We see it all the time in the online space - someone shouting from the rooftops about how they made six figures during their last launch. Then, inevitably, when we launch our first online course and do not make anywhere NEAR six figures, we feel inadequate. Like we've done something wrong. How come they can do it but we can't? How were they so successful, when all we got were...crickets? Read on to learn more about how to measure success, and what success actually looks like during a launch period (spoiler alert: it doesn't always have to include a thousand Stripe notifications!)
Launching Can Feel Stressful.
Especially if you've never done it before. It can take weeks (or even months) to record video modules, create beautifully branded PDFs, and write 10-14 sales emails. You've put your heart and soul into this product or offer, and now it's finally time to share it with the world! You'll be crushed if it isn't successful.
When most people think of a "successful" launch, they usually think of one thing (cue the ding-ding-ding of those Stripe notifications!) But the truth is, there is more than one way to have a successful launch. Success looks and feels different for everyone.
If you've been hanging around the online space for even a short amount of time, you seen and heard from the launching "experts" - the gurus talking about the framework for their six figure launch. Which is great, I give them a lot of credit because a six figure launch is an amazing accomplishment. But what they're not telling you is everything they've got going on behind the scenes:
How many times have they launched this particular product or offer? How many times did they have a launch that resulted in way, way less than six figures?
Did they use Facebook ads? It's entirely possible that they had an ads budget of five figures, so a six figure launch (while incredible!) may not actually mean six figures in their pocket.
Do they have a team? Did they work with a launch manager? Did they have someone managing the launch and taking care of all the back end organization so that they could simply show up to their audience with a high vibe, relaxed energy during the launch period, instead of hopping on IG stories every day feeling exhausted, burnt out and worried that they forgot a step?
Don't get me wrong, I highly encourage ALL of these things - launching multiple times to gather data so that you can make tweaks, leveraging FB ads to bring in more traffic, and/or passing the project management of your launch off to a pro. Using these strategies will make it MUCH easier to hit those big launch sales numbers. The problem comes in when people aren't up front about it, so it makes you feel like you've done something wrong when you can't call in six figures on your very first launch.
I know (from experience!) how disappointing it can feel, but I need to let you in on a secret: there is no such thing as a failed launch. Go ahead and read that one again. There is no such thing as a failed launch. Here are three ways that your launch can actually be successful, even if you didn't hit your sales goal:
Launch Success #1: List Building
Growing your email list can be an awesome success metric of your launch.
Email is different from social media because we know the people on our email list WANT to hear what we have to say. You don't have to worry about people viewing your content who aren't really interested, or people hanging around even if your services don't apply to them or their business. They willingly opted in to your list, so they want to be there!
Social media audiences are notoriously unpredictable. Are they following you because they want to buy from you or following you because they like your moody aesthetic and funny Reels? With Instagram's ever changing algorithm, you don't actually ever know who is going to see (or not see!) your posts. Email allows you to land directly into your subscriber's inbox - making it feel more personal.
Finally, you OWN your email list. Unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, you do not own any of the social media platforms that you're currently using. So if tomorrow, Facebook changes their policy so that only 3 people ever see your posts ever again, you'll still be able to reach out to your list.
There is so much value in growing your email list - in fact, I have worked with clients who's primary launch goal was list growth.
During a launch, there are several ways to grow your email list:
Your freebie/lead magnet. A checklist, guide or workbook that you offer up for free in exchange for someone's email address.
Your sales event. Hosting a free webinar, masterclass or challenge is a great way to collect email addresses and drum up interest for your launch. In order to sign up for the sales event, people will need to provide their information.
Create a waitlist. Generate buzz around your launch with a waitlist. That way, you'll know which people are really excited about what you have coming up, and you'll be able to contact them directly in a more targeted way.
At the end of the launch period, even if you haven't made any direct sales, you have walked away with 50-100 more people on your email list, and in and of itself is a massive success. You now have 50-100 more people to pitch your future offers or programs too.
Launch Success #2: Managing Your Energy
Mindset & Energy Management is a HUGE part of launching. Again, I can tell you from experience that the entire launch process can feel exhausting, especially if you haven't done it before.
