We have been living in a digital world for some time. Digital launches have always been a part of a launch story. However, we are used to having in-person customer engagement in some capacity, whether around trade shows, smaller forums, or even private events.
In the past, we have found that having in-person engagement around a product is very effective. However, in this guide, we will discuss how to have effective digital product launches. Right now, launches are 100% digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but even as we move back to in-person engagement, these skills will help you reach audiences you can’t get in front of otherwise.
This guide will focus on B2B products, although there are ways you can apply this information to B2C as well.
In order to have successful digital product launches, you need to know who your customer is so that you can reach them. When you launched in person at a trade show, you we able to cast a wide net. However, as you launch digitally, you need to figure who you want to target. You can do this through market research either on your own or through a third party agency. For more information on identifying a product for market fit, check out this guide to help you get started: (https://app.pluralsight.com/guides/evaluating-products-for-market-fit).
There are many factors that play into identifying the audience:
There is a large spend in digital targeting, so that is why you want to narrow down who your audience is. If you cast too wide of a net, you will spend much more than you need and not be able to effectively get to the customers that need your product. Once you are able to identify the audience you will be able to successfully target them digitally.
Digital media can be paid or unpaid. Understanding who your audience is, as shown in the previous section, will help you identify the best media opportunities.
Paid media is just that—media you pay for. For example, if you are launching a product and you have determined the ideal customer is a security company in Europe, you will look for a media company that has a database of reads that meet this criteria. You could do a variety of different paid media opportunities such as articles, interviews, or email blasts. Many paid media campaigns will send out dedicated email blasts for you, and if their subscribers are your target customers, that is often the best way to go. They won’t give you emails due to privacy, but they will allow you place your content in their email blasts. With paid media, you have full control of the content, brand, and what is said.
Unpaid media includes opportunities where media companies want to talk to you and publish articles for free about launches for their own content. Unpaid media can be a great opportunity to talk to the press, but it is important to realize that you want someone that is trained in media engagement because there is no editing. In paid media, you have the final say on what goes to market because you are paying for the opportunity. In unpaid media, the media company has the final say, so you want to ensure you choose you words wisely and that nothing you say can be misinterpreted or misconstrued.
Unpaid media can also include your company website and social media. This media does not cost you anything, but you need to ensure that the collateral and messaging created speaks to your audience. From there, you can use paid media companies, SEO, etc. to drive your audience to your own website.
Time is money, so even if every single media company is offering you free press, you should continue to focus on those read by your target audience. Taking the time to speak with media companies that don’t focus on your target may not cost you money, but it will take up time, which in the end is money.
That's not to say people that are not in your target will not buy the product, but if you think that the majority are in your target, you need to focus your energy and money there.
Virtual trade shows provide an opportunity to launch a product, but what I am seeing is working a pre-launch. That is, you would launch the product virtually via media and digital airways ahead of the event, and then use the trade show sessions and keynotes to get the word out about what the product can do.
Because for larger shows there are different sessions going on at a given time, I don’t recommend launching at the show itself. However, using the trade show to target your audience who registered for your sessions is key.
I recommend reading my upcoming guide on Successful Virtual Customer Engagement, which focuses more on being able to ensure these shows are successful overall and not just for the launch piece.
Digital launches are not going anywhere—they are part of the story. However, when it is the only part of the story, it is extremely important you have a well-thought-out plan.
Identifying your audience, targeting them, and using the virtual events that are available to you will help you have a successful digital product launch. The sooner you can pivot and accept that this is how launches are happening, the better off your launches will be.
I recommend that you review this course on Managing Product Marketing. It will allow you to understand how to effectively work with product marketing as you launch your products. Additionally, Developing Digital Fluency will help you communicate effectively, digitally.