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Design Strategy

Hype Your Digital Product With A Show-Stopping Pre-Launch Campaign Design

Abby Milan

July 12, 2022

All the biggest headliners have openers. Why? The openers get the audience ready. By the time the big act hits the stage the crowd is pumped up and ready for a good time.

The same could be said for a pre-launch campaign before your product hits the market. Your pre-launch campaign is the opener to your product’s big act.

Building buzz, creating awareness, and spreading the word about your product is crucial for gaining valuable leads and nurturing trust. But, that’s hard to do right out of the gate if your audience isn’t already anticipating what’s to come.

While it can be daunting, getting your future users excited about your product isn’t as complicated as you might think. In fact, it’s pretty simple and comes with other lesser known advantages.

A Pre-Launch Campaign Does More Than Build Awareness for Your Product

It takes time for any digital product to create buzz, become well known, and gain loyal customers. But let’s just say that launching your product cold without creating any anticipation beforehand is a…bold move.

That said, pre-launch campaigns aren’t just for hyping up the crowd. They’re also essential to attract leads — the users who will believe in your product and spread the word to their friends. This is huge because according to Viral Loops, 86% of B2B buying choices are based on peer word of mouth marketing and referral marketing.

Still, there are even more benefits to a well-executed pre-launch campaign that extend beyond the hype and email list, including:

  • Getting feedback on your product — both the concept and its design and usability.

  • Developing a true sense of your demographic and those interested in your product so you can design and market accordingly.

  • Building important SEO data for better searchability.

  • Increasing engagement on your social media platforms.

  • Understanding potential FAQs to get ahead of friction and (most) negative reviews.

One thing’s for sure: If you want your product to go to market being the best it can be with an established fan base, a pre-launch campaign is the way to go.

7 Key Elements of a Potent Pre-Launch Campaign Design

Sure, you could do a giveaway to get people interested in your product. You could also come up with a snappy TikTok challenge that brings awareness to your brand.

But to squeeze the most juice out of your warm-up party, you should plan on employing a few tactics in tandem. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of a mobile phone and monitor screen

Build a Simple and Snappy Landing Page

First thing’s first: Invest in a unique domain name, set up a landing page, and capture emails as early as possible.

The simpler the page, the better. Your landing page should answer who your product will help, what problems your product solves, and how. Give your audience one action, use your brand voice to convey the most important messages, and show a GIF or video of the prototype in use.

Harry’s nailed this in their pre-launch campaign. Their landing page asked users to give their email in order to participate and “be the first to know” when they launched. “Harry’s is coming… respecting the face and wallet since like…. right now.” Along with their milestone-style referral program, Harry’s racked up thousands of leads before hitting the market.

Screenshots or mock-ups on your product can spark interest and trust in your audience, as well as highlighting detailed product information that you can’t easily package up in an ad or social media post.

Remember, your users don’t yet know your product. They’re not going to give you a ton of time to make them interested in what you’re selling. Make your landing page clear, concise, and branded with your voice and you’re sure to leave an immediate (and good!) impression. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of four faces inside a circle chatting with each other

Get By With Help From Your Friends

Lean on your people to help you spread the word about your product. Between personal contacts and professional networks, you should be able to spark an interest in your product and start building awareness.

Involve your network even further by asking them to test your prototype or provide (anonymous) feedback. They should be happy to help share your story and make your product better. Pro tip: Hop onto LinkedIn and export the email addresses of your contacts for easy communication. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of a mobile phone, two monitor screens and various shapes

Create Unique, Compelling Content

Leverage the creativity of your team to create content that’s shareable and, yep, you guessed it: viral-worthy. We’re talking blog content, YouTube videos, and social media fodder.

Blog content will help build your SEO (great for getting eyes on your site and growing your leads). If it’s particularly relevant, funny, or downright smart, it could spark sharing.

Invest time and money into creating a video that explains how your product works. You don’t necessarily need actors; animated videos can be just as effective in selling your product. Keep it under a minute or two to appease short attention spans.

Need inspiration?

  • Robinhood’s video was effective because of the simplicity in its messaging and making investing approachable.

  • Dollar Shave Club follows the CEO as he walks through his warehouse, comically and bluntly talking about how razors just need good blades. “Stop paying for sh*t you don’t need. We’ll ship ‘em right to ya for $1.”

