When you’re adding a new product to your existing ecommerce lineup, having a product launch strategy is massively important. Successful launches can set you up for long term growth. Whether you’re a new entrant in the industry or you’re relatively well-established, you’re going to want to have a proper strategy.
There’s a lot riding on this launch. All the R&D, months of market research, beta test after beta test… which means you’ll need a lot more than just an email blast saying “Here is our new product” and a social post telling people to come get it.
Shocking stats: 70-90 percent of new products “fail,” meaning they don’t sell at the scale and frequency needed to be profitable.
In many cases, a scrappy product launch is the culprit. So let’s ensure you’re properly prepared.
Understanding The Product Lifecycle
Introduction: Your product may still be in development and your marketing goals focus on generating awareness and motivating users to sign up and purchase.
Growth: A sharp increase in users and sales. You’re adding new product features and looking to capture more market share from your competitors.
Maturity: The height of your product’s adoption and profitability. Your goal here is to sustain revenue and your position in the market.
Decline: New user sign-ups and revenue begins to decrease. Here, your focus should be to earn new sales from fence-sitters and consider new revenue streams.
A typical product launch lives primarily in the introduction phase (merging into growth once it generates enough demand). But the path from introduction to growth (and beyond) isn’t linear. It’s definitely not based on time, judging by how many products don’t even make it to maturity.
Understanding how your product launch strategy fits into the bigger picture is crucial. It’s important to understand that no one product should exist in a silo. Each product should support the sale of another, and another, and another, helping to upsell each other too.
Your Ecommerce Product Launch Strategy
This plan is your go-to-market (GTM) strategy, which should be informed by:
- Market conditions and competitive positioning
- Ideal customers and target audience
- Product offer and pricing
- Lead generation and customer acquisition process
Phase 1: Planning
Determine Unique Selling Proposition
This starts with defining your USP. No matter how great your product is, if it’s not distinctly different from others in the market, there’s no hope for growth.
A USP is something that NO OTHER PRODUCT can claim. It’s not just about being more efficient, more effective or working better. Your product must be able to produce the same results or better in a way that no one else can.
It’s quite a no brainer but it has to be done. The last thing you want is to be out of stock a few weeks from launch day.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Begin by determining the core message you want to deliver. Once you’re done, decide which platforms you want to use, and how much you want to invest in each.
- Email marketing is low cost and often has high ROI, connecting you with people already interested in you.
- Search Ads (like those on Google, Bing, and Pinterest) allow you to show your products to users actively searching for them. They often have higher costs, but can capture users further in the sales funnel.
- Influencer marketing is a good choice for major visibility boosts quickly and generating hype fast.
- Social ads like Facebook and Instagram can help you introduce your product to users who fit certain targeting criteria, catching their interest and generating demand. They’re often slightly cheaper than other PPC campaigns, but typically require longer funnels to move users to conversion.
- Product review campaigns and referral campaigns are highly effective and low cost, and utilize word of mouth marketing and social proof in your favor.
Create New Landing Pages
Use each landing page to target a different customer segment or place emphasis on different product benefits. These pages will be used to drive targeted traffic from various campaigns.
Plan Your Content
Creating content is easy. Distributing it such that your target audience consumes it is a little more challenging. Content isn’t just blogging.
Consider the following content:
- Product demo videos
- Customer reviews
- User-generated content with of customers actually using your products
- Feature highlights
Phase 2: Prelaunch
Building The Hype
Building hype in advance of your product release allows you to leverage people’s natural readiness to anticipate something. The suspense makes people want your product even more. Anticipation is linked to well-being, in part because it provides comfort, gratification, and eagerness to look forward to something positive.
Creating anticipation also helps validate your product positioning. If teasers and hype are garnering interest, your pre-launch messaging is on point. If not, tweak and try again.
You should always be experimenting on how you market and sell. Even if a campaign you ran before was successful, try to improve further on that and include variations, else your audience might get bored.
Use Multichannel Promotions
An e-commerce product launch strategy should not be seen as a single event or communication. Having a variety of marketing channels and content formats allows you to create a multiple streams of attention, expand your reach, and connect with customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Hopping on different channels further embeds your product into your target community and positions your company as an active and present resource in your target market.
- Running webinars
- In-app messages or push notifications for multi-touch communication
- Email campaigns for nurturing interested leads
- Influencer outreach for leveraged reach to target buyers
- Blog posts for education
- Social media videos for engagement
- Live events for a holistic in-person experience
- Public relations for credibility
- Search ads/social ads for amplification
- Outbound sales for cold selling
The key to a successful product launch is consistency + volume. Your brand (and product) should be easily recognizable no matter the channel you’re promoting it on. This familiarity engenders trust, which helps to build awareness and loyalty.
Phase 3: Launch
Today is D-day. It’s time for the e-commerce product launch! At this point, there’s nothing much you can do except operations and fulfilment.
E-merchants using a marketing automation platform just need to sit back and enjoy the ride (and hope that your servers can take the sudden upsurge in traffic).
A marketing automation platform will not only schedule and send the pre-planned launch campaign, but also handle lead capture and customer follow-up. Automatically thank customers who made a purchase and send necessary information about the delivery with an order confirmation campaign
Stacking campaigns allows you to ride on first purchases and get customers in the habit of buying from you. Don’t wait for the typical Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Create your own, celebrate any holiday that’s in line with your brand and devise more opportunities to promote yourself.
Phase 4: Post-Launch
Analyse your data
By analyzing a blend of both qualitative and quantitative data, you can paint a full picture of your launch progress and decide how to best move forward.
Some reliable indicators that your new product is headed into the growth stage include:
- Sales volume has increased and/or profitability begins to rise (good sign)
- Sales conversations shift to focus on competitors instead of your USP (bad sign)
- Customers are asking for new features (good opportunity)
- You’ve built awareness through free demos and trials and now need to monetize (good sign)
Give yourself a pat on the back. You made it through the Launch.
But it’s time to get back to work and continue driving product and marketing growth for your business.
To ensure your product launch strategy generates results, you always need to remember the return path. The customer journey is never linear, so it’s crucial to have fallbacks that funnel your leads back up.
Do as much as you can in the early stages to drive awareness and earn consideration from your target audience.
Once you hit go, remember to keep tracking your metrics, keep collecting feedback, always be improving on your product and constantly optimise your marketing!