By Sujan Patel

Launching a product in 2018 is tough. In some industries (think SaaS, mobile applications, and social media sites, for starters), it’s tougher than it’s ever been. Across all industries, about 80% of new products fail.

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom for entrepreneurs and corporations looking to launch a product this year.

Competition might be fierce, but brands about to embark on a product launch have at least one thing in their favor: access to more tools and tactics for promoting it than ever before.

They just have to know what they are and how to use them.

Are you considering developing a new product, or getting ready to take the plunge and launch one? Here’s what you need to know to master a product launch in 2018.

Know your audience

Understanding who you’re targeting is the first step to successfully mastering a product launch. It’s essential to figuring out your target customers’ pain points, what platforms they use, and what sort of messaging they respond to. If you fail at this stage, you’ll fall short at every other stage of launching your product, too.

But I know what you might be thinking …

How do you learn about an audience before you have one?

You can carry out market research (think surveys or, if budget allows, focus groups) both before and during product development. Platforms like SmartSurvey and SurveyMonkey can help with this.

You can also analyze your competitors’ audiences using tools like SimilarWeb and YouGov Profiles.

Once you’ve gathered as much data as possible, you can use your findings to draw up a picture of what you expect your typical customer to look like.

The more detail you can go into here, the better, but a few key things you’re probably going to want to include are:

Age
Gender
Location
Average income
Family status
Hobbies and interests

Get your website ready before launch

You might think that building a website would be pretty far down the priority list when planning a product launch—that is, if your website will only be used as a platform for promoting or selling your product. After all, if you don’t have a product to sell yet, how useful could a website be?

The short answer to that is “very.”

First of all, it pays to get your site built as far before launch as possible, and you should ensure it’s sound from a technical and usability point-of-view and is optimized for search engines.

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At the same time, you can start creating content to get people to your site and familiarize them with your brand.

You can also leverage this content, and the people that land on your site because of it, to build your email list.

Include sign-up forms for potential customers who want to be notified when your product is launched. For better results, try placing those forms in multiple locations—in sidebars, within the content itself, and as exit intent pop-up forms.

For even better results, try incentivizing sign-ups. The obvious way to do this is to offer discounts to potential customers who register their interest before launch.

Create a pre-launch viral referral program

A viral referral program can get your product in front of thousands (or even tens of thousands) of people, for a minimal investment.

In fact, you might be familiar with how Harry’s (a subscription razor blade service) used the tactic to gather 100,000 subscribers in a single week.

So how does a viral referral scheme work?

It’s works pretty much the same as a regular referral scheme except instead of encouraging people to refer you to just one other person, you give them an incentive to refer multiple people.

Let’s say you’re trying to drum up interest in a soon-to-be-launched SaaS product. You might offer one month’s free use for each successful referral. You could even offer a bonus incentive for your top referrer (or referrers) of free use for life (just make sure you’ve implemented a system for preventing referral fraud).

Are you thinking of incorporating a viral referral scheme into your product launch? Here are a few points to consider before you get started:

You’ll need a home for the scheme (ideally your website).
Be prepared to invest some money to get things going with paid promotions on platforms like Facebook.
Make it as easy as possible for existing subscribers to share your scheme and refer others.

Have a drip campaign ready for launch

As you’re gearing up to actually launch, prepare a drip campaign that lets early subscribers know the product is ready to buy, and automatically sends follow-up emails to those who don’t buy right away.

Your first email should be scheduled to send the moment your product launches. In addition to announcing the product, this email should remind those in your email list that they can get the product at a special price (or whatever incentive it might be that you offered to early subscribers).

To maximize the impact of your emails, you can harness the power of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) in your email subject lines. To do this, emphasize that the special offer is limited, and that they have to act fast if they want to take advantage of it.

Lastly, when a customer does buy, they should be moved to a different email sequence that’s designed to upsell, entice a second purchase, and encourage referrals.

Be everywhere

It goes without saying that the more you’re seen, the better your odds of executing a successful product launch.

Here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list of things you can do pre- and post-launch to get in front of as many potential customers as possible:

Prepare ad campaigns on as many (suitable) platforms as you can.
Run competitions.
Consider working with affiliates and influencers.
Send products to bloggers.
Send emails to respected, relevant sites, inquiring about guest posting opportunities (Voila Norbert can help you with finding email addresses, and Mailshake makes it easier to execute and manage your outreach).
Consider offline marketing (if appropriate). Are there events you should be at? Should you be out on the streets? Will your audience respond to forms of direct marketing?

Plan, plan, and plan some more

Okay, so I’ll admit this one sounds obvious, but it’s not uncommon for organizations, especially those with inexperienced leaders, to draw up thin, incomplete, or flawed marketing plans.

Don’t be one of them.

You need to know exactly what you can afford to spend on marketing your product launch, and how you’re going to spend it. This means deciding what tactics you’ll be using, for how long, and who will be responsible for executing them.

Plan for all outcomes. Plan to fail, which means deciding when you’ll write off a tactic or strategy as a failure and what you will do instead, and plan for unexpected successes, like when demand outstrips supply.

About the Author

sujan patelPost by Sujan Patel

Sujan is a leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hardworking, high-energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, VoilaNorbert, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.

Company: Web Profits
Website: sujanpatel.com
Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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