4 marketing channels to use when launching your product (and how to choose the right ones for you)
Brand awareness is crucial for a successful product launch. Use these four high-visibility platforms to get the word out about your new product.
It’s finally time to launch your first product.
Customer research, product testing, setting up your website -- those were all straightforward. Follow the directions, analyze the data, and you should be A-OK.
But when it comes to how to market a product, you don’t know where to start.
All of the marketing channels and tactics you’ve read about seem either too expensive, complicated, or promotional.
Well, we have some good news: There are ways to promote a new product that not only create interest in your product but also build trust with your audience.
Many of these strategies cost little or nothing to implement.
Sounds like it’s too good to be true, right?
In this article, we’ll dive into four channels you can use to market a product launch in any industry.
First, let’s look at how you should market your new product.
How should I market my new product?
To market a new product, four channels you could use are:
Your email list
Your existing customer base and their network
Your fellow small business owners
Social media and online communities
As you’ve probably noticed, the ways you market a new product aren’t all that different from those that you would use to market an online business overall.
Let’s take a peek at your email list first.
Marketing channel #1: Your email list
Your email list is arguably the easiest and most valuable place to promote your products, with 59% of marketers saying email is their biggest source of ROI.
What makes your list so valuable is the fact your subscribers have already given you permission to send them marketing-related messages.
That means less money spent on acquiring and advertising to new customers, let alone time spent convincing them to sign up with your brand.
Though what if you’re not someone who excels at -- or even enjoys -- being overtly promotional?
There are still several tactics you can use.
Giveaways are usually a hit with consumers and can earn you hundreds or thousands of new subscribers in the process.
However, remember that when hosting your giveaway, you should keep the prize as something niche enough that only existing or potential customers would want to purchase it.
For example, children’s clothing brand, Sawyer, gave around $1,500-worth of giveaways that included gift cards, bikes, and backpacks -- items any parent would want for their children.
However, after the giveaway, Sawyer found many of those new subscribers didn’t want to hear from or engage with them via email.
Which illustrates how costly a giveaway can be if you don’t pare your gift with your audience well. Giveaways aren’t the only solution, though, and they don’t fit with all product types.
So if giveaways aren’t your speed, try something a little more universal: discounts.
You could offer exclusive discounts to your subscribers as a way to boost pre-launch sales and gain word-of-mouth interest before you release to the general public.
You may even be able to use a discount as a lead magnet to grow your list in the time leading up to and after your product launch.
But are discounts really worth it from marketing and sales perspectives?
The statistics point to “yes.”
94% of Americans have said they would use an exclusive offer over other marketing programs like VIP service or price-matching.
Exclusive discounts are such a hit that 41% of consumers said they would search for a product so they could use the offer, while 48% said having an exclusive discount would lead them to make a purchase sooner.
You can use discounts for more than just delighting your current customers, too, since they’re great for referrals (we’ll cover those in just a minute).
Finally, there’s the good old-fashioned announcement.
Take, for example, this email from ProdPad, which introduces their new product, positions it as a better “replacement” for their previous product, and outlines all of its features.
Their subscriber, Georgina, was able to receive this concise but highly-informative email because she had explicitly agreed to let ProdPad email her-- think of how hard it would be to convey all of this information to a non-subscriber via ads, blog posts, and social media posts.
As I said, your email list is one of the most lucrative and friction-free channels you can use to launch a new product since your list is comprised of people who want to hear from your brand.
But as with other marketing channels, your email list is at its strongest when it’s used with complementary marketing tactics.
For instance, our second channel -- social networks -- makes an excellent pairing with your email list.
Marketing channel #2: Your existing customers and their social networks
When calculating your customers’ lifetime value (CLV), you typically take into account how much it costs to acquire a new customer, how much they’ll spend with your brand, and how long they’ll be your customer.
But when it comes to launching a new product, don’t limit your thinking to how much a given customer can spend -- also consider how much additional revenue they can bring in through referrals and affiliate programs.
Referral marketing, if you’re unfamiliar, is a way of encouraging your existing customers to share your brand with their friends and family, and one of the savviest strategies to boost your bottom line.
For example, one research study found that the value of a referred customer was around 16% higher than those of non-referred customers.
Even better, referral marketing capitalizes on something your customers are doing naturally: talking about your brand with others.
46% of consumers get information about products from family members, and another 45% get that information from friends they know in real (offline) life.
So chances are your customers are talking about you with others. Why not reward them for doing that?
One of the most common referral models involves giving your subscribers and their friends a discount once they make a purchase, as Zenni Optical does for their referral program.
Alternatively, you could give each person a special discount code, or even a free item or product, for every friend who makes a purchase.
For reaching customers outside of your current audience’s close-knit social circles, affiliate marketing may be a better fit.
Simply put, affiliate marketing is when your affiliates -- or people who recommend your brand to their audiences -- earn a commission on each sale when their audience members make purchases using their unique link or discount code.
For example, Razer, which sells gaming-related products, offers affiliates up to 20% of each sale that they generate for the brand.
Others, like our Refer-a-Creator program, give affiliates a 30% recurring commission for each month that a referred customer stays with us.
(Want to join our Refer-a-Creator program or run your own affiliate program? Try Podia’s free trial today.)
If someone can make an income selling an “air phone”, you can definitely do the same with your new products.
So to wrap up, promoting your product launch to your subscribers and customers isn’t the end of your promotional efforts -- you can use referral and affiliate marketing to encourage your followers to promote your product for you and reward them for it.
The next channel we’ll talk about is a great way to distribute and encourage affiliate links while getting your name out to a new audience: guest posting.
Marketing channel #3: Guest posting on other blogs
Guest posting is a win-win-win tactic for you, the blog where you guest posted, and their audience.
