A successful software launch can be a critical component to the long-term viability of your software product or service. Keep reading to learn how to plan an app launch to really boost your product's success.
Software and services companies spend a lot of time and energy developing and productizing their software product or service. But many times the strategy for the actual product launch and marketing is an afterthought. The truth is that as much time and energy should go into planning the launch and the ongoing software marketing strategy as goes into developing and testing the actual product.
Start by following the six steps below to plan your software launch.
Regardless of the size of your software company or the complexity of your product portfolio, it is critical to plan for your software introduction to the marketplace. There are key steps that should be done well before your software is ready for the first customer sale.
This will not only help ramp your software sales once you do launch. It can also give you a feel for the marketplace. The reaction of potential customers to your product pre-launch marketing can help you complete final tweaks or positioning of your product before launch rather than scrambling after.
Determine your company/product names, versioning (and names for different versions), and your domain name(s). This should be done as soon as possible during the early planning stages of your product. If you can, get feedback from some target customers on product naming.
Register your domain name(s) as soon as you have determined your company/product names (and, in fact, you may need to do both at the same time, because available domain names may influence what you end up choosing for company or product naming). You do not need to wait until you are ready to put up your website to register your domain name. Domain names are cheap, and you don’t want to do all the naming planning and then find out that your domain name is no longer available.
Start interacting with your target customer audience as early as possible. This will help you better learn their needs in the early stages. Then later it will allow you to start to get some name recognition out there in advance of your product and finally you can start feeding some early buzz. The easiest way to do this is by finding online forums or discussion groups that your target customers participate in. Make sure any contribution you make is a value-add to the forum, however, and not just marketing/advertising of your product or service.
Develop logos and branding: make sure you have a company logo, as well as product logo(s) completed and get some feedback from target customers in the process if possible. It is important that your logo properly reflects the first impression you want for your company and product.
Get the company/product web site up well before introducing the software product or service. It takes time for the search engines to take a new domain seriously and for traffic to the site to build. You should have a live web site up several months prior to the software launch. Rather than just having “product coming soon” type messaging (which the search engines will not take seriously), put up information and content that is valuable to the customer base you are targeting. That way, you will already have presold your customers on your company and your website, and they will be more ready to buy at your software launch.
Start gathering an (opt-in) email list prior to your software product or service launch. Then when you are ready to launch, you have a list already built to notify about your product. You can make an email list by having a sign-up form on your contact-us page on your website, or even better by starting a regular newsletter that will allow you to keep in regular communication with your target customers.