Product launch: How we got 3000 paying companies in just 3 months without spending a penny.
A product launch is tricky business. We had launched two different SaaS products before, but launching Beamer was quite different. With Beamer, we were launching a product built for other startup teams just like us. This challenged us to really dive deep into the buyer’s persona and think about the ideal channels and strategies we could use to grow Beamer.
In this post, we want to share with you how we successfully launched Beamer and grew to over 3000 paying companies and 4 million unique visitors in just 3 months.
Before we get started, what is Beamer?
Beamer is a smart and easy-to-use newsfeed and changelog to announce relevant news, your latest features, and updates. It’s the best way to keep users in the know about all of the updates you’re making to your website, your blog, e-commerce or app to boost engagement. You can also get immediate user feedback which helps you determine the success of your latest updates and better understand your users.
Beamer’s audience for this launch is really anyone with an app or website trying to increase their users’ engagement. We kept this in mind when determining how we were going to reach the right people most effectively.
Determine your target audience before product launch
When launching to build an initial user base, you want to make sure your effort puts you in front of the right target audience. This way you will get users that are much more likely to stay on long term and give you the feedback you need to improve your product. They are also the best marketing tool you will find. Referrals from a loyal initial user base is the best long term growth strategy.
This was the first time we were launching to an audience that was just like us. We needed to take a look back at how we found some of our favorite products and what we were looking for our own projects in the past.
Hello world! Leverage Product Hunt feedback to launch your product.
As a first step we launched our beta version in Product Hunt a few months ago. We really wanted to see how Beamer worked in the real world with real users. After a bunch of questions and hundreds of visits to our website we ended up in the top 5 hunts of the day. The feedback was great.
At the time we thought Beamer was just a changelog widget that SaaS product managers and marketing team would use to announce new features, but after Product Hunt we realized that there where dozens of use cases that we hadn’t even thought about before. From announcing new blog posts and promoting your social media profile to hand picking the best e-commerce deals and actually increasing sales. That opened a whole new world of opportunities.
Where is your market? Launch your product with AppSumo.
The next step, how are we going to target the masses. We decided on trying out a sale on AppSumo to reach a large group fast in our prime target market.
AppSumo is an awesome tool for both getting early traction for your new product and discovering new products for you business you get to use at a great price. AppSumo is essentially a deal marketplace for new digital products. It’s like a GroupOn for apps. For a limited time, you can buy access or a license to a product for a super cheap price compared to the norm. Typically, AppSumo deals are lifetime. You pay one time and get to use a product that usually costs a monthly fee for life. That’s the big draw. AppSumo has a newsletter audience of 700,000+ people interested in new tech products. They select the best new “deals” from tech products that have applied to launch a deal on AppSumo and they help blast it out to their audience through the newsletter, SEO and the site.
Make an offer they can’t refuse… and works for you.
The key to a great AppSumo launch is a price that gets Sumolings’ attention with a “too good to be true” effect. We needed to craft an offer that is both valuable and at a price point where it’s easy for someone to pull out their credit card and purchase without too much back and forth. How did we know what was a good price? Really, we asked ourselves what we, as a team, would be willing to pay to try out a product. Also, looking at other examples of successful AppSumo sales was helpful to gauge what Sumolings expect. Typically, there is a range that Sumolings are used to seeing and buying within. Just like with Groupon, seeing a super high price with a slash through it and a low offer instead gets people excited.
We decided on a $49 price tag for a lifetime license for Beamer. Beamer’s regular price is $49/month. This sounds absolutely too crazy to be true but it’s not. That was really what we sold our deal for and it really worked. We ended up selling 2,349 deals in just 14 days. Out of these, we had 130 refunds (it happens) resulting in $108,731 in net sales. It was like raising an extremely quick investment from a small angel while also gaining 2,349 initial users. And we threw in a few conditions to make those ‘lifetime’ users worth such a dramatic price cut (reduced Beamer watermark, limiting a few features, etc).
Sumolings use comments and pressure from the larger group to try to negotiate better conditions for your deal. After seeing feedback from Sumolings, we eliminated a 2,000 monthly user limit, removed branding from the stand alone page and eliminated a three month limit to upgrade to Pro. Remember, this is a GroupOn-like deal. You want it to be an undeniable value so people jump on it as quickly as possible. However, we stood our ground on our must-haves like the Beamer watermark and you’ll see why.
