How to launch a SaaS product
Launching a SaaS product may feel like navigating a maze with no map. There’s much to consider – from validating your idea to nailing your go to market strategy and everything in between. For founders, the path is often fraught with high-stakes decisions, from identifying the perfect market entry point to fine-tuning a product that meets the exacting demands of users.
Drawing from our experience working with technology startup teams, we developed an exhaustive guide to help you navigate the complexities of a B2B SaaS product launch, plus a few insights from successful CEOs.
Let’s start with the development phases, as every product team goes through hurdles on the path from ideation to product launch.
Phases of SaaS product development
We went through the ups and downs of SaaS product development when we launched our Text-to-Speech (TTS) tool. It began with understanding the market needs, followed by a prototype that evolved through user feedback. More than simply building a product, we wanted to offer a solution to address a real pain point.
That’s what the phases of SaaS product development typically look like:
1. Ideation — Lightbulb moments to launchpad
This initial phase is marked by creativity and optimism. It’s when the seed of your SaaS product is planted, and ideas are in abundance. You’ve figured out a pain point and know your product could make a difference. Then you get deep into brainstorming and conceptualization, setting the foundation for what will eventually become a tangible product.
Communication platform Slack, for instance, started as an internal tool for the gaming company Tiny Speck. The team identified a pain point in team communication and decided to discontinue their gaming platform into a completely different product offering to what we now know as Slack.
2. The build — Code, caffeine and can-dos
In this phase, the conceptual ideas take shape. Developers, designers and engineers collaborate to bring the vision to life. You craft a minimum viable product (MVP) that encompasses the core features addressing the identified pain points. The goal is to test its viability and gather early user feedback.
You need alignment on product direction. In the words of our CEO:
3. Setbacks — Sleepless nights and lots of fights
This product pre-launch phase, often marked by intense pressure and uncertainty, catalyzes creative problem-solving and strategic thinking. There may be moments of feeling overwhelmed, but this is a key milestone for reassessment, refinement and realignment with the project’s goals.
And just because a product performs poorly initially doesn’t mean it is bound to fail. Take Airbnb, for example. The company struggled initially with low adoption rates, a challenge many new businesses in established industries encounter. They had to reassess their approach and eventually decided to go door-to-door to photograph homes, enhancing their listings. And the rest is history.
4. The launch — SaaS-tisfaction and still, sleepless nights
As the product nears its launch, initial concerns and doubts give way to a renewed sense of confidence. The marketing department intensifies efforts, strategically promoting the product’s unique features, while the development team remains on high alert for any last-minute technical issues.
On launch day, every signup is celebrated — and every feedback is dissected. This phase is characterized by a blend of optimism and vigilance, with the team poised to respond swiftly to user needs and market reactions.
Steps for a successful SaaS product launch
A successful B2B SaaS launch requires more than a good idea and a well-designed product. Here are the steps you’ve to go through:
Step 1: Conduct market research and validate product-market fit
Understanding your target market and creating detailed buyer personas lays the foundation for a successful SaaS product. If you are entering a new market, and most likely you are, seek advice from industry experts and peers with experience in that space.
A strategic market research process should evaluate:
- Demographics: Collect data on age, gender, location, education level, job title, key performance indicators (KPIs) and other demographic factors relevant to your product to build an ideal customer profile (ICP). This data should comprise both decision makers and end users since they are the ones who directly influence and experience the impact of your product. All your marketing initiatives should speak directly to this group.
- Industry and niche: Determine which industries or niches benefit the most from your SaaS product. Consider factors like common challenges and customer pain points. By addressing specific customer problems, your SaaS positions itself as their go-to solution.
- Company size: Decide whether your product is best suited for small SaaS businesses, enterprises or a specific range of company sizes. You can understand the scale at which you must deploy your product using this data. You then leverage this information to make strategic decisions on resource allocation, product customization and pricing models that resonate with the target business scale.
- Market research: Validate your product-market fit by analyzing these three market metrics:
- Total addressable market (TAM): Represents the total market demand for your product or service. It’s crucial for estimating the growth potential of a specific market and helps in determining if your product meets the needs of a large enough audience.
- Serviceable addressable market (SAM): Narrows down the TAM to the portion you serve, considering limitations like business model, specialization or geographic reach. It’s vital for setting realistic targets for market acquisition.
- Serviceable obtainable market (SOM): Estimates how many customers you realistically expect to attract and serve since capturing the entire SAM is unlikely. This metric helps you set short-term growth targets and develop competitive strategies.
- Competitive analysis: Research the competitive landscape to identify industry leaders, their product offerings, strengths, weaknesses, market share and unique selling propositions. This data helps you understand the current market dynamics and identify gaps or opportunities your SaaS product can capitalize on. The goal is to use this competitive intelligence to direct your product’s development and marketing to be one step ahead.
