When Is The Right Time To Launch Your Product?

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During the last coaching call I did with my members the question of when is the right time to launch your product online came up repeatedly from different people.

The question isn’t about timing in terms of day or night, or what day of the week, or time of the year you should launch, rather what conditions need to be in place to expect a successful opening campaign. Here’s what we’re talking about…

  • How many subscribers do you need on your email list?
  • How many RSS subscribers on your blog should you have?
  • How many unique visitors to your websites do you need?
  • How many affiliates do you need?
  • How many sales should you expect given certain numbers?

All these questions and many more make up part of the answer to the overall question of when you can consider yourself ready to launch.

It is difficult for me to answer this question with anything concrete because every market is different. However I understand the need for ballpark figures and some sort of reassurance from someone who has launched before, especially if they are your coach and mentor.

What Are The Benchmarks?

Inside Membership Site Mastermind I alluded to the number of around 5,000 subscribers as a good target to aim for before launching, which ideally should be email subscribers if possible.

You can include RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and fans too, but generally these contact points are less responsive and less targeted than email. Email subscribers, especially when they come through from a targeted incentive like a free report or email course, are more qualified, hence more likely to buy.

Another metric you can look at that is relevant is the open and click through rates of the emails you send. While it’s nice to have 10,000 email subscribers, in most cases you are lucky if 25% of them even open the emails you send. If you’re getting 10% or more of them clicking your links, you’re doing very well.

Given that opening an email is easier than clicking a link, which is easier than making a sale, you can see why it’s important you understand the reality behind the numbers you currently get.

If you don’t track the open and click through rates on your emails, you should start. Outside of this data you can look at unique visitors to your blog or website as another estimate of how much traffic you can expose to your offer, but understand knowing how many people read your blog content is difficult to correlate to how many people will buy from you.

What Metrics Should You Analyze?

Let’s start with some common caveats, although these won’t be obvious to you if you’re new to online marketing, so it’s worth reiterating them -

  1. Your conversion rate (number of people who take action divided by the total number of people you make the offer to) matters most. Conversion is something you can test and improve forever.
  2. Some markets are “worth” much more than others. A customer who is buying a house is worth a lot more than a person buying a new shirt because of the profit margin per sale. It’s possible to have very low conversion yet still make millions because the value of each customer is so high.
  3. Conversion rates across industries vary considerably. In my niche, getting a 5% conversion rate for buyers is very good, while in other markets it might be terribly low. What’s “good enough” is dependent on how much you want to make.
  4. Conversion is also a function of overall traffic. You can do really well with a low conversion rate if you have access to millions of people. If you have access to very few people, then you either need a fat profit margin and/or a high conversion rate.

In an ideal world, your business would sell high margin products, you have a very high conversion rate and you have access to millions of people. That’s the holy grail of business, but it’s not possible in every market.

Some businesses rely on significant turnover of low priced items (like dollar discount stores), where others rely on high priced items with a low conversion and high margin, like luxury jewelery and watches.

Now you might understand why it’s so difficult for me to answer the question as to when is the right time to launch. Every market is different, every product is different, and every marketer is in a different situation in terms of their relationship and exposure to their market. There are just too many variables to consider.

So Here’s My Answer

Given the caveats I’m now comfortable to explain what you can expect and how best to make the decision of when to launch your product online.

My very first launch was conducted when I had approximately 3,000 email subscribers and the same in RSS subscribers. This was just my own lists.

I also knew I had some affiliates with access to lots of people, although most of them were bloggers so would not be using email marketing (most of the top bloggers in my niche weren’t making extensive use of email marketing back then).

To be honest I had no idea what to expect during my first launch, so here’s what happened.

I did my launch campaign, releasing the Blog Profits Blueprint for the first time. Lots of affiliates promoted the blueprint and my email list grew from about 3,000 to 10,000 people once the launch was done. Most affiliates sent me ten to fifty new leads, where my top five affiliates contributed close to 1,000 each (affiliate results always skew to an aggressive 80/20 rule).