It’s a “win” for you since you get to expose your message and products to an audience who may have otherwise not known about them.
Considering nearly 91% of websites don’t get organic traffic from Google, sharing your message with a separate audience is definitely a worthwhile expansion.
It’s a win for the blog where you guest posted because it gives them free content and may even earn them extra income if they’re an affiliate of yours.
Finally, it’s a win for their audience because they may find out about a new product which could help solve their problems.
Considering bloggers see “strong results” when they spend six hours or more on a piece of content, and 23% of bloggers posted content several times per month, there are definitely blogs that would love to free up their schedules with great guest posts like yours.
But when it comes to determining how many guest posts you’ll need to see a significant boost in traffic and sales, the answer will vary.
For example, this blogger published eight guest posts in two weeks, and saw a 372% increase in organic traffic and earned 247 backlinks.
This entrepreneur, on the other hand, earned 1,800 email signups in the days after publishing just one article (remember how important we said email could be for launching a new product?).
So to put this another way: There’s no reliable way to predict how many email signups or how much traffic you can generate from guest posting.
You can, however, boost your chances by signing up to websites in your niche that have high levels of traffic, are reputable, and will give you a few backlinks from their site.
Just remember that whatever backlinks you include should take visitors to something worthwhile on your website, like a landing page or sales page to entice them to make a purchase.
As with your email list, guest blogging is at its best when complemented by channels that allow you to connect with your audience members one-on-one.
To do that, let’s take a look at our final marketing channel -- social media and online communities.
Marketing channel #4: Social media and online communities
As a product creator, social media is one of the most valuable places to spend your time, whether you’re answering questions on Reddit, joining a Twitter chat, or hosting a Twitch livestream.
Contrary to what you make think, customers do want to interact with brands online beyond making a purchase or talking to customer service representatives.
72% of consumers would be more likely to recommend a company if they had a positive experience with that brand on social media, according to one report.
Another 83% of consumers want to see a brand come to life on Facebook, and 48% want to see them come to life by using video content.
As for answering questions, 48% of consumers are prompted to make a purchase when brands answer their questions on social media.
Transamerica’s experiences on Reddit are a great example of how to do community interaction and subtle brand awareness the right way.
Instead of directly promoting their services, Transamerica worked with Reddit to create a focus group where they tried to figure out what finance-related content Redditors wanted.
Transamerica answered Redditors’ questions, used humor (when appropriate), and shared useful content.
By taking the time to interact with members of their audience, they boosted awareness of their brand, earned links back to their sites, and garnered content ideas -- and all of that was just from taking the time to talk to people, not advertise at them.
Similarly, this cafe uses Instagram to tell stories about people would be of interest to their audience, their products, and occasionally to prompt followers to make a purchase.
Not only can storytelling be used to draw in their audience, but also speak to their customers’ values, preferences, and desires.
If you take nothing else, remember this: taking the time to make a connection with your audience on social media may not have an immediate effect on your brand, but pays off exponentially in terms of brand awareness, trust, site visits, and eventually, sales.
Since we’ve covered where you can market a product launch, let’s finish off with how you can market a new product effectively.
How to market a new product effectively
Regardless of your industry, there are two things you should always do when marketing a new product: promote it as early as you can and demonstrate your product’s value before asking for a sale.
Pre-launching your digital product is one of the smartest things you could for your product launch; making a pre-release announcement can positively impact your new product’s sales by encouraging anticipation in your audience.
Contrary to what you may think, driving interest during the pre-launch period doesn’t have to mean that you give everyone a huge sales pitch when you talk about your product.
In fact, being mum on the details may do more to drive interest in your product than giving an exhaustive description of it would.
As examples, consider Summer Fridays, who subtly teased a new skincare product in the days leading up to its release, or Apple and Birchbox, who both sent emails to build anticipation for their respective products’ upcoming releases.
The secret to building anticipation during your pre-launch stage -- and making your marketing efforts easier overall -- is ensuring your product’s value is immediately apparent to your audience.
Research has suggested that customer value -- or the ability to anticipate what customers will value in the future -- can impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.
If customers can’t differentiate your product from your competitors -- or worse yet, forget it -- then you’ll have a hard time making sales.
Look at the difference between the apparel makers, Nisolo and J. Crew. Nisolo’s website copy emphasizes ethically produced products and fairly priced clothing, whereas J. Crew’s copy emphasizes timeless fashion and savings.
If each brand hadn’t clearly emphasized its values and unique points, it would be easy for consumers to confuse them with similar retailers.
While these may seem like minor concerns during your product launch, they are the features that can help to separate your brand from others as you grow -- and may even help you surpass your competitors.
So, to make sure that your digital product is perceived as valuable to your audience, you’ll first need to do some customer research to learn more about your audience’s values and preferences.
And after that?
That’s when the magic can start happening: sales.
Launch your new product in style and with success
There are hundreds of channels that you could use to launch your new product for maximum awareness and interest.
Regardless of which channel you pick, you should make sure the value of your product is immediately apparent and that you build buzz as early as possible so you can create a base of eager potential customers.
Four of the best channels for attracting interest and sales for a new product launch include:
Your existing email list, since those people are already interested in hearing your marketing messages
Your customer base’s social network, since they probably have similar preferences and interests as your customers and may be looking for a product like yours
Other blogs and businesses whose audience would benefit from learning about your product
Social media and online communities where you can drive interest in your brand by first building relationships with others
Of course, these aren’t the only channels you can lean on during a launch, but they are some of the most proven and reliable solutions available to creators. Ultimately, the channel is just a background character -- it’s the audience on that channel which can make or break your sales.
So serve that audience, and whether you’re on Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit, they’ll return the favor.