Step 2: Define your unique value proposition (UVP)
A successful SaaS product is born from a keen understanding of customer pain points. It’s crucial to listen to your target audience and gather direct feedback so you can articulate how your product alleviates these challenges. Your UVP should clearly communicate the unique benefits and advantages your product offers, setting it apart from competitors.
Make sure to develop a competitor matrix to break down how you stack up against industry rivals.
Here’s the experience of one of our clients – a successful B2B SaaS startup in the post-purchase experience market:
Key takeaway: Success hinges on clearly defining your unique value proposition. This involves pinpointing your target market, articulating the core value you offer and establishing a competitive edge. It’s about understanding and catering to the specific needs of your chosen audience with precision and clarity.
Step 3: Create a roadmap for features and functionalities
Defining your SaaS product’s core features and functionalities is a pivotal step in development. Start by identifying the essential components that directly address your target audience’s needs and align with your unique value proposition. Keep in mind that 42% of startups ceased operations after launch for failing to address a valid customer problem with their product.
A good strategy is to conduct feature prioritization exercises such as the MoSCoW method (must-haves, should-haves, could-haves and won’t-haves) because they help you differentiate between critical features integral to your product’s functionality and those that can be added later. The goal is to create a roadmap for development that ensures your product remains focused on solving core user problems while allowing for future expansion as your user base grows and evolves.
Let’s consider the example of one of our clients – Box, an enterprise cloud document storage company that powers two-thirds of Fortune 500. In an interview with CNBC, CEO Aaron Levie discusses how Box followed their organic roadmap to balance growth and profitability while helping enterprises manage their most important data.
The company has remained successful all these years despite growing competition and evolving customer demands, because, as Levie explains, Box doubled down on both product offerings and products that were performing the best, and worked hard to stay focused on improving efficiency for users.
Step 4: Design and build
While functionality is crucial, never underestimate the importance of a seamless user experience. Intuitive design and user-friendly interfaces enhance the perceived value of your product.
Prioritize developing features that directly address the pain points identified during your market research. And make sure to maintain open lines of communication with your development team. Regular check-ins and feedback loops (run the project according to agile methodology) help ensure that the product aligns with your original vision and meets customer needs.
At the end of the day, it’s all about building a well-designed and functional product that resonates with your personas. As Google co-founder Larry Page puts it:
Step 5: Perform beta testing to gather user feedback
Beta testing involves inviting a select group of users, often called beta testers or early adopters, to use your SaaS product before its official launch. During this stage, it’s essential to create a structured feedback loop. Conduct surveys, provide feedback forms or directly communicate with the testers. Encourage users to report bugs, glitches or areas for product improvement.
This way, you are able to uncover potential issues, validate the product’s functionality and refine the user experience based on real-world usage. This phase also allows you to make necessary adjustments and enhancements, ensuring the product is in the best shape before the official launch.
That’s what happened when we released our text to speech app. By installing an early version of our tool on a client’s website, we opened up a direct channel for receiving practical feedback. This collaborative approach was instrumental in identifying and prioritizing feature developments (e.g., tagging of topics, audience analytics and multiple voices per article), functioning as an effective soft launch or beta test before transitioning to a formal customer relationship.
Step 6: Set a pricing strategy
Pricing is not just about covering costs but also about positioning your product in the market and creating a sustainable revenue stream.
- Running cost: Begin by conducting a thorough cost analysis, factoring in development, operational and marketing expenses.
- Product cost: Next, examine your competition. Understanding the pricing of similar products offers valuable insights, such as market positioning, the perceived value of these offerings and potential market gaps that your product could fill.
Avoid falling into the trap of underpricing to gain a competitive edge because it devalues the product, leads to insufficient profit margins and creates an unsustainable business model.
Instead, focus on the unique value your product offers. In the B2B landscape, consider offering tiered pricing plans as HubSpot or QuotaPath does. This approach allows you to cater to businesses of different sizes and needs.
Your pricing strategy should be flexible to accommodate future updates and additional features to ensure that your product continues to provide value as it evolves.