The good thing about doing a launch is you build very targeted email lists. Before my launch I had my general blog tips newsletter with the 3,000 people. I then added an “early notice” list (the most targeted list of people who really wanted to join my membership site) and the Blueprint list for people who opted in for my free report (another targeted list since they were interested in profiting from blogs, which is what my product is about).

Not only did I expand my list, I attracted very targeted subscribers.

When my program went live I ended up with just over 400 paying members. If you do the math based on 10,000 email subscribers that is just over 0.04 conversion rate (about 4.15% was the number).

Since then I’ve conducted another five opening launch campaigns for different products and monitored the results of some of my top performing student’s launches, so I have a feel for what to expect given the variables, however as I said earlier, it’s very GENERAL.

So, to answer the very first question posed about when you can begin your launch in terms of the metrics, here’s what I tell people -

  • Aim for 5,000 targeted email subscribers as a good ballpark figure before doing a launch
  • Do the math based on a 1% conversion rate and see if you would be happy with that. That means for every 1,000 people on your list, you will have ten paying customers.
  • Make sure you do the conversion rate based on the number of opt-ins to a prospect list, not your daily blog readership. Blog readers haven’t opted in to something so they are not prospects, they are suspects.

    A suspect is someone who is engaging with your content, while a prospect has taken an action to commit further to you, like joining your email list or subscribing to your RSS feed. Conversion rates should be calculated based on comparing prospects to customers, not suspects to customers.

One percent is a low conversion rate, but it’s grounding. It makes you think realistically and if all goes accordingly to plan, you will do better and exceed your expectations.

Remember when doing calculations you should factor in affiliates if you have them. It’s tough to know how many leads (subscribers) an affiliate will send you, because they have their own conversion rate based on how responsive their audience is.

The very top affiliates in my market send between 1,000 and 2,000 leads. This is standard across the Internet marketing industry because I can usually send other marketers about this many leads when I do affiliate promotions. With that many leads I’m usually in the top 5 of lead producers in an affiliate competition (that’s not sales, that’s prospects/leads).

Some will send more and some will send less, but understand that just because an affiliate has 100,000 people on their list does not mean you will have even 10% of that audience join your list after the affiliate promotes for you. Again, err on the side of lower than expected when doing your estimations.

Bear in mind I’m quoting from my experience in the Internet marketing niche. This is not indicative of what to expect from any other niche. If you can get numbers for your particular industry that’s definitely helpful, but understand you can never be certain of what to expect.

What Else Do You Need Before Launch?

My free report, the Membership Site Masterplan goes into more depth about what you need to have in place in terms of content and traffic in your market before launching, so I encourage you read or listen to that if you want more details.

My coaching program Membership Site Mastermind covers all of this in greater detail, however it won’t be open again until 2010, so keep an eye on www.membershipsitemastermind.com/signup for the next student intake.

To put it simply, you will need the following before you launch -

  1. A product or the first part of your product for a membership site or coaching program to deliver to your customers after the order
  2. A method to take payment for your product
  3. If you are going to have affiliates, a system to track the sales and credit affiliates with commissions
  4. A means to reach people, in other words some form of distribution, usually an email list of your own, a blog or website, affiliates and any other traffic tools like twitter, facebook, social media, etc.
  5. Marketing materials to convert the sale, like a sales page or video, prelaunch content like a lead free resource and content like emails and blog posts that specifically promote your launch

For most new marketers, if I was to say where they go wrong, it’s spending too much time thinking about their CONTENT and not enough time thinking and about their MARKETING. Creating content requires only your time and energy. Generating traffic requires you get the attention and commitment of other people, like affiliates and potential customers. This is challenging.

This article should have helped you get a rough feel for what position you need to be in before you go into launch mode, in terms of the reach you need in your market. What I don’t want to see is people working hard to reach 1,000 email subscribers, expecting at least 10% of them to pay money and thus do a launch and end up with a much lower than expected result.

