So you want to start an online business, huh?
With e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon, starting a new business is a piece of cake. That being said, launching your store with a bang and setting the stage for successful business growth is another thing entirely.
Knowing what problem your customer wants to solve, which products you want to sell, and how you want to sell them, is half the battle. Assuming you know the answers to these questions, here are the exact steps to take to ensure you have the right strategy in place to launch.
3 months pre-launch: Create an online community
First, do your research into which platform your target audience spends most of their time. For instance, Facebook is a well-used platform amongst parents and the 30+ demographic. Another reason you might choose Facebook is that once you create an Instagram business account, you can control both advertising platforms in Facebook Ads Manager.
All you need to begin is your branding. This gives you the next few months to sort out the nitty-gritty of e-commerce: designing, manufacturing, and shipping your product.
At this point, your marketing strategy should be to forget your product entirely. Sounds backwards, doesn't it? What’s more important is to focus primarily on how you can provide value to your target audience and help solve their problems by answering their questions.
Start conversations and pay close attention to what your audience needs. For instance, if your audience is parents, maybe they need easy and simple tips, tricks, activities, and recipes for their kids. And maybe some humour so they can laugh at themselves on the journey through parenthood.
Top tips for building an online community:
- Commit to the platform you choose. Figure out how and why your target audience uses your platform of choice. Then make sure the content you create is formatted to the correct dimensions.
- Use a post scheduler, like Later, Loomly, or Zoho Social, to save time working on marketing. Plan and schedule your content days or weeks in advance and post regularly - around 1-3 times a day.
- Stay true to your brand mission. Having a variety of content is great, but make sure it always aligns to your core values. You’re building an audience and you want them to know exactly who you are and what you stand for.
- Fight the instinct to invite all your friends and family to like the page. Inviting friends and family may boost your vanity stats (i.e. follower count), but it will just skew your data. It’s more important that you build a small following of people who will buy from you, rather than a large following of those who won’t actually grow your business.
2 months pre-launch: Spend $1/day on engagement ads
Once you are posting consistently and your page has some depth, it’s time to start running engagement ads on Facebook. This helps to put momentum behind your community growth by getting eyes on your content and encouraging engagement amongst those who will be most receptive to your launch.
That means investing in engagement ads on your highest-performing content.
How to create Engagement Ads:
1. Open Facebook Ads Manager
2. Create an Engagement Campaign
3. Target your audience
4. Only use Facebook Newsfeed as placement
In the early stages, test different pieces of content to help you understand what your audience finds valuable.
This doesn’t have to break the bank either—I can’t stress this enough! All you really need is a dollar a day to target ads towards the right audience. Run each ad for seven days then do a deep dive into your analytics to make sure you’re getting engagement.
Every person who likes your post(s) can then be invited to your page, thus building an audience of people who are interested in the same values as your brand. To do this, just click each like and then “invite” them to like and follow your page.
At this point, you should be priming your audience for what you are about to offer. Start teasing and showcasing your product to build anticipation for your launch.
Always remember that high quality and high value content is key to building a brand on social media. Without this, your launch won’t work. Your goal is to create content so amazing, it will stop your target audience from scrolling and want to start following you.
1 week pre-launch: Hold a giveaway
Announce a free giveaway to promote your brand launch. By this time, you (hopefully) have at least 100 real followers, meaning they are genuinely interested in and engaged with your brand. Not just your mom and a few of her friends.
Keep posting the content your audience craves, while also keeping your audience informed about the product launch. Do this by posting product features and details at least twice a week.
If your organic audience isn’t participating in your contest, don’t be afraid to run ads to a lookalike audience for the giveaway instead.
After you launch: Leverage influencers on Instagram
So, you’ve launched with a bang—congrats!
To keep the momentum going post-launch, reach out to some micro-influencers who are part of your target audience. Send them a free product in exchange for a genuine review or to post and tag you in a few stories on Instagram.
Micro-influencers have followings of between 5,000 and 25,000 people, and a lot of them are more than happy to receive free products and leave a review.
You can find influencers on a few different budgets:
- FREE: Comb through hashtags that relate to your brand and/or audience and look for potential micro-influencers who match your brand and could be a good fit.
- $: Use a scraping software like Upfluence to filter through Instagram users with certain criteria. This tool allows you to analyze their following. Upfluence is free for a limited amount of searches and checks for percentage of real vs. fake followers, which country followers reside in, their age, etc.
- $$: Use a solution like #paid. Their platform helps match you with a content creator for your campaign and facilitate the end-to-end experience, including providing helpful insights on how your campaigns turned out! Plus, they’re a Clearco tech partner so Clearco founders get access to an exclusive referral at a discounted rate.
Once you have a healthy list of influencers, go ahead and DM them with a personal message. It’s important that you customize each message. If an influencer isn’t following you, your message will go straight to their spam inbox. Without adding a personal touch and a genuine note to your message, it’ll look like spam and won’t even get opened.
As a rule of thumb, only about one of every five influencers you reach out to will agree to work with you, although this varies by brand. With that in mind, you’ll likely need to reach out to five times the number of influencers you want to work with.
So, let’s say you’ve found at least 10 to 15 influencers who are willing to work with you and post a review—great job! Encourage them to post about your product. This allows more traffic to head over to your website or Amazon product page and increase purchases to help bolster launch success.
Launch marketing strategies don’t have to be rocket science
Seriously, launches can be fun and easy!
- Create a community of your target market
- Give them content they naturally want to engage with
- Get reviews from people they trust (influencers)
The key is to provide value to your target audience before asking them to buy anything from you. Think of yourself as a media company, entertaining your audience with content. Once you’ve built trust and awareness of your brand and content, your audience will be more willing to take time out of their day to see what you have to offer and listen to what you have to say.
So, there you have it! Now you know how to successfully launch a marketing strategy for no more than a buck a day! Have you already launched to great success and are ready to level-up your e-commerce business?
Clearco offers fast, easy capital to e-commerce businesses ready to scale via smart advertising and marketing. See if you qualify for funding here.
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