It is so easy to get emotionally or mentally derailed during launch week, especially on Open Cart day. You're essentially putting yourself and your online course or new offer out on display for the entire world to see. And that can bring up feelings of vulnerability or serious imposter syndrome. When no one buys immediately, many times our first response is to make it mean something about us - as a person, as a business owner or as an expert in our field. That spirals into us questioning our whole offer and halfway talking ourselves into just ending the launch period early.
But I recommend flipping that script - this is an incredible opportunity for you to show up for yourself. Learning to calm your brain, show up with a positive energy (even when you haven't sold a thing!) and keep moving forward isn't something we were taught in school. It's something you have to make a conscious effort to teach yourself.
If you are feeling stressed, here are my favorite launch mindset shifts to get you through this panicky period: ✨ I am sharing my gifts with the world - my offer is worthwhile, my content is quality, my course is worth every penny ✨ A perfect launch is not possible, but I can learn from this and make changes next time ✨ Even if this launch doesn’t go as planned, it has no bearing on me as a business owner, service provider, or person.
Practice makes perfect. You may have to launch several times to get your mindset to a place where you stop making your launch mean something about you. Once you start working on this, it will become easier to manage your emotions during your launch period. Every time you show up for yourself and work through that messy middle should be considered a massive success!
Launch Success #3: Gathering Data
Tracking launch metrics is almost as (if not more!) important than the results of the launch itself. Gathering data helps us understand performance, see opportunities for improvement, and refine for the future.
Let's think about this like a professional football player. Every team in the NFL gets together and "watches film" (a video recording of their last game) to prepare for their next game. Whether they win or lose, they are picking apart their plays, seeing where their weaknesses are, celebrating what they did right, and focusing on tweaks that need to be made. Without those data points from their last game, they would have no idea what to do better in their next game. The need to see that play back to make necessary improvements.
You can do the exact same thing with your launch metrics. Look at the data from this launch as your starting point and make necessary tweaks from there! A professional football player doesn't throw up their hands and quit when they lose a game. They watch the film, see where they need to improve, and walk back out on the field the following Sunday a slightly better player.
Here are some launch metrics that I like to track (you'll find a comprehensive launch metrics checklist as well as industry standards you should aim for inside my training, 5 Steps To A Stress Free Launch) :
Email open & click through rates. Open rate is the percentage of people who open a marketing email they receive. You should evaluate this number per email, and also as an average of all emails sent throughout a launch. Click through rate is calculated by taking the number of people who open the email, and looking at the percentage of them who clicked the link. Additionally, I like to track opt outs and unsubscribes.
Sales event (like a webinar) registration rates. This is an important number - does your messaging resonate with your audience? Is your opt in page clear and with a solid call to action? Low sales event registration rates might indicate that some changes need to be made! Tracking how engaged your audience is will give you a sense of how they're responding and start to tell you how the launch is going to perform.
Sales event conversion rates. This number tells us how many people who attended your webinar (or other sales event) and actually made a purchase. Depending on the percentage of attendees who purchase, you may need to adjust the content (or completely change the subject)!
Overall list conversion rate. The percentage of our total audience that we expect to purchase. We typically use our email list to figure out our total audience number. We are looking for 1-2% total conversion. You'll want to evaluate this number before the launch (prior to any FB ads, or other lead generation)
Once you've gathered all this data, you can make changes for your next launch. Remember, a launch is fluid - you don’t always have to launch the same way, even if you’re launching the same offer - try a few things out, and make adjustments as needed.
If you didn't have all this information, you would essentially be starting from scratch.
For example, imagine if you had very low webinar show up rates. If you didn't track your metrics, you might run the exact same webinar next time you launched. And probably have the same results. However, if you looked at your overall data, you might realize that most of your list was on Pacific Time, while you were on Eastern Time, so a 9am webinar was probably not the best choice. It's a huge success to have this type of data at your fingertips heading into your next launch.
Even if you don't reach your sales or enrollment numbers, there are soooo many ways to have a successful launch. There will always be something positive to walk away with, and you be a better business owner for it!
If you're ready to get organized and prepare the framework for your next launch, but wish you had a little more guidance? Check the training 5 Steps To A Stress Free Launch!