How I launch products at Shopify

Product launch plan

I’m Hailey. I’m a product growth manager at Shopify. I’m responsible for product / feature awareness, activation, adoption, and retention. In simpler terms, I’m responsible for getting people to learn about a product / feature and getting them use it again and again.

This role comes with a lot of product launches. [Insert stress here].

I’ve put together a 10-step launch plan to help you (and I) stay cool, calm, and collected while coordinating a launch. This plan should give you the tools to make the experience the best for you and your team, and help contribute to the success of the launch.

The Plan

With every launch comes, the same process [read: flow]. Call it whatever you’d like, you go through the same steps every time so I made a launch plan checklist. This will save you from trying to remember all the details, big and small. The guide explained:

Be responsive

You’re championing this launch so you need to be responsive pre, during, and post launch. This is one of the most important elements to your launch success and your team will greatly thank you.

Prelaunch

1.Launch doc. The launch doc is the go-to resource. It’s the one thing everyone can reference for every detail about the launch. It should include the launch name, the launch date, the team, the why, the goal, the launch plan, extra details, and FAQ. It’s a dynamic document your team can contribute to as details change or get updated. Google Docs is a great tool to collaborate with everyone involved. Pro tip: The suggesting feature in Google Docs is really helpful to keep track of all doc changes. You’re the conductor of this masterpiece and you’ll want to be on top of everything. Here’s a description of what’s included in the launch doc:

  • Highlight launch date. The launch date is important because it provides the team with a deadline. Launch dates are either hard dates or flexible dates. A hard date is generally set because of an event and a flexible date is set based on product development and launch plan timelines.
  • The team. The champion: you. Stakeholders: anyone who isn’t directly contributing the launch but should be aware of it. Collaborators: everyone working on the launch. List out all everyone’s name as well as their role so that everyone is aware of who handles what. This will help improve your team’s communication.
  • The why. List out the problem / opportunity, the solution, and why this is important. The shorter and more concise these are, the better. This context will help everyone understand why the launch is happening and get your team excited.
  • The goal.The goal indicates what you want to achieve. It’s really helpful for team members to get a clear understanding of the goal so they can tailor their work to help achieve it.
  • Launch plan. The launch plan includes everything you’ll do to achieve the goal. Create a separate doc for each project, like the blog post and email campaign, and link it to the launch doc. This will allow your team members to remain focused on their specific project and also give them the ability to get the full picture anytime. This visibility helps everyone feel more involved.
  • Metrics. State what metrics you’ll use to track your progress and what reports you’ll use to track them.
  • Details. Include all additional details, like product description, competitor info, quotes, the list of beta customers, assets, etc. Dropbox is a great tool to share assets with the team. Include the image dimensions for social media, the blog, and email campaigns. You shouldn’t have to memorize these details. Save your brain power for other things and know you can always reference them here.

2. Connect everyone to the doc. Share the launch doc with everyone who will play any role in the launch. It will become their main point of reference.

3. Create slack channel and add the doc to the channel. We use slack for internal communications at Shopify. Create a slack channel for the launch and invite everyone involved in the launch to the channel. This is where all discussions about the launch will take place. Add the launch date and the doc to the channel, and pin the doc as well. The easier it is for people to find the doc, the better. Remember to star this channel as well to receive and respond to notifications quickly. Again, responsiveness is key.

4. Post launch date and doc in all related slack channels. Are there other groups who should be aware of the launch? Post the launch date and doc in other channels. Over communicate to help prevent any hiccups along the way.

5. Plan a kickoff meeting. Plan the kickoff meeting well in advance. I generally schedule this one month out (my team moves fast). The goal of the meeting is to get every collaborator on the same page. This is important because it reduces one-on-one meetings and side conversations. This meeting will also help motivate the team and make everyone feel involved.

6. During the meeting. Thank everyone for joining you and state why everyone is attending: to get everyone involved with the launch on the same page. Set the agenda: introductions and a walk through of the launch. Dive in! Ask everyone to introduce themselves. It’s a nice icebreaker and there may be some new faces for you and your teammates. From there, walk everyone through your launch doc. Don’t assume people have read the doc, because let’s be real, most won’t. From there, get an understanding of what everyone needs to get the job done. Your team will need things from copy to assets, and many questions will come up. If you don’t have a launch date, you can also use this time to set one based on expected timelines.

7. Create a FAQ. Make sure all the questions that came up during your meeting get answered within the doc, you may even want to create a FAQ.

8. Final meeting pre-launch. This is your final team check-in to make sure everyone has what they need to get this baby out the door.

Launch

Congratulations, you got this one out the door! But it isn’t over yet.

9. Team email. Send out an email to your team announcing the launch. Include links to the blog, shareable tweets, and facebook posts so your team can help spread the word. The easier it to share, the more likely it will get shared.

Post launch

10. Launch recap. Send out a post-launch recap to everyone involved. Give everyone a shout-out because who doesn’t like getting thanked for their hard work. They’ll also appreciate seeing their work and how it contributed to the launch. Include links to the blog, website, social links, press, and anything else involved. Provide the results and impressions for each piece too.

Stakeholders and collaborators

Stakeholders and collaborators are involved in every launch and included on the launch doc. List all the stakeholder (Director, Product Manager, etc.) and collaborator roles (Product Lead, Product Manager, Marketers, Social, Support, UX, UXR, etc.) so you don’t forget to include someone in the future.

Launches rarely run perfectly. My hope is that this plan and launch doc will help you and your team stay in sync and reduce the stress of a launch.

Oh ya…our team is hiring. Join us!