Take a growth hacking tip from Google
That crazy low one time price for Beamer wasn’t all for quick cash without a long term strategy. Here, we took a page out of Gmail’s playbook, actually. Back in the day when Gmail had just launched and was trying to take over Hotmail and Yahoo, they added a “Sent through Gmail” tag to the bottom of all emails automatically. Apple does this now with “Sent from my iPhone” on all emails. It’s a way to get your current users to promote your product by simply using the app, with no extra action required.
The one-time lifetime Beamer deal came with a similar condition. Lifetime deal buyers’ will have the Beamer watermark on their version of our product while at use on their site or app for life. Monthly paying Beamer users (which they can become if they want) can opt out of this watermark. So anytime someone else opens up Beamer on any of our 2,349 lifetime users, they will see a small and unobstructing “Powered by Beamer” with a link to our site. It’s an easy way to put those initial users to work promoting Beamer without them having to do a single thing but use the product. The other perk? They’re in for life. Once they set it up, there are no recurring payments so they are less likely to discontinue. It’s like us having ads up on 2,349 websites and apps for Beamer for an unlimited amount of time.
We started to see traction from this very simple growth hacking tip almost immediately. Our organic conversions during the following weeks after the deal was over rose to 5000% more than before the deal.
You got the traction, what’s next?
Our two week sale was a great success but we did jot down a few pointers to keep in mind if you plan to do the same.
Be extremely responsive. Prepare for crazy long hours.
Your product is getting sent out to 700,000+ people interested in buying and trying new products like yours. This is amazing opportunity to get feedback from 1000’s of real potential users in a short amount of time. Have a live chat system like Intercom implemented on your site to respond to questions quickly and collect feedback.
Have your tech team ready to iterate on feedback quickly.
It’s important to compromise on some points and show your users you are really listening to their feedback. But don’t compromise on everything. Identify your must-haves.
If you can show progress and responsiveness midway through the process you will earn a ton more new conversions. You need to be quick to make changes. For example, we created and launched a WordPress plugin and also simplified the script for Beamer after reading some of the feedback we were getting from the community and saw an immediate bump in sales. This applies not only for the launching process but for your business in general.
Ask for 5 star reviews
Many people are willing to write reviews but without some encouragement from your side they might not take the time. Reviews can be really helpful in prompting others to buy quickly while your deal is on.
Teach users how to leverage the value of your product with content.
Sometimes, especially with brand new products, it’s difficult to get new users to see full potential of your product in helping them reach their goals. The more questions they have about how they can use your product, the more likely they are to hold off on trying your product or abandoning it once they sign up. Use content on your site to guide users in making full use of your product. We created a guide for users on how to get started create the most engaging Beamer posts along with plenty of other guides. The more content you have up compelling users to begin engaging with your product with detailed on exactly how, the more engagement and long term loyalty you will see.
Integrate with the tools your users are already using
Over 70% of your users will disappear in the first week of downloading or signing up for your product. The key to long term engagement is making your product an easy part of their already existing processes. The more effort it is to leverage the value of your product, the less likely they are to become long term customers. Integrate your product with the tools your users are already likely using. For example, we implemented a WordPress plugin, after some feedback from initial users. We also created a Zapier integration so users can create their own integrations with whatever apps they want. Another benefit is being listed in other apps “marketplaces” of integrations. Users browsing integration options in other apps can discover yours and end up becoming a lead. We’ve seen a significant increase in traffic since adding more integrations.
Keep new users updated after product launch with…Beamer
Fortunately for us Beamer is actually a great growth hacking tool post-launch in its own right. We use Beamer to let our new users know about updates and new content we are creating to help them with their own user engagement improvement. You can create visual updates using images, videos, and GIFs to better catch attention and explain changes. Updates can be segmented for specific groups of users based on demographics and behavior to further personalize your newsfeed. You can use Beamer to let users know your plans for upcoming changes to your app. In our case we let all new Sumoling users know that we are going to be introducing new integrations for Shopify and Woocommerce and an API to get them excited about Beamer’s future performance. Companies using Beamer, including our own, have seen up to 10 times more user engagement compared to email and other announcement methods.
Launching a new product is not a science. If you’re planning a product launch, consider these tips to not only get a boost of cash but also an insightful initial user base that can really help you improve your product and grow organically.
If you want to let users know about how you’re updating your new product and keep them on board, try out Beamer for free on your site or app.