Length of Prelaunch, User Surveys VS Waitlists, and Driving Traffic Outside of Ads

This episode is all about your questions. Today we tackle combining user feedback and pre-launch campaigns and traffic generation outside of ads. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on the podcast you can email josh@kickofflabs.com.

File under: best practices
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Key Takeaways

Why not do both?

3-4 Months is an Average Pre-Launch

For a pre-launch campaign you can expect it to take at least 3-4 months to generate the ideal impact. Longer isn't worse.

Change is Good

Use your pre-launch campaign to find out what your key value propositions are. It’s good if they evolve.

Combine User Feedback and Pre-launch Stages

Inviting people to join your waitlist for the opportunity to help shape the product is a great message.

Follow your Audience

While you’re building an audience you need to go where your customers hang out today.

Full Transcript

Josh: Hello and welcome to KickoffLabs On Growth. I'm Josh Ledgard, and my goal with this podcast is to help you grow sustainable businesses through the stories of our customers and our team. Today, we're going to grow by answering some recent listener questions, but before we get started, I wanted to share some recent feedback on the podcast, which I love hearing.

Josh: Ali, from Best Week Ever, says, "Amazing. I've been enjoying the podcast. I can't wait to be a guest one day."

Josh: We'd love to have you, Ali, when you've got a story to share.

Josh: Angelic, from Angelic Enterprises says, "I've listened to a bunch already and subscribe to the podcast just now. I've got so much more to learn."

Josh: Kaylan, who also asks a question on today's podcast, says, "Listening to the podcast has been amazing. Thanks for doing it," and Azmak from said, in response to our episode on raising a $100,000 in a day, "Amazing podcast, Josh. Please more like this." Finally, my dad wrote in and said, "It's just okay, son. I wish the audio was better. How do I turn this thing up? Get off my lawn." If you have any feedback, leave us a review or send email to josh@kickofflabs.com. On to the questions.

Jo Asks...

I have a couple of concerns and questions on a prelaunch page. One, is it okay if I do this for three to four months before the actual product launch? We haven't even started developing yet, and, two, are there risks if the value proposition changes a few times between now and launch with folks who've already seen it, as in they see that we're making too many changes and are turned off by it especially since I'd have a referral program going through KickoffLabs?

Josh: Hey, Jo, these are great questions. It is totally okay to start a prelaunch campaign three to four months before the actual product launch. In fact, that's sort of what we see as an average at KickoffLabs with a length of a campaign like this. Some people are optimistic and they think that they'll be able to launch in a month, and they just don't get there for a three to four months before they actually launch.

Josh: I think what's important to remember is that, when you prelaunch, when you're doing a prelaunch campaign, it takes time to build up traffic and buzz. People assume that, as soon as they've got the campaign up, there's going to be a deluge of links and people hitting the campaign, and that's just not the case. It takes people two to three to four weeks before they even develop a steady stream of traffic to a campaign, and so then, once you've developed a steady stream of traffic, imagine spending then the next couple months just focusing on doubling down and collecting those email addresses from all the traffic you've been generating.

Josh: The other thing to remember about this length of time before product launch is to be sending emails along the way about what's going on, and I think this ties directly into your second question, and you asked if there are risks about the value proposition changing a few times between now and launch, and the thing is it's going to. As you're doing the testing during those three to four months before launch, you may have an idea of what value proposition of your product resonates best with your customers, but your testing is going to find out that, even if the product is the same, the way you need to pitch it and position the value changes over time.

Josh: Yeah, there's going to be some people who sign up, who signed up maybe on the value proposition you're showing on day one who aren't as necessarily interested in the value proposition on day 200, but the thing is the product is probably still in a similar space, and if the true value proposition has changed, then it's okay if they weed themselves out. They'll drop off of the emails that are going out, which reminds me, if you're running a campaign of this length of time, you want to make sure that you're communicating with people throughout the launch, and so, as the value proposition is changing, you'd be sending out newsletters saying, "Hey, we've just done some more user research, and we've decided that this feature we thought was really important is not as important, and we're going to really double down on this other feature, and I know that may disappoint some of you, but we think it'll be a better solution in general for the problem."

Josh: You want to bring people along for those value proposition changes and tell the story and the iterations that you're going through between when you first set up the prelaunch page and when you actually launch, and, by doing that, you'll get those people actually engaged that are most interested in the product to purchase on day one when it goes live.

Darius Asks...

Hey, I'm trying to find a contest that would work best for a skincare and supplement line I'm launching. I'm planning on a presale first, then an official launch. However, at this time, I'm just looking to collect email addresses of people interested in following me on the journey to launch. What type of campaign do you think would be best? What do you recommend? I'm just not sure what the call to action should be. Should we go with getting on the wait list or work with us to contribute the brand?

