SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS

In the first chapter of our “Complete Guide to SaaS Marketing”, we discussed how to validate a SaaS idea as a marketer and why marketing is so vital in the validation stage of every startup.

I shared my 7-step validation framework with you – a framework that could help even the most desperate of wantrepreneurs.

If you’ve applied this framework, you should’ve validated your idea and even have some pre-orders in your bank account.

You’re probably not rich enough to run off to the Bahamas, yet, but you have enough fuel to push yourself to the next milestone of your startup journey: building and launching the real product.

But before that, there’s one more step: the pre-launch.

In this article I’m going to show you:

  1. How to create a Go-To Marketing Roadmap.
  2. How to build a successful pre-launch landing page.
  3. How to start a conversation with your pre-launch audience.
  4. How to get traffic to your pre-launch landing page.
  5. And how to grow your pre-launch email list.

On top of that, I asked 8 startups that have built a pre-launch subscriber base to share their best pre-launch marketing tip with us.

I’ve accompanied each pre-launch marketing tactic in this guide with a real-life mini-case study.

But it doesn’t all end there.

I’ve also packed this guide with a few goodies for you. Download them all below:


So let’s get rocking!

Why Pre-launching and Pre-launch Marketing

Today I was catching up with an old friend of mine.

He’s a developer.

I was talking about my pre-launch marketing efforts at Encharge when he interrupted me:

“Isn’t it a bit too early to market? I mean, you don’t have a product, yet.”

I don’t blame him.

He’s a developer.

I blame the hundreds of startup teams that slave away for months developing a product before they push the Go button on their marketing.

The highest achievers spent more time crafting what they did and said before making a request. They set about their mission as skilled gardeners who know that even the finest seeds will not take root in stony soil or bear fullest fruit in poorly prepared ground.
– Cialdini, Robert B.. Pre-Suasion

You might’ve seen this video of the co-founder of Dropbox showing a “fake” prototype of Dropbox.

This video skyrocketed Dropbox’s beta list from 5,000 subscribers to 75,000 literary overnight.

Or you might have heard about the Robinhood story.

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A plain pre-launch landing page with a concise value proposition helped the 2 founders get over 1 million pre-launch subscribers.

Now:

I don’t care if you want to be a big unicorn success like Robinhood or a tiny bootstrapped operation.

Your SaaS must be pretreated and readied for growth.

You must have a pre-launch marketing plan. And you must engineer that plan the moment you decide to pursue your SaaS idea.

Before we get into some actionable tactics:

Why the hell you need to bother with pre-launch marketing? Why not slouch around for a few months until your tech co-founder or developers build the product?

5 Reasons to Do Pre-launch Marketing for Your SaaS

1. You will have an audience to launch to.

Say no more, Sherlock.

This one is obvious, but a lot of startups still get it wrong.

They’re way too confident. They believe because it was hard and took a lot of time, it must be important.

The truth is simple – if you don’t have an audience, you can’t sell shit.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If you have the best software in the world, but no people to try it, do you have a product?

For Simvoly (one of the SaaS companies that I’ve consulted) it took 3+ years to get to a few hundred in MRR.

When they were doing that much in monthly recurring revenue they had a product that was up to par with behemoths like Wix (yes, a solid product!) Yet, they struggled with customer acquisition. Now, a few years after the first line of code, they’re doing pretty well for a bootstrapped SaaS.

Question is:

Do you have that much time on your hands?

I guess not.

Which leads us to the next reason to pre-launch…

2. You will enter your market faster.

You can’t allow lazy marketing to slow you.

It’s our job as marketers to help the market find our product sooner than later.

Pre-launch marketing can be the difference between $0 and $10,000 MRR in your first 2 weeks.

Sathish from LimeVPN – another great SaaS marketer and founder that I’ve worked with – did a great job with his pre-launch marketing strategy. They had a bunch of customers lined up long before they launched the actual product:

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Pre-launch marketing works!

3. You will build relationships with your (future) customers.

Let’s face a universal truth:

Except for Al Pacino’s speech in The Devil’s Advocate – conversations are more interesting than monologues.

