As product marketing managers (PMMs), I am sure when you hear the words “product launch”, it automatically rings a bell. It reminds you of all the excitement and effort that accompanies you when trying to bring a product into the market.
Segmentation, value proposition, messaging strategy, marketing, and sales alignment, as well as content development, are some of the activities that you have to drive for a successful product launch.
And then the launch date arrives; the product is out, the marketing activities kick-off and the celebration begins — what a relief, right? Our job is done!
The real question is “are we done?”
The importance of post-launch
Most of our attention and responsibility is focused on the product launch stage.
Even the content provided to educate PMMs is usually around the topic "how to create amazing product launches?".
Companies prioritize their roadmaps on new products and features or they try to extend the same launch activities further. The success of a product doesn’t solely rely upon the launch strategy and its activities in the market
The reality is that a product launch is just half of the actual goal that the company has to fulfill.
An essential element of success is what happens afterward and how your customers perceive and experience the product offering, that’s the post-launch stage.
The most significant risk you can fall into by not having a post-launch stage planned is that you will end up with an outdated product a few months after. High churn rate and a huge investment to gain back the lost market share will be some of the negative outcomes when not considering the importance of this stage.
Strategies for a successful post-launch campaign
Let’s have a look at the key strategies you can follow for a successful post-launch campaign.
1. Check your data
It is not only the results from the marketing activities you have to look but the end-to-end customer experience. You have to make sure that before the launch, all the tracking mechanisms and analytics are in place. Some of the data that you need to have in place can be the following:
• Acquisition rate
• Adoption rate
• Conversion rates
• Customer support tickets
This data will allow you to understand what is happening and what needs to be optimized after the launch.
2. Improve the product with customer feedback
Customer feedback is key when launching a product. You should have all the feedback radars open to identify what the usage is and whether there are areas that your customers are struggling with. Do customers react to your marketing messages? All those are very important to funnel back to the product and marketing teams. What you should have is a plan for your 1.2 product version in place with a clear list of features to release with your post-launch campaign.
Tip: For maximum post-launch results, keep a list of all customers that complained about missing features. Win them back by informing them that the company heard their feedback and implemented their suggestions/fixes.
3. Build customer based proof
Most of the companies continue to spend their marketing budget on promoting their first product-driven messages. This extended activity can end up into lower and negative ROI in the long-term. The reason is not the message but the audience.
Let’s take the technology adoption lifecycle written in the book “Crossing the chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore.
Your first customers during the product launch stage are usually the innovators and early adopters. For them, product-driven communication might be more appealing as they are curious minds. But those won’t be the majority of your potential customer base. You have to “cross the chasm” and convince your early-late majority and laggards audience to buy your product.
This audience looks for value-driven communication. They are not convinced that the product can cover their need. They need proof. In this case, your first users are a great asset to use and build post-launch material such as case studies, testimonials, and other customer-driven marketing material.
Tip: Try to incorporate your product-driven messages into the testimonials your customers provide. This way, you will enter the “sweet spot” of product marketing communication, by providing the customer with what they want to listen and what your product does.
4. Have clear retention and win-back strategy
Most of the companies at this stage tend to be reactive than proactive. They have to see a high churn rate or low product adoption rates to start planning retention activities.
If you end up in this category then I can tell you that the game is over. Until you try to find out how to win-back those customers, they have already turned to the competition and spread negative word of mouth for your brand to potential customers.
Your targeting approach during the launch stage will determine how hard you hit the wall and burn your potential customers. Don’t wait until you have the first customers. Map already the customer journey from onboarding to retention and define what is next for your customer after the product purchase. Make sure you have a proper onboarding experience and customer support in place. Plan alternative offerings as well as guarantees and other marketing tools to ensure that your customer will stay with you and won’t become a brand enemy.
5. Set clear expectations based on your audience behavior
I consider this the most critical aspect of a post-launch stage. As PMMs our focus is on outbound activities which from their nature tend to have fixed timelines. That is not wrong as long as it is backed up with the right customer data.
In each industry, the behavior of buyers is different, especially from B2C to B2B customers. It might be that your buyer cycle from research until purchase lasts 3 months. On the other side, you already kick-off post-launch activities in the first month because you didn’t see the expected results. Most probably your approach will continue with outbound activities that might include heavy discounts, thinking that this can push the buyer at the bottom of the funnel. This is the trap that PMMs might fall into after a launch.
There needs to be an equal balance between outbound and inbound marketing activities in your plan, especially during the post-launch stage. The key to inbound marketing is to understand what information customers are searching for or miss across the buyer funnel and provide relevant content to fill in the gaps.
Don’t forget that customers are humans, they have different needs and behaviors. Their goal is to make sure that the product fulfills their need. They don’t care about your deadlines. Give them time to adopt your marketing content.
As a result, always keep in mind that KPIs and activities should match the buyer behavior to ensure that you push customers down the funnel and hit the intended pipeline revenue.
Thanks for reading! I am happy to hear your thoughts, experiences, and learnings regarding post-launch activities on the comments below.