⏱ Timing a v1.0 rollout to 4,100 early-adopters...

Hi folks.

I'd love some advice on timing a v1.0 roll-out for our "build in public" platform.

The situation:

We currently have 4,192 registered, active folk on our news platform, OneSub and on Monday we're planning to move a big update from beta to live.

Of those 4k registered users;

  • 10% (400) are "Engaged" (not new, active within last 30d)
  • 5% (200) are "Super-Engaged" (not new, active this week)

.. which means;

  • 90% (~3,900) are pretty inactive (or new).. took a look, perhaps didn't turn the "Daily News Digest" emails on or disengaged from them.. and have forgotten about the app.

We have ~40 people using the new version of the app already under our "Beta" programme...

My real question:

When Monday comes, we know that it's not the end of a build cycle (despite 12 months of back-end modelling, engineering and sweat)... it's actually the start of a UX, PMF, comms build cycle because as soon as people start using it we'll discover all the things we've mis-assumed, forgotten, missed etc! 😆

So how should we communicate the "New Version" .. how much fanfare? How do we set expectations (it's maybe, visually, not changed that much but the personalisation/sub-editing/comprehension systems have been totally overhauled)... Do we go in all guns blazing: "Wooo, look, all new, tada!" ... do we do it quietly and see what engagement is like before touching the 90%?

Should we communicate out in small batches, 250 people at a time... leave them a week or two... make improvements... then next 250... make Eric Ries proud?

Has anyone else been in this situation? New day, new version, maybe a pivot (we've not pivoted, we've just had signups long before we had a sticky product) ... and succeeding in re-onboarding a load of stale users.

We have a degree of onboarding/coaching/gamification mechanics under the hood (and Intercom, until we slip out of the early-stage discount in March and can't afford it anymore 😭)... so we can onboard people quite slickly...

I feel I have "one shot" at re-engaging these folk...

... and 3,900 target-audience people would be expensive to find anywhere else!

I do not want to muck this up.

Help please 🙏

How should I re-engage ~4,000 stale early-adopters?
  1. 🎉 Tell them all. Create buzz, upvotes & reviews...
  2. 😓 Validate PMF before telling them...
  3. ⏱ Tell them in small batches, use them for iteration...
  4. 🤗 Something else (that you're gonna explain)...
  1. 2

    Hello! :)

    "I feel I have "one shot" at re-engaging these folk..."

    That statement above sounds like the rollout is "high risk" for whatever reason. Which suggests onboarding users in batches may be better?

    So: onboard first batch > get feedback > improve the product > onboard second batch > etc...


    1. 1

      By "one shot" I mean... no-one, particularly someone who's kinda disengaged from a product they looked at once or twice, is going to accept being told more than once "yay, all new, you'll love this now" ... imho... that's all.

      From a mental-health / team-morale perspective, as a founder 2+ years in, there are also probably a limited number of times I can pull of this narrative internally too... if I'm completely honest with myself...

  2. 2

    I think the key thing in your post that sticks out for me is where you say, "it's actually the start of a UX, PMF, comms build cycle because as soon as people start using it we'll discover all the things we've mis-assumed, forgotten, missed etc!"

    As with any large release, I'd be looking at it and asking myself what the up-sides are to going big, what the risks are with the release, and how I balance those things.

    From what you're saying, it sounds like the big ticket items are:

    • Up-side: Big bang, big chance to improve the experience for people (and potentially some increases in adoption and usage as a result).
    • Risk: You've tested this so far with a beta group, which is generally inherently biased towards positivity. There's a risk that you haven't hit the mark (assumptions, priority calls, missed insights etc), and consequently this could have a negative impact when it meets your full audience.

    Given that you've said this is gonna be the beginning of some rapid iteration around the UX and finding PMF, it feels like the balance between those two things tips towards risk (from my limited understanding).

    For that reason, I'd be thinking about this as a phased release (eg. a high-engagement batch to see if it negatively impacts people who already get the most value from the product, a low-engagement batch to see if it improves the product for them), at least to start. As you gain confidence, you can re-evaluate and decide to continue to step cautiously, or flip the switch for everyone and grab yourself a well deserved bottle of bubbly 😉

    Health warning: I don't know the ins and outs of the product and your customers anywhere near as well as you do. Take this with a pinch of salt. Chances are your gut is telling you something already, and it's probably right 😉

    1. 2

      Same thoughts here too.

    2. 1

      Awesome, thanks Matthew. I think my gut is telling me that you're right.

      There's a cohort of people who use/click-through the daily/weekly "digest" emails.

      Once we switch the destination of those click-thrus then I guess they form the first cohort of users of the new version... and maybe we see where we are with their engagement first.... (they're probably most of that ~10% "engaged" users)...

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