There are no guarantees, so don’t expect anything. Put in your best effort and focus on the positives and you will do well, and remember that each experience is growth, no matter what the result.

Even if you don’t make as many sales as you expect, there’s a very good chance your profile will increase, as will your subscriber base, each time you do a launch. Launches are the best business growth tool I know of today online, so if you want to rapidly increase all the positive aspects of your business, plan to make an impact every time you release a product.

A Launch Is The Best Test

One last point before I wrap up.

Almost everything I’ve covered in this article sits in the realm of the unknown. You can only make smart estimates about your results. Every launch is different, every situation is new and you can never know what to expect.

My most recent launch as I write this was by far the most relaxed and confident launch I have ever done. I feel like a veteran now with launches, having done so many in the last three years. I had a ballpark figure of what to expect given the type of campaign I was going to run and the product I was selling, and by the end of the launch I was almost spot on with my estimates.

My estimation was accurate, which is good, but the real difference this time was how I didn’t go through a roller coaster ride during the launch in terms of my emotional state. If you’ve never done a launch before let me warn you – it’s an emotional ride – and part of the reason for this is all the unknowns (if you don’t believe me, take a look at this video of me from my first launch – Yaro’s Bad Hair Product Launch Day).

You just don’t know how many people will buy your product. You don’t know how your marketing materials will gain traction. You don’t know which affiliates will promote, how often they will promote or how many sales or leads they will generate. As a result of so many unknowns, you tend to rapidly shoot through highs and lows, spiking up when something good happens, and crashing down when your expectations aren’t meant. At the end of it all, hopefully, you will feel exhausted, but content, and definitely wiser for the experience.

And that my friend is the real power of the launch.

A launch is one of the best marketing tests you will ever do. All the unknowns you had before you launched become answered. You know what marketing materials work best. You know what your conversion rate is. You know how many of your prospects are buyers. You know which affiliates are your leaders and what affiliates can do for your marketing.

You may or may not meet your expectations, but you will have a result. That in many ways is more important. One launch is not the be all and end all of things you will do for your business. It’s really just the beginning. You will do many launches, release different products and hopefully go on to much greater things.

Your success depends on growth, and growth depends on experience. Conducting a launch is the best marketing and business experience you can go through online, in terms of speed of results.

Too many people sit on the fence in fear waiting for the ideal situation to emerge to get out there and do something. This is the worst possible outcome because you are inert. Doing nothing guarantees a result – nothing.

If you are asking yourself all the questions I presented at the start of this article and more, the single best piece of advice I can give you is to get out there and just do it. Nothing anyone can tell you will ever make you feel completely confident about what you are going to do.

Learn to live with that feeling of unknown and understand that the people who reach a level of mastery are there not because they know everything, but because they have accepted that they will never know everything – it’s impossible – and acting within the mystery is the key to success.

Good luck and have fun!

Yaro Starak
Riding The Mystery

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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50 Comments

  • Hi Yaro,

    You touched very important points and as always you explained everything clearly.

    Everything you say is important when you are trying to do a Launch. I mean, the Big Product Launches you see many marketers doing…

    You need a lot of things in place and you need to have some experience. But if you are just starting out and you are going to launch your own product I suggest you just put it on the marketplace.

    What I mean by that is that you don’t have to do a Big Launch, you can submit your product to Clickbank and start promoting it.

    In the beginning things don’t have to be perfect, you just need to get it going and then you start improving your system based on the results you are getting.

    Many people don’t make any money because they wait to have the perfect system. So, if you have your own product I suggest you start promoting it right now.

    Thanks,
    ^PV Reymond

    http://www.startup-internetbusiness.com

    • There is a simple way to do it. Just place the icon for the program you want to start in the “startup” folder in the start menu…

  • All very valid points. However, it is also possible to launch with far fewer subscribers if you’re using PPC and can get your conversion rates working for you. An event style launch is a great tool when you have established yourself a position in the market, but before that time buying traffic is a valid option. A lot of the top internet marketers buy the great majority of their traffic, many of them don’t rely on social media tools very much. Most of them are only recently getting in to blogging at all.

