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Does Your Startup Need an AppSumo Launch? | by Ivan Palii (PM @Sitechecker) | Jun, 2020

4 times of growth. A huge leap occurred on the first day of launch when AppSumo published a product page and send the first letter to their email list.

6. The team spirit

This item is not guaranteed. It all depends on how skillfully the campaign manager presents the value of the campaign, its interim results, and the final.

It is important to remember that most startups die because there is no need for a product. Team members, when they perform tasks set by the product manager, marketer, often do not feel at all how much what they are doing is important for the end-user. The AppSumo campaign with many reviews and video reviews helps the entire team understand that they create value.

1. Big risks with the unit economy

The key minus. The AppSumo campaign initially contained a conflict of interest between the buyer and you, as the seller.

The buyer expects that the product will be improved, he will use it for a long time and thus will pay for the purchase many times over.

For you, as a seller, if every client action burns resources (server resources, API fees, customer support), then you can quickly fly out into the negative.

How to work with this risk? Gather data on the volume of use of your product, try to find the same data on competitors, and look for data for similar markets.

On the good, the statistics of use by customers who bought you on AppSumo should be similar to the statistics of use by customers who bought you products from other sources.

Just as a small percentage of your paid users use the product for a long time and generate most of the profit, so a small segment of AppSumo users will use the product for so long that it becomes unprofitable for you. But they will be paid for by those who quit using the product much earlier.

An ideal customer on AppSumo is a customer who has bought the maximum rate, uses it at a minimum, but recommends it to all his friends and colleagues.

The retention rate in by AppSumo users

2. Not suitable for market leaders and products with a well-established growth mechanism

If your product is already known, many users come up with recommendations, the product is often compared with other best products on the market, then the campaign will be unprofitable for you. You can reach the audience with AppSumo and in other ways, only you will earn an order of magnitude more than selling a lifetime license.

3. Early adopters ≠ your entire market

The fact that the AppSumo audience is open to new products and is ready to take risks when shopping is both a plus and a minus. It is difficult to single out the real reason for the purchase in her motivation: do they need this tool or do they expect that they will need it in the future or will they want to later resell access to a valuable tool?

Do not evaluate the potential of your market and product only based on the campaign on AppSumo.

1. Fill out the form

The simplest, but not the most effective, is to fill out this form. I did this, but only for show or in case of emergency if using network does not help. But the acquaintance helped.

2. The help from a person who has already made a launch

I realized that it’s better to go to the site through people who have previously run on it. This is better for two reasons: they will contact you faster and you will immediately receive some sort of minimum credit of trust.

I turned to Max Pechersky from Promorepublic and Eugene Lata from Serpstat. Both responded and sent an intro message to an AppSumo representative. Max also advised me on how to properly conduct an orientation meeting, how to prepare and conduct a campaign.

So, if you plan to launch a campaign, you can fill out the form, but it’s better to contact those who have already done this and who will speed up the process.

3. An online meeting with the representative of AppSumo

Our meeting with the representative of AppSumo, Olman, took place on May 13. I did not conduct the meeting myself but with our founder Dmitry Bondar.

This is an important nuance. AppSumo loves to talk specifically with the founders, as those who are the best to understand for whom they create the product, the better they are, etc.

If you are a small company, then you will not have problems holding such a meeting, but if you are a manager in a company where dozens of products are still developing among yours and each of them competes for the time of the founder, then everything becomes more complicated. You will need to sell this idea.

The meeting is fast enough, about 30 minutes. You will be asked to tell about the history of the product, the tasks that it solves, where and who your audience is from, and what your product metrics and growth metrics are.

Besides, you will need to confirm that you can scale the resources of servers and support departments.

Immediately in the negotiation process, you will agree on the plans that will participate in the campaign, their prices, and your revenue share.

The only thing is that at the first meeting with us AppSumo did not discuss the revenue share, but set their option without asking us. But here the choice is small, you can simply abandon the campaign.

AppSumo understands when they have a positional advantage. To start negotiations for revenue share, you must either conduct at least one campaign to show the value of the product. Or at the meeting, immediately show that you are already quite a successful product and that AppSumo needs you, and not you need AppSumo.

The acquaintance ended with the fact that they set a launch date for the campaign on July 1, that is, after a month and a half. As it turned out, this was enough for us, but at the first start, it is still better to take the time to prepare for the campaign with a margin.

4. Prices and unit economy

Since you will agree on plans, prices, and revenue share immediately during your acquaintance, it is better to calculate in advance how much the user will cost to use a particular plan at the maximum.

We calculated this after the fact after acquaintance, but in the end, we concluded that the existing unit economy is suitable for us.

Unit economics for AppSumo campaign

5. Filling data templates

After meeting and approving the launch date, you will receive an AppSumo Promotion Agreement, an agreement on the conditions of the campaign, by e-mail.

E-sign up in AppSumo contract

Sign it electronically and proceed to long work on filling out all forms and attentively reading all the instructions.

The list of tasks to prepare AppSumo launch

Those that need to be completed in a week do not just take such a long time. This is exactly the moment that I mentioned at the beginning of the article — the debugging of processes.

From acquaintance to the payment of income, I have never had any indignation from any mistake or difficult task.

