5 Marketing Tasks I Wish I Had Done Before Launching My eCommerce Business
In this multi-part blog series I’m going to share with you the 5 things that “I wish I had done” before launching my online business. The planning and preparation stages of any business are necessary but there’s every reason to start the marketing journey long before your online business sells even a single product. What if there where things you could do that would ensure you hit the ground running come launch day, things that would give your business the best possible chance at being a success. You’d want that for your business wouldn’t you. Fortunately there are a few key marketing must-dos that every online business owner should do before launching, and these are a few of the ones I wish I had done.
Landing Page or Coming Soon Page
Seems like a no-brainer right, but having a pre-launch landing page that gives a little insight into what’s coming and most importantly hosts an optimised email capture form is an absolute must have for your pre-launch strategy, and should be one of the 1st things you do after coming up with a name for your business or brand. This page and email capture form will be the top funnel for capturing leads, and converting leads from all the other pre-launch tasks listed below. This page would also be a good opportunity to list your social media badges as well as a link to the company blog, which I’ll discuss next.
Company and Brand Blog
You’re probably saying to yourself “but hang on, what is there to put on the blog of a business that hasn’t even launched?”. Well, tons! And this is where your creativity as an entrepreneur and marketing maven in the making is going to shine through. The pre-launch blog will be there to take your audience and future customers on a journey of bringing your business and brand to life. Not to mention the SEO benefit of having your website indexed by the search engines and other websites linking to you pre-launch. Start reviewing sample products you plan to sell, blog about the challenges you’re facing, blog about your visions for the company, give your audience sneak peeks into the design process of the website, or product sourcing at an expo. Whatever you’re going through, blog about it and the more you get your audience involved the more invested in your brand they’ll become. You might not think it but there’s huge value in taking your audience behind the scenes and making them a part of the process. These are the guys and gals that are going to be your brand ambassadors and refer their colleagues and friends to your business, so make them a part of it from day 1 – and by day 1 I mean before you’ve even sold a single product to them. Below is list of possible things to blog about, but remember to also have an email sign up form on your blog. You want to have every opportunity to capture leads, and if people like what you’re doing they’ll want updates.
- Sourcing products. Get your audience involved with what ends up on the website. Can you imagine how excited someone would be if their suggestions make it to the final stage and go live on launch day? Can you imagine how thrilled you would be if those products go on to be best sellers.
- Product reviews. You’re going to be sampling and testing products along the way to ensure the quality is up to spec for your customers. Why not put those paid samples to work and create a review of the product, with close up photography and videos.
- Funny or interesting experience? Blog about it, your audience will probably find it funny or interesting too.
- How-tos. Creating how-to articles surrounding your business, and the products you plan to sell, is a great strategy for content on your pre-launch blog. Help someone with a problem without expecting anything in return and they’ll be compelled to return the favour.
Technical tip: create your blog in the same folder on your server as where you plan to have it come launch day. You don’t want to be moving pages around on your server to make way for the shopping cart files, and have a whole bunch of broken links from search engines and other websites. So for example: install your company blog at http://www.yoururl.com/blog/ or if you plan to brand your blog under a different name, then in a folder of the same name – like http://www.yoururl.com/catchyname/. You then link to the blog’s homepage from your landing page in the root folder of your server, ie http://www.yoururl.com/
Care Packages for Press and Other Bloggers
Once you have your landing page with an email capture form up, you can get the word out in the knowledge that anybody visiting the site that’s interested in updates will give their email address for you to send them updates. Other bloggers are a great way to get other people aware of and talking about your brand. Get in touch with other bloggers in your niche, or who you admire and ask them if they would be happy reviewing a product you plan to sell. If they’re keen, which normally people are because who doesn’t like getting cool stuff for free, and it gives them content for their blogs too, but also means you will now have a permanent link from another website which is seen by the search engines as a vote of confidence for your website.
One step further is sending a care package of your products to someone at a magazine, radio station, tv show etc. It’s a bit of a long shot normally but if they like the products they may feature them in some form (on social media or if you’re lucky on their show or in their magazine) and give you some much needed publicity.
YouTube and Vimeo Videos
Video audiences are enormous. If your products are the kind of products that people do a lot of research around, then videos are the perfect way to showcase not just the products but the brand as well. In these videos you could do an unboxing video or review themed videos, which are hugely popular and will get your brand noticed, as well as drive traffic to your landing page and blog. Given the nature of videos they will take some time to gain momentum but by which time you will have hopefully launched the business already.
The videos don’t have to be broadcast quality. Just focus on the products and how they can help people and that’ll be enough. If you do want to create a sensational amount of buzz and are looking to go viral. Creating parody or highly amusing videos will get your brand and products in front of thousands. The outlay and cost for such a video could be steep and there’s no cut and dry recipe for a successful viral video so there are no guarantees.
Social Media Pages
Although it will be some time before your social media pages are generating revenue for the business, it’s a good idea to start posting to facebook, twitter and instagram long before launching. What would you post there? Well, similar things to what’s appearing on the blog, as well as updates from the blog – ie when a new post goes live, post it to twitter and facebook. Some people prefer getting their news and updates on social media versus email so you need to cover all your bases, and just because you don’t have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you can’t have them as a follower. Ask your followers for their opinions on things a get them involved in as much of the process as is possible and practical.
I’ve saved the most important for last. All the above is intended to drive traffic to your pre-launch website and create interest around your soon to launch brand. Once they’re at your website it’s crucial you capture their email address or risk losing them as a customer for ever. Along with all your pre-launch content you need to provide an incentive for them to sign up and give their email address. The incentive can be in the form of a discount coupon or free shipping or something to that effect; but try and go a step further by giving them the usual free offers but also throw in the chance to win a gift hamper, free shipping for a year, or 2 tickets to the launch party. Anything that’s out of the ordinary and will really make them eager to a) give you their email addres and b) keep them checking into the website and more likely to engage with you and your pre-launch content.
Once you have their email address you can send them a confirmation email thanking them, and reminding them why the signed up. You can then include some updates from the blog or direct them to other areas of your pre-launch campaign such as a YouTube channel or social media pages.
Keep your growing subscriber base updated with important developments and aim to update them once a month in the early stages and then increase that to every 2 weeks in the run up to launch day, and as a nice gesture give your email subscribers an exclusive coupon code to spend at the store soon after the launch.
Conclusion: there is so much that goes on before launching an online business which your customers would love to be a part of. Give them that opportunity, and at the same time you’ll be ensuring that launch day goes off with a bang.
These are the things I wish I had done before launching my online business.