Pre-launching gives you the time to be human and start a conversation.

Ask questions, answer questions, talk to people.

Do the opposite of screaming “Buy my STUFF!!1”

Opening a dialogue with your potential clients is an example of what I call “the shot across the bow,” and it’s a great way to start your prelaunch campaign.
– Walker, Jeff. Launch (p. 24). Simon & Schuster UK. Kindle Edition.

4. Your customers will become more receptive of your product message.

The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion—the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.
– Cialdini, Robert B.. Pre-Suasion (p. 3). Random House. Kindle Edition.

After the pre-order campaign for Encharge, I did a little exercise. I opened our Autopilot and sifted through the activity log of all people that have made an order.

I noticed a simple pattern:

All the pre-order buyers have opened at least 3 of my emails.

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If a person opens my email broadcasts 3 or more times there’s a high chance he will become a customer.

By providing value in your email sequences, you’re building anticipation and increasing the receptiveness of your audience.

It’s simple: the healthier your email list metrics are, the better your SaaS launch will be.

5. You will get feedback on a larger scale

While you exposed your MVP to a handful of people (from a couple dozens to a few hundred), the pre-launch idea is to go all out and create buzz for your product on a much larger scale.

The goal of your pre-launch should be to reach thousands of people.

This is an excellent opportunity to confirm your hypothesis from the MVP and collect some quantitative product feedback.

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MVP vs Pre-launch marketing

The Go To Marketing Roadmap

Below is the Go To Marketing Roadmap (GTMR) we use to launch SaaS products.

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
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The Go To Marketing Roadmap which includes the Pre-launch marketing stage

The GTMR could be used for launching brand new SaaS products but also for launching new features and releases.

The purpose of the GTMR is to:

  • Provide an actionable plan that shows how your product and marketing are likely to evolve.
  • Align your product people and marketing people.
  • Help with prioritizing your marketing activities and provides a general continuity of purpose.

At Intercom teams now hold themselves to a new rule: If we’re launching a product and want to spend more than a week on it, the product manager and product marketing manager must align on the story we want to tell come launch.”
– Matt Hodges, Senior Director of Marketing at Intercom

This is the exact Go To Marketing Roadmap we’re currently following at Encharge:

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The Go To Marketing Roadmap of Encharge

UPDATE: Encharge.io is live now! Register for a free trial using the button below.

Stage

I’ve divided the roadmap into 3 main stages:

  • Validation – the stage in which you validate your product or feature. We already covered what you should as a marketer in that stage.
  • Pre-launch – the stage in which you’re building your new product or feature. Later in this article, we’ll explore different tactics for pre-launch marketing.
  • Launch – The most exciting and scary stage of your product or feature’s life. The day you’ve been building up to. The moment you click Launch.
  • Post-launch – not included in my template but it’s a good idea to add a post-launch stage. That stage is dedicated to evaluation and following-up with the leads that didn’t convert in your Launch stage.

Release

These are your product releases – as in the releases you’ve set for the development in Jira or wherever.

It’s entirely up to you decide on the number of releases and their names.

At Encharge we’ve broken down our pre-launch into 4 releases:

  • Alpha – this is for internal use. We’re already using the barebones of Encharge to send one-off broadcasts
  • Beta – a release for close friends and people that will not get angry by a buggy product.
  • Gamma – this is the first time we’re going expose our pre-order customers to the product. Fingers crossed and prayers to the gods of startup.
  • Gamma – a larger release. We’re going to send an email to a small segment of our email list
  • Public release – the big bang. We’re going to launch Encharge.

Marketing efforts

Output Goals

This is a quantifiable goal that you’re in control of. What are you going to produce as a marketer in each stage? While it’s difficult to be in control of the outcome, outputs give you the opportunity to be disciplined and achieve your goals.

