The success of a new product launch depends on many variables. By utilizing different digital marketing channels and tools, you can help ensure a victorious introduction.
Using social media to launch a new product is exhilarating. It’s also overwhelming if you haven’t planned accordingly. From pre-launch activities to influencer outreach, your launch plan will make or break the success of your book, online course, app, or podcast.
But too often, launch details are overlooked. The founders, startups, and entrepreneurs I work with come to me so focused on what they’re building, they forget about the audience they want to attract. If you’ve found yourself in the same position, take a deep breath.
Below is everything you need to create a digital marketing product launch plan that will attract your target market. And not only that, you’ll build an organic word-of-mouth campaign that will take you from pre-launch to the weeks and months following your launch.
Stage 1 — Planning
With so many moving parts within a product launch, how do you know where to begin? Stage 1 will help you pull all of those messy details into one pretty package. Instead of rushing around, you’re going to learn about your audience, (more than you ever wanted to know!), where they hang out on social media, and what they really need from you and your product.
— Sarah Doody (@sarahdoody) August 24, 2017
Plus, you’re going to define what your launch goals look like. After all, how do you know if your launch is successful if you didn’t spend time defining what success actually looks like? Let’s not make that mistake. Instead, follow each step in the planning phase to set yourself up for launch success.
Find Your Audience
I’m certain you’ve performed a full market analysis to determine product viability. You’ve probably even defined your personas and spelled out their needs, wants, and desires. But have you found (sought out) those people across social media? Have you listened to their conversations, watched their buying patterns, and monitored your competitors for clues into what motivates, drives, and inspires that audience? If not, now is the time.
If you’re an established company and this product is a new offering, start with your current audience. Interview or survey your audience to gain insight into where they’re spending time online and their likelihood to support the launch of this product. There are many ways to get the answers you need, but the easiest and most effective are surveys or short phone or online interviews. While online interviews via a tool like Skype give you a deeper, more in-depth understanding, it might be too time consuming for your launch given:
- The scope of your project
- Size of your team
- Amount of time until your launch
Taking each of those into consideration, let’s focus on what you need to find out (best questions to ask), and then we’ll delve into the tools to get answers quickly and efficiently.
- How does your current customer use your product now?
- What improvements or features would they recommend? This is a leading question where you can begin to share the product you’re looking to launch.
- What problems has your current product failed to solve?
Survey Monkey is an easy solution to send a quick survey to your email list. If you’ve got an idea for a new product, an effective way to find out if your concept’s got potential is by sending a new product development survey to your target market.
This might be current customers, blog subscribers, or those that have purchased a product from you previously. Whatever the case, these people should be familiar with you and your company. They’ve already established an understanding and appreciation for the value you provide. Your goal with this research is to get the complete picture of what your potential buyer wants and needs.
If you’re a startup with no established customer base, it’s best to use competitive research to understand where your audience prefers to engage online, what their specific product needs are, and identify what problems your product solves that your competitors’ does not.
To get started, go to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Look at your keywords or hashtags to see frequency of conversation, engagement level, and type of content shared. For example, you’re an educator releasing an online program for people that want to learn how to speak French.
You head over to Twitter and look at hashtags like #learnfrench or to Twitter Advanced Search to checkout words that when combined will help you locate your target market. e.g., “learn” and “French.”
You’re looking to find out if there is a lot of conversation happening within that topic, and if so — are they sharing text based posts or images, maybe it’s video instead of GIFs? You not only want to ensure there’s engagement, but how the information is being shared within that community.
Determine Launch Goals
Your launch goals will align with your marketing campaign and business goals. This is a critical aspect where you’re creating a baseline that includes key metrics. Any company launching a new product, ultimately wants new leads. While many already use digital marketing tactics to generate new qualified leads, product launches are a way to put lead generation on overdrive.
If you want to generate quality leads throughout your product launch, you must approach your goals like every aspect of digital marketing — using data and metrics. This keeps your team focused on what truly matters rather than getting lost in vanity metrics that might feel good and produce a few high fives, but don’t contribute to actual sales.
For example, a client of mine recently launched a new video app. Their main goal was 700 upvotes on Product Hunt in 24 hours. They determined their goal by researching their niche, determining the average upvotes for a new product, then aimed to beat that by 25 percent. (They ended up beating their own goal, amassing 850 upvotes in 24 hours and 1050 upvotes in 48 hours.)