    • In the javelin throw at a track and field event, javelin is launched at speed of 29 m/s at 35 degrees above horizontal.

  • Yaro,

    I really appreciate the stats that you gave in today’s post. I have found launches successful with smaller lists as well, but they were very targeted and pre-qualified buyers.

    Ultimately, I think your numbers are about right. Too often, new marketers think their email open rate are going to be higher than they are. The subject line is the golden child here. Making a compelling subject line can increase your open rates to the moon. People feel like they just have to open them. It’s something I’ve been doing with my list to great success.

    Thanks,
    Joshua Black
    htttp://www.Underdogmillionaire.com/blog

  • Interesting post, nice to get some insight on the subscriber numbers when launching a product.

    You think that 5000 is good number, but it’s a bit difficult to see why e.g. 2000 subscribers wouldn’t do a good job. Yep, there are 3000 less prospects, but how big a difference would there be when you launch a product? Why would the difference be bigger than what we can read by the numbers?

    I’m considering launching an ebook in 2010, but I hope I will make a better conversion rate than 1%. Currently making ~1000 subscribers, so that will only be 10 ebooks when I launch, seems a bit low to me. Even if I had 5000 subscribers it would be difficult for me to describe my launch as a success if I sell 50 relative low-priced ebooks.

    I would expect ebooks to have higher conversion rates than memberships sites, but does anyone here have numbers from previous launches of ebooks?

    Thanks for sharing this great post.

    Jesper

    • Hey Jesper – Yep, 2,000 might be enough. 5,000 is better, but as I very clearly wrote in the article, there are no rules. Even just 500 could be enough if the conversion is high enough.

      • Your MessageAs is travels upward, its velocity points above horizontal at an angle that decreases over time. how much time is required for the angle to be reduced from 35 degrees at launch to 18 degrees?

  • Yaro, this was a very timely topic for me. I do have a question. How do you know how many rss subscribers you have? Is there some way to track them? Thanks!

  • Wow this is a superb post man! Exactly what I need. I just started a list and so I am focusing on that the most since its probably the most important subscribers..

  • Hi Yaro,

    You mentioned that you’re lucky if 25% of your subscribers open your emails and a 10% clickthrough is excellent, are you referring to a general newsletter email or a promotional email? If the above rates are for a promotional email, then what rates can we expect for a general newsletter email, or vice versa?

    I know these rates can be industry-specific, so a general variation is fine.

    Thank you.

    Cheers~

    Mark
    The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People

    • I’m referring to any newsletters, since you can phrase promotional emails as content, so you shouldn’t necessarily notice much of a difference. If you sell with content your emails are all about content.

    • Just loaded up Microsoft Office 2003 on my new Vista computer from Dell and every time I launch Outlook it wants me to accept the darn EULA.

  • Thanks for the information Yaro, and the much-needed push. It’s better not to expect much and be pleasantly surprised than to set ourselves up for a rude awakening. As you said, this is only a test which we can learn and grow from. Why do we let fear hold us back?
    I can relate to this because I recently conducted a live webinar and only later saw that the sound quality had been poor. I thought I had planned it to a T. Now, I have invested in a pricey but excellent quality sound system, and decided to redo the webinar. I learnt to swim by jumping in the water and you know what they say about making omelets… I’m nowhere near a product launch but I can relate to the test, learn, grow, rinse, and repeat mantra.

    • I definitely agree. You first product launch is bound to be a learning experience despite how many people you get advice from. So you have to be willing to jump into it headfirst to test the waters. You can’t sit on your product too long trying to figure out when the best time to launch is.

  • Launch are really great. I promote them mostly as an affiliate, but I launched my first product (without any affiliates) back in the days, with a really small list, and I made a few hundred dollars.

    It was amazing to see how people replied to my blog when I applied the blog contest (one of Jeff’s technique).