  • Validation – for Encharge we set to have 50 customer development conversations. Design a landing page. Plus write regular broadcasts to warm up our email list audience for the pre-order.
  • Pre-launch – for our pre-launch (the stage that we’re currently at) I’ve set myself some stretch targets for the marketing deliverables. I’m tracking these on a weekly or monthly basis:
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My marketing tasks in Todoist

Here you can also include your pre-launch landing page

  • Launch – for the Launch stage we aim to launch using the Product Launch Formula (more on this in our next article). Create 1-2 product launch webinars and provide some extra service packages to sell with the software.

Outcome Goals

These are your marketing goals. What do you actually aim to achieve at each stage?

  • Validation – for Encharge we aimed to have 50 conversations with potential customers, collect 1,000 emails and have 100 credit cards (i.e., trials).
  • Pre-launch – now, for the Pre-launch our target is to collect 3,000 emails and grow to a stable 150 daily visits.
  • Launch – for the Launch we aim to get 300 people to trial Encharge – 10% conversion rate on our email list. Convert 30 of those to paying customers. Add $1,000 in initial MRR and also make another $6,000 in collateral revenue from personalized service packages.

Outcome Achieved

The last column in this table is what you’ve actually achieved. A.k.a delusion check.

Do not mourn if there’s a big discrepancy between your goals and your results. As you become a seasoned launch expert, your results will match and outperform the goals you set.

Your Landing Page

Ok, let’s clear something out of the way.

I don’t care how good of a marketer you’re and what smart marketing tactics you have in your bag, you must have a pre-launch landing page with a clear call to action.

Even if you don’t have a full-fledged idea, create a landing page.

It becomes real when you create a landing page.

That’s when you can start getting feedback.

You can put a big, bad mission statement. But what I really want you to do is collect email addresses.

This is important because as you grow your email list, they (your subscribers) can help you launch and do other things.And frankly, if you can’t collect email addresses and people don’t resonate with your idea it’s a time to change either your messaging or maybe your idea doesn’t have legs.

Sujan Patel

The purpose of your pre-launch landing page is to:

  • Build an audience or pre-sell your product
  • Test your product messaging with a broader audience
  • Start a conversation with potential customers

Should I collect emails or try to pre-sell my product on my pre-launch landing page?

It depends.

It depends on how far are you with your product development, on whether you have any screens to show, and whether you’ve validated your idea or not.

Ideally, by the time you launch your SaaS, you’d have both a raving email list and people that have passed the walled test.

Yet, you should only have a single call-to-action (CTA) on your landing page. Do not try to collect emails and make pre-orders at the same time. That’s a terrible idea.

Whichever goal you set for your landing page, it’s important to have it written in your Go To Marketing Roadmap.

Next thing – putting the landing page together.

Before you get muddled into what software to use for your brand new landing page, let me show you a different approach.

Copy First, Design later

Every letter matters.
– “Getting Real” by 37 Signals

As a designer, I could tell you that letters matter more than pixels.

How you communicate the story and the Why behind your product is going to have a way bigger impact on your pre-launch success than the look of your page.

Think of how Amazon does launches. You might’ve heard about their “internal PR release method.”

Instead of building the product first, product managers at Amazon start by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product.

You can treat your landing page as an internal PR release and apply the same practices Amazon’s PMs use.

Start from the epicenter of the page and write outwards.

Focus on the essence of the page and ignore the peripheries: logo, navigation bar, footer, and so on.

This is the Pre-launch landing page copy I wrote for Encharge before I designed the page.

I use visual elements to separate sections and outline buttons/CTAs, but my goal is to keep my writing distraction-free as possible and focus on the messaging, not the style.

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I always start writing the copy of a landing page first

Designing and Building the Landing Page

I don’t want you to spend weeks designing and coding your landing page, so I’m going to do you a favor here.

I had a bold idea to share the design and code of the Encharge landing page for free. It will save you some time and headaches. That’s how nice I am!

Feel free to use it for your SaaS product or any other commercial projects.

Leave your email below, and you’re going to get our landing page design – Photoshop and HTML files included + the rest of the bonuses.

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Encharge landing page

Between 14 November 2018 and 17 January 2019 (around 60 days)

  • 1,698 people visited this landing page.
  • 42 people made 50 orders on this landing page.

