What you will learn
If you listen to this podcast on a regular basis, I’m sure you will know that we recently launched AH Pro for the final time in 2017.
What you may not know, is that it was jinxed. Or at least it felt that way at times.
Time after time, one thing after another just kept going wrong.
In today’s podcast, Mark and Gael tell the story of an almost disastrous launch and the lessons that they learned throughout the entire process so that you don’t need to repeat their mistakes.
Why Sell Products and Do Launches?
But first, it’s important to understand why selling your own products is a good idea and why launches are the best way to sell them.
Well, as we have seen from Perrin’s post on suxccessful bloggers, the bloggers that are making the most money are also selling their own products.
Lots of people simply run simple review sites but to stay in the game long term you will probably have to start selling products at some point within the next 10 years or so.
As for launches, they are not simply limited to the internet marketing world. If you think of the Apple keynotes, they are basically classy webniars where the products goes on sale directly afterwards.
Personas have been a hot topic on the Facebook group. Our views are evolving on this at the moment and we will cover it in a podcast in the coming weeks or months.
Our Launch Structure
Our launches were inspired by Bryan Harris from Video Fuit. He wrote a blog post outlining his technique for launches a while ago. Our current launch strategy has taken this as a platform and built upon it.
In the pre-launch phase, we round up all of our subscribers, fans and followers from the various channels where they hang out.
For us, these platforms are:
What you will see most marketers do is create some pre-launch content and then promote it on these channels and ask people to opt-in.
We differ slightly. Instead of asking people to opt-in (an additional, unnecessary step), we put our pre-launch content on the platforms that our users actually use.
So, we created a podcast series featuring successful AH Pro members. This was available one the podcast (podcast feed, Soundcloud and iTunes), on our Youtube channel and on the site. We also promoted this to our email list and on Facebook to cover all bases.
After the pre-launch content, we do a webinar to coincide with the cart opening.
The webinar was on the Sunday night and when it finished (while the Q&A was ongoing) the cart opened and AH Pro was available to buy.
The webinar has to be really value heavy. It included some of our best and newest tips and tricks. It is stuff that is not on the blog yet or things that have been deliberately left off the blog.
The idea is that everyone can show up and get value, even people who have already bought the product. Part of the benefit of that is that these people go on the chat and when you mention something, they say “oh, I tried that and it generated an extra $1.1k per month”.
Having a neutral third party that loves your product on the chat really does help with the sales.
Originally, the webinar is based on Russell Brunson’s Perfect Webinar Secrets but, like all things, it has been tweaked, optimized and adjusted.
At the end of the webinar, we open the cart and AH Pro is available with the early bird pricing.
Early Bird Pricing
The early bird pricing plan then lasts for 3 or 4 days. This adds another degree of scarcity before closing on the Wednesday.
After the early bird closes, we launch the fair payment plans.
Usually with payment plans, there is a markup for the money being paid over a longer period of time but this isn’t the case with AH Pro.
This acts as a kind of differentiator from the competition as some of the other courses mark up their payment plans like crazy.
So What Went Wrong?
Things started to go wrong even before the webinar had begun.
Webinarjam didn’t send out the emails to remind people who had signed up that the webinar was happening.
Luckily, Mark managed to catch this and we were able to manually send out a reminder email one hour before the webinar started.
Even this didn’t go perfectly, however. Gael logged into Webinarjam to send the email manually but when he pressed the send button he got an error message. Obviously, Gael went through the sending process again. Everything seemed to work this time. That was, until he realized that the email had been sent twice.
While it’s not the end of the world, this can annoy some people and lose you a little bit of credibility in the eyes of others.
Webinar attendance was ok but we suspect that it would have been better if the emails had gone out as planned.
Check your emails to make sure they go out correctly. Also check timezones so that they are telling your customers around the world the correct time.
Never ones to let a small setback hold us back, we ploughed on.
So, both Gael and Mark were in WebinarJam and all set to kick things off.
Gael was talking and Mark could hear him, the audience could hear and it was all good. Mark was talking and the audience could hear him, the only problem was that Gael couldn’t.
While you would expect the tech to work, we have to admit this one could have and should have been avoided.
Test your tech. Make sure that you log onto any software you are going to use well in advance and test everything out. This includes webinar software, screen sharing software.
On the plus side, this gave Mark the chance to keep an eye on the live chat, answer any questions that people had and moderate the thread for spammers and trolls.
All is going well, Gael is handling the webinar solo like a pro. That’s when Mark notices the site is down.
The entire Authority Hacker site is down!!!
We have a webinar of 500 odd people, all of whom are interested in AH Pro and we are about to send them to Authority Hacker to purchase it and THE SITE IS DOWN!!
