Here’s a piece of advice that could gear up any new brand for a strong start: Market it early.
There’s absolutely no point in waiting for your brand’s day one before getting into marketing. And as my own ecommerce businesses can prove, a good pre-launch strategy is an absolute must-have if you want your brand to attract the right audience and your products to sell well without having to wait for months or years of zero to negative profits.
A pre-launch campaign’s core purpose is to build hype and win customers even before your products become available. There are several ways to do this, but not all of them can drive enough attention or create anticipation for your new business.
What pre-launch strategies actually work for ecommerce brands? Below are some tested and proven strategies you can include in your plan.
1. Gamify your campaign
Once you’ve set up the essentials for your ecommerce brand (website, pre-launch landing page, email funnel, accounts in marketing or advertising channels), the next step is to make people want to engage and follow your call to action. The best way to do this? Create a gamified campaign with rewards your target audience can’t resist.
An example of a gamified campaign is asking people to share your landing page with as many friends as possible and then offering exclusive offers or discounts to those with the highest number of successful referrals. You may also do social media contests, product giveaways or some kind of guessing game that gives participants a sneak peek at some features of your products.
You will need to run paid ads to get hundreds to thousands of eyeballs on your landing page. With that, be sure to make the most out of your ad spend by defining your target audience and making sure that your ads resonate well with their need, desire or pain point.
Pro tip: Study your market and dig deep into your value proposition before doing any pre-launch campaign. You won’t be able to laser-target your ideal customers if you skip these steps.
2. Tap micro-influencers
Influencer marketing is one of the fastest ways to spark conversations, develop curiosity and drive traffic to your ecommerce business. Many influencers out there would be willing to work with new brands — just as long as their values don’t clash.
Working with influencers doesn’t have to break your bank. You might even propose an arrangement that won’t require you to pay them upfront, like a commission-based partnership or agreeing on a fixed number of sponsored posts in exchange for free products or personal discounts.
Pro tip: Target micro-influencers who are already trusted by your target audience. Also, be cautious of fake influencers with fake followers —there are many of them out there.
3. Capitalize on FOMO
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is one of the most powerful psychological triggers that can affect people’s behavior. It goes well with communicating scarcity, which is unquestionably one of the most effective principles of persuasion in the marketing world.
To capitalize on FOMO, you need to have an exciting offer that only a selected few will have access to. Examples are a limited number of products for pre-order, limited tickets (or e-tickets) to the actual brand launch and high-value early bird specials that people will want to share with their friends.
Use social media to create buzz and let people know why they shouldn’t miss out on your offer. Encourage social sharing, and make sure that it’s clear when and how you’ll choose the lucky winners.
Pro tip: You can tie up FOMO marketing with both email and influencer marketing. Use visual appeal to spark interest, and make sure that your messaging stays consistent across all marketing channels that you use.
4. Tease with showoff-worthy products
In this age of social media flexing, a showoff-worthy appeal is one of the best features that a product could have. If you have products that make people want to know more, share one or two of them and then use them as a lead magnet.
Of course, it’s not only your product that has to look good. Make sure that your creatives are also appealing, share-worthy and intriguing enough to make people want to know more and take part in your store’s launch day.
Pro tip: Leave enough room for mystery when creating teasers. Don’t reveal everything just yet to spark and sustain people’s curiosity and excitement.
5. Spread the word faster through PR
When done right, PR is still one of the best ways to gain attention and build brand recognition during a business’s pre-launch phase.
Doing everything by yourself is counterproductive, and it would save you a lot of time if you let a reliable PR company get you the media attention and coverage you need. Remember: even if you have the best products in the world, you will not be earning anything if no one knows your store exists.
Pro tip: Choose a PR company with a track record of working with businesses within your niche. This way, you have the assurance that it’s familiar with the types of products you offer and have connections with media outlets relevant to your target market.
Running a pre-launch campaign is a must for any entrepreneur who wants to succeed, regardless of your business size. All strategies mentioned here can be applied by anyone and implemented on a small or large scale, so feel free to tweak according to your resources. The most important thing is to plan ahead, market early and offer your audience something that will make them stick around, spread the word and eventually purchase from your ecommerce store.