Launch plan: Turning your waitlist into actual users
Do you have a waitlist of prospective users for your upcoming product launch? Here are some ideas for how to create a launch plan for when you go live.
So you have a new idea for a startup. Or, at the very least, a sweet new domain name you want to do something with. Before, or maybe while, you start out doing prospective user interviews to validate the idea, you might also want to throw up a landing page. Here you can get a bit of additional validation by collecting pre-registrations or subscribers. Not only does this show you if people are interested, but it also gives you a pool of prospective interviewees, and even better, a collection of potential users for when you launch. Here we’ll focus on that last step - actually turning this interest into users. We are basing this on what worked well for us here at Taskable and what we might have done differently. Hopefully, these ideas help you while creating your launch plan.
Talk to them
Please don't wait until your product launch to communicate with them. Send them updates on what you're working on. Most importantly, ask them for user interviews or surveys. The more you've communicated with them, the more you understand their problems, their engagement, and what they are interested in or click on.
Focus on the most engaged subscribers
Since you’ll hopefully be sending these subscribers emails and asking them to do surveys or have an interview with you, you will probably get a sense of who the real engaged users are. I’d focus on them early. There are a few reasons for this. First, they are most likely to convert, meaning you can spend less time convincing them. Additionally, given their engagement, they are likely to be feeling the problem or headache more acutely, so it will potentially give you better data. When we first started inviting our subscribers to start using Taskable, we started going down the list by sign up. There were many reasons this was a silly idea. Most importantly, it just didn’t take into account how interested the prospective user was.
Remind subscribers who you are in the invite
People are busy. They might be subscribing to lots of product launches. Jog their memory as to how they found you. The first batch of emails we sent out to the top 20 subscribers was missing some essential info, like a sentence on Taskable (duh!) and where the user found us. In hindsight, I feel pretty dumb. It’s my product, and I figured everyone was as excited about it as me. That wasn’t the case, and most people probably forgot we existed, or where we came from, or why they were interested enough in the first place to put their email address in the form. Luckily a very nice subscriber in that first batch sent me an email back saying what I outlined above. We then added more info into our invite emails, and conversions increased.
Test different copy in the invites
If you have many people subscribed, this is an excellent opportunity to test out different copy and see what converts best. Test out your messaging, maybe even try switching up onboard flows (live demo vs. self-serve onboard, for example).
Create a campaign
Like any other email marketing campaign, conversions and clickthroughs will vary. You might get a poor response to the first email. Again, people are busy, and the reason they wanted to try out your product a few weeks or months ago might be less pressing now. Send a few emails until the user converts. We used Intercom for this, which has a $49 startup plan. We’d tag users once they’d booked an onboard using Calendly and Zapier, and that would remove them from the email campaign. You can also use Autopilot or Reply.io for this as well. Just remember, 1 beta subscriber != 1 new user. Not everyone who pre-registered is going to start using the product. Most probably won’t! We’ve had a conversion rate of about 25%.
Keep talking to them
Just because someone doesn’t register right away doesn’t mean they won’t ever register. Keep talking to those subscribers through a monthly update with new features, news, content, whatever you can. Keep yourself top of mind - there might be a new problem you solve that resonates with them, or maybe a product screenshot you post blows them away. They might remember what interested them in the first place. We’ve had several users who pre-registered early on that we didn’t hear from for months. But we kept them on the mailing list, and 6+ months later, they booked an onboard to try out Taskable.
So, to recap our tips for your launch plan:
- Talk to subscribers early and often
- Pick out the most engaged subscribers
- Remind them who you are and why they were interested in the first place
- Test out different copy and onboarding flows
- Please send a few emails until they sign up
- Keep talking to them if they don’t
We originally posted this in Indie Hackers. There is a ton of other great advice in there if you are interested.