Because many of our customers are entrepreneurs and small business owners who create, market, and sell products, we thought it could be helpful to share our own experiences in the marketing and selling of Launch Effect Premium.
We first released Launch Effect Premium back in December 2011. What had originally started out as a free theme that we made for fun turned into a marketable product as requests for various features started to pour in from those who gave the free version a try. We worked quickly to push out a simple version that allowed for a brandable footer and decided to charge 2 prices: $35 for a single site license and $65 for an unlimited site license. We also outlined several ambitious features to come at a later time including an animated progress bar and countdown timer, the ability to build pages beyond the landing page, and additional form fields.
Our initial marketing push came in the form of tweets and email blasts. We had a couple hundred people following us at the time as well as a hundred or so that had opted in to our mailing list. We wrapped up development on the progress bar and countdown timer fairly quickly and created a few demos showing the features in action. We sent off an email blast using MailChimp and also tweeted out the demos. This led to a string of sales which was very encouraging. By the end of the month, we tallied 15 unlimited licenses and 11 single site licenses to bring our post-transaction fee amount to a little under $500. Not bad for very limited marketing.
The release of Launch Effect Premium 2.0X, which allowed users to extend the site beyond the landing page was the start of our aggressive marketing campaign. We put together a gallery of Premium demos and cobbled together a one-page info sheet that outlined the advantages of Premium over the free (now called Lite) version. We put together a spreadsheet of all the possible blogs that might want to write about Launch Effect Premium. These included heavy hitters like TechCrunch and Smashing Magazine as well as WordPress community blogs and blogs run by marketers and startup coaches. Rather than blanketing a bunch of blogs with a generic email, we found out names and crafted personalized messages to each blogger, hoping to establish long-term relationships. We tried, where we could, to vary our pitch to make it a better fit for their blogs (e.g. playing up the ability to build out a full website to blogs catering to freelance web developers who may want to use Premium for their small business customers). This was a lot of upfront work, but we now have a database of over 140 websites that we can reference and reach out to the next time we have an important feature or a new product to announce. We’ve been diligent about recording outcomes (who blogged about what when) and we’ve also encouraged bloggers to tweet about our theme if they didn’t want to blog about it. We did a few giveaway promos as well, but for the most part, we’ve focused on providing good content (screenshots and easily digestible list of features) for bloggers to turn into reviews and news announcements.
Sales started to heat up in mid-to-late January as a few blogs started reviewing our product. We finished with over $2,700 in sales for the month. We spent a good chunk of February continuing to talk to bloggers and got our affiliate program started up as well. While sales dipped to around $2,000 in February, we knew we had planted the seeds for a good sales month in March. March started off with a post in TechCrunch and a series of other reviews followed. Sales also began to come more and more from Google searches, which was nice to see as we weren’t spending anything on AdWords. We ended with over $4,100 in sales for March, having sold over 90 licenses. For the first four months, post-PayPal fees, we netted over $9,400. Good times.
Of course, what you’re not seeing with these numbers are the resources needed to keep the business going. Because Launch Effect is a product of an established company (Barrel, a digital agency in New York), there are certain luxuries: designers and developers on staff contribute to the project; we have a person dedicated to marketing it daily; and we don’t factor in costs like rent and utilities. I’m sure if we figure out the nitty gritty, we may find that it’s not the most profitable thing to have our team members working on the product. But we’re taking the long view on this and hoping that the investment of our time in building a solid product will allow us to grow this side of our business to better complement our client services. And we’ve already seen the positive effects of having a product while offering services: we can speak better to marketing digital products when talking to potential clients; clients like it that we are very entrepreneurial and constantly trying to innovate; and we’ve used Launch Effect as an add-on package for some of our client work.
As April draws to a close, we’re looking at numbers that may surpass the sales we did in March. However, because these are one-time purchases, we’ll need to continue our marketing efforts and reaching new customers if we are to keep up the pace. We’re hoping that more integrations with useful apps (we currently support MailChimp, CampaignMonitor, and AWeber) and partnership programs with marketers and startup programs will continue to raise awareness of our product. We’re also very close to putting the finishing touches on a brand new marketing website, which we hope will increase conversions. And of course, we anticipate new products under the Launch Effect brand, which will present new challenges and opportunities that we’re very excited for.