Launching a product is the culmination of years of effort, time, and resources, making it a significant milestone for a SaaS company. However, developing the product is only the beginning of the journey. For any product to succeed, it needs to reach the target audience and find customers willing to pay for it.
Launching the right product at the right time and price point can assure success and recognition. A well-planned and executed product launch is critical, with serious repercussions if botched up. Studies show over 30,000 new consumer products hit the market every year, of which 95% of new products miss the mark.
What is the differentiator for the remaining 5%? Innovations often fail because they introduce products or solutions without real market need. A B2B product launch checklist is valuable for all stakeholders, offering the necessary structure and vision and ensuring everything goes as planned.
Any B2B SaaS product launch consists of three stages:
A stage-wise checklist provides detailed information for every step in the process, making organization simple. It also serves as an effective way of prioritizing tasks and scheduling everything that needs to be done so deadlines are met easily. Let’s delve into what constitutes a B2B product launch checklist for each stage.
The B2B Product Pre-Launch Checklist
The first stage, ‘Pre-launch,’ is about knowing the market and the existing players.
Analyze the market
The first thing to do is to get comprehensive information about your competitors and the target market. Before any new product is developed, it is imperative to know what other players offer, their strengths, and their shortcomings.
Understanding user needs and expectations will help companies build a robust foundation about the market, the existing players, and potential differentiators for market penetration.
SEO and website analysis
The best way to get more competitor insights is to analyze their websites. Start with the design, outlook, and content. This will go a long way in understanding how best to design your website for optimum customer engagement and help create appealing content for your target demographic.
Consistent branding makes a tangible impact. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of businesses say brand consistency has contributed to 10 percent or more revenue growth.
Going through their collaterals, blogs, white papers, or updates will build an understanding of what they are doing and how you can improve. This will provide insights into their products, positioning, prices, and strategies.
The next step is to dive into their SEO. How do they rank in search engines? This analysis will give you an idea of their SEO strategies and effectiveness. You can leverage any of the tools available in the market for comprehensive SEO analysis. This will help in creating bespoke SEO strategies.
Social media analysis
Using social media for customer engagement, product promotion, and other purposes is indispensable in the B2B marketplace today. Reports show that 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social media while making purchasing decisions. Here are some questions to consider:
- What is their style of engagement?
- How are their products being positioned?
- What kind of content are they putting up across different platforms?
- Which of their posts are receiving high user engagement?
- What are the customer pain points or concerns?
- What is their price point? Are they offering any consistent deals or promotions?
An in-depth analysis of your competitor's social media accounts will help create content that will resonate with your target audience.
Define your unique selling proposition
Analyzing your competitors will provide a fair idea of the market and customer needs. This will allow you to develop and define your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Defining a USP is not about finding something you are the best at. Another company may always come along that can do it better. It is about figuring out what matters to your customers that no one else has made their specialty. Finding your USP requires asking two questions:
- What do your customers want?
- What does your organization work on that no other companies seem to do?
Your USP isn’t just something that stands out from your competitors. It is a fundamental aspect that offers a seamless end-to-end customer experience, meets their evolving expectations, and addresses existing pain points.
Defining and delivering on your USP is critical to gaining market share and building user trust.
Create your user persona
Every product has a preferred set of users or a target demographic. A user persona is a profile that depicts a sub-category of your larger target audience. These user personas are typically based on real-life data and mirror the expectations and requirements of the target audience.
Conventional data points were based on demographic data such as age, education level, marital status, family status, etc. However, while some of these play a role today, it is important to consider why you need to develop a user persona.
You always need to know how your users are feeling. For instance, what are they thinking? How are they applying that to your product or service? What are their pain points and frustrations?
These aspects provide a nuanced understanding of the target audience: who they are and how they interact with and use your product or service. These data points further provide information on how best to improve your product.
Creating user personas is critical because they humanize your user research and convert data points to coherent representations of the audience's needs. The information to be included in user personas is contextual and based on the questions you seek answers for. For instance, gender and geographic location may or may not be important, but an age range or annual income may be relevant. User personas need to be done on a case-by-case basis, considering user context.
Different user personas can help the developers create different pitches and demos and formulate effective marketing strategies based on each persona.
Create a brand story
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Brand storytelling is a tremendous differentiator and ensures your B2B SaaS product is memorable—the best way to establish a relationship with your audience.
