Product launch checklist

Notes collected from a bunch of places

  1. Set up a domain for the product
  2. Setup SSL
  3. Add a contact form
  4. Setup google analytics
  5. Add it to the footer of our common sites
  6. Create a blog category in blog.cosmicvent.com
  7. Create a twitter account
  8. Create an alert for it in google alerts
  9. Setup error notifications
  10. Make the product look beautiful
  11. Create 3 videos which show how to use the site
  12. Integrate a payment solution (paypal)
  13. Ask for feedback on IRC channels, HN, reddit
  14. Put your startup on startup lists e.g. http://startuplister.com/

List of websites to post to

THE 40 STEP CHECKLIST FOR A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH 38by JONATHAN in ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Every time I do a launch, I always begin with this question: How can I make it impossible for this to fail? Practically speaking, I don’t think you can make failure 100% impossible. But asking this question forces me to see how I can do whatever it takes so that the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in my favor. And because of that, to date, I haven’t had a failed product launch, or a launch that didn’t meet our minimum goal for success. Below, you’ll find the checklist I personally use for every launch that I do. It’s broken up into four sections: Launch planning. The phase where you determine what the product offer will be, how much money you want to make, what the unique positioning will be, etc. Pre-launch. The marketing campaign you’ll release to build desire before the launch. Mid-launch. The activities you’ll do on and around the week of your launch to ensure success. Post-launch. How to finish strong, learn from your launch and blow your customers’ minds. When you’re running your own launch, it’s a good idea to decide what’s Essential, Really Nice to Have, and Nice to Have. Inevitably, you’ll probably not have time for everything, but doing this will help you triage and focus on the most important stuff. Ready to get started? Follow the checklist below to ensure your own epic launch’s success. Planning the launch Decide on your goals. How much money do you want to make? Do you want to increase your visibility? How much do you want to grow your email list? Do you want to make yourself seen as a bigger player in your sphere? Decide what the offer will include — content, delivery, bonuses, guarantee, price, etc. Prepare. Do you expect this launch to be big? (Of course you do.) If so, make sure you notify your merchant account provider that you’ll be expecting a lot of sales. Payment plan. If it’s a higher priced product or service, will you offer a payment plan? (Generally, payment plans can increase sales on products more than $200. When doing a payment plan, you generally want to charge people 20% more to pay in installments.) Make it fun and interesting. Can you do a tiered sale ($1 first buyer, $2 second buyer, etc)? Can you create some type of launch party? Can you have a fun contest that gets people to share? What can you do to make your launch interesting? Set a date. Decide a day and time for your launch. (As a general rule of thumb, 7am PT/10am ET on Tuesday works well.) Margin. Create margin and clear your schedule leading up to the launch. Launches are always crazy and things manage come up that you couldn’t have anticipated, so it’s better to have more time than you need blocked off. Pre-launch Create the campaign. Map out all launch emails and blog posts. Generally, the higher priced the product is or the more important the launch, the more time spent on pre-launch. I typically like to go for about 3-4 weeks of pre-launch before the cart opens. Evoke emotion. Craft a genesis story that gives the audience a sense of meaning, context and emotion. Belonging. How can you create a sense of identification with your product? How can you make people feel like they belong to the cause you’re espousing? Create desire. Plant seeds of anticipation in blog posts and emails to your list long before your official marketing campaign kicks off. Get commitment in advance. Ask your audience if this is something they’d be interested in before you start building it. Continually solicit higher and higher levels of commitment through participation in blog posts, surveys, contests and other events before you give them the opportunity to buy. Demonstrate their commitment. Include and acknowledge any involvement your audience has had in shaping the offer so far (surveys, email, comments, etc.). Results in advance. Release special pre-launch content that helps them get a result and builds more anticipation. This could come in the form of a case study, report or free toolkit. Prepare other marketing materials. Will you be doing a webinar? A Twitter party? If so, prepare these additional marketing materials. Create the sales page. Where will people be directed to buy? A sales page or video? If so, create it. Do something original. How can you do something no one else does with launches? For instance, can you create a movie-style trailer? Can you give people access behind the scenes of the making of your launch? There are always launches happening at any given time; how will you make yours stand out? Review what’s working. Gather a swipe file of other successful launch sequences and marketing campaigns. Review and