There are two ways you can look at launching a new product on your existing online store. An optimist might expect everything to go smoothly: your current customers already love you, so what could go wrong, right? A pessimist might expect everything to go horribly wrong: your current customers might not like your new product, or maybe they aren’t a suitable demographic.
Launching a new product to your existing customer base was never going to be a walk in the park. Not all your existing customers are instantly going to love your new product, nor are they all going to hate it. To reduce the stress and anxiety surrounding a new product launch, follow these three steps.
1. Develop a Launch Plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Yes, we’ve all heard the saying, but it holds true in this situation. Before you release a new product, you need to develop a strategy as to how to do so. This is your ‘Launch Plan’. Similar to your business plan at the beginning of your entrepreneurial adventure, your launch plan outlines the who, what and how of your new product launch.
Do Your Research
The first step to coming up with a flawless launch plan is research. Have a look at your competitors and how they are marketing a product that is similar to your new product. What’s the current market environment?
Understand The Target Market
As part of your research, it's important to look into the demographics for your new product. Who is likely to be buying your new addition to the store? Are they the same as your existing customers, or are they different?
Existing Customer Base
If the target demographic for your new product is the same as your existing customer base, then great! You already have your personas developed and can start brainstorming strategies on how to engage your current customers in the product launch.
New Target Audience
If the target group for your new product differs from your existing customer base, you need to treat this product launch similarly to your initial business launch. Go back to the drawing board, think about your new audience, develop your customer profiles and personas, and try to understand as much as you can about them.
In the end, your strategies for marketing and engagement will differ, depending on the target demographic of your new product. The remainder of this post will focus on launching a new product for your existing customer base.
Create a Launch Plan
Once you’ve completed your market research and developed an understanding about the target demographic of your new product, you can put together your launch plan. This document should answer the following questions:
- What is the timeline of your product launch, and what information will you release at which stage?
- Who will you reach out to so that people are talking about your product pre-launch?
- How can you create a buzz around the product and build hype amongst your existing customer base?
2. Get The Word Out
One of the most important things when introducing a new product to your existing store is getting the word out. You’ll want to build an interested community and create suspense and anticipation around your new product. Here’s how to do it:
Show A Countdown on Your Website
One of the easiest ways to build suspense is by counting down the weeks, days, hours and minutes until the new product drops. You can do this by showing a count down clock on your online store, so that customers can follow the timeline and view the launch date whenever they visit your website.
Creating an email marketing campaign is a great way to engage an already loyal following with minimal effort. Dedicating a section of your next marketing email to the new product gives you the opportunity to provide more information about your new product, thus helping people to understand why they should purchase it.
Email marketing is a great tool for new product launches, as it reaches people who have already signed up to receive your newsletters and emails. You can send out discounts and codes to your biggest fans so they can be the first ones to get your new product. But keep in mind - not every one of your existing customers will be interested in your new product. That’s why it’s also important to refer them to the landing page where they can sign up for more information.
Build a Landing Page
The best way to build an interested community is by collecting contact information on a targeted landing page. On this landing page, people can sign up to receive more information about the new product, and be the first ones to receive it when purchased.
Direct Traffic Towards Your Landing Page
Once you’ve set up an engaging landing page, make sure that people can find it. Use your current media channels to direct visitors to the landing page and increase suspense.
Instagram is a great platform to publish sneak peaks of your new product without revealing too much. You can take close-ups of the product so that only one feature is shown, without giving away the entire product. Another popular tactic is posting behind-the-scenes images. Alternatively, you could create a count down by overlaying pictures with decreasing numbers.
Blog and Social Media
Another way to create a buzz and get people talking about your product before its launch is by publishing articles and information about it on your blog or social media pages. This is a great way to engage your current following during the later stages of your launch plan. Once you release the entire design and features of your new product, you can write about it on your blog and share it on your social media channels. Make sure to always refer readers back to your landing page, so that you can build an email list with interested customers.
Facebook Ads and the like are not just a channel for reaching new audiences. In fact, it is a lot cheaper to target your existing audience - the ones that are already on your email list - with Facebook Ads. Creating little reminders on their Facebook Newsfeed can be beneficial after they’ve first heard about the new product in your email newsletter.
Connect with Influencers
Whilst some of your loyal customers might take your word for it, others might not be sure about your new product. Nowadays, most online shoppers rely on reviews and word-of-mouth referrals. It pays off to connect with influencers to market your product and collect reviews.
Testimonials From Top Customers
What’s the best way to connect with your already existing customer base to engage in the new product launch? Include them in it! Get your top customers to test out your new product and collect their feedback. Seeing as they have already purchased loads of your products in the past, it is very likely that they’ll love the new one too. Getting them to try out the product then review it is the best word-of-mouth advertising you could hope for - and it will get the rest of your existing audience on board.
Nowadays, there are many people who make a living off reviewing products online and recommending their favourite brands to their following. These influencers have access to a massive audience, and there is a strong likelihood that your current customers are following some of them. Find out who your current customers are following and listening to, and approach these influencers to become brand ambassadors.
You can approach affiliate marketing in a few different ways: for micro-influencers and influencers that already love your brand, sending out a free product works. Most influencers who make a living out of being affiliate marketers, however, have set rates for paid advertisements, or work on a commission base. To find out more about affiliate marketing and how to do it, click here.
3. Let Customers Test The New Product
The future of retail is experience based. Whilst more and more people are choosing to shop online, the majority of people would prefer to test or try out a product before making a purchase. It’s a good idea to include a strategy in your launch plan that lets customers get a feel for the new product before they buy.
Set Up The Brick-and-mortar Experience
Consider organising a pop-up store or renting a space at a crafts fair where your locally-based customers can come and visit (note: this is also a great way to get new customers on board). Create a buzz by making it clear that attendees have the privilege of getting a first glance at your new product, and will get to test it out in person.
Make a Product Video
For your long-distance followers, it’s a good idea to create an engaging product video before the launch. Video is the closest you can get to testing out a product online, and has been proven to significantly drive conversion rates.
Hand Out Testers
We all love getting stuff for free…. and handing out testers can really add to your product launch. Send little gifts to your existing customers by adding new product testers to their current orders. It not only improves the customer experience through the “oh cool, a free tester!” moment, but also ensures that your existing audience gets to test the new product and is incentivised to purchase it in the future.
This is also a great way to collect reviews and feedback to promote to the other members of your audience. For example, you could create a new hashtag for your product so that customers who have tested it can share it online. This will also drive more traffic to your landing page and website, so you can create a buzz before you launch your new product.
Run a Contest
Instead of just giving out testers, try giving things away for free. How? Run a contest! This is a great way to create hype amongst your existing followers in the lead up to launch day. Use Instagram and other social media channels to engage your followers and get them to participate in the contest.
On top of creating engagement and including your customers in the launch timeline, you’ll also get to build your email list, increase your social media following, and learn more about your audience in the process.
Ready for takeoff?
Are you interested in launching a new product on your existing Shopify store? Want to make sure your loyal customers are as invested as you? We can support you in making your next product launch a great success. Contact Elkfox today.