Few things excite the ecommerce marketer like the launch of a new product (particularly when it's based on persona analysis and boosting customer LTV), but if you plan to simply create new landing and product pages and hope your customers discover the new goods, you're going to be sorely disappointed. You need a plan that covers the immediate and the long-term.
Are you ready?
Customer Marketing for Ecommerce
In his article "How To Build The World's Most Valuable Ecommerce Business Model", my colleague touches on the concept of ecommerce marketers and their lack of attention to encouraging product adoption - that is, getting the people who buy the products to actually use them. In the past, ecommerce marketers have had a very primitive approach to communicating with existing customers. That is, they blast their entire list of customer email addresses three times a week with a coupon for whatever they want to move quickly from the inventory. Modern inbound ecommerce marketers know that each customer has to be treated differently, based both on their buyer persona and where they are in the pre-transactional buying cycle.
This applies to introducing new products as well. As marketers, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that our customers don't think about our brand as often as we'd like them to (definitely not as often as we do) and that even something as exciting as a new product announcement should be framed from the perspective of the customer's unique psychographic characteristics.
When we launched our new free product Signals, for example, we created a separate email not only for different industries, such as non-profit businesses vs. ecommerce businesses vs. B2B sales companies, we also created emails unique to the recipient. For example, we created a special email for junior sales reps (who use Signals in a unique way in their daily activities), a special email for senior sales reps (who use it internally and for business development in addition to sales activities), a special email for small business owners (who are, perhaps, the most time crunched of all since they wear so many hats), etc. We also sent customized messages to contacts based on where they are in the buying cycle for HubSpot's marketing software itself. Contacts who were already customers received one type of messaging, contacts who were actively engaged with sales reps received another, contacts who were evangelists (who shared lots of our content because of how they feel about our brand) received another, etc.
This meant that everyone who received the announcement of the new product didn't just get a generic announcement through the filter of our own excitement (and we were very excited), they each got an email customized to who they were and where they were in their relationship with HubSpot.
Unique Selling Proposition
Before you can do anything, you must decide what makes your new product so special. How will it solve your customers’ problems? What makes it stand out from the crowd of competitors? Until you can answer this question without hesitation, you’re not ready to begin launching your new product.
The key here is to focus on the customer's problems and the pain points that your product solves for them, not the features that you find most interesting or compelling. Focus on the jobs that your product is doing for the customer, particularly if you can relate that to information you gathered in the pre-transactional buying process. This is where all the great work that you put into gathering data, building buyer persona profiles, and segmenting your database is really realized in terms of revenue - by making the announcement highly relevant to the context of the customer contact's relationship with your brand.
Write Product Descriptions
You may be tempted to keep the product descriptions that came from the manufacturer just to save time, but it’s imperative that you write your own. Other retailers may use the same product descriptions on their sites, or you might have the same description several times on your own. This duplicate content will win you no favors with Google’s search algorithm (and, frankly, manufacturers don't write great product descriptions to begin with, so you won't win any favors with the customer's you're trying to persuade either).
Your new product descriptions should include a healthy amount of keywords, but only as they can be used naturally. Provide colors, sizes, product numbers, and any other information customers might use to find your new products in a search. Remember, this is especially important if you plan to use Google’s shopping tool. Without the correct information, your items will show up in irrelevant searches (or worse, not show up in relevant searches), which only serves to irritate consumers.
Create New Landing Pages
After all the work you’ve already done, you finally get to work on something the customer will see. In fact, your landing page for your new item could be the very first impression a buyer has. For this reason, you must be sure to do it right the first time. You’ll see your product description here, as well as images of the product. You may want to include several different options for your image, with some showing the product in use. For clothing, you might consider showing the item on various models so buyers can see how body shape affects the design. Videos of the product in use are also perfect features on a product page.
The product page is a great way to involve new consumers, too. If you include social sharing buttons, the item could find a wider audience within moments. To boost social proof, include a user review section where buyers can share their experience with that particular product. The more people share, the wider your audience will be. Particularly if you've released the product to a few evangelical customers in advance (always a good idea) collecting and leveraging their social proof here can have a dramatic impact on your overall conversion rate - including converting existing customers.
Plan Your Content
When your products are ready to go, start talking about them. Blogging is just one way to create relevant content about your launch, but it’s not the only way. You do want to use this chance to talk up your big release and build some hype. Make sure you answer questions potential buyers don’t yet know they have. These blog posts will help you in search results, for one thing, but they’ll also help to build buyer trust.
You can’t launch a new product until you have a plan for the content portion of your inbound marketing campaign. Each mention should be prepared well in advance and call to the forefront of buyers’ minds how helpful the product can be. Once you have your content calendar set, with plans for videos, images, and FAQs, then you can move to the next step.
Prepare Your Offers
You can’t expect people to show up on the day of your product launch if they don’t know the news. Start preparing your offers well in advance so you can take advantage of a beautifully designed email. With your images and product descriptions already taken care of, it’s just a matter of organizing them in a powerful message that will convince buyers to click through to your site.
Keep in mind that your products deserve a chance to flourish on their own, so resist offering discounts on the first day. Let buyers make the choice based on the true price and not on the chance to get a good deal. You’ll learn a lot more about their true opinions in this way. Plus, they should be excited enough just seeing a new product from your company.
Plan Your PPC Campaign
Depending on how much you're willing to spend acquiring a new customer, you may or may not want to augment your product launch campaign using pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. PPC is neither entirely good nor entirely bad; the key is to make sure that it fits within the overall metrics model that you'll consider successful for your campaign.
Even if you don’t want to participate in PPC right away, you may want to go ahead and set the plans for the future. This also goes for Google’s shopping pages. Remember that you’ll be bidding on keywords for those ads, so you’ll need to keep your choices as relevant and fresh as possible. Try to choose descriptors that others might not choose for their similar products.
And now you’re ready to launch your new product. Congratulations! Have you used one of these strategies - or, even better, one we forgot - to great effect in a product launch? We’d love to know if something else has worked for your company’s product launches.
Originally published Jan 29, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017