Remember, at this point Mark knows the site is down but Gael doesn’t. Gael is handling the webinar and Mark has no idea how to contact him and tell him.
Mark sent Gael a message on Slack which he managed to pick up on his laptop while conducting the webinar on his mac.
Without missing a word in the webinar, Gael proceeded to get onto live chat with the support people at our hosting company.
Gael wasn’t even able to write in full sentences as he was still conducting the webinar solo:
“Site down. What’s wrong?”
The guy came back saying that a plugin was causing an issue.
“Find which one” Gael retorted while still carrying on as if he was giving the audience all the attention in the world.
Meanwhile time was marching on. There was a finite amount of time before Gael had to send everyone to the AH Pro sales page or the entire webinar would be a bust.
Support identified an issue with an Amazon S3 backup plugin.
Gael quickly renamed the plugin so that it would no longer run and the site came back online just in the nick of time. It was an escape worthy of James Bond.
The problem was that the plugin was backing the site up to Amazon S3. This uses up a lot of server resource and it just couldn’t handle it. The plugin was scheduled to run on a Sunday night where traffic is generally low but in this case there were 500 people on a webinar all at once
Do not run backups or resource intensive plugins at the same time as your webinar.
Although this is rare, it’s not as rare as you might think. In fact, Gael recommends backing up your site before you start the webinar so that you can do a 1-click restore if anything goes wrong.
After all that, the webinar actually ended up being pretty successful.
Day 1 was good, sales were all going as planned. Mark and Gael both get an email whenever someone buys something so they could tell roughly from the cadence of the emails and the experience of previous launches that things were on track/
Day 2 was a different story. The emails weren’t coming in as fast.
Was something wrong?
Mark started digging into analytics. He looked at click through and conversion rates. It turned out that traffic to the sales page was as expected but people were not clicking through to the shopping cart.
In fact, it was down from around 6% to 2%.
This was bad.
At the same time, support request started coming in through live chat.
“The sales page is broken. Fix it.”
While this is all well and good, fix what?
The page looked perfect to us, it was working exactly as it should work.
Then, one kind soul took the time to send a screenshot through the live chat.
It was armageddon. It was like when Princess Fiona turns into the ogre in Shrek but this was most definitely NOT heartwarming.
There were huge white spaces, the buttons had disappeared. Basically it just didn’t work at all. It was a disaster.
However, we couldn’t replicate the issue.
A dive into analytics showed that it was happening on Safari but it worked fine on Gael’s macs.
That was when we started using Browserstack. Here you can see what your page looks like on different browsers. It turned out that the sales page was indeed an ugly mess but it was only on old versions of Safari and some old versions of Firefox.
It turned out to be an issue with migrating elements from Thrive Content Builder to Thrive Architect that caused the issue.
Don’t migrate elements, it may be painful but we recommend rebuilding any important pages from scratch. It’s just not worth the risk.
Thrive helped as much as they could (they have put out a fix for everyone) but Gael was in a hurry and ended up rebuilding the sales page from scratch.
Check your sales page on Browserstack to ensure that it is compatible with all of the most popular browsers.
With all of these issues we were starting to wonder what else could go wrong.
I was praying to all the gods of all the religions for smooth sailing from here on out. But, alas, we then had an issue with the buy button on the sales page.
When we were updating the sales page, it would update the link to buy AH Pro with a single affiliate link. This meant that all sales that were not meant to be attributed to an affiliate, were attributed to one affiliate.
Check everything on the sales page. Check buttons, links, videos, browsers. Also do the same at the checkout page. Check different items, payment methods, delivery options (if applicable), everything.
You really have to have crazy attention to detail.
Finally, we decided after all of these issues that it was only fair to the buyers to extend the early bird offer. Lots of people had tried to buy AH Pro at the discounted price and had been unable to.
THIS WAS A MISTAKE.
Firstly, admitting to all of the issues kind of killed momentum. There was a bit of hype around the product but when you hear that they can’t even manage their own launch it kind of kills the feel good feeling.
Keep a positive message throughout the entire launch.
Secondly, deadlines are good. They force people to take action. When we announced the extension, sales died.
It was that bad that we were starting to think that something else was wrong. It was stressful. But, when it got closer to the deadline, people started to buy more and more frequently. They just needed that little bit of pressure.
Stick to your deadlines. They are there for a reason. If you don’t extend it, people will still buy. If you do extend it, people will wait until deadline day to buy.
Create an early warning system. Know what your click through rates and conversion rates should be. Check them regularly to see that things are on track. This way, if anything goes wrong, you will know sooner rather than later.
Overall, it ended up being a stressful launch. One thing going wrong after another is not good for the heart.
However, all the issues were sorted and it ended up being a really successful launch in the end in terms of sales figures.