Josh: "We want to send some surveys to people that sign up. That's why we're thinking more along the lines of contribute to building the brand as the call to action. Then, after a month, we'd switch over to a wait list. Or do you think we should just go with the wait list right away and use the other space on the page to explain we may ask them to contribute, and if we do the contribute call to action, what would the contest be? Would it even make sense to have a contest? That's why I'm thinking of just going with the wait list, but then, again, we'll wait for your response and feedback."

Josh: Hey, Darios, so you've got a fairly common case right now, and it feels like you're flipping back and forth between these two things, one of them being running a wait list campaign where you're asking people to get on a wait list and move up in line perhaps or to get something because they signed up sooner and the other about taking people along this journey and asking to collect feedback along the way, and I feel like you're treating this as an either-or scenario where you have to pick one or the other when the reality is I think you're actually better off doing both, and let me show you how to phrase this potentially, how to frame this potentially for your audience.

Josh: Imagine you have a prelaunch page up and your call to action is that to join the wait list and contribute to the product. I actually think that, for your most engaged customers and the people who you want to be influencers, the opportunity to help shape the product is what you should have as the incentive for people to join the wait list in the first place. It's important that, when you're setting up a wait list, you have something that qualifies as incentive, and it sounds like you're really sincere about getting people's feedback, doing surveys, talking on the phone with customers, and so you should actually pitch that on the page.

Josh: You should have a wait list saying, hey, join the wait list, join our product development team and contribute to... maybe not joining the development team, but join our wait lists and start contributing to our product development so that you can... so that the product we develop is ultimately the product that you want, and I think you'll find that that's a really strong incentive for people to sign up, and then, on the followup page, you can do two things. You can ask them to share with friends, and these people who want to be influencers who are going to be pulled in by the message of helping you build a product are also the people that are probably going to share it in exchange for whatever bribe you're giving them to share the campaign, so, maybe if they get three other people to come in and follow along with the story as you're building the product, then they're getting the product for free or something just as enticing, and then, once they've done that, you're sending them a followup email that says, "Hey, can you start taking this survey?"

Josh: The survey process can be disconnected from the wait list a little bit, so, your wait list, once people join, you can send them an automatic response, it's a feature in KickoffLabs, that includes a link to a survey that you want them to take, and the people who fill out the survey, you can follow up in more depth in person or at least virtually with a Zoom meeting or a Skype meeting or something like that, so, in closing, I just don't think you need to pick one or the other. I think you need to figure out how you tie the two together because those two things together create the strongest possible incentive to get people to sign up.

Kaylan Asks

I'm continuing to refine the value proposition for my mobile app and platform. I'm at a point where I want to do a solid test of my value proposition before starting development work. The two options I'm weighing right now are, one, launching a prelaunch landing page using KickoffLabs to get signups; two, testing value prop screens and other product screens offline with live users. Which path would you recommend I go? Part of me thinks going route number one gives me real market validation of the value proposition with a bigger sample size, whereas the second gives me opportunity to go deeper with a smaller sample set. How do you think I should go through this? Thanks for your advice.

Josh: Hey, Caitlyn, so this is really similar to the previous question that Darios asked about choosing between setting up a wait list or getting people to contribute to the brand, and I think you're in the same position, and what you want to do is both. I would absolutely start with launching a prelaunch landing page campaign in KickoffLabs and getting signups, and, keep in mind, most people also do testing of the value props through that landing page process. They'll continually run AB tests on two different primary headlines and messages and product focuses on their landing page to see which one converts better, so, by doing number one, you're actually going to be testing the value props that you're interested in your second question.

Josh: Your second question did say, "Following up offline with users," and I think what you'll discover through number one when you have the prelaunch campaign up and you send the automatic reply email, and the automatic reply email includes a link to maybe a survey that you ask people for more information on, the people who fill out that survey are ones that you can follow up more deeply with, or you can personally email them and say, "Hey, now that you've taken the survey, could I do an interview with you?" and get some more of their feedback about the product development cycle.

Josh: These two things, like I said to Darios, are extremely connected. You're going to find that, by setting up a prelaunch landing page, you will discover who your influencers are, and they are going to be people who are also interested in giving you feedback, and so take advantage of this time to do that.

Aiden Asks...

What do you think the best way to get an audience to a landing page is? Are there better ways than Facebook and Google Ads? Do you have any best practices about this?

Josh: I don't think there is one best way to get an audience to a landing page, and anybody who tells you there is one best way is simply telling you the way that worked best for them. I can tell you that Facebook and Google Ads are generally pretty standard practice for people doing a prelaunch campaign and that there there's actually value in it even if you're only allocating maybe, say, $100 to running Facebook Ads because you'd be able to test the click-through on the ads really quickly and see which ads Facebook picks because they get engaged with more throughout the process, so there's value beyond just paying money to Facebook for doing the ads and running the advertisements, so I wouldn't write off doing advertisements, but if the ads are 100% of your traffic sources, then you're probably doing something wrong.

