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Assuming you want to find a great balance between virality and "ninja mode", you've got your prelaunch landing page set up and want to get your first hundred subscribers while avoiding virality, which you'd like to get one week prior to your launch or so (you want to talk first to those first subscribers, do some A/B testing etc.).

Phase 1 [Ninja Mode]: I assume at this phase you'd avoid using anything that may create virality (which would go into Phase 2). But how would you get the limited number of subscribers / customers you want? Will those be very targeted personas / friends?

Phase 2 [Virality / Big launch]: You fully unleash your marketing campaign: giveaways, referrals, PR, emailing, content marketing, social media etc.

Basically, how would you find balance between those two phases and how would you set up the transition, whether gradually or promptly and how?

Examples I think of: Harrys, Dollar Shave Club.

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    about 6 years ago #

    @littleoto For your phase 1, reach out to your professional network and try to enlist some participants in a private beta. Don't worry about viral loops or referral programs at this point, unless they are core to your product experience. You can offer free use of the product once it's launched as an incentive. Try to get your first 10-20 target users this way and cust-dev with them for a couple weeks at a time. Split them up into groups if needed; 2 weeks with the first half, and 2 weeks with the second half. Make it as easy as possible for your beta users to leave feedback and discuss the product. Some ideas to do this are:
    1. Create a Slack channel to discuss the product as a group
    2. Send a long-form survey
    3. Periodically schedule phone-calls (at least 1 call per week with each beta user, though you could probably do 2 without taking too much time away from them).
    4. Be responsive to emails
    5. Use an in-app live chat widget or persistent feedback unit like Qualaroo.
    6. Anything else that will make it easy to leave feedback. Basically what you don't want is someone to not leave feedback because there wasn't an easily accessible channel available.

    Continue refining your product as you collect feedback. This is your phase 1. At the end of phase 1, you will hopefully have a better product, as well as a small group of evangelists. Ask these users if they have friends/colleagues who would be interested in using the product.

    Continue this phase until you feel your product is really resonating with your users. Once you feel you're getting close, and be honest to yourself, you can begin to think about setting up a referral campaign or other marketing efforts and begin the transition to your phase 2.

    For setting up your phase 2, I would definitely take a look at Harry's case study: http://growthhackers.com/how-to-gather-100000-emails-in-one-week-includes-successful-templates-code-everything-you-need/

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 6 years ago #

    Virality is usually achieved through specific sharing, collaboration or invite features. So for phase one I would just disable those kinds of features. You can still make the functionality look like it will work, but then say it's disabled while the product is still in a beta or preview period. By making it look like it is available, you can still measure first click interest. Of course virality generally requires quite a bit of testing and tuning anyway, so it's unlikely it would "go viral" by accident.

    Regarding phase 2, I generally discourage big bang launches. Getting a product to become valuable usually requires a lot of iteration. You'll likely find that after an initial pop, you've still got a lot of work to do to make the product valuable enough to retain users. There are some obvious high profile exceptions to this rule, but I liken it to winning the lottery.

    • JA

      Jason Allias

      about 6 years ago #

      In regards to your comment on Phase 1 quote "Virality is usually achieved through specific sharing, collaboration or invite features" I'm assuming you meant a referral program.Your suggestion was to disable a referral program,but still measure first click interest. But, In GrowthEverywhere.com blog interview with you mentioned specifically building an invite system before consumers try your product. Can you please elaborate?
      Here's the link http://bit.ly/1thEeUE

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 6 years ago #

        Probably the biggest difference is that the person asking this question emphasized that they'd like to remain stealthy during phase one, but still be able to validate that the product is valuable for around 100 people. That's the reason I suggested that they disable the viral features during that phase.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 6 years ago #

    A couple of thoughts to go along with what Sean said:

    1) I would target a seed list of friends/influencers to get on the early access list. You can also encourage other early sign-ups through things like startup list and beta list that promote new, yet-to-launch services. Some products even pre-launch on Product Hunt, etc. Social media also seems like a good place to find relevant audiences.

    2) You can disable social sharing for phase one, but make a plan to get all of the people in phase 1 part of your launch sequence. Either get them to opt-in to sharing at time of launch or at least send them emails with click to tweet / share links emebedded so that when you do launch you can email them and they can easily share/promote.

    3) For launch distribution I would limit the number of options you give for sharing -- fewer choices, less friction, more sharing -- and choose the options that are most relevant to your audience.

    4) Put a twist on the standard invite loop. That's what the most successful ones do. Dollar Shave Club was a video, Mailbox had the waitlist, Mailbox for Mac had the beta coins, Peep Laja's conversion course had free access when a friend joined with you, etc. Try to stand out from the standard loops.

    5) I think the best launches come on the heels of a pre-launch list that is ready to help you get the word out and build initial momentum. So I would work hard to build a real, engaged list and build the benefits/anticipation up so that they are all primed to share when you're ready to launch.

  • MP

    marcus petty-saphon

    about 6 years ago #

    find a relevant subreddit or forum for people who would get the most value from your product and turn into evangilists. These are the people who you want shaping how your product works and not friends and family (as there usually no real target audience in friends and family!)