Leverage digital analytics for successful product launches
The launch of a product is a major event for product companies. Significant amounts of money, time, and resources would have been invested into product development for months, perhaps years, before the launch. The product launch teams approach the event with many hopes and plans. It is also a time of major uncertainty as each product launch comes with inherent risks.
Risks associated with product launches may be classified as internal or execution-related factors and external or market-oriented factors. Let us examine the former first. Some of the major internal factors include:
- Launching a product with inadequate user research:
- Launching a product with out adequate planning:
When you have not mined enough qualitative and quantitative information from your potential users, there may be resultant issues. Such issues include inadequate or missing features. If there is no product-market fit, launch day could just usher in a petering series of weeks and months with little or no response from the user community.
If you have not prepared for launch day with suitable plans, processes and technologies, you could be staring at a disaster. It’s not uncommon to see trade journals filled with anecdotes of websites crashing on launch day due to high demand, poor customer service, missing or incomplete technical support systems, and a gamut of other issues once the product hits the market. Most of these issues can be traced back to a lack of planning by the product leaders themselves.
Coming to external factors that could affect launch, some of the major issues include:
- Launching a product without comprehending the effects of seasonality and time on product launch:
- Product launch without backup and disaster recovery plans:
Launch timing is crucial. Based on the markets or geos where the launch is happening, product leaders must plan for the best season of the year for launch. For example, post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas sales attract shoppers in North America. The time of the day is crucial as well for online portals to maximise eyeballs and sales immediately after launch.
As recent global events have proved, force majeure or acts of God can strike at any time, any place. Besides mitigation plans for physical premises and people, product leaders must prepare for backup and disaster recovery of systems and data. Failing this, natural calamities could spell the end for the product being launched.
A simple review such as this makes it clear that product launch risks need to be identified, monitored, and measured. Mitigation strategies must be put in place well before launch day. The consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic for the product, and even the company launching it.
In such a scenario, digital analytics is almost inevitable for product leaders. The gathering, filtering, and analysis of data - about users, markets, competitors, technologies, trends, even weather if relevant - is a crucial activity for product teams. This activity must be undertaken from day 1 of product development. As data collation matures in quality and quantity, the analyses derived from it become more and more accurate. Digital analytics helps product development teams become more agile and hyper-productive as well.*
Here are some manifest ways digital analytics can support product leaders mitigate launch risk:
- Incorporate the ‘voice of the customer’ in your product design:
- Planning is very important:
- Use relevant external data:
- Mitigate the unforeseen:
Do your market research and target market segmentation leveraging digital analytics. Build your customer personae. From a variety of data collection points such as social listening, quantitative surveys, qualitative primary research, focus groups, market research and other techniques, leverage analytics to distil the customer’s needs, pain points, and aggravations. Use this valuable input to design and build a product that the customer needs. Don’t make this a one-time exercise. Test the waters constantly - go back to the customer with designs, wireframes, and layouts. Ask them what they think. Iterate, tweak and finesse based on their feedback.
As you embark on the product design and development exercise, work from the launch day backwards. What features are you launching with? What are the distribution channels, website hardware and software specifications, customer support teams, marketing programs and infrastructure that need to be ready for launch day? Plan the necessary budgets, resources and people needed for these from day 1. Perform the necessary training and recruitment. Look to similar launches by competitors in the market - incorporate the data and analytics into your planning and risk management strategies.
Depending on your product, you may need to incorporate information on seasons, weather patterns, shipping channel movements, or satellite outage information into your launch design. Plan for a range of reception from the market: analyse the data from past launches and similar, recent launches and plan for redundancy in web infrastructure to ensure no outages occur. Marketing analytics will help you predict the best time of the day for launches online so that you can time the effort right.
Backup and disaster recovery management is an essential part of product launch day management. While very few can predict a pandemic, force majeure events occur regularly and should be tackled head on. From supply chain issues to phased rollouts and off-peak releases, a range of mitigation strategies may be employed to tackle the unforeseen. One important risk mitigation strategy is the rollback strategy. Are you planning a ‘type 1’ product launch where a rollback is not possible for multiple reasons, or a ‘type 2’ that allows for technical rollbacks? Test the type 2 launch ahead of launch day. Riskier type 1 launches can be supported by predictive analytics to gamify scenarios and build risk mitigation for the most probable ones.
Product launch day can be nerve-wracking for product teams for a multitude of reasons. They need not be disastrous if teams leverage the power of digital analytics from the ideation phase.
*For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organizational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.