At the start, finding people that share the same enthusiasm for your app as you do isn’t easy. As Steve Blank, the godfather of startups once said, “Building your product is easy. The hard part is getting customers”.
But continuous launch is a way to tilt the odds in your favor. Plus, it’s pretty straightforward to set up when you have the right tools.
What Is Continuous Launch?
Continuous launch is to marketers what continuous development is to coders. It’s an iterative process whereby an increasing number of people are perpetually exposed to your product. What you learn from customer and market feedback is used to further refine your marketing activities.
What Are the Benefits?
Getting your marketing to proceed in lockstep fashion with product development offers a number of benefits. Continuous launch enables marketers to to constantly test and optimize their traffic generation strategy. It also helps developers in the customer development stage by exposing new users to the app in a controlled fashion.
You can never get too much publicity. But you’re probably not ready to expose your app to a large number of users right away. With continuous launch, you can still benefit from massive PR exposure without overwhelming product development.
How Does Continuous Launch Work?
Visitors sign up, get a spot on the waiting list, and move up the list by referring their friends.
Why bother with a waiting list?
A waiting list creates psychological scarcity, a sense of excitement and reaffirms, to those in line, that they are making a good choice.
Would you rather eat in a restaurant where people are lining up to get in, or one that looks empty? Enough said.
Coupled with drip-style marketing campaigns, it builds excitement among users while they’re waiting to receive their invitation code. This allows you to get to work on marketing now, without the fear of over-exposure.
The Tools You Will Need
You’ll need a landing page optimized to encourage opt-ins and incentivized to induce sharing, plus a sequence of emails to create excitement and encourage continued sharing. Here are the tools that will accomplish that goal.
Landing Page Builder
You’re going to be tinkering a lot with your landing pages as you test different marketing messages, copy and layout. To make your optimization efforts to go smoothly, use a a dedicated landing page builder.
Avoid buying a landing page theme because it’s more difficult and less efficient to make the necessary changes. If you don’t have one, Instapage is a good choice that will integrate well with your marketing tool stack.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a good channel to test early on in the game. It’s also an opportunity to test the potential virality of your app.
So how do you get people to share your landing page?
The days of simply adding a few social sharing buttons and hoping for the best are long gone. To run a viable referral marketing test, you’ll need to offer an incentive for sharing and have a way to track and analyze those referrals. That’s where a referral platform like Prefinery comes into play.
The Prefinery system encourages viral referrals on social networks and handles the back end work of tracking referrals, generating and delivering unique invitation codes, and connecting with users via drip-style email marketing campaigns.
The handling of invitation codes is what I really like about Prefinery.
You can automatically send out invitation codes when a goal is achieved (ie. referring ‘X’ friends). Or pick and choose who to invite from the list when you’re ready.
Email Marketing Automation
An email marketing platform is a basic implement that belongs in every marketer’s stack. During a continuous launch, you’ll use this tool to build excitement about your app with your email list.
Don’t make the common mistake of ignoring the people on your list. Take the extra effort to stay in touch with them at least once a month.
ActiveCampaign is a good choice when it comes to email marketing. It offers a number of useful automation features and a flexible A/B testing feature set.
What do you do when a favorite app doesn’t offer direct integration with the other tools in your marketing stack? You turn to Zapier. It lets you connect your apps and automate your workflow. You’ll need it to connect your referral platform to your email marketing automation app.
Putting it All Together
- Create a beta management campaign in Prefinery.
- Create a lead generation landing page in InstaPage. Customizing one of their templates is the quickest way.
- Grab the embed code from Prefinery. Copy and paste this code onto your web page where you want the signup form to appear. Here’s how do this in Instapage.
- Publish your landing page on WordPress using the plugin for Instapage (instructions) or custom domain (instructions).
- Create a zap in Zapier that creates/updates a contact in ActiveCampaign whenever Prefinery creates a new user.
It's Your Turn
With the right marketing tools in hand, you’re ready to step out there and get some customers. Now that you’ve got the back-end process set up, you can start testing different marketing messages to see what resonates most with your audience.