That’s 2.94% conversion rate on a visitor to buyer. I’d say it’s a satisfactory result for a non-existing product.

Note: We’re currently not accepting pre-orders. If you land on the recent homepage of Encharge, you’re going to see an email collection form instead.

Let’s break down and analyze the elements of this landing page and why it works.

Headline and Sub-headline

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A clear and concise headline and sub-headline that describe what’s the product (“marketing automation software”) and “what is in it for me” (“make your marketing apps speak to each other).

The target customer can easily understand what the product is all about.

Personalization and Identification

The landing page speaks to a single customer persona – SaaS companies.

Narrowing the message by using contextual keywords like “marketing” and “SaaS”, the target buyers can identify and relate with this offer.

Clear CTA

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Clear call-to-action immediately visible above the fold.

No “blocking” words such as “Signup” used in CTA.

Product Visualization

Customers can see what they’re going to get.

The deliverable is illustrated with a solid product image that depicts the most exciting part of the product – our visual workflow builder.

Video Sales Letter

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
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Hello there, it’s your boy Kalo!

A brief (2-3 minutes) video that summarizes the landing page messaging.

These are the stats from our Wistia video.

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
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  • 28% of the landing page visitors watched the video
  • On average people watch 43% of the video
  • Most surprising for me was that 21.8% of the viewers click on the call to action at the end of the video.

Yes, with Wistia you can have CTAs in your videos.

My tip is:

If you’re going to have a CTA in your video, make sure to apply the same best-practices you use for the rest of your page CTAs.

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CTA at the end of the video

Personal Letter from the Founder

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Personal elements on the landing page

A sincere personal letter from the founder (me) that speaks to the customer.

The message depicts the customer current’s situation and problems:

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
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It demonstrates my understanding of the problem and entices trust in the reader:

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS

It describes a better future for the customer:

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS

Lastly, we made it look like a real human message by having my snapshot at the end. It’s almost as I’m chatting with the reader through the landing page:

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
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Value-oriented Headlines

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Here, we could’ve done better by quantifying the value (i.e., highlighting numbers.)

Skimable Sections

Sections are separated visually with clear headlines, section backgrounds, and other visual clues such as icons and screens.

List of Benefits

Instead of using bullet points, our Use Cases section explains our software. We focused on the benefits, rather than features.

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Use cases with benefits

Live Chat

Let’s not forget this. People are going to ask you questions about your upcoming product. Be accessible – include your email, a live chat button, and any other contact information.

Try to personalize the proactive chat pop-up based on the intent of the page. As the team at Hey Digital suggests:

Make your live chat box relevant to the keyword group of every lead on your landing page.

You’ll be taking their entire customer journey in stride, matching their intent, and offering additional value that drives conversions.

Check out these free SaaS landing page resources to learn more about landing page optimization.

Start a Conversation With Your Pre-launch Audience

Opening a dialogue with your potential clients is an example of what I call “the shot across the bow,” and it’s a great way to start your prelaunch campaign.

– Walker, Jeff. Launch (p. 24). Simon & Schuster UK. Kindle Edition.

There is just one last thing you need to do before you start marketing your pre-launch landing page.

And this is to set-up a basic Welcome email automation.

The goal of this workflow is to start a conversation with your potential audience.

It’s also an opportunity to learn more about your subscribers.

For Encharge, I used our own tool to set up this automation.

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A simple workflow in Encharge

Like what you’re seeing above? Subscribe for early access to Encharge. UPDATE: Encharge.io is live now! Start setting up automations like these now.

This is the conversation-started email I send to all pre-launch subscribers immediately after they leave their email on our pre-launch page:

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The email editor in Encharge

The email starts with the reason why they’re getting this email in their inbox:

Hey { person.firstName | default: “there” },

You’re receiving this email because you’ve subscribed to early access of Encharge or downloaded one of our free marketing resources.

Then I go on to introduce myself:

My name is Kalo – I’m growth marketer and co-founder of Encharge.

