Skip to main content

Getting Ready to Go to Market With Your Digital Product

Learn how to set up your marketing to make the most of your product launch.

The more you understand and tap into the needs of your target audience, the more successful you'll be. Pre-launch—before you go to market with your digital application or product—is an important time to connect with your intended users to ensure you deliver exactly what they want.

“The most important thing to know pre-launch is exactly who you’re marketing to and what needs you’re trying to fill,” says Sasha Friedman, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Apps Segment at Mailchimp. “When you have this precise insight from the start, it helps you successfully build and target an audience.”

Having a dialogue with your prospective users as you work toward your big launch makes it much more likely that you’ll meet their needs and successfully convert them post-launch. When you capture the data from these conversations in an organized way, you can use it to create both a product and marketing strategy that drives product growth.

These steps can guide you through the process of gathering prospective user data and organizing it for future use.

Define your audience

Are you clear on what makes your target users satisfied or frustrated, how they set priorities, what they spend money on, what hopes and fears they have? You likely gathered some of this information when you were building your product, but checking in pre-launch is the right time to create an actionable user profile. Your user profile captures the traits of your audience and what they care about. Creating the foundation to capture this information pre-launch will increase the success of your launch and spur the growth that comes after.

If you’re wondering how to talk to your audience before you even launch, simply start by reaching out to people from your peer network who resemble your potential users. Then, ask these connections to refer you to people they know who may be willing to participate in your research.

“When you expand outside of your direct network of contacts and friends, you ensure balanced input,” says Adam Kintner, Senior Product Manager at Mailchimp. “The people who are closest to you may say nice things because they don't want to hurt your feelings. Get a step or 2 removed so you can make sure you’re on the right track at this crucial pre-launch phase.”

Once you’ve found potential users to speak with, gather the following information.

  • Are they your target? Start by verifying that the users you plan to target are the right market. “What you learn may lead to success-building adjustments to your marketing,” says Adam.
  • How can you meet their needs? Ask about their own needs and problems in relation to what you plan to offer. You may find there are similar themes in their responses. “Find that pain point, and then take a step back to see what all these people have in common,” says Sasha. “This will help you understand your target audience.”
  • What motivates them to engage? Once you gather specifics about who your users are and what they need, dig into what spurs them to act. For example, is price a factor? What types of features would make them switch from another provider? “This understanding helps you craft your messages and send emails that your audience really wants to receive,” says Adam.

Capture what you learn

From the minute you start collecting audience data, establish a means of organizing it. When you do, you can use it immediately and for a long time to come.

“Having a platform in place to collect, store, and organize information right at the beginning means you won’t have to play catch-up later,” says Sasha. “Knowing what’s important to your audience will help you with targeting and segmenting when you launch, and as you evolve your product and approach, it will help you make sure you’re focusing on the right messaging.”

A lot of easy-to-set-up tools can help you get started collecting and organizing your data at no-to-low cost. Spend time researching tools to find a platform that works for your needs.

“There’s a high barrier to switch later, so it’s important to start out with the right one,” says Adam. “Be sure the tool you choose can grow with you as your business and your data needs change.”

Thinking about how you want to organize your data can also inform your choice. You may want to capture each of these types of information:

  • Behavioral. This includes how often someone uses your product, what types of marketing they respond to, the time of year they typically purchase, or the day of week or time of day they usually visit your website or open emails.
  • Demographic. This captures the more set traits of your users and could include age, income, marital status, or education level. For those marketing to businesses, industry, business size, or number of employees are things to consider.
  • Psychographic. This refers to characteristics or interests, such as values (like religious or political affiliation), hobbies (such as home brewing or softball), or lifestyle (like dines out frequently or prefers being home).
  • Geographic. This is a way to break down your audience based on where they live and could include city, state, country, radius, or even climate.

Gather tactical input

The most on-target offering in the world can falter if the details are off. “Market testing” might sound costly or out of reach at this pre-launch phase, but it really just means asking people in your target audience to provide honest feedback on some fine points of your offering. Reaching out again to your network and the people closest to you is a simple and inexpensive way to do market testing and make sure you’re on the right track.

You can also use social media to connect with people who would be willing to provide feedback. Using hashtags relevant to your target market can help you connect with the right demographics. For example, a business marketing a mobile app to schedule when felines get fed might use #catsofinstagram or #catsrule.

