Launching a product is one of the essential parts of running an eCommerce business. In many cases, however, a new product launch strategy isn’t going to perform as well as you’d like. With this guide, you’ll learn why many of these strategies fail and what you can do to set each of your products up for success.
Why New Product Launches Fail
These four primary reasons can cause a product-launch strategy to fail.
#1: It Doesn’t Encourage Word Of Mouth
Word of Mouth marketing, or WOM, is arguably your most powerful growth strategy. While you can make any claims and offers about your product, nothing convinces someone faster than hearing a person they trust say, “I tried this, and it worked out way better than I expected.”
Unfortunately, many companies think of WOM as something that merely occurs rather than something they can use and control. The truth is that you can control this, but it takes a little planning.
The trick here is to split the user base for your new product and focus your marketing materials on people who are likely to have their expectations met or exceeded when your product launches. These people will give positive product reviews and encourage others to adopt your product.
Many new products aren’t ready for all users when they first launch, so marketing to users who are expecting more from your product will only cause disappointment for those customers. Work to separate these users and either convert them into customers later or lower their expectations from the start. This will help convince them that your product is a work-in-progress so that they won’t judge it as harshly.
#2: You Let Bad Data In
Many new product-launch strategies include metrics such as customer satisfaction scores and net promoter scores that help measure your product’s impact. However, when gathering this information, companies often accept data from users who aren’t meant to be using the first version of features or the product itself.
Collecting data from physical product launches can also cause issues because it’s harder to do. Be sure to include postcards or digital feedback forms, and incentivize your early customers to respond with useful data.
Make sure your data collection allows you to separate intended users from unintended users. This will provide a cleaner and more accurate source of data.
#3: You Oversaturate Users With Advertisements
Modern internet users are happy to ignore things they don’t want to pay attention to. This evolution of banner blindness means that if you try to bombard them with too much information too long, they’ll stop paying attention to you.
In addition, many new product-launch setups rely on giving the same advertising and information to all users. However, just like personalized email campaigns, focusing on the preferences of each group of users is far more likely to lead to good results.
#4: You Don’t Set Yourself Up For Continued Success
Many companies don’t lay the groundwork for long-term success when launching products. Product launches take a lot of time and energy, and they usually lead to a short-term spike in profits.
However, the launch should be used to enable the long-term success of the product. If you don’t plan for the future because you’re too focused on the start, you’re not going to see as much continued success.
How To Launch a Product Successfully
Many companies face one or more of the problems listed above when they’re launching a product. In many cases, the issue ultimately comes down to making as big of a splash as possible and recouping investments in the product.
For long-term growth, however, it’s usually better to start small and grow organically. Here are the five steps to a successful product-launch strategy.
Step 1: Define the Scope of the Launch
The scope of your launch includes the specific audience you’re targeting. Rather than focusing on reaching every user, it’s better to emphasize whatever features are the best fit for particular audiences you’re sure you can reach.
This means reducing your target audience as much as you can. The best targets are people who are existing customers that have already had their expectations surpassed by one of your products. These are the people most likely to look positively on your new product, especially if it is useful to them in a specific way.
Step 2: Access Your Targeted Audience
Rather than advertising across the whole internet or through physical channels like magazines, use methods that specifically target your chosen audience. This includes email, paid advertisements, change logs, blog posts, and even interviews on news sites your audience likely uses.
If you don’t already have the information required to access your target audience, it’s time to collect it. Collecting emails is the most important thing, but researching your audience is also extraordinarily useful.
Step 3: Narrow the Scope to the Best Users
The best users within a target audience are the ones who are most likely to understand your product, how it works, and what it’s supposed to do. For digital products, this usually includes tech-savvy users who are interested in new technology and willing to try it out. For physical products, this includes serious hobbyists or some professional users.
You can use a mixture of user-submitted information, internal data from previous products, and individual customer research. Remember that the best information is data that users choose to give you. Some people live in jurisdictions with strict privacy laws, but if they consent to giving you their information, you’re usually in the clear.
Consider using surveys and special-access lists to help filter your users. For example, you can ask how many of your products they’ve used in the past and how they currently feel about your company.
When you’re first doing this, remember to emphasize that your product launch is really a test of the product. Users who understand that they’re testing something—and that the product will see relatively rapid changes based on their feedback—are typically far kinder and more useful in their evaluations.
Consider providing a discount to the earliest users, especially if you’re shipping physical goods. This can make them significantly more likely to adopt and test the product and then give it a good review.
Step 4: Identify Your Success Signals
A success signal is something that clearly identifies how well your product is performing with a select group. For example, if people keep using the product after its first launch, you know they’ve found something valuable enough to be worth their time.
Ultimately, your success signals should show improved retention, improved engagement, or monetization. Otherwise, you may end up adding features without improving the product in ways that change user behaviors.
Step 5: Use All of the Above To Support Your Next Launch
In this context, “launch” may be slightly misleading. Rather than a rocket taking you straight to success, a proper product launch strategy is more like making several trips to the store to get everything you need.
After your core group is familiar with the product, add new features to improve it and then advertise to your audience’s next layer. The goal here is to keep tight control over the response and feedback loop until you’re ready for a real public launch.
Be sure to add a review system early in this process. Getting great product reviews from your core users can inspire the next group of users to buy in, and their reviews will then support the third group.
Eventually, you’ll be able to create a positive feedback loop that supports word-of-mouth advertising and sets you up for long-term success.
By repeating the five steps of this process as necessary, you’ll be ready to succeed with each new product you launch. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but small launches and gradual growth are ultimately far better than one big splash.