Why My Recent Launch Bombed: a Postmortem

For the first couple of months after going full-time in my business, I combed the Internet for one thing: real shit.

Just like you, I had read all the success stories. I had listened to interviews, read blog posts, received the “here’s why I’m awesome” emails. I don’t begrudge anyone those emails – they are a crucial piece of effective marketing.

But I was desperate to learn from other people’s mistakes, especially the ones they had made early on in their businesses. I couldn’t identify with the success of the prominent personalities in the online business world. At that moment in my life I could only relate to other people who were scraping by. Because that’s where I was then (and where I found myself again, recently). Sadly I couldn’t find much from people in that situation.

So I wanted to share with you what happened in my most recent launch. Most people would call it a total flop. And I’m OK with that – you’ll see why in a second.

A Little Back Story

My very first launch was more successful than I could have anticipated. My list had about 740 people by the time the launch ended on September 17, and I made exactly 50 sales. 2 of them came from people I had worked with individually, so let’s say 48 people from my list converted. That’s a 6.48% conversion rate, which is fantastic from where I’m standing.

What Worked the First Time Around

I hosted a webinar for to kick off the launch. 188 people signed up, most of whom were already on my list. Less than 50 people were on with me live, but lots of folks asked about the replay in the week that followed.

It’s hard to say how much the webinar impacted my conversion rate. I feel pretty confident that the major selling point the first time around was the fact that the Bootcamp was a free bonus for a $97 product.

I made the decision to “undercharge” mostly out of fear that people wouldn’t convert because I simply didn’t have a reputation beyond being someone who blogs about Facebook ads. It was the best decision I could have made for my first launch. The time that I spent working with people in the Bootcamp was a serious investment in my reputation. As a result, I had lots of people happy to sing my praises and recommend the course to others.

But this time around I knew I had to charge the true worth of the Bootcamp. I decided on a $397 price point considering the average amount of time I needed to devote to each participant, as well as the fact that people have to spend additional money on their ads.

For the launch I ran November 5-12, I decided to test out a lot of questions I had rolling around in my head since the first launch. Here are the experiments I ended up running:

Experiment #1 – Will people sign up for the Bootcamp a full two months ahead of time in exchange for a discount?

My guess: Sure, why not? If they know they want to learn how to really master Facebook ads, the next opportunity to work with me is in January. Why wouldn’t they sign up for it now if it meant saving some money? I had decided to discount the $397 price to $297 for these “early bird” enrollers.

Experiment #2 – Will people convert without the song and dance of a typical launch?

This is the test I was most interested in running. Launches are stressful, we all know that. Wouldn’t it be great if I could send out a few emails and fill up my Bootcamp (and bank account) without the added stress?

My guess: I’ll be honest – I GOT COCKY IN SEPTEMBER. A 6.48% conversion rate in my first time at the Launch Rodeo? This time around I was SURE I’d bag a 2-3% conversion rate from emails alone. After all, I was adding urgency to the whole thing by capping Bootcamp enrollment at 20 people. I was sure anyone interested in the Bootcamp would scramble to grab a spot.

Experiment #3 – Will having two price points increase the conversion rate?

I’ve read a lot of Nathan Barry’s writing about launching and pricing strategies. Here’s a great article about pricing his ebook – I suggest you bookmark it right this minute. My biggest takeaway from it is that offering two price points can dramatically increase your conversion rate and therefore sales.

My guess: some people would go with the self-study option for $97, but most would be more attracted to the Bootcamp for $297. Facebook ads are hard – it makes perfect sense that they’d want a lot of personalized feedback.

Experiment #4 – What will happen if I only open the cart for one week?

My logic behind this one was the same as #2 – I didn’t want to have to wait (and therefore stress out) longer than necessary. I have launch dreams every night while the cart’s open. Who needs that? One week plus a couple extra days for the people on my Interest list should be enough, right?

Here’s what happened:

By the time my cart closed, I had 1,107 people on my list.

Early bird enrollments for the Bootcamp: 3.

Purchases of the Self-Study course: 6.

Total revenue: $1,397.10 (after Gumroad’s transaction fees).

Conversion rate of list size to purchases: 0.81%

Not at all what I was expecting, but that’s OK. I went into this launch understanding it was an experiment. I can honestly say that I’m so glad to have experienced this “flop” now instead of a year from now.

Looking Back at Those Experiments

What exactly was it that hurt this launch? Let’s look at the individual experiments again:

Experiment #1 – Will people sign up for the Bootcamp a full two months ahead of time in exchange for a discount?

NO. Clearly not. If I have to guess, this is where the biggest problem lay. People are busy. They are either working on launching something now or planning to in the early months of 2015. They probably don’t want to risk enrolling in a program that they won’t have time to devote to.

It’s possible that I put this nail in my own coffin. On the sales page, I included this in the Frequently Asked Questions section:

“I don’t know if I’m going to be available the week of January 12. Should I enroll in the Bootcamp anyway?”

Great question. The Bootcamp and your time with me last 4 weeks; if you don’t think you can carve out some time during 2 of those 4 weeks, you shouldn’t enroll in this round of the Bootcamp.

I plan to run it several times in 2015, and people who buy the self-study course will have the option to upgrade to the Bootcamp if they feel they need it. To take advantage of the 2014 prices of both the Bootcamp and the self-study course, you’ll need to enroll by November 12 at 2pm EST.

Soooooooo…yeah. See what I mean about the nail in the coffin?

I’m always going to be honest with people who are interested in working with me, but that one paragraph might have had people closing the sales page immediately.

Experiment #2 – Will people convert without the song and dance of a typical launch?

It’s really hard to say if this would have made much of a difference given all of the other factors. That said, if I were doing it all over again, I would have hosted another webinar to kick off this launch.

Something that’s important for me to recognize is that this launch was NOT devoid of extra stress. A lot of us entrepreneurs have crazy-high expectations for ourselves – we do not like to fail. I was hoping for an injection of cash into my business before I took off for almost 6 weeks, but that wasn’t the only thing that had me worried after 4 days with zero Bootcamp sales.

It was about my skills. My entrepreneurial prowess. Aren’t you supposed to keep getting better with time? I frantically rewrote my promo emails and moved things around on the sales page. I stressed so much that my chronic back and neck problems went into overdrive. Awesome.

What’s the lesson? Maybe if I had given more to my prospective customers up front, I wouldn’t have had those days of “OMG what the fuck do I do to turn this around??”

Experiment #3 – Will having 2 price points increase the conversion rate?

Again, virtually impossible to say. I will definitely be testing this out again in the future, but with a different design. I feel like the way the sales page presented the two options could be vastly improved.

Experiment #4 – What will happen if I only open the cart for one week?

I may be totally alone on this, but I don’t believe that keeping the cart open for longer would have had a major impact. Maybe I would have gotten one, possibly two more sales with an extra week, but that extra revenue wouldn’t be enough for me to justify prolonging that kind of launch limbo.

What Next?

Fortunately I only felt like a failure for a day or two. I was able to remind myself that this launch was truly just an experiment – four experiments, actually.

Like I said, I’m honestly glad to have discovered this stuff before trying to fill up a premium priced-program or something that I’d worked months and months to create. I’m super excited to come back to work in January and start testing out other (somewhat crazy) things in my business!

Do Me a Favor?

If you were thinking about enrolling in either option of Absolute FB Ads but you decided against it, would you leave a comment below or shoot me an email and tell me what made you decide against it? Was it any of the above reasons, or something completely different?

I’d love to know for my future launches, both experimental and run-of-the-mill.