    All the best,
    Franck

  • hi Yaro, sounds like a lot of legwork. Any ideas on how one can monetise and market a humour site

    • Joel just check out the archives for this blog, there are plenty of awesome Articles that will lead you into the right direction =D

      I hope that helps!

      Till then,

      Jean

    • I have performed all the updates and yes, I have registered it with Microsoft. I’ve even re-installed it and repaired it. But, it still has me accept it EVERY time I launch the program.

  • Hi Yaro, really good info… I was just going through these kind of figures and what we should aim for with a colleague… then up pops your posts…. timely… thanks

  • That was once again a great post. When is the right time to launch your product topic was explained so well. I will certainly use the tips you have shared because I am planning to launch a website with a brand new concept….

  • Great info. Really well written. Is surely a must read for anyone who plans to throw in a new product in the market.

  • I have a different take on this. There’s NO right time as such. Even if there was, the right time need not depend on the popularity of the blog. I guess just about anyone can launch a product and use Adwords and Facebook Ads to promote it. As long as you do proper SEM and your product is solid, you need not depend on RSS, e-mails and other such methods you’ve discussed though i agree they can help to a certain degree. I also tend to believe that most people who subscribe to your blog don’t really give you any business. Actually business comes from people who may be genuinely looking for products and services online. Subscribers are there to learn for FREE. They won’t even subscribe if you don’t offer them a free e-book. Irony is most subscribers are also direct competitors. Some may be genuine subscribers and those will buy but most are cunning humans who want everything for freeeeeeeeeeee…..

    But on the other hand a non subscriber with a desperate need would anyway buy. I don’t subscribe to blogs but when i have a need, i search, i evaluate alternatives and make an informed choice and purchase.

    I guess what i am trying to say is, ANYTIME IS RIGHT TIME as long as you know to do it correctly. You just need to be smart.

  • Yaro,
    Thanks for this step by step guide to product launching! I needed this kind of information so much.
    Next article—how to boost your subscribers–Maybe?
    Take Care,
    Jill

    Making Your WHEN Happen Now

  • Personally I don’t think you need to reach specific benchmarks before launching a product. If you obsess over the numbers too much, you may end wasting a lot of time. I think you should launch your product once you are personally comfortable. The number or subscribers one person may want for a product launch may be much higher than what another person wants. It all comes down to personal expectations and goals. You can still be successful with a smaller mailing list.

  • The right time: when you are ready and it is ready.

  • Yaro, you might not believe me on this one, but the MOST inspirational thing I’ve EVER seen from you was that video about your first Product Launch experience. SERIOUSLY.

    Every so often, I feel like just forgetting about all this Make Money Online stuff because of how much work it is, and that’s just me being real. To know that you felt the same way (to some extent) and to see where you are now was exactly what I needed.

    I wasn’t going to give up, because things are still going well, but now I have even more motivation to make it.

    Thanks bro!

  • Hi,
    After gone through your article, I would say that you touched very necessary point. Every step is necessary to lunch a product what you said, I mean open e mail, blogs, RSS subscribers, need to know lot of technique or lot of experience. Daniel, what I’m going to say you can submit your product to EBay, Amazon and also in Click bank. Start your promoting.

  • The squeeze page is pretty sweet! It does a lot of work with a click!

  • Hi Yaro,

    If I may throw my experience out there. I had heard you recommend going for 5,000 subscribers. I only had between 400 and 500 email subscribers, and maybe 200 RSS readers. But I had a gut feeling I could make a launch work. I’m in the pro audio/home recording studio niche, which is very different from the internet marketing niche.

    So I launched a 12-week training course, charging $39/month for three months. I was hoping for 5-10 subscribers. I ended up with 50!!

    I started my blog back in the spring. 6 months later I’ve launched a product successfully. Hopefully this will encourage all of you who are just starting. It doesn’t necessarily take two years to develop a big enough following to make money.

    Thanks Yaro for all your great information!

  • Hey Yaro

    Testing is the only way to really know, the biggest factors are obviously your own list size and responsiveness, your affiliates list sizes and your conversion rate… aim to improve on all of those are your launch will be successful.