Josh: Obviously, we give lots of advice in this podcast, and if you listen to the stories that people are sharing, they're doing a lot more things to drive traffic to their landing pages like doing influencer marketing, blogging, or even the referral program through KickoffLabs is a great way to add additional traffic, a good 40 to 50% more traffic to your campaign once you've got some seed traffic going, but generating that seed traffic.

Josh: One of my favorite articles that we've done on the blog is called Think Outside the AdWords and Drive Traffic to Your Landing Page, and I'll just summarize some of the findings of that blog post as an alternative to AdWords. Number one, participate on behalf of your company in online discussions related to your business.

Josh: When we launched, the first couple of years, about 40% of our business came from simply participating constructively in niched communities related to the business of online marketing, so, for example, we went to Quora, to other industry blogs, to marketing forums and started just answering questions that people had about doing launch campaigns and running promotions.

Josh: You don't want to be spammy. It's just as simple as adding a link in your signature or your biography or directing them to a resource that you have on your blog or your website that helps them answer their question, but assuming you don't have a blog or a website and you're just at the prelaunch phase, you can just answer their question and then just throw in at the end, "PS, we're building a product that helps you do exactly this," and, typically, you're not going to get flagged as spamming those communities.

Josh: There's also concepts of contributing and promoting content on sites like SlideShare, so SlideShare, now LinkedIn, just going and promoting a useful content, so take these ideas that you've got, maybe put together a small PDF or a download, which you can actually give away as incentive for people to sign up on your landing page as well, and publish that information in public locations. It's not about having a gate to this content, it's about getting in front of an audience that already exists, and if you can publish and market something in a location where an audience already exists like SlideShare, it's a good way to go and do that.

Josh: Another way is to find somebody else with an audience, and this is close to influencer marketing, but you've got some products that your product is maybe closely related to, so, if you are a beauty product like the one we heard earlier, like for skincare, those customers may also be interested in fashion, and so maybe you find some blogs and some communities about fashion and you ask if you can write a guest blog post or at least start building your relationship with the author of that blog so you can get that author's feedback on your product and maybe get them to throw you a mention on their blog.

Josh: The big thing is can you go out there and just find, do a Google search for these communities and places online where people are talking about the problem you're trying to solve and get engaged in those communities, because the thing is you do not yet have an audience? You're working on building an audience. That's why you're running a KickoffLabs campaign, but while you don't have an audience, you need to leverage somebody else's audience out there, and so the more different audiences you can get yourself in front of, showing up on podcasts, showing up in blog feeds, showing up on somebody's... in somebody's... in an influencer's Instagram page, those are all popular things, and I'll end this by just saying a story.

Josh: We had a customer once who was launching a fishing app, and they were really sad they only had like a thousand emails signups, and so I talked to him and I said, "Where did you get the idea for this fishing app?" and he said, "I participate in this fishing community where people go and they brag about the thing, the fish that they caught," and I said, "So what did the fishing community think of your app?" and he said, "I haven't told them about it," and I said, "So you're a member of this community and you haven't told them about the app that community inspired?" and he was like, "Oh, I guess I should do that," and he went and told the community and told his story of the app and, within a week, went from 1,000 to 4,000 signups.

Josh: It's things like that, just thinking about the places that inspire you, the places that inspired the product that you're building and giving back to those places with either sharing the information or sharing what you're working on, and I think that summarizes a lot of what I feel about building traffic out there outside of just paying for traffic directly.

Josh: I also want to take this opportunity to say this is one of the reasons we started the podcast, because these questions go beyond the usage of KickoffLabs itself and dive into traffic generation, so, if you listen to our podcasts episodes we've done and you go back in the feed, we spend a lot of time talking about the different ways that people drive traffic to their campaign, so I definitely recommend checking out earlier episodes of this podcast and subscribing to the On Growth podcast.

Josh: I'll also recommend, on kickofflabs.com, we have a section called Giveaway Resources where we go in-depth on copywriting, designing and traffic generation where we link to a whole bunch of articles like that Eight Hacks for Building an Amazing Audience, Marketing Without a Budget, Creating a Contest That Boost Revenue, and Creating a 30-Day Epic Launch Plan. We do also have articles on advertising there though if you're looking at also taking on advertising.

Josh: If you enjoyed this episode of listener questions, drop me a line at josh@kickofflabs.com and let me know what you think. If you've enjoyed anything else about the podcast, let us know that, too, and if you haven't already, head on over to kickofflabs.com where you can set up your own viral contest just like the ones we talked about today in minutes.

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