Launching an ecommerce business is an exciting time, but it can also be uncertain and fraught with worry – will the launch be a success, or will it fail spectacularly? It’s a bit like throwing a party and inviting loads of people – no matter who you are, you’re always going to be a little bit worried (even if it’s deep down inside) that no one will turn up. Nobody wants to be the kid who ends up eating cake alone on their birthday, just like no one wants to be the person who launches an ecommerce site that’s met with a half-hearted cheer and a sip of own-brand champagne from a plastic flute.
Do your prep-work. Get on all the major social media sites, build a following on them. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the Holy Trinity of social media, so make sure you get involved and start promoting and engaging well before you launch. You’ll want to build your following before launch so you can get these followers excited and sharing your content. There are other outlets worth utilising too, like Pinterest, Reddit and StumbleUpon, so claim your brand names and set up profiles on these before they gets taken. Create some email lists. You’ll need these for your email marketing activity – which you’ll no doubt want to start just before launch – so it’s important to get them ready in advance. Find subscribers and people who would be interested in your products, and also make sure you register with an email marketing provider – MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact – there are loads out there, so have an idea of what kind of email you’re likely to do, contuct a little research, and assess them to decide which is best for you. Have a landing page ready. Purchase your domain name and have a “Coming Soon” page on display until the big reveal. This will be your brand’s temporary home before launching your full ecommerce website. Do your keyword research. Get an SEO plan together before you launch and set up Google analytics, so you don’t have to worry about doing this after you’ve gone live. You’ll probably want to start implementing your SEO strategy straight after launch, so it’s good to have the research done beforehand. Don’t rush! You need to build a solid foundation and lay the groundwork before you launch – SEO, content, social media, advertising…this could take a little time.
All systems are go and you’re ready to launch, but what do you do now? Here are some things you can do to generate some hype around your site, get your brand noticed, and hopefully lead to your site debuting with a bang.
Get in the press
The key thing about launching a new ecommerce site is generating interest and hype around your brand. You will need some kind of PR coverage from media outlets that reach target audience. Press coverage always starts a launch off with a bang. PR stunts are always good when done well. Take a look at Nakd, who created an “edible billboard” in Shepherd’s Bush, London. The billboard was stocked with a variety of their products and people could come and grab them free of charge. This was an interesting stunt because it appealed to exactly the right audience – busy people who want a nutritious snack they can grab on the go. Something like this isn’t always easy or cheap, but it can gain a lot of traction, which is what you’re looking for. This kind of PR stunt is great for new products because it gives people a chance to actually try them, discuss them, share pictures on social media and so on. Direct response advertising: Editorial coverage generates search (Google and Social) so buy some PPC ads on the channels you think are most likely to be used by your target audience.
Get influencers excited
If you can get a high-profile influencer in the market excited about your product and sharing it, you’re winning. If you can get someone in your brand’s niche excited about whatever you’re selling online, then they’re showing off your new exciting company to their audience – who are all potential customers. You need to give them some kind of incentive to showcase your brand, so either give them a free sample of whatever it is you’re selling, or offer them a free trial period of your service. You could even offer a partnership, like beauty sampling subscription box Birchbox has done with US based beauty blogger Emily Schuman, who runs the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. Influencers can also benefit from engagement with brands by:
- Developing their own personal brand
- Strengthening their network
- Establishing a credible relationship with other brands (that’s you)
This is a relatively cheap way of doing things – simply send a few influencers your product, and get them to share it on their social media channels. This works well for new companies because you have the added advantage of giving them something that’s unique and new – something for their followers to covet.
Starting a crowdfunding campaign in order to launch your site is a great way of generating some buzz around the launch. You’re building a story for people to follow and invest in not just monetarily, but emotionally. Your investors will be interested in your journey – or more importantly, they’re going to buy into your story, so take plenty of videos, keep your investors updated on your progress, and slowly build some excitement for your site launch. Crowdfunding stories can be pretty popular with the press, so you could benefit from some coverage. Comfortable Boxers Co. did this. They used Kickstarter to raise $142k to get their company off the ground which generated some buzz before they launched their ecommerce site.
Make the most of social media
Those social media channels you signed up for earlier? They’re going to come in handy here. You’re aiming to create engaging content to have an ongoing, long term dialogue with long lead prospects and existing customers for retention, and this occurs before, during and after your launch. Steadily build up a following before you launch, engage with potential customers, then when you’re close to launch, get them excited about it. Research keywords related to your niche to find people who would be interested in your ecommerce site and reach out to them. Social media can also support you if you’re using crowdfunding – it’s a great way of documenting your progress. Bachelr, an ecommerce website aimed at men, made use of Instagram to help them launch by targeting users who would be interested in their site, by promoting pictures of products they would be selling. The most important thing to remember when using Instagram is to ensure that your pictures look great, but also don’t look too much like blatant advertising. Bachelr says that one of their most successful posts was a model holding one of their products in a natural setting, no logo anywhere – it got 10k likes and 100+ comments.
Make a teaser video/page
Teaser videos keep people guessing and speculating, so they’re a pretty solid way to generate some interest around your product. This does depend on the product you’re selling though – things like technology work well, or if your ecommerce site is selling something particularly innovative. It probably wouldn’t work for a pair of socks though (unless they are self-cleaning and are impossible to separate). Teasers can go a long way in ensuring that your website launch is successful. They can create a strong identity for your brand, and give the user a sneak preview of what’s to come. Samsung did this really well with their Galaxy S3 phone launch – the countdown page you see above is a wonderful example of a teaser page done well. You could include a signup bar for visitors who are interested in updates on your ecommerce site’s progress. There are tons of things you can do to launch your ecommerce site. Just remember, the most creative strategies are the ones that get noticed.