According to publicity.com, 95% of the 30,000 consumer products that are launched annually fail. To many who own small businesses and attempt to launch product after product, this is pretty much the norm. When you introduce something to the world, it becomes a game of let’s see how much mud we can throw at the wall to see what sticks. Knowing how to create a successful product launch strategy that includes developing, launching and promoting the merchandise properly is half the battle.
Here are 10 product launch stages every ecommerce store should consider to increase its chances for success:
1. Meeting users’ needs
A good product launch plan should always put consumers’ needs first and satisfy them the best way possible. An effective way to do this is to survey the market; answer the question, why would someone buy your product? Figure out how your product could solve a problem, satisfy a desire or improve someone’s quality of life. These are all reasons why people buy things. What is your product worth to your customers? Not “worth” in the way of monetary value, but how it adds value to their general state of living. Understanding how your customers justify buying your product is how you can begin a promotion strategy.
2. Know your competition
What sets your company and your product apart from a similar brand or product? Why should consumers choose your product over the competition? What is it about Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee that people prefer over Starbucks’? The brand? The flavor? The price? Identify your company’s unique advantages. How can you grab the attention of your audience so they trust that your product will fulfill what other companies can’t?
3. Make a prototype and test it
To avoid the risk of investing in a product that is defective before it hits the market, hire beta testers to try it so they can offer feedback on how to improve it, if necessary. This will help your business dodge undesirable customer reviews that may damage your credibility in the industry, causing partners and investors to do damage control in having to justify their involvement with your brand.
4. Reconfigure your product
Once you start testing your product and gain feedback from testers, friends, family, colleagues, anyone who can help eliminate the kinks, it’s imperative to adjust accordingly. Making subtle changes here and there can mean a world of difference in the product’s quality. Some of your friends may ask about a feature that you’ve never considered adding, or point out that something isn’t quite working that you can eliminate. Ultimately, your product should “spark joy” and interest; it should be something consumers not just need, but want.
5. Run the numbers
It’s wise to establish your profit margins as one of your product launch phases. Look at your existing products’ performance, if applicable, and determine the number of products sold, total revenue generated, break-even sales volume and net profit earned. Then, work backward to figure out what numerical goals make the most sense. You need to decide what to establish as a reasonable website conversion rate and then figure out how much traffic you’d need to reach that goal. According to Campaign Monitor, on average, ecommerce sites convert 2% to 3% of their overall traffic. Just something to keep in mind.
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6. Build anticipation by pre-marketing
A successful product launch plan is only as good as the work your marketing department put into it. If you try to build anticipation among your audience by promoting the product prior to launch, the awareness will be more prevalent, helping drive more sales on a new product.
A few clever ways to initiate a new product promo involves:
1. Create a landing page about the new product on your website
2. Create an email campaign that encourages signups to learn more about the product with a CTA
3. Reach out to bloggers, journalists, and industry influencers that can help create content that will tease the product
4. Reach out to PR reps to create an embargoed press release that will have all media outlets talking about your product at the same time when it launches
5. Depending on your budget, you should advertise in as many appropriate places as possible that receive enough traffic to generate interest
6. Create the content early so you have perfected ad copy and images that you can use when your product is ready to be presented
7. Build a solid supply chain
It’s important for business owners to take inventory of their products and ensure they have enough to meet demand. The best way to do this is to establish a manageable supply chain. Work closely with your vendors and ask them what their maximum capacity is for how many units they can provide at one time. Then, collaborate on how to scale production in the event that your product launch yields more demand over supply.
8. Network and share your product
It’s time to launch! Once you’ve set a launch date, stick to it. This will mitigate having to update the media, customers, vendors, anyone involved, of any changes.
When it’s time, promote the new product on your landing page, your email campaigns, and social media, and encourage your contacts to spread the news as well. Don’t hold back, make sure you get the public’s attention on every platform available. And if necessary, repost and share reminders in the subsequent days of launching.
9. Reach out to the press post-launch
Once you’ve launched your product, and good reviews and feedback start rolling in, reach out to the PR firms and media outlets that covered your story pre-launch and ask them to share an update. Take your audience on a journey from inception, to production, to commerce. People love to hear the origin of a great product, especially if they started out as accidents. According to Mental Floss, Corn Flakes, the Slinky, Silly Putty, Post-It Notes and others were made unintentionally. Does your company have a great product story? If so, we’d love to hear about it–feel free to post your story on any of our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
10. Consider public feedback post-launch
Now that the product is available, brace yourself for customer reviews. Yelp, Google and other sites made for customer feedback are the modern-day consumer reports. No matter how successfully you’ve introduced your product to the world via a comprehensive product launch plan, public perception of your brand can be brutal if your organization overpromised and underdelivered.
If you receive a negative review, be empathetic and always respond with a positive greeting and provide a short-term solution to address the consumer’s immediate concerns and a long-term solution to ensure future customers won’t encounter the same issues. Addressing reviews and feedback whenever possible demonstrates how invested you are in your product and your customers’ happiness, which, in the end, will result in more loyalty and devotion to your brand.