If you’re new in the software business, and you intend to build something that will last into the future, then there are four things that you’ll worry about:
- Validation for your idea.
- Valuable feedback on how you can improve
- Visibility for your product
- Funding to invest in growing
My partnership with AppSumo availed me of all these, and with that, I would say that choosing to launch on their platform was a good decision for me.
We grossed $105,768 in sales over the 60-day promotion, and in this article, I’ll share my experience working with AppSumo, getting approved by them, and running a successful launch.
A LITTLE ABOUT APPSUMO
AppSumo is a daily deals website for digitally distributed goods and online services founded in March 2010 by Noah Kagan.
It’s quite a popular website with more than 1.5 million monthly visits. The audience consists of geeks from all over the world, mainly from the USA, Australia, Canada, and European countries.
Two times a week, they put up for sale different tools with a significant discount and special conditions for their audience.
The administrators of their platform carefully select products and promote only qualitative ones. But even not all approved tools succeed.
The bestselling ones are easy to set and use with the low lifetime price.
A LITTLE ABOUT MY SOFTWARE
Email CopyDyno is a software that helps marketers and online business owners to write marketing emails.
I came to realize that most of them suck with copywriting, and hiring copywriters could dig a hole in their marketing budget.
So I came up with this software to help them write highly converting email sequences for their marketing without any copywriting experience.
They just need to answer a few questions, and the software will write the complete email sequence for them.
At the time of writing this post, Email CopyDyno can write up to 9 different email types covering almost all the needs of marketers and online business owners.
We are working on adding more email types to it.
MY INITIAL SKEPTICISM
I learned about AppSumo sometime in March 2019. I read up articles written by other start-ups, sharing their experience with launching their product on AppSumo.
It was quite interesting, and I felt I should give it a shot.
After sharing the idea with my partner, he supported me, and that’s how we approached AppSumo (more on this later).
But along the line, I started feeling skeptical.
I was already a player on JVZoo, and so understood how the system there works.
I already knew what to expect during and after launch, and what to do to enhance it.
But this terrain was entirely new for me, and I suddenly started feeling uneasy about it. This feeling was made worse by the delays from moving forward in AppSumo (more on this later too).
Out of fear and impatience, I requested that we forget AppSumo and launch the software of JVZoo, but my partner insisted we continue there.
So I had to cave in.
GETTING APPROVAL FROM APPSUMO
From research, AppSumo receives over 100 applications every month from start-up founders, and they only get to work with 8 of them.
So getting approved by them was my first win.
At least, it was the first endorsement of the software, proving that it was really a problem-solving tool that people needed.
To get approved by them, the first step was to apply on their website
Your application could take months before it’s approved.
And if they don’t get back to you, it means that they are probably not interested in working with you.
The best way to get attention from them is to go through someone they have approved in the past
In this case, my partner stood in, as he already had one of his software (Kyvio), featured on AppSumo.
When the person introduces you to the guys at AppSumo, you will be allowed to pitch your product.
If accepted, you will negotiate with them over the terms, price, percentage, and all.
For us, we concluded with them to retail the software to their customers at $39.
The deal was signed, and tentative launch dates given.
NOTE: Before you approach them, make sure you have your software fully functional. Also, make sure you have a SAAS-type website for your product, with full payment processing functions.
You’re presenting yourself to them that your product is already selling but needs more reach. So, everything should be ready.
BEFORE THE LAUNCH
You will be asked to create 10,000 promotion codes that they will give their users who buy your software.
The buyers will use the code to create their access to your software.
It also means that you’ll have to create a process that will enable those codes to work on your website.
During this period also, they will get some of their trusted product testers to access your product and give their feedback.
For us, we got feedback from 5 different testers, and we immediately started implementing their suggestions on our software.
If all goes well from your end (getting everything they requested to be ready on time), AppSumo will make your offer go live on their website on the agreed date.
Next, they will send a test email to a section of their email list (their PLUS members) and gauge the results.
If it looks good (good sales and good reviews), they will then go ahead to email their full customers.
Right from their first email, you should be getting lots of questions from their customers, as they will want to know one or two things about your product before they buy it.
This is the most tasking part of the launch as you will need to be answering the questions as they come…you don’t want to keep them waiting.
At this point, I was barely sleeping 4 hours per day, just to keep up.
So make sure that during this period, you and your team are available to answer the questions thrown at you.
For your information, you’re going to get both honest and crazy questions from Sumolings (that’s what they call AppSumo customers).
So you need to be thick-skinned, to avoid the crazy questions getting to you. To be honest, it almost got to me at some point, but I adapted fast.
Additionally, you might get negative reviews from users. The way you handle it might pave the way for more sales or negatively affect you.