You can read more about our story and why we’re creating Encharge by clicking here.

Then I proceed with the most important bit of the email. The conversation-starter, where I ask them a couple of questions.

Enough about me.

I’d love to learn more about you.

Click reply to this email and let me know:

1. What are you currently working on?
2. What’s the biggest challenge in your business?

And I finish by setting-up the expectations for the following broadcasts.

P.s. I’m going to send you 1 or 2 weekly updates with content about SaaS marketing, marketing automation, and marketing news.

Watch the full video on setting up welcome sequences and starting a conversation with your audience.

8 Pre-launch Marketing Strategies for SaaS Companies

Let’s put our growth hacking hats on and get jiggy with it!

You have your landing page up and running.

Your conversation-started sequence is in place.

Now it’s the funny part – driving traffic to your page and growing your list (or pre-orders if that’s your goal).

I did some hard work and got 8 startups to share their best pre-launch marketing strategies with us.

All these guys have managed to collect hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of pre-launch subscribers, so they must be doing something right.

Start Publishing Relevant Content On Medium Before You Launch

Brad Redding, Elevar

Results: 10,000 reads in the first 6 months

We started writing on Medium a mix of “how to” guides that were specific to pain points and learnings I had and thought leadership articles.

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Elevar’s Medium blog

Now, we’re targeting Shopify eCommerce business owners but when we started eCommerce managers were our primary target.

For the topics, we did a little bit of keyword research on competition of target queries. Otherwise, I tended to write about what I was actively doing and learning about at the time.

For keyword research, I used KeywordKeg and Ahrefs

We also amplified our articles through Facebook ads:

I created audiences on Facebook that matched interests (e.g., Shopify, Google Analytics and eCommerce) and posted/boosted articles from our Facebook page to these audiences.

We tried collecting emails, but it was dismal to succeed with this on Medium.

It was nice to have a built-in audience looking for analytics content to help get started, but the lack of retargeting, pixeling and prompting for emails was the big turning point for us to switch to a native blog.

Later we changed over to WordPress on our main site and canonicalized the Medium pages.

It also turned out to be very good for organic search as well.

Before and after the transition to our primary domain (note organic channel only):

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Do a Webinar (Or Two)

Aazar Ali Shad, Ecomply.io

Results: 5 pre-launch customers for $560 in MRR

My pre-launch marketing strategy was pretty simple since cold emailing or calling was not working for me.

Ecomply.io is a GDPR software, and I wanted to earn a reputation in the market as a specialist even though I was not a lawyer.

I wanted quick traction, but I didn’t have customers – Ecomply was still in Beta.

I put together 3 webinars on different topics. I promoted the webinars on relevant Facebook groups and invited people to join.

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Webinars work for pre-launching

As a result, people started trusting me.

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In total, it was 40 hours of work, including promotion and organization.

I got 5 sure customers who paid me €100/month each.

If you ever want to pre-launch your app, either do a webinar or create a user base through blogging.

Don’t Forget the Basics: Sort Your On-page Optimization and Track Conversions

Waleeg C, Bodo
Results: 2,300 subscribers in 12 months

To get to over 2,300 subscribers in a year, I had to focus on the low hanging fruits.

SEO

Probably the most obvious advice, yet, often ignored or the hardest to see any result from in the short term.

You should cover the basics:

  • A good page structure and keywords optimization.
  • Register your website on the Google Webmasters Tool (now Google Console) and observe for keyword opportunities.

Google search is my number one traffic source, and I am far from ranking first on my keywords. Patience is key.

Track Conversions

About 25% of all Bodo visitors sign up to receive product launch announcements.

The option to sign up for the email list has been there since the very first version of the site.

I later improved that conversion rate to 50% by tweaking the design and copy of the page and focusing on user’s pains rather than features.

To increase your conversion rates, you must have a design that inspires trust – forget the quick, unpolished landing pages.

Conversion optimization is just like SEO, it might only increase your sign-ups by a few people a day; but over a long period, this could translate to hundreds if not thousands of new subscribers.