Step 7: Develop a marketing strategy for launch
Craft a strong B2B SaaS go to market strategy that outlines your marketing and sales approach, pricing strategy, customer acquisition channels and partnerships. Here’s a detailed breakdown:
|Type||What it means||Example|
|Content marketing||Focus on providing in-depth, industry-specific insights. Produce search-optimized blogs, whitepapers, case studies and webinars to create product awareness, enable your sales team and generate SEO leads.||If you're launching an enterprise post-purchase software, create content such as detailed feature guides or competitor landing pages to improve lead conversion rates or optimize sales pipelines.|
|Social media||Engage with businesses on professional platforms. Share thought leadership content, industry news and success stories.||Host webinars or Q&A sessions on LinkedIn or X to demonstrate the value of your SaaS product in solving critical business challenges.|
|Email marketing||Craft targeted email marketing campaigns tailored to specific industries or business sizes. Highlight how your SaaS solution solves their pain points.||Include case studies or testimonials in emails from businesses that have benefited from your product.|
|Events||Leverage B2B events as a platform to network, showcase your product and directly engage with potential clients. Events can be in-person or virtual, depending on your reach and budget.||Host a launch event or participate in industry trade shows to provide live demos and in-depth discussions about your SaaS product's capabilities and benefits.|
|Partner-led marketing and sales||Collaborate with industry partners for co-marketing and sales initiatives. Leverage their networks and credibility to introduce your product to a wider audience.||Jointly host webinars with partners, co-author whitepapers or cross-promote via partner channels to amplify the reach and credibility of your SaaS product.|
Step 8: Plan a launch strategy
When you’re confident in the product’s stability and market readiness, it’s time for the official launch. Here’s a compact checklist:
- Ensure rigorous product testing to confirm the stability of features, performance under various conditions and readiness for the market.
- Develop a detailed launch plan that outlines strategies, channels and milestones to effectively introduce your product to the market and engage with your target audience.
- Closely monitor the performance of your product post-launch by leveraging analytics tools such as Google Analytics for web traffic and Hotjar for user interaction.
- Give special attention to user onboarding processes such as personalized tutorials, automated welcome emails and responsive customer support to ensure a seamless transition for new users.
- Provide comprehensive support during the launch phase.
- Track KPIs such as:
- Website traffic sources
- Early access/beta sign-ups
- Pre-launch content engagement
- User survey feedback (e.g., NPS)
- Use customer onboarding support tools and platforms such as Zendesk for customer service, HubSpot for CRM and Userpilot for user experience customization.
- Streamline communication to resolve internal issues promptly.
Top challenges of launching a SaaS product
Launching a software as a service product comes with a unique set of challenges. Here are the top 12 common hurdles SaaS startups face:
- Market saturation: The B2B SaaS market is crowded, making it difficult to differentiate a new product from existing solutions.
- Product-market fit: Ensuring the product meets an actual need in the market and appeals to the target audience is crucial.
- Monetization strategy: Deciding on a pricing model that’s competitive yet profitable and determining which features to offer at each pricing tier is a complex challenge.
- Customer support: Providing timely and practical support to users, especially when user volume increases, strains resources.
- Marketing and visibility: Being able to communicate your product’s unique benefits, crafting a powerful brand message and effectively reaching potential users in a competitive environment is not easy.
- Technical issues: Common technical challenges — bugs, server downtimes and security vulnerabilities — affect the product’s launch timeline.
- Regulatory and compliance issues: SaaS products, particularly in sectors like healthcare, finance or education, must navigate stringent regulations regarding data handling and privacy.
- Customer retention: Beyond acquiring customers, keeping them engaged and reducing churn is an ongoing challenge for startups.
- Early-stage funding: Acquiring sufficient funding to cover all aspects of the business — development, marketing, sales and operational costs, especially if the product has a longer sales cycle or the market is a challenge.
- Security concerns: Protecting user data and building a product that is secure and can protect against potential breaches is of utmost importance.
- Cultural and geographical differences: Catering to a global audience might mean addressing different needs, preferences and regulatory landscapes.
SaaS product launch success metrics
How do you measure the impact of your product launch? Track these metrics for SaaS success:
|Metric||How it helps||Ways to determine|
|User engagement metrics||Understand user activity, how long they stay and which features they use most.||• Analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics)
• In-app tracking software
|Conversion rates||Assess the effectiveness of marketing and sales funnels and understand user behavior.||• Conversion tracking tools
• Website analytics
• A/B testing results
|Churn rate||Identify issues with customer retention and satisfaction.||• Subscription management tools
• Customer database analysis
|Customer feedback||Gain insights into user experience, product improvements and overall satisfaction.||• Online reviews
• Direct customer interviews
• Feedback collection platforms
|Time to value (TTV)||Measure the speed at which users derive value from the product, reflecting onboarding efficiency and product intuitiveness.||• User feedback and surveys
• Onboarding time tracking
• Usage data analysis
|Financial metrics||Recognize the product's profitability, how much value each customer brings and acquisition costs.||• Financial software (e.g., QuickBooks)
• CRM tools
• Sales and revenue reports
Why do new products fail?
Launching your product doesn’t guarantee success in the B2B SaaS market. In fact, 95% of the products that launch are failures, according to research by Harvard Business School.
So why do products fail? Let’s explore:
1. Failure to meet customer needs
Without a deep understanding of the pain points and challenges the target audience faces, a product risks a lack of user adoption. This problem often occurs when companies bypass thorough market research and validation.