  • Mailbox (bought by DropBox) has a snappy yet meditative video of a user casually swiping through emails to get their inbox zero within three minutes. The video worked so well, Mailbox was acquired within a few days before the product was even launched.

  • Spotify relied on a playful typeface, line illustration, and simple product mockups to generate excitement around playing any track, any time, anywhere.

  • Headspace relies on narration and friendly-yet-relaxing illustrations to get their message across. They show an illustrated version of their product (puts zero strain on the design team to have anything ready before the video is launched)

Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of a monitor screen and paper plane

Establish an Incentivizing Referral Program

A whopping 52.2% of subject matter experts say referrals are the most effective promotional instrument for them, says Viral Loops. What are you waiting for?

Incentivize your newfound fans to tell their friends by creating a referral program. Reward your users when they rack up a certain number of referrals.

Maybe you go the way of Jet.com and offer equity in the company. Before they were acquired by WalMart, 10,000 shares of stock options were awarded to the person who secured the most sign ups via word of mouth.

The key to making your referral program is to make sharing your product as simple as possible. One instruction, one action.

Robinhood’s pre-launch campaign not only had a compelling video that explained the product. It also had a simple landing page sign up with an email capture for a “beta” launch, which was available for months prior to their official launch. There was one option for users: to opt-in. They also had a simple, gamified approach that led to their exponential growth. Users could see their spot in line and move up by referring to their friends.

Harry’s referral campaign netted them 77% of their email contacts. When people reached a specific number of referrals, they instantly won the corresponding prize — from free shave cream to free shaving for a year. In the end, 20,000 people referred approximately 65,000 friends.

Lastly, consider throwing an online or in-person event to introduce your product. Offer your referral giveaways at the event, then bring the party to your social channels with giveaways based on amounts of “shares,” “retweets” or “likes.” Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of a woman with raised arms, pie chart, bar graph and screen with icons of faces

Keep Your Subscribers Enticed and Engaged

There’s a fine line between launching your campaign too early and too late. On the one hand, launch it too early and you have to work that much harder to keep subscribers interested. Too late and you could miss out on reaching potential customers.

Only you can determine the timeframe that will work best for your pre-launch campaign and when your product goes to market. But no matter when you get the party started, make sure you have a plan to engage your subscribers up until Go Time.

There are a few tactics you can use to maintain the buzz:

  • Stay in touch with your email subscribers. Keep them in the know (and keep your product top of mind) with fun updates.

  • Give them a private beta or early look at the product. Product prototypes, anyone?

  • Offer a free version of your product before it launches, or exclusive access to the pro version of your product.

  • Talk about the discounts you’ll deliver upon product launch to those who have stayed in the loop.

  • Build brand loyalty by dishing out exclusive content, company merch, or even company stock (like Jet.com). This way, users become invested since they’ve already become attached in some way to your product.

  • Consider rolling out different features or periodic launches. Give subscribers a taste of what’s to come.

  • Progressively let people in and welcome their feedback; early adopters will be excited for early access and will likely be more forgiving if they encounter bugs or UX friction.

Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of five faces surrounded by various social media logos

Plant Seeds All Around the Internet

Post about your product anywhere and everywhere you can think of. You never know where your post may take off. Think about:

  • Forums like Reddit or Quora.

  • Crowdfunding sites such as KickStarter or GoFundMe.

  • Social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok.

Knowing your demographic is key here. Focus on scattering seeds strategically where your target audience is hanging out. Illustration in blues, purples and oranges of megaphone surrounded by atom rings and various shapes

Round Up Press and Publicity

Pitch your pre-launch campaign and product to relevant media. Growth Marketing Pro says that 70% of publishers are open to being pitched on a topic via email as long as it’s within their normal category of coverage.

The media involves so much more than pitching to news sites or blogs these days. Consider social media, too. Make connections with influencers who could speak to your demographic. Think of them as a megaphone for referral marketing since most of their followers are going to trust their recommendations.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun and Celebrate Your Brand

Your team has worked hard to get your product ready for market, so don’t skimp on the party that introduces it to the world.

The more you have fun with your campaign and infuse it with your brand’s voice and character, the more likely you’ll reach the users who need your product the most.

Just make sure you send us an invite, too.

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