take what applies best to your offer while making it your own. Create urgency. Will the cart only be opening for a limited amount of time? Will it be limited to a certain number of buyers? Will you have a special bonus for the first 50 people? How can you create urgency to get people to buy? Mid-Launch Checkout process. Set up the checkout and order process, make sure all files and signup variables are working properly. Follow up. Craft a welcome email and an email list for buyers. Then test it. Review. Have others review the sales page, including marketers and someone that is your ideal customer if possible. Take their feedback and improve. Triple check. Double check and test the order and signup process, then get someone else to do it too. The last thing you want is to lose money because you sent people the wrong link. Proof. Do a final proof/edit of the sales page and get someone else to proof it too. Hang up your shingle! Publish your blog post, send out your email announcement. Say a prayer, light a candle, make an offering to the launch Gods. Post on social media and other various communication channels. Update affiliates. Send a note to affiliates about the launch and how they can promote; include swipe copy. This is an optional step, of course. You can either do an internal launch, or a JV/partner launch. It depends on how complicated you want to make things. Implement social proof. Update people on feedback from the launch so far; # of spots left, comments, shares, etc. Solicit help. If it’s a big launch, ask strategic partners (non-affiliates) for help spreading the word. Important! Listen and respond. This is perhaps the most important step in anymarketing campaign, but it’s often neglected. Most people create launch sequences and implement them verbatim. They’re not actively listening and responding to the feedback they’re getting from the campaign. This skill takes time to develop and ultimately separates the amateurs from the professionals. The key is to take the feedback you’re getting (positive or negative) and use it to adjust the campaign midstream. Post-launch Celebrate! Have a party! Take yourself out for dinner or buy yourself something nice. You’ve earned it. Follow through. Follow up with initial buyers to make sure the sign up process works flawlessly. Bonus points: Create an induction survey that asks them why they bought. Smooth out the kinks. Ask for feedback from first buyers on induction process (if you have one). Wrap it up. Close cart or remove bonuses. Over-deliver. Can you do something to over deliver on value? Example: deliver some type of bonus that wasn’t expected (another product of yours, free consultation with you, etc.). Make it memorable. Is there anything you can do to deepen the experience and make it more memorable? Perhaps you can send people a handwritten card or call them individually? Automate testimonials. Schedule a post-release survey to buyers a few weeks out to procure testimonials. Update your audience. Follow up with readers to tell them about how the launch went and create social proof. Review and improve. What did you learn from your launch? What will you improve on next time? Plan ahead. How can you set yourself up for the next launch? What will you release next? I hope you found some value in this launch checklist. If you did, please donate a tweet or ‘like’ with the buttons below. THE 40 STEP CHECKLIST FOR A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH 38by JONATHAN in ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Every time I do a launch, I always begin with this question: How can I make it impossible for this to fail? Practically speaking, I don’t think you can make failure 100% impossible. But asking this question forces me to see how I can do whatever it takes so that the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in my favor. And because of that, to date, I haven’t had a failed product launch, or a launch that didn’t meet our minimum goal for success. Below, you’ll find the checklist I personally use for every launch that I do. It’s broken up into four sections: Launch planning. The phase where you determine what the product offer will be, how much money you want to make, what the unique positioning will be, etc. Pre-launch. The marketing campaign you’ll release to build desire before the launch. Mid-launch. The activities you’ll do on and around the week of your launch to ensure success. Post-launch. How to finish strong, learn from your launch and blow your customers’ minds. When you’re running your own launch, it’s a good idea to decide what’s Essential, Really Nice to Have, and Nice to Have. Inevitably, you’ll probably not have time for everything, but doing this will help you triage and focus on the most important stuff. Ready to get started? Follow the checklist below to ensure your own epic launch’s success. Planning the launch Decide on your goals. How much money do you want to make? Do you want to increase your visibility? How much do you want to grow your email list? Do you want to make yourself seen as a bigger player in your sphere? Decide what the offer will include — content, delivery, bonuses, guarantee, price, etc. Prepare. Do you expect this launch to be big? (Of course you do.) If so, make sure you notify your merchant account provider that you’ll be expecting a lot of sales. Payment plan. If it’s a higher