Kalo’s note:

If you’re looking for a lead generation/form builder with advanced conversion tracking look no further than ThriveLeads.

In my personal experience trying more than 5 different pop-up/form builder tools, I’ve found that ThriveLeads has the most robust conversion rate reports:

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Turn Your Subscribers Into Ambassadors

I always try to please my users above and beyond.

I involve them when building new features, and make sure to understand their pain points.

I, also, don’t shy away from big discounts for the most engaged users. I found out that they would usually recruit more people around them.

Attend Events or Host One

Duane Wilson, Founder Academy

Results: 596 subscribers

Don’t waste time/$$ on ads, or commenting to the void on social media, trying to find an initial customer or build a community from scratch.

Try attending an event, or hosting one, and find those initial customers in real life.

Start by browsing Facebook events near you, searching Eventbrite.com and meetup.com, and check out the calendar at your local co-working space(s).

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Use Facebook to find relevant meet-ups and events

Look for groups where you can find some people who have the same problems, then share your solution and see what resonates, and what doesn’t.

Can’t find a group? No worries, make an event on Eventbrite or Meetup about your thing, and meet a few people one afternoon at a cafe to talk about it.

Build up your mailing list and start your community from here.

Digital is awesome! It would be ideal for most of us to make an ad, which gets customers signed up online, and they start paying us… but your job (especially in the beginning) is to talk to people and understand them… know their needs and wants and to build a product you (and they) will love.

Once you know who your people are, then you can target some ads for more people like them and use online to drive sales and engagement for you.

Doing this might get you both a customer and help you start a community too.

Keyword Optimize Your Landing Page Title

Jonny Platt, A B Rankings

Results: 538 subscribers

Signing up to the Product Hunt Ship feature had a significant impact – once I enabled promotion and people could discover the page, I found many subscribers naturally through Product Hunt.

However, I think the biggest impact came from carefully choosing my upcoming page’s title to match the keywords prospective users would search.

In my case, this was:

SEO Split Testing Tool: Optimize your Organic CTR with A/B Rankings

Product Hunt is a highly trusted site, so without really needing to do any further promotion, my upcoming page would rank in Google for some queries related to the product.

Keyword optimizing my title helped me reach far more people before the launch than I would have through PH’s listings alone.

Run a Giveaway

Drew Bartek, Groove Vest

Results: 2,800 subscribers

At first, it was just me having ten to fifteen-minute conversations with people. We made it a little bit more efficient by having a survey on our website where I could send people to. We did that to get 700 people. After that, we just wanted to automate it because our end goal was to get 10,000 subscribers.

That’s when Drew turned up to UpViral to run a viral giveaway.

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GrooveVest’s UpViral campaign

Groove are using a custom-designed landing page and share page:

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They promoted their giveaway across their website in areas such as the header, slider, across product features.

They also used catchy videos to share the giveaway on Instagram.

This campaign resulted in over 2,800 email subscribers and 1,856 social interactions.

Although, not a software product, the same giveaway tactic could be applied to your SaaS to gain some early traction and build a pre-launch audience.

Read the whole case study on UpViral.

Write a Huge eBook

Kalo Yankulov, Encharge

Results: 683 subscribers

This is yours truly.

I’m a seasoned pre-launch marketer.

I did it once with HeadReach and more recently with Encharge.

My marketing superpower is long-form content (as you might have noticed from this post).

My strategy with pre-launching is:

  1. Write a long (5,000-15,000 words) eBook that is relevant to my target audience.
  2. Promote the hell out of it.

“From an Idea to Exit” helped us collect over 600 emails of marketers and entrepreneurs. We did that by distributing and syndicating content to other social networks – Facebook, Reddit, and IndieHackers. You can read the whole case study here.

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A lead magnet

Launch on Product Hunt Ship/Upcoming

Andrew Egenes, Layr

Results: 2,105 subscribers

We decided to promote our Upcoming listing in a more integrated manner versus using the widget provided by Ship which is more invasive and feels like live chat.

