Planning to launch is different than planning a launch.
Ask most people in the online marketing space and they’ll tell you they plan to launch. The difference between those who launch and those who never do, however, is whether or not they have a solid launch plan.
Most people new to the online space don’t fully realize what goes into a full-scale digital product launch, and that without a plan it likely isn’t going to happen.
Here’s what successful, comprehensive launch plans need to consider.
Who Will Your Online Product Launch Target?
The first thing you need to think about when coming up with a launch plan is the people you’ll be serving with this launch. Note that I didn’t say selling to. If you’re simply selling to someone, the launch can really be done on your terms because you’re not concerned with your audience.
If what you want instead is to serve people who need what you have to offer, you want to be sure to consider those people when you begin your launch plan.
When is it best to reach your ideal client?
Think about the people you want to work with the most.
What does their life look like? When do they have time to really focus on what you’ll be offering to them and when is it a bad time to ask them to add another thing to their plate? We all know that the holiday season of mid-late December is busy but what other times might not work for your people? Teachers probably aren’t going to be consuming content in early – mid September, for example, so planning a launch for teachers wouldn’t be smart during that time.
Where are they learning from you? Are they consuming your content while sitting in the car at their kids’ practices (video might be good), or are they sneaking it during breaks at work (maybe email is best). Can they take in a webinar from you at work because it’s linked to professional development or is it better to interact with them during their free time during the evenings and weekends?
Where do they hang out online? Are they on Facebook because they’re active in other people’s groups or do they prefer the professional vibe of Linked in? Rather than spreading yourself thin over several different platforms, know where you need to focus your time and consider if you already have a presence there or if you need to create one before you launch.
How Many People Are on Your Launch List?
Also critical to your launch timeline is determining how many engaged people you have on your email launch list. Note that I didn’t say how many people. I said engaged people. This means that if you send an email out you get responses. People are not only opening your emails (email open rates are often inaccurate), but they click on links and interact with you. This means you have a warm, engaged list.
Launching is a numbers game. With a warm list, a first-time launch can expect to convert at a rate of 3-5%. That means if you launch to a warm list of 100 people, getting between 3 and 5 people to buy from you would be considered a success.
If you’re offering 1:1 coaching services that might be all you need to bring in some money and prove your idea is a success. But if you’re trying to offer a low-priced group offer, you’re going to need a bigger list to get the numbers you need to cover your time and costs.
If adding people to your email list before you launch is critical for you to achieve the numbers you’re looking for, you need to include a list building strategy to the front end of your launch plan.
What is Your Launch Content Strategy?
There are many product launch content ideas with more being developed all the time. Some of the more common are:
- Live launches: Launch content is delivered via live streaming either on Facebook, YouTube, or other service. This allows people to feel like they are part of the launch and to react and interact with what you are saying.
- Pre-recorded video: The pre-recorded launch is typically marketed as a masterclass or multi-part workshop. In this type of launch, you record the videos prior to the launch start date. The content can either be dripped out daily or can be made “binge-worthy” and made available all at once. Either way it’s important to not make each individual video so long that it is difficult to consume.
- Webinar launches: Webinar launches can either be done live, pre-recorded or as a combination of both. Typically the webinar script and slide deck are prepared ahead of time, with the webinar itself presented as a workshop or masterclass live.
You can read more about different types of launches here.
What Does Your Launch Timeline Look Like?
Your launch timeline will depend largely on which the type of launch you choose to do. A full scale, pre-recorded 4-part video series launch timeline needs to take into account time to write and edit scripts, record the video and then get it edited. That can be a significant amount of time that needs to be built into your timeline.
If, on the other hand, you’ll be doing a live launch, you only need to figure in the time to create an outline of what your presentation will include and learn the technology required for its delivery.
Once you’ve figured out what type of launch you want to do, you’ll need to identify if there are gaps you’ll need to fill to execute your plan. A video launch, for example, may require you to find a video editor and consider their turnaround time. Learning to edit your own videos could take even more time.
