The Ultimate Guide on How to Successfully Launch a New Product
How do you take a shower thought that seems to have great potential and convert it into a profitable SKU that stands the test of time?
Creating a successful ecommerce business is much more than just finding a product that you think will sell and launching it. The stakes involved are high. As reported in Inc., 90% of the over 30,000 new products launched each year fail. Moreover, an unsuccessful launch will send capital that could have been deployed to scale a brand in other ways circling down the drain, leaving you with nothing to show for all the time and money you invested.
The challenge in launching a successful product isn’t in creating the product listing for your online storefront: the challenge is in making sure the listing survives the first year.
In this guide, we provide you with some practical tips to help you plan your go-to-market strategy for launching a product that will continue selling long after the shine wears off and the hype subsides.
If you want to bypass the hard work and planning involved in launching a new product, consider buying the right business for you here that’s earning from day one.
If you are committed to your goal of launching a new product, read on for tips to follow to increase your likelihood of ending up among the 10% who succeed.
How to Plan for a Successful Product Launch
The two main ingredients for a successful product launch are sales velocity and reviews. Your launch plan should focus on building the momentum of your e-commerce business by sparking widespread interest in your product before it’s even available for the public to buy.
Sales velocity is a metric many sales teams and marketers don’t pay enough attention to. In short, it’s how quickly you can move leads through your sales funnel to conversion.
Refining the buyer journey to increase sales velocity results in an increased number of sales and more revenue for the company. You’ll need to take note of how long it takes to close a deal and how easy it is for customers to transition from considering whether to buy the product to making the purchase. The easier it is for a customer to buy the product, the faster you can accelerate sales velocity.
Reviews are the other ingredient in the recipe for a successful product launch. Establishing a base of positive reviews will serve as strong social proof to influence a virtual window shopper into becoming a paying customer. Good customer reviews also indicate to others on your ecommerce platform that your brand is reputable and trusted.
Strong brands will go on to earn badges on their products, like Amazon’s Choice, that are a sign of quality.
Both sales velocity and positive customer reviews work in tandem to boost sales volume and increase the likelihood of the new product surviving past the first year. The great news is that you can work on both areas well before the product is launched to the wider market.
Before you consider different strategies on how to drive interest in your product,the first step is to make sure you’ve found someone who will buy it.
Finding Your Target Audience
One of the reasons the product launches of many entrepreneurs fail is that they do not do enough market research.
Your great idea for a new e-commerce business will soon be among the 90% that fail if you do not identify a target audience and verify a proven need for your product in the market. Discovering that need can be like finding a needle in a haystack, with so many available products already in the market.
Thankfully, tools exist that act like magnets to help you zoom in on the location of some of those needles.
Use Software to Start Your Search
Common software products that entrepreneurs use to create smart product launches include Jungle Scout and Helium 10.
These SaaS tools help you identify the types of products that are trending or the keywords that customers are searching for when shopping and making purchases, which indicate the needs in the market, and gives you an idea of the types of pain points you can meet. The tool you decide to use will depend on your needs.
Here’s a helpful guide to help you decide what tool you should use to assess the market for your product.
While these are the most popular types of ecommerce analysis tools for keyword research to identify trends, feel free to shop around for other options. If you are a smaller brand, you may want to use a more agile and more affordable option.
During your research, gather information on what your target audience’s customer experience has been like when shopping for and purchasing existing products. This can include crawling through forums to see what people’s reactions toward the product have been so far or monitoring social media for mentions that have been largely positive or negative.
You’ll need to read between the lines to understand the pain points and determine whether existing products do a good job of solving these problems.
As part of your research and to start getting customer feedback, you can reach out to some of these customers through surveys or contests and giveaways. This is a more
direct approach to gathering information on potential customers’ expectations compared to their realities following recent purchases. These short conversations can give you valuable insights into gaps in the market that you can consider to help differentiate your product from the competition.
From your research you can create buyer personas based on the customers’ demographics and buying habits. Your messaging and copywriting will be much more effective when you know who you’re talking to rather than taking a scattergun approach and hoping that the marketing lands on the right target.
Choosing the Best Product
Some questions you can ask yourself when seeing which product types or categories are worth pursuing include:
- Are there tons of existing products in the space?
- Are the service offerings all similar (i.e., are they all focused on the same USP, like low price points?)
If you have an Amazon FBA business, we’ve covered how you can find your next profitable product to save you time from exploring dead ends.