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Layr’s website

I attribute a lot of our subscriber growth to people who landed on our website through some other means and were enticed by the idea of getting a behind the scenes look into something new we were building.

We used our marketing automation software to send targeted emails announcing the same opportunity to gain a behind the scenes look into something new we were building to 3 different segments:

Current Customers

Because this is our most loyal segment, we also asked them to amplify our Ship campaign by re-sharing our social media posts announcing the effort.

Prospective Customers

We used the Ship campaign as a way to re-engage with our prospects.

  • Because they aren’t customers, perhaps there was something about our current product they didn’t like?
  • What better way than to try and win them over than by offering a behind the scenes look into the new product we’re building?

Prospective Investors

Like most startups, we have a segment of investors who have asked to be kept up-to-date with our progress.

Again, we used the Ship campaign as an “excuse” to engage with them.

Further, investors often have unusually high follower counts on PH so as they followed our Upcoming listing; their networks were organically exposed as well.

An engaging first communication with new subscribers that set expectations is vital. You want your subscribers to amplify our Upcoming listing across their network so getting them excited about what you’re building is key.

We made sure that our first message isn’t just a short “Thanks for subscribing, we’ll keep you updated.” Instead, we provide concise bulleted examples of what we’re building along with tentative dates of when we’ll be engaging with the Ship subscribers. In a way, we almost want subscribers to look forward to receiving their next Ship update from us.

Bonus Case Study: How Crowded Got 1,407 Subscribers for a Side-Project

Robert Van Hoesel, Consently

Results: 1,407 subscribers

Several channels are driving pre-launch signups for Consently right now:

1. Product Hunt Upcoming

We signed up for Product Hunt Ship, through which we can list Consently on their upcoming page.

It’s great because it has a viral component built-in. If someone subscribes, followers on the platform will be informed.

We capitalized on this effect by using Ship’s sign up form option as an email capture on our website.

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS
Consently’s website

When someone learns about Consently through another channel and signs up via the website, they are signing up through Product Hunt.

The cool thing is, if someone is a PH user, it will also show up on their Product Hunt profile/feed. This works really well!

2. A Viral Effect in the Product

While we are still building Consently (it’s a side-project at our startup Crowded) we do already help people with our product.

There are no interfaces yet, so we help people set up Consently manually.

When people subscribe, they get an invite for our private beta. People then can get our consent pop-up on their website.

Our product is used on other websites, and this is a marketing channel for us:

In the popup itself, we show a little link saying “We’re powered by Consently.” This referral link amounts for 15% of our visitors now.

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS
Consently’s viral widget

The conversion rate of people that end up subscribing to Consently is 4.4%. We’re pretty excited by this specific metric once we start rolling out Consently and have our pop-up on more website

3. SEO Optimized Blog

One of the biggest names in our industry is Cookiebot.

Inherent to having a huge customer base, there’s also a group of people looking to move away from Cookiebot.

To rank high in search for people searching for “Cookiebot Alternative”, we wrote a post “Cookiebot alternative for tracking consent tool.”

SaaS Marketing: The Complete Guide. 
Chapter 2: Pre-launch Marketing for SaaS
“Cookiebot alternative” has 590 monthly views

We didn’t actively push signups in this post using pop-ups and lead capture; we just link to our main website from the post.

The conversion rate from this post is an astounding 27%. The post got 700 page views from Google. Of those, around 200 went to our website, and 50+ people signed up.

4. Friendly Features in Newsletters

Now and then a bunch of new visitors come to our website because we got picked up in a newsletter.

For example, Kai Brach featured us in “DenseDiscovery”. That feature brought 750 visitors and 90 signups!

We’re keeping an eye on our analytics to see who is writing about us.

SaaS Pre-launch Marketing Resources

Articles

Videos

Tools

Conclusion

Hope you enjoyed reading this and already have some tactical tips for your pre-launch marketing campaign!

In the next chapter of the Complete Guide to SaaS Marketing we’re going to discuss launching a SaaS product, so make sure to follow.

Don’t forget to grab the pre-launch goodies below:

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