Picture it. 2019. You’re staring at the digital finish line and your new website is just about complete. Your heartbeat is kind of speedy because you’re looking forward to selling all the things! Just like you celebrate your own entrance to the world every year, plan to make a big deal about your new shop’s grand entrance to the digital space with a strategic website launch campaign!
Your soon-to-launch website is the tangible “new you,” so begin by thinking, who should I show myself off to? Start by converting your customers into a community of brand advocates.
Pre-pre-pre Launch: Build Community
Begin by determining the purpose of your community. It should align with your brand, services and/or products. For example, a brand who sells fancy olive oil subscriptions may build an online community focusing on foodies who enjoy cooking and swapping recipes. The community should provide value for its participants and create avenues for them to contribute.
- Decide where your community will convene (Facebook group, monthly newsletter, Twitter chat, Instagram hashtag, monthly meetup, a combo of these, etc.) and start doing some field research.
- Join similar communities and take note of how they operate. The topics discussed, how members engage with each other, recurring hashtags, community pros and cons, etc., will provide a good baseline to build your own unique community.
- Keep your community engaged by sharing original, relevant content. Collaborate with thought leaders in your industry to reach new people. Create a hashtag unique to your community and follow hashtags relevant to your industry so that you can engage with more people.
- Build community online and offline by hosting activations. The olive oil brand, for example, could host monthly pop-ups with local chefs whipping up deliciousness using their product.
- A.B.G.E – Always Be Getting Emails. Unfortunately, the number of Instagram followers you have doesn’t mean that much in the way of real-life sales. You’ll never reach all of them, let alone consistently, so the best way to market to your community is in their inboxes. Create opportunities to collect email addresses often. Struggling with strategy? We wrote a blog post about how to create one - here ya go!
OK, you community-building queen/king, it’s time to set some measurable goals and start thinking about this campaign in three phases.
Phase 1: Such a Tease
In Phase 1, you’re just letting people know to be on the lookout for something great. Promotion during this phase should really focus on your A-B-G-Es. I.E. “We’re launching something new! Be the first to know by signing up below.”
Phase 2: It’s Alive
Time to break out the champagne and dance on the table because your website is live! Plan for both digital and in-person promo during this phase to celebrate your launch of your website. For example, you could host a party or activation in your city in addition to an online giveaway, or shop discount honored only on launch day.
Phase 3: Keep on keepin’ on
Continue driving traffic to new your website by using your marketing channels to share original content (blog posts, videos, etc) and new products that arrive in your shop.
Good on phases? And now the toolkit.
- A strategy for social media
- An email strategy
- A strategy to pitch the press
- An IRL event or activation
- A strategy to drive traffic to your website
A strategy for social media
Social media will play a role during all parts of the campaign. You can use it to tease the launch before it goes live (think: Instagram countdown to launch day, behind the scenes views of the website buildout, etc.), when it goes live (“we’re live” post across all channels, social media giveaway with winner chosen via Facebook or Instagram Live, etc.), and after it goes live (posts promoting products and content housed on your website).
An email strategy
During the Teaser phase, send emails alerting customers that new things are coming and be prepared to celebrate soon! When it’s time to go live, offer an incentive for customers to shop your new site. I.E. “Our website is live! Use code “YOUFANCYHUH” to take 15% off your purchase for the next 24-hours.”
A strategy to pitch the press
Let the media know you’re coming! During the Teaser phase, keep your ear to the ground for articles written by journalists covering businesses like yours or who are writing about innovative things happening in your industry. Medium is a great tool to find both accomplished and upcoming writers spreading the word about just about everything! From Medium, head to Twitter to follow the writers you liked and show some love: “Great read by @journalist about [something relevant to your industry]”. Often you’ll find their email address listed in their Twitter and Medium bios, but if not, do a little research. If you don’t really ‘Twitter,’ see what you can find on Instagram (although we must say that Twitter is a much better platform for this kind of thing!). Google them to see if they’ve got a portfolio website that lists their contact info - it’s OK to get snoopy with it.
When it’s time to write your pitch, be succinct. Tell them you liked the article they wrote about subscription food services taking over the world and you’d like to tell them about your new olive oil subscription company. Oh yeah, and your new website with this amazing new feature is coming soon! Link to an online press release that provides more detail about your company and the new site and wait. If you don’t hear back after a week or so, follow up at least three more times (with ample time between each contact) before moving on to the next one.
An IRL event or activation
Who doesn’t love a good get-together? Rally your community to celebrate the launch of your new website with a proper shindig. If you sell products online primarily, collaborate with a like-minded brand to host a pop-up shop at their space and sell your wares in-person while you guys drink champagne and eat cake (you know, or whatever type of food that translates to for you). Offer one-night-only discounts for the folks who shop on-site and encourage the community to share what’s happening virtually using your unique community hashtag.
A strategy to drive traffic to your website
Just like A.B.G.E, you should Always Be Driving Traffic To Your Website too! Your ultimate goal is to sell the products in your shop, so you’ll want to Always Be Sharing what’s great about them with your audience in creative, innovative ways. Heard of content marketing? Here's where it comes in! Take some time to think of ways you can provide value for your customers by creating free content – insightful blog posts, videos, product how to’s, community member spotlights, etc. – that lives on your website. Share these items using your digital marketing channels to drive traffic to your website and get people shopping around.
Alright, gang! Now you’ve got some ideas flowing for your launch strategy and you’re feeling all ready to go get it. Here's the last major thing: Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish with this campaign? Set some goals, track ‘em, and analyze the results. Make adjustments accordingly so you can kill it on your next big marketing campaign!