Striking a balance between product quality or affordability is another choice you will need to make for a successful new product launch. A minimum standard of quality needs to be established, so you will need to determine how to create a product that is sturdy but doesn’t cost a ton or take forever to manufacture.
Order plenty of samples during product development, and test each out until you’re satisfied with the product. It’s recommended that you do not cut corners during the testing phase. Do it right so you end up with a solid product. After all, if you’re not happy with the final product, your customers will not be satisfied with it, either.
Analyze Your Competitors
There’s no better place to start looking for potential customers than analyzing your competitors. Whether you’re a small business or you manage a more established brand, checking out the existing products offered will usually be worthwhile.
Through competitor analysis, you can also discover the types of products missing from the current market.
In addition, you can get a sense of what customers are crying out for when browsing through reviews, negative feedback, or forums on which customers discuss what they wish these products did.
Being aware of who your main competitors are also helps you prepare for black hat tricks that competitors pull to purposely ruin a new product’s popularity through negative SEO or by spamming your page with fake negative reviews.
We cover in more detail the challenges and attacks on your business to help you prepare a solid defense.
Inventory and Shipping
While the logistics of how you will manage shipping and where you will store your products are not part of pre-launch marketing, working to optimize these processes and reduce the costs of shipping and storage can help improve your bottom line.
Whether you sell on Amazon, WooCommerce, or Shopify, you will need to pay the expenses for shipping and handling and other fees associated with selling your products on these platforms or marketplaces, such as the transactional fees charged by the ecommerce platform you choose.
Many Amazon sellers choose to send inventory directly to FBA fulfillment centers to store and ship to their customers. However, slow-moving stock items that haven’t sold for 365 days after arriving at these warehouses are subject to long-term storage fees.
If you opt for omnichannel selling, you can use a third-party logistics (3PL) service provider to manage the entire logistics process and storage. That way, they can help you with personalized packaging and with fulfilling orders from different platforms, regardless of whether the customers are from Shopify or Amazon.
You’ll be in a much stronger position to set competitive prices for your new product once you’ve reduced your shipping and storage costs. An affordable price that gives you a decent margin for profit will help you maintain a sustainable pricing strategy that doesn’t need adjusting too often.
Scheduling Your Launch Date
Once you’ve found an untapped potential for a new product to launch and have figured out your operations, you should plan a hard launch date.
Timing is key: launching too soon or delaying a launch for too long can hurt the new product’s chances of becoming a sustainable SKU that sells consistently. In other words, you risk an unsuccessful launch if you rush the process without building up awareness through marketing or if you wait too long and other competitor products have gained popularity.
Instead of going in cold with a hard launch and hoping for the best, you can build momentum with a pre-market launch marketing strategy.
How to Soft Launch Your Products
A soft launch involves selling your product to a much smaller audience so you can get a snapshot of the general feedback while getting an idea of sales volume and velocity.
Product launches require more than putting the product on the platform of your choice. You have to market and test them correctly, a process that takes time and money.
It’s recommended to plan pre-launch campaigns that can be used to drive interest and momentum around your product when it’s available publicly. While planning your marketing strategy, you can include some of the following techniques to actively market the new item to raise brand awareness while driving traffic to your product listing.
A/B Split Testing
A/B testing products is a great way to protect your investment of both time and money. Through iterative testing and improvements, you can include the most desired features customers want and take the guesswork out of the process.
You can test any part of the sales funnel, like whether to include shipping fees as an all-in-one price, whether to give customers a choice on shipping options, and product listing page details.
Some of the most important features to apply A/B testing include call to actions (CTAs), shipping costs, images, copy used in the product listing and advertising, and the checkout experience.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all improvement you can use in every case, but you can apply the same methodology. The basic rules are to pick one aspect at a time, measure the difference in customer behavior over a set period, and analyze the results. You rinse and repeat this process until your optimizations show no improvements, which is when you test another aspect of your ecommerce storefront or marketing.
Content marketing is a great way to provide value for your customers beyond the product and brand. One way to do this is by sharing your expertise with your target audience, such as by explaining how to be better at a skill or hobby while using the product.
You can post blog articles through your Shopify domain if you have one, or even post some simple daily tips on your social media accounts.
The key to making content marketing work is providing value over a long period of time. Try to focus on creating evergreen content that is useful during any season. That way, if anything is outdated you will only need to apply a few edits because the core content is solid, so people will still be able to apply the tips and strategies.