Other goals could include
- X amount of leads in X amount of time
- X percent increase in social conversions
- X students enrolled in a course
- X percent increase in revenue
You’ll want to add these goals into a spreadsheet (Google Sheets or Excel) or a tool like Marketo or Hubspot.
We use the latter, making it easy to add each product launch and it’s trackable metric right into the marketing campaign console.
Stage 2 — Creation
Prepare Launch Graphics
Your graphics play a huge role in the success of your product launch on social media. They create a consistent palette, making your product easily recognizable. Dependent on the tools you’re currently using, you want to keep all launch content in one location. Your team shouldn’t have to ask where the Pinterest image is or why they can’t find a blog header image.
Create specific folders within Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote. My team uses Dropbox and JIRA to manage all project details. This way nothing is out of reach, especially important in a remote situation like ours. Just make sure yours is an easy, effective, and manageable way to share your launch content with the team.
You’ll need a variety of images for your launch. Your first step is identifying the look and feel for your product design. How will you translate the idea behind it into easily digestible graphics? Spend time with your designer identifying a style that works in a variety of locations.
A checklist of necessary images, includes:
- Launch blog post (announcement) featured image
- Email header (Hero image)
- Social media
- Facebook — cover and post graphic
- Twitter — cover and post graphic
- Google+ — cover and post graphic
Post Content for all Social Networks
Here you’re going to create 10 unique posts for all social channels. The key to successful launch content is its authenticity. That means people need to hear your voice in all launch posts.
Think about why you created this product, what problems you’re eager to solve, and who you created this product for. Be as specific as you possibly can, weaving those details into short, bite-sized snippets that will resonate with your audience.
Email Copy and Timeline
Email marketing is a product launches best friend. Use email for pre-launch to get your audience excited about what’s to come. Then in the launch stage to continue to engage, inspire, and remind them about important benefits.
Here’s an example pre-launch sequence, including one from our recent podcast launch:
- Pre-Announce (14 days before)
- Pre-Announce (10 days before)
- Pre-Announce (6 days before)
- Pre-Announce (5 days before)
- Pre-Announce (4 days before)
- Pre-Announce (3 days before)
- Pre-Announce (2 days before)
- Pre-Announce (1 day before)
- 6 Nurture Emails (this could be additional content like a blog post, download, or video that complements your product — add this in every 2 to 3 days)
- Announcement (launch)
- Announcement every 2 to 6 days
Email, headline, and body optimized:
All content you write must be optimized for readability, click-through rate, open rate, and conversions. This is not an area where you want to skimp on time. Think through the purpose for each email. What do you want your reader to take away and what action do you want them to take?
A Few Optimization Tips:
- Write for your reader. Use a tool like Hemingway for clear, concise verbiage.
- Copy is re-read, not scanned, to correct grammar and style mistakes.
- Short sentences and jargon-free text is used to make it easy digestible.
- A spell check is done on all text and content.
- Final approval once copy finalized.
Launch Blog Posts
Understanding the intricacies to writing great product launch content that gains traction for months to come is the difference between a product that gets seen, makes money, and continues to grow — or one that ultimately fails.
But oftentimes, our perfection gets in the way. We hold ourselves back because we think the product content isn’t good enough, we haven’t added enough stories, or the right images. But I’m going to challenge you to stop fixating on perfection, and instead stay focused on:
- What product you’re launching and the value it brings
- The problem this product is solving and will continue to solve over time
- The massive benefit to your target audience
Just like the ceramics teacher who announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the class would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced. Everyone on the right would be graded solely on its quality. The idea behind this was simple: Each group would create clay pots. On the final day of class, the “quantity” students would be graded on the weight of their work. The “quality” students had it much easier. They were graded on the one pot they created.
So on the last day of class, in walked the teacher with his bathroom scale. As he checked the work of each group, a curious truth emerged. While the “quantity” group frantically churned out piles of work, the “quality” group worried so much about creating the perfect pot that they theorized instead of creating.
The bottom line? When it comes to launching your product, creating content, and promoting it to the world — good is good enough. That’s what an iterative process is for. Get that MVP (Most Viable Product) out there, and make improvements as you go.