Let’s take the example of Clinkle, a once-promising mobile payment startup that raised $30 million. Originally designed to transfer payments using high-frequency sound, the concept never gained traction, leading to a rebrand as “Treats,” a debit card-based rewards program that also failed to captivate users.
CEO Lucas Duplan’s lack of transparency and unilateral decision making created internal chaos, with key stakeholders kept in the dark about product development and company direction. These leadership issues — combined with a slow market entry that saw Clinkle outpaced by numerous competitors — culminated in the company’s inability to secure a foothold in the competitive mobile payments sector, despite significant financial backing and early enthusiasm.
2. No differentiating factor
Products lacking a differentiating factor struggle to capture the attention of potential users. Two factors decide your success:
- Niche offering
- Product superiority
Ansaro, for example, sought to revolutionize recruiting with AI technology, but struggled due to a lack of a differentiating factor and eventually shut down after two years. Despite raising $3M and building a team of six, the company faced significant challenges including a lack of product-market fit, inefficiencies in building customized hiring models and challenges with data ingestion from HR systems.
3. Lack of data-driven decision making
When solid data don’t inform your decision making, there’s a high chance of misalignment with market demands and consumer expectations. This disconnect manifests in user experiences that don’t resonate, performance issues that frustrate and security vulnerabilities that could have been anticipated.
Graphite Docs, a blockchain-powered alternative to Google Docs, is a prime example of a product that faltered due to a lack of data-driven decision making. Founder Justin Hunter initially found traction with individual users but opted to pivot towards a B2B model, neglecting the evident user engagement patterns. This strategic misstep stemmed from a failure to methodically measure and analyze market responses, data and user feedback.
4. Fierce competition
When you’re a tech startup trying to break into a crowded market, competitive intelligence is a critical asset. Failure to adequately assess and address the competitive landscape results in a product struggling to gain traction. A cheaper competitor product, ineffective marketing strategies or an inability to adapt to evolving market trends leave a product overshadowed by more agile and innovative competitors.
Muun, a SaaS product to help co-working space owners manage their businesses, had a promising start and initial market validation. However, the company was quickly overshadowed by larger competitors that offered more features and better pricing. This competitive disadvantage made it challenging for Muun to establish a foothold in the market, leading to a decision to discontinue the product.
5. Subpar product design
A poorly designed product is one of the fastest ways to fail in the market. Take a lesson from the design flaw in Citibank’s software, Flexcube — an unchecked checkbox that resulted in a $500 million loss, as reported by the NY Times. A user interface that is unintuitive, cluttered or confusing deters potential users, even if the underlying functionality is robust.
Another example of a product that failed in this aspect is Windows 8. The OS received major backlash upon its release, primarily because of its design. Microsoft introduced a new “Metro” UI, a drastic departure from the traditional desktop layout. Removing the familiar Start button and focusing on a touch-first design confused many desktop users. The design was not well-received, leading Microsoft to make substantial changes in subsequent versions.
6. Lack of intelligent funding
A scarcity of capital or deficiency of intelligent funding is the top reason why startups fail, according to a CB Insights research report.
When startups receive investment from intelligent investors (e.g., Insight Partners and Sequoia Capital), the value of that investment multiplies tenfold. These investors often provide strategic guidance, access to a broader customer base and support in critical areas such as go to market execution, recruitment, technology and scaling operations.
Alternatively, funding from “money bag” investors — those who offer financial backing but lack the infrastructure or network to support the startup team’s growth — doesn’t yield the same results. Without the strategic input and resources that intelligent investors contribute, a new startup team may struggle to gain traction, no matter the amount of money injected.
For instance, a $15 million injection from a money bag investor might seem beneficial at first, but without the added value of expertise and network support, the investment is less likely to facilitate success — since your startup team likely won’t know how to allocate it correctly.
💰Need help navigating the early stages of investment rounds? Learn the differences between seed funding and series A.
Productive next steps after launching a SaaS product
Launching a SaaS product is about more than just implementing a great idea — people must be able to find and engage with your product. A solid SEO strategy helps your website appear in search results, positively impacts brand perception and draws the right customers to you.
Think of your B2B SaaS website as an active demand and lead generation machine — working around the clock to drive your growth.
Want to know more about getting your software product in front of the right people? Let’s chat about our proven method to improve the online share of voice of tech startups.
Tejaswini Kabadi is a content writer at Productive Shop, based in our downtown Toronto office. She has over four years of experience in demand gen strategy and creating content across the marketing funnel—blogs, case studies and website copy. As an IT engineer-turned-marketer, she blends analytical and creative skills to create effective B2B SaaS copy. When she's not working, Tejaswini can often be found reading, writing, building her bucket list or spending time with her pet. She is also a self-proclaimed logophile, bibliophile and caféphile.