priced product or service, will you offer a payment plan? (Generally, payment plans can increase sales on products more than $200. When doing a payment plan, you generally want to charge people 20% more to pay in installments.) Make it fun and interesting. Can you do a tiered sale ($1 first buyer, $2 second buyer, etc)? Can you create some type of launch party? Can you have a fun contest that gets people to share? What can you do to make your launch interesting? Set a date. Decide a day and time for your launch. (As a general rule of thumb, 7am PT/10am ET on Tuesday works well.) Margin. Create margin and clear your schedule leading up to the launch. Launches are always crazy and things manage come up that you couldn’t have anticipated, so it’s better to have more time than you need blocked off. Pre-launch Create the campaign. Map out all launch emails and blog posts. Generally, the higher priced the product is or the more important the launch, the more time spent on pre-launch. I typically like to go for about 3-4 weeks of pre-launch before the cart opens. Evoke emotion. Craft a genesis story that gives the audience a sense of meaning, context and emotion. Belonging. How can you create a sense of identification with your product? How can you make people feel like they belong to the cause you’re espousing? Create desire. Plant seeds of anticipation in blog posts and emails to your list long before your official marketing campaign kicks off. Get commitment in advance. Ask your audience if this is something they’d be interested in before you start building it. Continually solicit higher and higher levels of commitment through participation in blog posts, surveys, contests and other events before you give them the opportunity to buy. Demonstrate their commitment. Include and acknowledge any involvement your audience has had in shaping the offer so far (surveys, email, comments, etc.). Results in advance. Release special pre-launch content that helps them get a result and builds more anticipation. This could come in the form of a case study, report or free toolkit. Prepare other marketing materials. Will you be doing a webinar? A Twitter party? If so, prepare these additional marketing materials. Create the sales page. Where will people be directed to buy? A sales page or video? If so, create it. Do something original. How can you do something no one else does with launches? For instance, can you create a movie-style trailer? Can you give people access behind the scenes of the making of your launch? There are always launches happening at any given time; how will you make yours stand out? Review what’s working. Gather a swipe file of other successful launch sequences and marketing campaigns. Review and take what applies best to your offer while making it your own. Create urgency. Will the cart only be opening for a limited amount of time? Will it be limited to a certain number of buyers? Will you have a special bonus for the first 50 people? How can you create urgency to get people to buy? Mid-Launch Checkout process. Set up the checkout and order process, make sure all files and signup variables are working properly. Follow up. Craft a welcome email and an email list for buyers. Then test it. Review. Have others review the sales page, including marketers and someone that is your ideal customer if possible. Take their feedback and improve. Triple check. Double check and test the order and signup process, then get someone else to do it too. The last thing you want is to lose money because you sent people the wrong link. Proof. Do a final proof/edit of the sales page and get someone else to proof it too. Hang up your shingle! Publish your blog post, send out your email announcement. Say a prayer, light a candle, make an offering to the launch Gods. Post on social media and other various communication channels. Update affiliates. Send a note to affiliates about the launch and how they can promote; include swipe copy. This is an optional step, of course. You can either do an internal launch, or a JV/partner launch. It depends on how complicated you want to make things. Implement social proof. Update people on feedback from the launch so far; # of spots left, comments, shares, etc. Solicit help. If it’s a big launch, ask strategic partners (non-affiliates) for help spreading the word. Important! Listen and respond. This is perhaps the most important step in anymarketing campaign, but it’s often neglected. Most people create launch sequences and implement them verbatim. They’re not actively listening and responding to the feedback they’re getting from the campaign. This skill takes time to develop and ultimately separates the amateurs from the professionals. The key is to take the feedback you’re getting (positive or negative) and use it to adjust the campaign midstream. Post-launch Celebrate! Have a party! Take yourself out for dinner or buy yourself something nice. You’ve earned it. Follow through. Follow up with initial buyers to make sure the sign up process works flawlessly. Bonus points: Create an induction survey that asks them why they bought. Smooth out the kinks. Ask for feedback from first buyers on induction process (if you have one). Wrap it up. Close cart or remove bonuses. Over-deliver. Can you do something to over deliver on value? Example: deliver some type of bonus that wasn’t expected (another product of