During the entire period of the launch, AppSumo will be running ads for you, and their partners will also be talking about you.
That way, you get lots of visibility PLUS constant daily sales all through the period of the launch.
And if your sales and reviews are reasonable, you will qualify for their closing email, which usually brings a lot of sales.
LESSONS FROM THE LAUNCH
On the whole, we grossed $105,768 from the launch, though we got some refunds too.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the launch, and I’m going to share it below:
Never Think Your App Is Solid Until Real Customers Test Run It
You see, I sold this software to my email list before launching it publicly on AppSumo.
Some of them checked out the software after purchase, while others didn’t.
But I didn’t get any feedback from them, and so I felt everything was perfect.
The moment I went to AppSumo, I started getting lots of feedback, some good, and some bad.
The good ones encouraged me, while the bad ones showed me areas of improvement.
From October, when I went live on AppSumo, to the day I released this article, I have made over ten updates to the software, including overhauling of the user interface.
This was possible because faults and bugs were brought to my notice by sumolings.
And that has helped me to improve on it continuously.
Think Long Term
In the platform where I ran my previous launch, many of the vendors there don’t care about the future of their products.
They create products, and once it’s launched, they take the money and disappear, only to reappear with a new product.
They don’t really care about their existing products.
But when you come to AppSumo, you’ll be forced to think long term.
Even though my vision for Email CopyDyno has always been futuristic, my launching on AppSumo has further encouraged me to go for it.
The positive feedback was encouraging, making me feel like I have a winning idea.
The negative ones forced me to keep improving on it. The result is that the software people knew in October is different from what they see now…yes, positively different.
Keep Your Profile Clean
Customers can go to any length to investigate you before choosing to buy from you or not.
They’ve been hurt in the past by dubious vendors who sold crap to them and disappeared afterward.
So they will want to know if your claims are valid, and they will go to any extent to check it.
And once you have a dirty record, they will come to the open and talk about it.
You sure know the type of impact it will have on you, your product, and the launch.
During the AppSumo launch, one sumoling went as far as digging up my profile on Upwork where I was charging $15 per hour.
For him, how can I claim to be a big copywriter when I’m charging just $15 per hour.
The profile he was referring to was when I started newly as a copywriter on Upwork back in 2015.
I lowered my price to get new customers.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like the platform, and so left in preference to Fiverr.
But the profile remained there, and four years later, someone wanted to use it against me.
So be careful of your activities online.
Try to keep a clean record so that when push comes to shove, your records will speak for you.
Communicate With Customers Often – It Reduces Annoyance
Now, I’ll be honest.
During the launch, the software experienced some hitches, which I later found out to be as a result of the sudden increase in users.
I had told my technical team ahead of time to optimize it for growth, and I was assured that everything is fine.
But when the time came, lots of bugs started appearing; bugs that never existed when the user-base was low.
This angered a lot of buyers, got me a lot of negative feedback, and even refunds.
I immediately swung to action, got my technical team to find a quick fix for the bugs while we prepared a more permanent solution.
On my end, I pushed out an email to the users, trying to soothe them.
I was humane in the approach, explained the issue, and our proactiveness towards solving it.
A lot of the users understood with me and became even more loyal to the brand…only very few stubborn ones stuck to their guns and left.
Well, some will, some won’t.
That email saved us a lot and made me understand the importance of constant communication with your customers.
Don’t assume they know and will understand.
Talk to them, and most importantly, work on fixing the problem they are experiencing with your product.
That way, you will easily win loyal customers for yourself.
Issues With Scaling
Like I already mentioned above, I have come to realize that an app handling 1,000 users comfortably might experience issues when it receives 10,000 users.
Previously, I would be surprised to hear software owners complain that maintaining their software was becoming more and more expensive.
But now, I understand.
With growing users comes bigger challenges, including server resources, and you need to keep maintaining it.
So for me, optimizing software performance from the beginning has become one of the core things to consider when building new apps.
So Was It Worth It Or Not For Me?
Yes, it was worth it.
I learned a lot, which I’m sure is going to help me as I scale the software.
What’s Next For Me?
Well, the focus is to keep improving Email CopyDyno, making the user experience richer, and most importantly, adding new email types to it.
Of course, I’m in talks with my users to know the next email type they want to see.
Also, part of the team will be working on the next phase of the CopyDyno project to be called Video CopyDyno. Details of this will be coming later when we are closer to having it ready.
As one of the users of Email CopyDyno said:
This concept is great, and if well pursued, could be your retirement package.
It got me laughing, and at the same time, motivated.
Let’s see as the journey goes.
And lastly, I’ll love to read your comments from this post.