When consumers relate to your central ‘why,’ they are more likely to purchase your products. Storytelling helps customers understand the brand and why the product exists. A compelling brand story helps prospective users understand how your product solves their problems and why they should choose you. A study by Neuromarketing of 1400 successful advertising campaigns found ads that used emotional branding performed twice as well as those that used rational content to sell their products.
Brand stories need to weave creative narratives depicting the company or the product in relatable, human contexts. Incorporate that story into your website, social media accounts, marketing collaterals, etc. This provides an identity and humanizes the brand as more than a faceless corporate entity building complex products. Incorporate prominent product features in your story so that user benefits are apparent. If your products save time or money, tell that story.
Beta-test your product
Once you have incorporated everything learned from the earlier stages, the next step is to beta-test your product. This can be done by offering free trials or demo versions of your products.
Beta testing is the most promising way to uncover bugs or usability issues before the B2B SaaS product is fully launched. Beta testers will run the application or use the product in the real world across diverse platforms and environments. After this process, they will provide feedback on their experience, the features they liked, the features that can be improved upon, etc. It is imperative to get detailed, objective feedback from your beta testers and evaluate their feedback in improving your product. Finding early beta customers for B2B SaaS products can be done in some of the following ways:
- Reach out to existing clients, colleagues, collaborators, and others in your network
- Startup listing sites are a great way to beta test due to their large audience dedicated to trying out new software
- Newsletters and emails are highly cost-effective methods to get beta testers, especially if you’re an early-stage startup
The B2B Product Launch Checklist
At this point, you have set the stage with a robust structural framework to launch a B2B SaaS product. Now is the time to launch and sign up customers. This stage will include the following:
Product branding and marketing
Buyers of B2B SaaS products today are typically well-informed about the market and make calculated decisions before making any changes or buying a product from a new service provider. Product branding aims to differentiate your B2B SaaS product from the competition. This also creates or narrows the market to the audience you want to reach.
Not investing in product branding and marketing will lead to poorly-defined products. Social media engagement is no longer optional but a strategic imperative. Effectively leveraging social media can bring good traction and create heightened anticipation, awareness, and interest in the products before the launch. Building brand awareness across social media channels and disseminating quality content is the priority at this product launch stage. Web copy and SEO also play a critical role in spreading awareness and increasing user engagement.
79 percent of people say that user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Besides social media, the brand must design and implement appropriate marketing and outreach programs across other platforms to garner attention and generate awareness. A conventional method of announcing a B2B SaaS product launch is to send newsletters to existing clients and contacts apart from publishing blog posts and other collaterals.
With multiple options for reaching out to potential customers, choosing your medium wisely based on your target customers' user persona is essential. Select platforms that will have the maximum impact within your budget. Ensure enough thought, time, and resources are spent building the brand.
Pricing a B2B SaaS product can be a very challenging task. If the price is too low, the company may incur a loss. Price it too high, and you may not get enough users. While deciding on the pricing, you will need to analyze competitor pricing, how users perceive the brand, and the costs that need to be recovered from the sale of your product.
There are various methods of arriving at the price of your products. The simplest way to do this is to determine the base cost and add a markup to ensure a profit on each sale. Alternatively, you could price the product by keeping the competition as a base. Depending on how the market perceives your product, you can charge the same or go above or below that price.
However, if your product’s value is such that competition isn’t in the picture or is redundant, you can price your product depending on the value the target audience perceives.
A popular method to capture market share is pricing products at a low price, known as penetration pricing. You could also try the freemium model, where basic features of your product are offered for free while advanced or additional features are chargeable.
An optimal pricing model will help attract more customers and sell more subscriptions, increasing monthly recurring revenue. The idea is to select a pricing model that delivers the best cost-to-value ratio to be viable market competition.
Interactive product demos allow users to understand how your product works in real life through a step-by-step process. Live product demos during one-on-one interactions will make it easier to explain the salient features of the SaaS products more effectively.
By demonstrating the product's value, features, and functionalities, users can also ask questions and get prompt answers, increasing the likelihood of them signing up for the product.
Several tools are also available to create interactive product demos, both live and pre-recorded. Numerous new online meeting tools provide use-case-specific advantages over general tools such as Demodesk, for instance. This will simplify building a product demo, keeping track of the performance, and analyzing it for future reference.
The logical step after product demos is to develop special promotional early-bird offers. Freemium models, for instance, are a great way to reach the audience. Promotional offers facilitate the trial and adoption of a new service while building brand awareness and expanding reach.