In addition to providing important fine-tuning feedback, asking people to test your idea also builds relationships and cultivates an early adopter cohort for your offering. These testers can help you refine your idea and suggest small changes that might reap big rewards in the long run.

“If you go back to them with a product that reflects their input, it will make them feel good to know you were listening,” says Sasha. “This process builds an audience that’s invested in your offering, since they had a part in its development.”

You don’t have to have a ready-to-market, completely operational version of your app, website, or product to ask people what they think, says Sasha. You can do testing by even just showing people an image or PowerPoint and asking questions like:

  • What do you think that button should do?
  • What would you expect to happen on this page?
  • Where would you want to click?
  • Is there anything confusing about this page?
  • What do you like about this image?
  • What do you think is missing from this page?
  • Is this type of content of interest to you?

“Getting feedback on visuals that give people the experience of what your site, app, or product will look or feel like will help you focus your efforts,” she says.

Start thinking about your message

As you get ready to launch, you’ll also need to build interest in your product. This is where marketing comes in—and you don’t have to wait until you go live.

The right messaging can get people excited for your launch date, and can also help you see if elements of your messaging are effective, such as your price point and how you communicate value.

Pre-launch is a great time to A/B test different versions of your messaging. For example, you can see if a set dollar discount ($10 off) outperforms a percentage-off offer (10% off). “Learning what’s compelling and what doesn’t work is important before you launch,” says Adam.

As you gather data pre-launch to inform your message, think about these important steps for getting connected with your audience.

  • Get in sync. Make sure your website or app is connected to your marketing platform, so you can capture both contact information and engagement data. “Many people don’t think about this until they launch, and then when they’re up and running, they don’t know how to keep track of the people who are using the product,” Sasha says.
  • Choose the right tools. Power your marketing efforts with an application programming interface (API) or integration. These can be used to connect your product to your marketing platform or favorite business apps. Or, if you’re connecting a mobile app or another tool, such as a ticketing platform like EventBrite, a software development kit (SDK) might be more appropriate. “If you have the right tools in place, you can start learning and iterating so much faster because you’ve already got stuff set up and organized,” Sasha says.
  • Test your messaging. Reach out to people who you may have been in contact with during the research phase. You don't have to wait until you go live. Send a survey to them asking about their top concerns related to your market, or how they might use your product. Then, you can tailor your marketing accordingly, Sasha says. “This is the value of checking in with people as you go, so you don’t build a full product that doesn’t meet your users’ expectations or needs.”
  • Make the ask. If you used social media during your market research phase, go back to those same channels, and do either an organic or paid ad pointing to a landing page with a signup form asking if people are interested in learning more. On your website, you can have an embedded form or pop-up where people can sign up, so you can build your audience.

Expand and refine your reach

As you move forward with your launch and audience messaging, keep collecting data and organizing it, so that you have an up-to-date and informed sense of how well you’re connecting with your audience, and where there’s room for improvement.

That knowledge can power your marketing and messaging strategy in several ways.

  • Feedback from your audience will give you confidence that your app, content, or product truly meets the needs of your intended audience.
  • Results from ad campaigns can help you make important shifts in placement and messaging to better target audiences and make the most of your ad budget.
  • Reports from campaigns across all of your channels can help you learn what works best and refine your approach to expand your reach.

As you keep your finger on the pulse of user feedback, be prepared to pivot and adapt to what you hear. Sometimes, your audience may respond to your product or use it in a way you didn’t expect—and that could pave the way for new opportunities.

For example, a business that creates an app for produce delivery might suddenly notice that in the Northeast, many users over age 40 are buying vegetable boxes as gifts, rather than for themselves. Knowing this opens the chance to send targeted messaging both to that segment of users about gift offers and to the recipients, to see if they would like to buy additional boxes for themselves.

“It can inspire you to message differently, and might create a new category for social ads in different geographic areas for certain age demographics,” says Sasha.

Set yourself up for success

Having a plan to seek, capture, organize, and use audience data from pre-launch creates a solid foundation for your product and your marketing. “Make sure you spend as much time setting up your marketing foundation as you do your product foundation,” says Sasha. “If your strategy has good bones for both, it’ll make your life so much easier as your business takes off, because they’ll grow and iterate together.”

Define your audience, then market to them

Learn More
Share This Article