Maybe you’ll need to hire help to create your landing pages, your scripts or your webinar slides. Don’t forget to not only include your time for the parts of each that you’ll need to create, but also the time you’ll need to find, hire and train someone else to help you if necessary.
What Types of Content Do You Need to Have Before You Start Planning a Launch?
You also should consider a content calendar into your overall launch strategy months before you actually launch. What types of content should you create to prime people for the offer you’re getting ready to present? Are there blog posts or emails that will help the people you want to serve be better prepared for what you ultimately want them to buy for you?
If you remember back a few years (maybe more than a few), when Apple unveiled the iPad, the overall response was, “What the heck do you do with it?” No one knew. At best it seemed like a way to watch your own movies on an airplane, at worst, it seemed like just a bigger type of phone or a smaller type of laptop. Only because Apple had such a devoted following did people buy the iPad without actually knowing what it did. You are not Apple. That isn’t likely to happen for you. If people are confused, they won’t buy.
When you launch, the last thing you want is for people to not understand why they need or want what you have to sell. The pre-launch content will help with that, of course, but don’t underestimate the importance of the content you are providing before your pre-launch content even begins.
Create a launch content calendar that includes the weeks and months prior to your launch so that you are educating people and starting to create desire and demand for what you have to offer.
You can read more about the types of launch content to consider here.
What is Your Social Media Launch Strategy?
Part of your launch content strategy should also include a strategy for social media during your launch. Make sure you’re posting regularly on your social media pages and groups prior to your launch date to increase engagement and interest in what you’re doing. Social media can be a useful launch tool, but not if you wait to use it until you’re in launch mode. Build up your time spent on social and have it support your other content well before your launch begins.
For some people, this may mean hiring a social media strategist, or adding time to your own schedule to really focus on not only creating the social media launch plan, but also the posts leading up to the launch. Even though you may think you’ll just post each day, when you get in the throes of a launch, it’s easy to miss this step. Plan it out and schedule it ahead of time.
How will people purchase your online product?
As crazy as it seems, this is something a remarkable number of people forget until the night before their cart opens. For some reason people just think they’ll send their buyers to a checkout page where they’ll be able to purchase the course or membership online without realizing the tech that goes in to such pages.
Make sure you know how people will buy your online course or membership long before cart even opens. While some services, like Leadpages or Membervault, do include a way for people to buy a product, it could be possible that none of the services you are currently using do, and that you’ll need to identify a new piece of you need.
Integrating the financial aspects of a checkout page can also take time. Depending on where you are in the world, or where your ideal clients are, you may have to undergo some regulations in order to set up your payment processor. Don’t leave this until the last minute.
How Will You Build Your List During a Launch?
A successful launch will not only sell your course, membership or digital product, it will also add people to your email list. Part of a successful launch plan is building into the plan a way to make that happen. If you plan to offer workbooks or worksheets with your free workshop or masterclass, for example, you need to have that workbook, along with the associated landing page and integrations set up before the launch begins.
Launches are a lot of work and while the goal is to make sure as many people as possible see the launch content, you want to be sure you have a way to capture the email address of those people who are consuming the content and want to get more info from you without completely locking down all of the content so that it can’t be shared. Leave this piece out and you’re missing an important part of the plan.
Planning a Launch is Critical to Your Launch’s Success
The more thought you put into a launch plan, the more detail you include, the more likely you are to actually close cart on a launch you are proud of. Too often people worry about the minutiae of a launch but don’t consider their overall plan.
To help, I’ve created an Online Business Launch Planner that walks you through the planning of a launch, as well as gives you a place to track your links, read more about the specific steps and discover things about launching you’ve probably never considered. You can get it here.
Good luck and happy launching. Remember – the key to getting your online product launched is having a launch plan, not just a plan to launch. There is a definitely a difference.