Invest in Influencer Marketing
A great way to escalate your launch results is through influencer marketing. If you’ve already built and established relationships with a social media influencer(s) — fantastic. Reach out and offer them early access. You want their honest (and enthusiastic) support. Once they’ve had time to review, ask them to put in a good word for you, share your product, or offer a testimonial.
If you don’t have a relationship with an influencer, consider paying one or two to promote your product. Tools like Group High, Socialyte, and Traackr help you identify micro-influencers within your particular niche. These help you track down those influencers (pun intended) and measure important data such as reach, engagement, click-through, and actions like the use of coupon codes.
Target the Media
Your next step is to identify the type of media you’ll work with. First, lets look at the various types of media you can use to spread the word.
Make a List of Contacts
Once you decide on the media, do your research and make a list of relevant people or resources. Focus on those talking about and around your particular solution. Look at similar interests that directly align with your product.
Once you’ve put your list together, begin the outreach. Draft a short email that personally introduces your product to this person. (e.g., always use their first name) Include any additional details that show you took the time to learn more about them. For example, tell them how much you’ve appreciate their tech blog over the years, mentioning specifics. Dmitry Dragilev, founder of JustReachOut, shares an excellent example of how to craft this for the optimal response:
Takeaway: Your pitch will fall on deaf ears if it’s common, boring, stock, or even sniffs of a cut-and-paste job. Don’t do it!
Write a Great Press Release
There are many ways you can use a well-written press release. You can send it to journalists, link to it on social media, and add it to the news section of your blog. A press release is your chance to tell your product story. So, make it a great one.
A press release needs to be written in professional business language and format. If you’re not sure about what style guide to follow, consult the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.
When composing the press release, start with the most important information: the what, where, when, and how. Leave out the fancy details and the sales pitch. The next paragraph should focus on the descriptions and secondary information. End with a one-paragraph company description and contact information.
Stage 3 — Pre-Launch and Launch Day
The weeks leading up to your launch are incredibly important. Almost as important as the launch day itself. What you do prior will create momentum leading into your launch. This is where social media helps you spread the word fast.
Use tools like:
- Recorded Video
- Live Video
- LinkedIn/Facebook Group Messages
Share a behind-the-scenes look into how your product came about. What caused you to create it and why is it going to change lives? Your enthusiasm is contagious. Utilize it within live video on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to let people hear and feel your excitement.
Stage 4 — Ongoing Promotion
You might have the best product or service in the world, but that means nothing if nobody knows about it. It’s up to you to do the work and build buzz to get people talking about your amazing brand or offer.
While you need to continue social posts and your nurture email program, this is also the time where you can get creative.
Here are some ways to continue promotion and get everyone excited about you:
Use Testimonials as Social Proof
74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more. You can take advantage of this by sharing positive feedback on social media. A great way to do this is to create a graphic that stands out.
Run Contests/Offer Giveaways
People love free stuff. So what better way to increase engagement and draw more attention to your product then running a contest or giving away something? Offer a download, checklist, or helpful white paper. It gives you a chance to make new contacts while driving traffic to your site.
Short Webinars or Live Tutorials
This is a perfect opportunity to give you audience a behind-the-scenes look at your product or address lesser-known ways your product will meet their needs.
Include as a CTA in Related Blogs Posts
For any blog posts related to the product you’ve launched, but sure to add a call-to-action (CTA) for your product. This way anyone coming to your blog or website will also be alerted to your new product.
Give Back To The Community
You can build a lot of buzz and positive talk around your brand by giving back to the community.
Find a charity or a cause that you’re either passionate about, or one that is related to your brand or brand values. This will improve your social standing in the community and will often provide you with some free media coverage.
You can offer to speak at the charity events or write a column for their website.
Stage 5 — Dealing With Bad Publicity
Even if you’re working hard to build buzz and positive word of mouth around your product, you should still expect some negative publicity. It’s near impossible to avoid it, but you can be prepared and react accordingly.
Don’t ignore the negative comments. Instead, address them and do so with grace. Apologize and explain your perspective. Be honest and genuine and always offer a solution.
Sometimes, a great response to a negative situation turns it into positive publicity!
There’s no doubt that a well-planned launch can make or break the success of your product. Know the value of your product, share it liberally, and prepare to show up anywhere and everywhere during your launch. Being interactive and answering questions makes you accessible and your product far more relatable.
A quality launch stems from creativity. Creativity is a byproduct of preparation. Know your audience, know your product benefits, know your launch strategy. Now go get it!