you to any sudden drops in sign-ups or engagement so you can intervene and save the day.

    But these are the tools. And your real best friend is feedback.

    In-app surveys, NPS prompts, and direct user feedback channels like Hotjar provide the raw, unfiltered truths from your users.

    You might want to try out UserGuiding's in-app surveys before the launch 👇

    Post-Launch Phase

    You did it! 🎉

    You launched your product, and it was a success. But there is still much to do. Because even though the post-launch phase comes to a close a few months after the launch, the practices here continue as your product evolves.

    Let's take a look at a few primary ones:

    12- User Feedback and Improvement Cycle

    Once the confetti from the launch has settled, the real work begins.

    And that real work starts with gathering more user feedback.

    We've collected some during the launch phase, but this process will stretch out for the post-launch phase as well. Think of it as your continuous improvement loop.

    Surveys and direct communication channels are your go-to tools.

    Platforms like SurveyMonkey or Typeform help gather structured feedback, while forums and support channels invite users to share their thoughts openly.

    Trello, for instance, uses forums and feedback forms to keep the user dialogue flowing.

    My personal favorite is Spotify when it comes to feedback since they have their own voting system for new ideas.

    how to launch saas product spotify feedback
    Really like that bottom left one 😅

    Now, collecting the feedback is one thing, and managing it is another.

    Check out our guide to utilizing feedback here 👈

    And if you're looking for software, tools like Trello or Jira can help categorize and manage feedback. This was the most impactful issue and requests can get addressed first.

    You might also want to keep the users in the loop. HubSpot makes an immaculate case of taking users seriously on the HubSpot community with the option to upvote and comment.

    how to launch saas product hubspot feedback collection

    ‎Now that we're in the post-launch phase, it is officially among your responsibilities to regularly update your product.

    Google Chrome, Slack, and Notion are notoriously good examples here.

    13- Performance Review

    As we've established above, the launch was just the beginning.

    Evaluating performance is key to understanding what hit the mark and what needs tweaking.

    Now, you'll need to get familiar with KPIs, aka key performance indicators.

    Metrics like sign-ups, user engagement, and revenue, tracked via tools like Google Analytics and Salesforce, reveal how well your launch strategies performed.

    On top of that, reviewing your marketing campaigns' performance helps identify which efforts paid off —and which didn't.

    Metrics such as engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates are crucial here. This analysis informs adjustments to marketing and sales strategies, ensuring future campaigns are even more effective.

    14- Growth and Expansion

    With a successful launch under your belt, it's time to think big. And then, bigger.

    Growth and expansion are the next frontiers.

    And growth can't come around before you evolve and/or perfect your product.

    Now, new features or services have the magical ability to keep your product competitive. And as you're handling that, user feedback and market trends will tell you if you're in the right direction.

    This way, you'll be adding value where it's needed most.

    Now, there is also the option of sailing for new adventures when you're growing.

    However, keep in mind that considering new markets or segments involves extensively researching and fully understanding different needs and preferences.

    This could mean localizing your product for different regions or targeting new industry segments. Similar to how HubSpot started off as a marketing tool and became an all-around CRM, you could evolve, too.

    But to be able to do that, you should plan ahead to be a scalable business.

    Planning for scalability basically means you are ensuring that your infrastructure and resources can handle growth. This involves:

    • optimizing server capacity,
    • improving support systems,
    • ensuring your product can scale seamlessly as your user base grows,
    • building features that can naturally complement bigger solutions,

    And more. But all in due time.

    This was our checklist for launching a SaaS product within the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch stages.

    Remember, this is the checklist for SaaS products, but if you're looking for a guide on how to launch a product, here's our general guide 👈

    Wrapping Up

    Launching a SaaS product, much like Nike's meticulous sneaker launches, involves strategic planning, execution, and continuous improvement.

    From initial market research to understanding user needs and refining your product, every step is crucial.

    And to make the best of it, all you need to do is fully understand one thing:

    Your SaaS product launch is a long but fruitful journey.

    Stay agile, listen to your users, and keep innovating. The market is ripe for new, game-changing solutions.

    Good luck with your launch! 🚀🍀

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