One of the scariest things about a sales funnel for a launch is not knowing what to do when. There are so many possible ways to put together a launch that it’s hard to determine what stage goes first, or second, or next. And how many stages of a launch are there anyway?
Yes, seven. Those seven stages may sound like a lot but they are going to carry you from validating your offer to recapping so that you can do it again the next time. Yes, you can shorten it, skip somethings and launch a lot lighter but you’ll launch knowing that you could have done more and been more successful.
There are people who have sworn oaths to the iPhone yet Apple does a big launch with every new release. So why should you be exempt from producing a large, multi-stage launch?
There are a few different types of launches but the ones that apply the most in the online biz world are:
- Live launches are launches with defined open and close cart dates.
- Evergreen launches are launches for courses/programs/services that are always available. These launches offer some sort of discount or bonus if they join via your sales funnel.
The main difference between the live versus evergreen launch is the tech involved so . Additionally, an evergreen launch has nurture built in especially for people who do not convert (in this case convert means purchase, however, before purchasing is an option conversions are people who sign-up for your opt-ins) during the launch period.
Stage 1: Pre-Launch
I was tempted to call this stage 0 because it’s before your audience actually sees anything. I did not though because this one of the most important stages of the launch. During this stage you validate your offer by figuring out what your audience most wants to hear from you. You also figure out the most efficient way to get more eyes on your opt-in (that’s the stage that comes next).
During the Pre-Launch Stage you spend your time reviewing was has happened before. You can do things such as:
- complete an email list audit,
- audit traffic via Google Analytics,
- research keywords via Facebook groups,
- creating a survey, and/or
- interviewing your audience/clients/customers.
The best launches will use a hybrid of these options while capturing the low-hanging fruit of completing an email list audit and auditing traffic via Google Analytics.
Email list audit
An email list audit helps you determine the health and engagement of your list. I tend to focus on tracking:
- The open and click rates of your newsletter emails over the last 90 days,
- Open and click rates of your welcome sequence,
- Open and click rates of any additional funnels related to your offer,
- Sources of traffic,
- Sales made from previous launches and one-off emails, and
- The kind of links clicked.
The first three should be easily pulled via your email platform. They will all have some form of documentation if you’re unable to find the numbers easily so consult their knowledgebases if you’re struggling with finding them. You should add these numbers to a spreadsheet so you can include them in your analysis at the end of this stage.
As much as possible, you want to track the sources of traffic to your opt-in so you can see how they convert. For example, do pop-ups on your website convert better than links shared in your email newsletters?
It’s possible to do this retroactively via some platforms but if you can do track this on the frontend, you’ll save yourself a lot of time. I create an opt-in form for each different location I place the opt-in so I can see the open/click numbers at a glance. For each opt-in I have a form for most if not all of these sources of traffic:
- Email list
- Blog post embed
- Website landing page
- Website pop-up
- Website notification bar
- Twitter shares
- LeadPages embed
- Facebook Ads
I suggest tailoring your forms to match where you typically share your opt-in.
Audit traffic via Google Analytics
You can do an infinite amount of things with Google Analytics but the most important information you need here is to figure out how people get to your website and how much time they spend when they get there.
Your highest source of traffic is a good indicator that your offer looks appealing but it does not always indicate a quality source of traffic. A quality source of traffic is defined by someone converting to a subscriber (which is something you’ll determine via your email list audit), the amount of time someone spends on your site, and/or the number of pages when they spend on your site.
Once you grab these numbers from Google Analytics, you can add them to the same spreadsheet you previously created. I tend to track these numbers in 30 day increments over the last 3 months.
Research keywords via Facebook groups
This is an optional step that’s especially useful if you’re not creating a survey or interviewing your audience.
What you would do is search for keywords using the search feature in Facebook groups that your audience frequents. So, if you were launching a calligraphy course you would search for calligraphy and related terms in the Facebook groups and see how people talked about them. Look for the questions they have and if they say anything related to what your offer is.
Surveys & Interviews
It’s always a great option to talk directly to your audience to see if they are interested in what you’re eventually launching. Ideally, you’re doing this way before you create the offer but you do want to do status checks when you get closer to putting your new biz baby out into the world.
You want to do this to make sure the pain points you think they have are actually relevant. For instance, say you’re creating a calligraphy course and you discover that your audience if filled with mostly beginners. You need to make sure your course focuses more on beginner friendly topics like budget-friendly supplies and $800 calligraphy pens (I don’t know if that actually exists) and how to book $10,000 calligraphy jobs.
With surveys and interviews, you want to make sure that you ask about what they have done in the past versus what they would do as much as possible.
When you ask “would you invest in thing X” and you get the answer “yes” that yes may actually mean, “yes, in an ideal world where I have $2,000 to pay for the course, a babysitter, and weekends off of my retail job I’ll invest in the course.” If you rely on that when the course offer comes around and that’s not their reality, they won’t invest. So that information ends up not being reliable to you.
If instead you ask, “have you ever invested in a calligraphy course?” and follow up a “yes” with, “tell me about your experience with the course?”, you’ll get a much more useful answer. It may look like this, “I invested in an in-person calligraphy workshop because I was interested in seeing if I could like creating calligraphy and I do! I want more.”
That’s much more useful information. You can tell the person has a history in investing in calligraphy courses, had a good previous experience and would do so again.
In surveys try to give categories for answers as much as possible so that the answers are actually on target and helpful to my analysis.
In interviews aim to focus on these four letters: STFU. You can’t listen if you’re talking. Interviews should be as open ended as possible without influencing the interviewees answer. Because if you’re influencing them, again, the information is not helpful.
You can get a lot out of interviews because you’re able to ask follow-up questions and get specific language bites that you can use in your content.
Your survey is something perfect to send to your email list pre-launch and post in relevant Facebook/Slack groups where your audience lives.
Interviews, however, when you’re in launch mode it’s best to concentrate on people who have already given you’ve money. Since you’ve already established that trust, you’re able to dig into who they purchased from you so that you can go and try to attract people just like them.
Analyzing the research
After you’ve completed all the research you will have a ton of information. You’ll have a giant spreadsheet with Google Analytics and email list audit numbers, results of Facebook group keyword research, quantitative data from surveys, and qualitative data from interviews.
To make sense of it all, you can focus on answering these question:
- How many people are opening my emails?
- How many people are engaging with my newsletter emails?
- How many people are engaging with my email sequences?
- What kind of topics most interest my email list?
- How are people getting to my website?
- What source of traffic makes people spend more time on my website?
- What kind of pain points do people have related to my launch offer?
- Why have people chosen to work with me or buy from me?
At the end of this stage you’ll at least know:
- The tweaks you need to make to your offer.
- Your average conversion rate of newer and older subscribers (and therefore the numbers to expect).
- The conversions of your previous launches and one-off sales to your list.
- Your highest quantitative sources of website traffic.
- Your highest qualitative sources of website traffic.
If you complete surveys and interviews, you’ll also know:
- What kind of language to use to attract leads closest to your target audience.
- What stage of life/business your leads are at before they convert to customer/client.