This can help accelerate profit growth and increase recurring revenue. Additionally, promotional offers are a great way to build a user database, gain feedback, and meet their expectations. Target users can access a limited version of the B2B SaaS product or service and, based on their requirements, upgrade or continue using it.
Discounts are another popular way to attract users to a new B2B SaaS product launch. This could include offering a percentage off for those who sign up during the launch period. Full access to all features while on trial would also be highly enticing.
Figuring out which promotional strategy will work best requires in-depth market research. What offers are your competitors presenting? Some B2B SaaS companies offer discounts during the first month. Another strategy is offering discounts above a minimum number of subscriptions/licenses. Knowing the market policy on this will help structure a discount strategy.
When running promotional offers at the B2B SaaS product launch, it is essential to communicate the value of what is being offered and when it will end.
Logistics at this stage of the product launch includes the following aspects:
Distribution channels are broadly categorized into direct and indirect. In the former case, the company sells products directly to customers, usually through its website. The indirect SaaS distribution model is when the company distributes products through third-party resellers.
Direct SaaS distribution channels can forge a natural rapport with the audience through a transparent approach to showcase, sell, and support the SaaS product. This strategy requires:
- Extensive inbound marketing (blog posts, social media, collaterals, etc.)
- Outbound outreach (cold calls/emails, ads across digital and offline platforms, etc.)
- In-person events (conferences, seminars, workshops, etc.)
Indirect distribution channels offer numerous ways for SaaS companies to amplify their reach and expand their customer base. These channels provide a robust framework for B2B SaaS companies to navigate a complex digital landscape. Indirect channels include app store marketplaces, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, SaaS resellers, professional services firms, etc.
Leveraging a combination of these two approaches will allow companies to create a diversified distribution channel strategy, increasing their market presence and enabling sustainable growth.
Supply and Demand
Conduct market studies to assess the demand for your B2B SaaS product. These will help ensure enough supply to meet the projected demand by allocating specific resources as and when required.
It is also imperative to ensure there is bandwidth to take care of sudden spikes in demand. If you cannot deliver your product as promised, it could result in losing goodwill, customers, and revenue.
Once the logistics have been handled, it is time to implement your go-to-market (GTM) Strategy. A sound GTM strategy should include the following:
- A realistic, reasonable launch date
- Product branding that takes into consideration the brand story and values, including the logo, font, color scheme, content, product packaging, etc.
- Marketing and advertising plan, including the budget, the preferred digital and offline platforms, paid advertisements, etc
- Collaterals, including product brochures, pitch decks, and technical materials
- An updated website with relevant product information, features, launch information, etc.
- Press releases, pitch decks, media kits, interviews, or promotional posts across various (online and offline) platforms
Train and document
Properly trained sales and support teams are non-negotiable. They form the crux of the customer experience and should be able to explain product features, answer queries patiently and promptly, and guide customers during interactions.
Up-to-date marketing and technical collaterals are an excellent guide for support and sales teams. These teams must be trained to properly record customer feedback so that it can be analyzed to improve the product and the CX.
Easy-to-understand product literature is non-negotiable at this stage of the product launch. This should cover the user manual, installation, onboarding guide, etc. This documentation needs to be updated periodically so that it is relevant, accurate, and easy to understand. If the company expects to expand into global markets, it is necessary to translate the documentation accurately. Creating interactive and visual documentation will help users better understand the product's application.
A SaaS product roadmap conveys a broad timeline of new features and other modifications to existing products. It also indicates what customers can expect from the company in the following months. This is a great way to establish trust, build relationships, and increase customer loyalty.
This strategy can cultivate curiosity and anticipation for the product launch while handling product development concerns. Additionally, sharing the product roadmap can set realistic expectations for stakeholders and customers and create visibility around the B2B SaaS product launch.
The entire team needs to know their expectations and be aligned on the individual and collective goals. Engaging with many customers on the launch day can be overwhelming, and the teams should be well-prepared.
The core team needs to be present during the launch and be part of the customer success team to see how users react to the products. This will allow developers, managers, and marketers to understand first impressions. The teams also need to collect feedback from customers.
The B2B SaaS Product Post-Launch Checklist
After the product is launched, the work is far from over. Here is what needs to be taken care of once your product is in the market and open to users.
The logical first step is to evaluate the results of the product launch.