yours, free consultation with you, etc.). Make it memorable. Is there anything you can do to deepen the experience and make it more memorable? Perhaps you can send people a handwritten card or call them individually? Automate testimonials. Schedule a post-release survey to buyers a few weeks out to procure testimonials. Update your audience. Follow up with readers to tell them about how the launch went and create social proof. Review and improve. What did you learn from your launch? What will you improve on next time? Plan ahead. How can you set yourself up for the next launch? What will you release next? I hope you found some value in this launch checklist. If you did, please donate a tweet or ‘like’ with the buttons below. Marketing Pages Complete Homepage copy: One of the pages we left for last – and I know many new startups do – is the copy for the homepage. You need to write about whatever you're selling in a clear, concise and engaging way. If you can't quickly capture the interest of a visitor to your service then you're going to immediately fail. This leads to my next point. Clearly define how our product benefits the customer (our unique value proposition): If the visitor to your service doesn't understand exactly what the value is to them and why they should use you then they'll hit the back button. It's as simple as that. In one sentence, you should clearly define your unique value proposition for the type of customer you want. Contact page copy: For us it's a matter of making sure that we list all of the different ways visitors to our service can reach us. It's not enough to simply provide an email address nowadays. Lots of customers want to reach you on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. Determine FAQ strategy and write it: One of the things I like to leave to the last minute is writing the Frequently Asked Questions. If you write it too early, then chances are your service will have changed and it'll become outdated. Writing the FAQ will also help put you in the mind of a customer right before launch. It's a great last-minute exercise in making sure your app is clear. Determine content strategy for blog: This should probably have been done sooner, but you can only do so much with three people. You want to make sure you have a consistent voice and are writing blog posts that support the service you're trying to promote. Do a copy sweep: I find nothing more distracting and off-putting than poor grammar and misspelled words in the copy of a newly launched startup. (I guess I'm setting myself up to get called out if I screw it up with my new startup.) It doesn't take much effort to send the copy to a few friends to review it before going live. Write all email copy: Another pet peeve of mine is when the emails from a new service I've signed up for are too cryptic to understand. If you're going to send me an email, please take the time to make it an informative one, even if it's just a "thank you for registering" email with my login details. Hammer home your message. Do some basic keyword analysis: Not every app is great for SEO, but if you think that people are searching with a problem you're solving, then you should do the keyword analysis and build your site's copy around it. Modeling Model our potential revenue: You should never found a company without a good idea about how you plan on making money. Even better, you should project how your potential revenue stream will grow over time. Set monetary/sales goals: After you've modeled out your potential revenue growth, setting sales goals will give you a better understanding of when you can raise money on good terms or quit your day job and bootstrap. It's great to have numbers to work toward that aren't arbitrary. Knowing exactly how many users you need over a projected time frame helps to determine whether you're matching projections. Sales Set up a sales pipeline: Chances are that you know people who want to use your product. If you don't, then you might not be building the product that's best suited to you. Record the names and email addresses of likely users in a file and check them off after you've reached out to them. Draft Case Studies: It depends what kind of service you're building, but before you go live you should be doing some type of beta test. During beta, ask some of your most dedicated users if they wouldn't mind doing a case study. Prepare a few of these to have on hand or to put on your marketing website when you go live. Programming Form validations: Form validations are one of those last-minute things that developers leave until the end. They're easy enough to do, but just not all that sexy. Don't forget to do them, as having an error on a form without a notification is a terrible user experience. Complete a security audit: There have been a lot of security breaches recently if you're a Ruby on Rails app, so be sure to patch before going live. Go through the routine checks to make sure you haven't overlooked anything. Schedule a QA/break me session: There's always some little snafu that can set you back and can only be found when you purposely try to break your app. Sit down with your team (and maybe a few friends) and do all the crazy things you can think of to break your app. Check the site in various browsers: Oh, no! No developer wants to have to worry about Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera, Safari, and