  • I think, the best time to launch your product is when you have thoroughly researched the market, its competition and the customer’s demand.

  • I downloaded a simple application that I want to launch every time I start up. I heard someone saying these a autorun folder. I don’t really know. It would be nice to get a simple tutorial for a vista operated computer.

  • The first/second answer is close but necessarily won’t work because the start menu will close when you try clicking/draging the icon into the ‘Startup’ folder and also there is no option to paste into the ‘Startup’ folder when you’re in the start menu.

  • You said that 5000 subscriber must be there before launching a product,, but please guide us how can a newbie blogger like me can increase the subscriber list upto 5000 or more???

  • Many thanks for such a nice outline. It’s astonishing how asking the right questions may lead you to right conclusions. It allowed me to reflect on some of my previous goals.

  • Yaro,
    I am getting ready to launch an extremely innovative company at the end of Dec. My web designer, who has designed most of the websites for the huge MLM & Direct Sales companies, has never seen anything like our company. Based on the product mix, low cost of entry, profitability for affiliates, and mass appeal they believe I have a $Billion idea. I do too. Most of my marketing has been in the direct sales arena and I am very new to your world. I am in need of affiliates to promote my company. What is the best way to attract experienced Affiliates that want to be front line to a new company?

  • It is important to develop trust among your readers as well, no amount of subscribers is going to help if ones blog members don’t feel s sense of credibility and trust.

    Super post:)

  • This blog is really useful for Internet Marketers. That is the most important point, launching product.

  • It’s astonishing how asking the right questions may lead you to right conclusions. It allowed me to reflect on some of my previous goals.

  • the right time is when you popular and the product is already to use..just my 2 cent :)

  • The more the merrier, I’d definitely say! Then conversion rate is critical is critical to your overall measure of success. It doesn’t help having 100,000 subscribers and no conversions.

  • Time to launch in usually a tricky proposition. With the right metrics in place, tracking, split testing and so forth, proper timing can usually be estimated. Bear in mind, inaction is sometimes better than bad action.

  • I am going to going to do my first launch a little backwards. I am doing a launch to build a following. I realize the challenges I face and have set my expectations accordingly. I only done a soft launch so far but the response has been better than I expected. Obviously I will be relying almost 100% on affiliates. I am not targeting the Big Guns such as Yaro but rather the followers of the Big Guns and have created a product aimed at the level of their followers. Most suspects are thankful they were turned on to the product so it is a win for them, a win for my affiliates and a win for me.

    I will provide an update later.

  • Every time I sit down with my cup of coffee to study some aspect on online mastery I nearly always end up feeling a failure as I never seem to be doing “it all” and I end up overwhelmed instead of empowered, despite being an expert in my field !

    So I found your advice right at the end of your log really uplifting.

    “Learn to live with that feeling of unknown and understand that the people who reach a level of mastery or there not because they know everything, but because they have accepted that they will never know everything – it’s impossible – and acting within the mystery is the key to success.”

    That’s been printed off and popped on my dream board to remind me !

    It’s all about small steps towards big dreams ! Onwards and upwards – thanks

    Sue Atkins
    Author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies”

  • I think a lot of companies mislead affiliates. They claim that you might make thousands of dollars selling thier products. However, they don’t tell you about the marketing skills required to make thousands of dollars.

  • What a fantastic post Yaro,

    I am currently in the middle of two launches.

    One has a list of around 7000 customers/prospects and the other has no list, and is relying on advertising to build a list and getting JV partners.

    As one of Jeff Walkers Product Launch Managers I have seen a few different launches and just wanted to say that in my experience the launch is much less work, much less stressful if there is some kind of list to start with.

  • What a concise report of product launching. How successful a product will be depends a lot of the launching process and you have provided us with a great outline.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I am so lucky to have come across your post! Thank God!! I love how you emphasized and inspired us, website/product launchers, to keep it going… Very much appreciated.. :) Keep on inspiring!

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