Building a successful product that will achieve product-market fit as quickly as possible requires a great amount of key decisions that must be founded on strong assumptions. But assuming is never equal to know. So, you should test your assumptions in order to base your product on solid ground. So, you need to decide one more thing: Will you prefer a soft launch or a hard launch? What is soft launch exactly and when it’s best to choose a soft launch strategy with an MVP?
The ability to test fast and cost-effectively is what makes digital production different from traditional production. Digital products have too many opportunities to test assumptions. Too many methodologies and approaches developed over the years with this problem in mind.
Today, we have great approaches experienced over and over and lead digital products to success every time. They have widely used techniques such as lean product development, the minimum viable framework, soft launching, etc. In this post, we will focus on soft launching.
What is Soft Launch in Digital Products?
A soft launch is a technique to test the product with users before general release to discover wrong assumptions. The strategy is used for a new product’s beta version or a minimum viable version (MVP). Generally, it doesn’t include marketing efforts. The new product is launched to a limited number of users and after feedback from them is analyzed, the main launch will start.
This gradual approach allows you to make one change at a time, observe the performance and decide to keep the change or not based on genuine user opinion. Then, you can make the next stage of the product, and so on. So, you don’t waste too many sources at one time. Your product will be more sustainable. The risk taken with any decision dramatically reduces. You can iterate the product based on real data and insight.
This strategy is best suited for new products that have yet to reach product-market fit. You can always retrace your steps or pivot your product in a soft launch. Especially startups uses this approach widely. Soft launch is one of the most popular pre-launch strategies for them. The purpose of it is to drastically reduce their risks, estimate the demand for the product and make further planning for marketing and production. It allows you to collect data and insights from real users.
Although there are ways to test assumptions for physical products too, they are not as fast as digital products. In the past, a poor decision which was made for a physical product would cost too much. There were too many risks. Although there were always a variety of ways to decrease risks such as prototyping, customer research, market research, they haven’t been enough.
When You Shouldn’t Soft Launch?
Although soft launch seems to be the excellent scenario, there are times when hard launch is preferable. A hard launch offers its own set of advantages, including a competitive edge, media opportunity, and faster income.
- Competitive Advantage:
If you are in a very competitive market, your product can be copied while you are in the soft launch phase. Your competitors can take your idea or technology and make it go further before you do.
- Media Opportunity
Soft launches generally don’t include marketing efforts such as a grand opening or efforts to get attention of a larger group of users. You have a much less chance to get media attention.
- Faster Revenue
When you soft launch, you will stick with a broader part of a market and a smaller amount of revenue.
Discover Your Options Before Decide
Soft launch is a strategy you can choose when releasing your product. Although there are ups and downs of soft launching, most of the time it’s the best option for a startup since there is a limited amount of know-how, experience, first party data, etc.