4 Lessons Learned from Launching

This week AWeber launched a new email automation platform called Campaigns. With Campaigns, you can send out messages automatically to your subscribers at preselected times and after specific actions they’ve taken. I am proud to say that I had a part in its release as a marketer and brand designer. It is a privilege to work on a team full of smart people.

With the release of Campaigns, we had the opportunity to change the landscape of AWeber moving forward. None of us took this lightly and we poured ourselves into it so that the release was successful.

I had the opportunity to lead the design efforts on this project and wanted to share what I learned in doing so. This was by no means a solitary effort. Our entire marketing, product, engineering, customer solutions, and design team worked together to create this experience. While I am incredibly happy with what we produced I learned a great deal and will surely be better off for future releases.

This article highlights 4 of the lessons I learned while leading design in this launch.

1. Communication is key

I know you have probably heard this a thousand times, but I must make mention of it first. Because without communication the entire launch would have been a bust. It also seems that no matter what project I work on I learn just as much about communication as I do about the task at hand.

For our launch, we started with a small team of 3 (a representative from marketing, design, and product) to develop the vision and high-level strategy. Our small group took our findings and presented to the team who helped tweak and expand upon what we set forth. This larger team was our sounding board and sanity check to make sure we didn’t overlook any important elements. We found this step to be very instrumental in bringing pipe-dreams down to realistic expectations.

We realized that our internal communication needed to be solid so that our external communication would go smooth. This is why we started a teaser campaign, to create a buzz and expectation that something new was on its way. This part of the project became my favorite because the challenge was fun. Figuring out how to tease without giving too much away. We ended up creating some pretty awesome pieces that the whole team is proud of.

I learned that by starting small and over-communicating at every turn you could have key team members on vacation and come back without missing a beat.

2. Collaboration is challenging

Bringing together teams seems like an easy task. However, when the various deliverables by each team vary it presents a challenge of aligning goals. Even within just the design team it was difficult to collaborate with all the moving parts.

From a design perspective, we had emails, videos, landing pages, gifs, and social posts being worked on by 5 different people. Not to mention the designers that were working on the UI itself! Tight turns on some of the pieces made other aspects quite difficult to complete. Like trying to wrap up the landing page and announcement emails that included the video, while the video was still being created.

Collaborating (and communicating) along the way was necessary for us to have everything ready by launch day. With much pressure, and holding each other accountable we were able to learn some significant lessons on collaboration.

One takeaway I figured out was that we all have expertise in specific areas. But it is important to remember that our ideas aren’t the only good ones. Listening to and brainstorming with other people with a different skill set often leads to a better end result. My designs were impacted by the content writers and vice versa. Like I said earlier, I work with some brilliant people that I learn from on the regular.

3. Simplicity is necessary

One of our biggest challenges was boiling down the potential that Campaigns offers into an easily digestible format. There was so much we could say, because there are endless possibilities that customers could use this feature for — ok maybe not endless but a lot. We decided to focus on one segment of our customer base and communicate toward them. Assuming that the others would pick it up quickly on their own.

We seriously had a whiteboard full of ideas and “what-ifs” that we threw out to go with a simplified option. If we would have continued down the initial path we would have never launched or launched an overly complex communication. After all this entire product was created to bring simplicity to a historically confusing idea.

We didn’t need to tell all the details in the launch and figured out other (better) ways to provide that information.

4. Video is King

For me, the linchpin to our entire release was to inspire customers to try out campaigns. To get them so excited to use the feature that they needed it now! I felt the best way to do that was through a short, commercial style video. Video has been taking content marketing by storm and according to Forrester’s researchers: “If a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million”. So it looks like our 2-minute video was worth 3.6 million words!

We wanted to make the video something that was enjoyable to watch while also educating and communicating as simply as possible. And it looks like we succeeded based on this feedback:

“Terrific job on the explainer video for Campaigns. It was short, easy-to-understand, and had some personality to it. A winner, in my book. Here’s to your future success!”

Keystone video to announce Campaigns

Video is a lot of work and not only did we create the commercial we made 3 other deeper-dive videos. Even with our crunched deadlines and limited budget we were able to produce something successful.

Through this process, our team has grown significantly from a collaboration perspective. It has been both fun and challenging and may be the most rewarding professional experience for me to date.

Notice I didn’t say it was easy nor did I say there was no frustration. We are people after all, but a passionate bunch yearning to make the best possible experience for our customers.

All in all, I feel like I personally would have lead certain aspects a lot differently but am so thankful for all I learned. I can’t express how proud I am of our team! Thank you, Tom, Meghan, Brandon, Chris, Scott, Jay, Joe, Melanie, Kelsey, Sam, Monica, Kristen, Olivia, Brad, Andrea, Kim and many many more for all you contributed!