Each item that you read and fill in the instructions and forms matters. Also, after answering all the questions in the forms, you will begin to better understand your product and audience.

And if before you thought about this a little, now it will need to be done very carefully.

6. The generation of codes and principles of work with them

According to the instructions, you need to generate 10k codes. We did this through the built-in functionality of our payment system in just a few minutes.

But it was harder to understand how promotional codes work. I will show on our example what it consists of:

  • The first plan, $59, 1 code.
  • The second plan, $118, 2 codes.
  • The third plan, $177, 3 codes.

The user can’t buy the highest package for one code at once. He needs to apply 3 pieces. This gives great flexibility to the user and the AppSumo team.

If the client in the process of using realized that he needs a lower plan, then he does not need to buy one package and return another. He only needs to return one or two codes for which he will receive a refund.

The same thing if he wants to upgrade his package. There may be many more such plans and codes for them.

An example of AppSumo campaign with 10 codes

All requirements for codes and their work can be found in this presentation of AppSumo, which you will also receive in the email.

7. The creation and testing of the funnel

Creating and setting up codes is not enough, you also need to configure and test the funnel through which users will pass.

Test all scenarios

Taken from this FAQ.

I must say right away that we did not test them all, and this resulted in a large number of requests to the support service and the indignation of users who did not know how to start using the product. Do not be lazy 🙂

Only after you complete all the tasks from the list, you will receive confirmation that the campaign will take place. Now it’s time to complete some more tasks.

1. Competitor research for proper positioning

This is what we did not do. We investigated competitors earlier, at the stage of market analysis and product launch, but we didn’t do specifically for the AppSumo campaign. But it was necessary.

Search Google or ask someone from the AppSumo team about similar products that run on their site. Users will be sure to ask you — what are you better. If you do not prepare answers to such questions in advance, you will have to do it in an accelerated mode.

Some users themselves can suggest ideas for positioning strategies, highlighting in reviews what they liked most about the product.

Our product was compared with different competitors, but the most popular among them were Grammarly and Textmetrics.

How to answer the questions of AppSumo users

Answer templates for such questions should be available to both those who answer on the product page on AppSumo and specialists from the support department. And the most perfect level is the creation on your site of comparison pages with competitors.

2. Preparation of instructions for users

Our instructions left much to be desired since the product was changing rapidly and I did not see any reason to capture screenshots and descriptions, which is a month would need to be edited again. But still, they were.

Before AppSumo, we used Zendesk both to process tickets falling in the mail and to create a knowledge base.

AppSumo added our knowledge base to the widget in the lower left on the product page.

An integration of Help Center on the product page

As a result, users complained about the scarcity of materials that would help them understand the product. Therefore, when you are preparing to launch, check for at least two instructions (ideally in video format, too):

  • Instructions on how to apply code on your site.
  • Instructions for beginners on how to use the product (getting started guide).

And again, if you do not do this in advance, then you will prepare them in a hurry when questions and angry reviews from users sprinkle on you.

3. The preparation of instructions for the customer support

Next, you need to prepare instructions for the support department. And even if this role is performed only by you or the two of you as a teammate, you need to think about how to increase your effectiveness.

Before AppSumo, we used Zendesk to handle user requests. But AppSumo said their support team especially likes HelpScout.

I did not like Zendesk’s poor integration of chat + knowledge base + ticket system. In all other respects, they are good and not just because they are leaders.

But when I went in and tried HelpScout, I had a feeling that the guys read my thoughts and pains. We switched to them, and we processed all the tickets already in it.

In general, I do not recommend changing the support system a couple of days before the campaign, as I did myself. It was easy for me to rebuild, but so I let the guys from the support department who were used to one system and needed time to learn.

In addition to the instructions, it is also important to convey in detail to the support department what kind of company it will be, how and how much it will take, and with what requests users will most often write.

Model all possible questions. Your task is to reduce the uncertainty for support to zero. So they will pull you less and you can concentrate on the correct answers on the product page on AppSumo.

4. The preparation of public backlog

Before the launch, we didn’t even have a thought to do this. But during the campaign, users bombarded us with offers and their desires. Olman gave us access to a simple tool for generating backlogs based on user suggestions and votes, and we started to keep it here —

If you take such a step in advance and display what tasks you are planning to do, then you will fall an additional plus in the eyes of customers.

5. The private Facebook group

We did not expect customers with AppSumo to be so actively added to our private Facebook group. This communication format is convenient for users in that they can evaluate the speed of answers and see what questions and complaints other participants express.

Also, such clients often ask about the status of promotion for specific items from the backlog. It is not very good to write about this in the email, but in a private group, where other participants can support you much more efficiently.

If you do not have such a group yet, create and embed a link to it in the user’s path.

6. Product analytics

Check if everything you have configured correctly in product analytics. Yes, clients with AppSumo are atypical clients and there is no need to extrapolate them to the entire audience. But it is quite possible to measure the frequency and retention of using individual modules and product functions.

If your product has little traffic and audience, then such data will be especially useful for you. At least you can understand which of the functions are used most often, and which do not notice or ignore at all.

1. The first email

After you have prepared yourself, the team, and everything you have tested, you can only wait for the launch. We did not allocate additional servers for the campaign, but we knew that we could expand this resource at any time. Here’s a summary of traffic from AppSumo for the duration of our campaign.

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