Social Media Marketing
Social media can be a powerful traffic driver if you create engaging content on a consistent basis.
Unlike content marketing, social media posts have a really short lifespan. According to The Refinery, Facebook posts have a lifespan of six hours, Instagram posts 48 hours, and LinkedIn 24 hours. (p.s. Twitter posts only last 15 minutes!)
You don’t need to have a presence on all social media platforms; focus on the ones that give you the highest level of engagement.
Your brand and the type of product you are selling will help to determine the appropriate social media platform for creating a following. Instagram and Pinterest can lead to a lot of traffic if your product allows for highly visual content, whereas LinkedIn and Facebook are popular platforms for brand building.
Consider partnering up with influencers as part of your product launch strategy. Such collaborations can help you extend your reach by placing your product in front of audiences you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. This type of marketing can cost anywhere from $10 to $10,000+ per post, depending on the size of the influencer’s follower base, so consider your niche and which platform you want to establish a presence on when deciding whether to pursue such a collaboration.
Writing Copy That Sells
Making sure that your product listing page converts well is also important for a successful product launch. Too many entrepreneurs make the same copywriting mistakes that can lead to lower conversion rates, fewer sales, and less revenue.
The most common mistake is writing for yourself. This usually looks like putting the specifications first and highlighting the aspects of the product that you think are interesting.
This is where your customer research comes into play. By weaving in how the product solves a customer’s pain points and including some of the language customers used in their reviews and discussions on other products in your product descriptions, you draw potential customers in by helping them visualize how the product actually helps them.
Copywriting is an art. How you craft copy changes across mediums, as e-mail and product listing copy will differ in length and type of information included. If you want to outsource copywriting to marketers, it can cost up to $2,000 per product.
Email marketing should be part of any marketing campaign because of how valuable building an email list can be in the long run. This is one of the factors that affect the sales multiple and increase a listing price when you go to exit.
You can build interest by creating a landing page that shares information about the product and captures the email addresses of potential customers. This is a good method for building an email list that can be used to pre-launch the product and create anticipation.
Starting an email list with platforms like Mailchimp and Klaviyo is relatively straightforward. The key is delivering value in every newsletter you send. Over time, your email marketing will build an addressable audience that looks forward to opening your emails that contain exclusive offers. Outsourcing this initiative to an agency can cost between $100 and $400, according to ActiveCampaign.
Reaching Out to Local News Networks or HARO
You can also use HARO for increased exposure and to raise brand awareness as part of your marketing plan.
Prepare some press releases and reach out to your local news networks. Pitch them the story behind why your brand exists and how it differs from the competition. You can even raise the profile of your hometown when a news network features your local ecommerce brand.
Launch and Observe
When launch day arrives and your product is available to everyone for purchase, your job is still not finished. Keep an eye on sales velocity and other key ecommerce metrics to see if the product holds up on its own.
The Drawbacks of Launching New Products
Coming up with a million-dollar idea is pretty easy. The real test is executing the idea and turning it into a reality.
Unless you have the Midas touch and have a spare philosopher’s stone lying around, launching a new product successfully can be expensive and time-consuming and may not give you any ROI at all if the product fails.
It’s very easy to sink a lot of money into products without ever really finding that best seller you need to validate the investment, which increases the risk and cost to you and your business when you consider the number of resources you commit to making it happen.
As we’ve outlined, a lot of work must be done well before the launch date of your new product. You need to find a target market and spend potentially thousands of dollars in pre-marketing material for customer research and product development. And you invest all this time and money without a guarantee of success.
What if you could make a safer investment with proven ROI?
Instead of trying to launch a new product, what about buying an e-commerce business with a proven sales history and a track record of consistent sales?
Making an Investment with Proven Returns
While launching a new product will probably cost much less than buying an established ecommerce brand, you’re fast-tracking to earning profits. You take over a business with products that are proven to work and operations that run smoothly to sell those products.
The products already have a target audience, as shown by the business’s consistent revenue and profit, and the seller has already worked out the logistics, so you can focus on running the business instead of worrying about how to make it all work.
In other words, the hard work has been done for you; you just have to maintain the company’s operations.
Essentially, you buy back the time it takes to launch a product and discover what works right away. Unlike launching a product, which requires a lot of time and effort with no guarantee of success.
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