- How did the product launch go?
- What were the challenges?
- How was the general response?
- What was the feedback from various stakeholders?
- What was the customer feedback?
Evaluating the result will give an idea about how to improve performance for the next time. Streamlining the product requires taking the time to evaluate the progress and create an informed strategy next time around.
Smooth onboarding of new customers
The next step after launching a SaaS B2B product is to ensure a smooth user onboarding process. After users have signed up or opted for a free trial, ensuring they engage with it and use it as intended is crucial. This is essential for them to activate the product and become paying customers.
The copy throughout the product, such as the welcome message, must be polished, relevant, and helpful. The content must be designed to guide users to relevant features and enable them to interact with the product.
One way to do this is through in-app onboarding guidance. Interactive product walkthroughs are another alternative. Creating mini-surveys or checklists to identify user needs will help provide tailored experiences. This can be done by categorizing users based on their roles and requirements, whether they are new or existing customers, etc.
Collecting customer feedback throughout the onboarding process is essential. This offers valuable insights, helps streamline the process, and lets companies stay abreast of evolving customer expectations.
Identify leaks in the user's journey
At this stage, checking if users are completing the entire journey is crucial. If users are dropping off at a certain point, these leaks must be addressed.
For instance, users are not spending enough time on the products page, leading to reduced engagement. Adding a product demo will show how this B2B SaaS product can benefit users. This will go a long way toward retention and elevating interest.
Making small changes will help increase the conversion rate and obtain new customers for your products.
Evaluate prospect reactions
Suppose the product demo is running on the website; how are users responding to it? Evaluating prospect reactions will help tweak the marketing strategy.
If the product demo gets the desired response, the next step is generating more awareness and interest among the target customers. However, if the demo is not getting the expected response, the team needs to identify the errors and how to make it more appealing and effective.
Hone the outreach strategy
An effective outreach strategy is imperative for maximum sign-ups after the B2B SaaS product launch. Leveraging the user persona created in the pre-launch stage and strategizing based on the data points available is a great way to increase engagement.
A well-constructed outreach strategy will identify new prospects and reach out to them at the right time to increase the chances of their signing up. Sending prospects messages at the optimal time and engaging with them once the message is out is essential to succeed, get new customers, expand reach, and grow.
Are customers feeling like they are getting the best out of this B2B SaaS product? Do they think it's worth the investment?
Each step of this B2B product launch checklist is meant to create value for the target customers so that they become a part of your product journey. Whether through an outreach program or giving them the product demo, if users experience the product's value and how it will help them function better or ease their pain points, they are more likely to convert to paying customers.
As discussed earlier, gathering customer feedback is non-negotiable. This begins with understanding the processes that are causing friction or leaks and need to be improved.
What are the user’s pain points while using the product? What are their concerns or apprehensions? Using micro surveys at different points can furnish essential insights about what is working and what isn’t.
Gather as much information as possible and analyze it to enhance the product and processes to improve the user experience next time.
What is a product launch?
A product launch is when a company launches a product in the market, making it available to the general public for their use.
Until the product is launched, it is used by internal users and beta testers. Ideally, the product launch should be planned in three stages: pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.
What are some of the KPIs to measure B2B product launch success?
Launch campaign metrics
- Website traffic
- Leads generated
- Social media engagement
- Media coverage
Product adoption metrics
- Free trials started
- Paid conversions
- Active users
- Feature adoption rate
Market impact metrics
- Market share
- Customer satisfaction
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer testimonials
- Case studies
- Product reviews
- Support tickets
You can choose the KPIs most relevant to your product and business goals.
How long does it take to launch a SaaS product?
There is no standard timeline or benchmark for a SaaS product launch. The timeline depends entirely on the nature of the product and may take several months to complete all the stages of a product launch.
What is a B2B product launch checklist?
A B2B product launch checklist will guide the various teams involved throughout the product launch process. This checklist will catalog the various tasks to be completed at every stage.
Why is a B2B product launch checklist essential?
A successful product launch requires meticulous planning and precision. To ensure that the entire team is on the same page and to enable cohesion, it is necessary to list the various steps of the product launch along with what is required and expected from every team member at every stage. A product launch checklist makes tracking progress easier and helps orchestrate a smooth launch.
What are the benefits of a product launch?
A well-planned and executed product launch can create a lot of hype and awareness around the product, increase engagement, announce the arrival of the product in the market, and increase sales and market share.