Chrome, but you should take a look to make sure there aren't any glaring errors. Sometimes things can be cleaned up pretty quickly. Get SSL up and running: If you're not using SSL then you're not trying hard enough. SSL is fairly inexpensive these days ($69.99/year from GoDaddy) and it's really not that hard to set up, especially if you're using a hosting service such as Heroku. Audit our Admin section: You should have an Admin section where you can modify user settings and the like. Make sure that it's working and that you can do everything you want with it. Set up our /blog and hook it in with Tumblr: If you haven't already set up a blog (as we haven't), set it up. I recommendTumblr, because it's easy and you can get some virality through re-blogging. I also recommend setting it up at /blog rather than blog.app.com because of the Search Engine Optimization implications of having it in a folder rather than as a sub domain. Set up Intercom: I love Intercom for seeing who is using your product. I've used it quite a few times, and have nothing but good things to say about it. It's only a small snippet of JavaScript, so get on it! Set up CrazyEgg: It has been a while since I've used CrazyEgg, but I know that during a new launch it's good to see where visitors are clicking. Something might look like a link that isn't. It's easy to set up and they have a 30-day free trial. Set up goal tracking: Goal tracking is easy to set up in Google Analytics. It's helpful because it allows you to know when visitors are completing individual actions. Verify with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools: It's easy to do and supposedly gets your website indexed faster. Why wouldn't you want to do that? Create a Sitemap and configure robots.txt: The more you help yourself with Search Engine Optimization, the better it'll help you. Setting up and submitting an XML Sitemap to Google and Bing will help them crawl you more efficiently. Make sure we're catching errors with Airbrake: Airbrake is great for catching code errors that users might be running into. It groups them all and notifies you when an error occurs. Great for debugging early on. Set up stats to track usage: Something that should go inside the Admin area of your app should be a record of your app's pattern of usage. Track whatever are the most important statistics for your app and list them here. When I was at Carbonmade, we built Pulse to track our statistics. You don't need to go that far, but high-level numbers are important. Up and to the right! Audit our app's routes: If your app is programming in Ruby on Rails, and I'm sure many other languages that I'm not as familiar with, you can modify the routes of your website. That's like adjusting a name like "/users" to be "/members" or however you want it. It's important to practice good URL structure, but not before you're ready to go live, as things often change. Set up 404 and 500 pages: It's not difficult to set up 404 and 500pages, but it's important that you do so. Miscellaneous Set up RSS with mentions of app name: Through Google Alertsyou can easily get notifications when your app is mentioned on the Web. I usually set them up for a variety of terms, not solely for mentions of our app's name but for surrounding industry terms as well. Get all team members on the bank account: It's up to you, but usually with a small founding team of three to two people, you're going to want everyone to be on the bank account to be able to access it in case of emergencies. Set up QuickBooks: I've been using the same amazing accounting firm for around six years now, and every time I start a new business they tell me to get on QuickBooks before things get out of hand. This time I'm going to listen to them. Get all the @app.com email addresses set up with forwarding:Create a catch-all email address so that anything sent to your @app.com email address will go to a single address. Sync Stripe with our bank account: If you're using Stripe for payments, you need to activate your account before you can proceed. It's easy, but requires a little bit of information such as your Tax ID # and the Social Security # of the person activating it. Future Planning Plan the next set of features after launch: You'll hopefully be knee deep in email and bug fixing during the first few days after launch, but you should also have a "what's next" plan for the following few weeks. I like to have something that's going to add a lot of value for the initial customers and take fewer than two weeks to ship out the door. That way you show them that you're iterating efficiently and quickly. Launch Day Add to various services around the Web: To help with SEO and to possibly get the word out, sign up your new app withCrunchbase, AngelList, StartupList, Listio and others. Press Coverage: Every successful app has a great short term and long term press plan. However, right after launch you should ask yourself how much press you actually want. Do you want to reach out to blogs for coverage? Do you hope to get on Hacker News? Sometimes you might want to delay press coverage until you've had a chance to fix up the bugs. Email friends and family: Last, but not least, you should email your friends and family about the new app you've built. Chances are that leading up to its release you've been so busy that you haven't had time to update them. Now's the time!