Bringing a new product or service to the market can be overwhelming. What’s the best marketing approach, when do you launch, and what should you expect?

That’s why sometimes a soft launch campaign is the best strategy. That is, releasing the product or service to a more limited audience or market ahead of full circulation.

What are some circumstances where a soft launch campaign is a good fit?

  • You don’t want to attract a lot of attention to the product or service
  • You want to gauge interest or response first
  • You want to try out specific marketing channels
  • You want to test the waters

Soft launches can be better solutions than hard launches if you need to iron out the details, like how your audience responds to certain messaging, pricing, or functionality. After all, you can’t exactly walk back once you go all in.

Let’s look at a few different ideas for making a big impact with soft launch campaigns.

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1. Build an Initial Buzz With Awareness Strategies.

If you’re going to restrict the audience that “hears the news first,” then you need to make the most of your announcement. Brand awareness strategies can help you capture attention in scenarios where people are already seeking information, such as search engines, social media, and paid ads.

To reach your target audience on search engines, you’ll want to not only optimize your landing pages but also employ conversion optimization, also known as multivariate or A/B testing. Conversion optimization allows you to test more than one variation of your landing page to see which version performs best. You can pair this with an awareness PPC campaign to drive additional traffic to that landing page and increase the amount of testing data you receive.

Social media is also a great idea for getting the word out, via organic and paid content. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to establish pages on the social media platforms where your audience spends their time, and then regularly publish content to legitimize your new product or service. This is extremely valuable when someone discovers you through search engines and then looks to social media for more information (this happens more often than you may think).

Because organic content on social media can be tough to surface, though, it can also be beneficial to give paid social a spot in your soft launch strategies to advance your awareness initiatives.

2. Tap Influencer Marketing for Feedback and Reach.

Influencer marketing is another smart option for soft launch campaigns, especially if your plan involves a limited scope or budget. Influencers are a valuable source of feedback about your new service or product themselves, especially if they happen to be in your industry or niche. And their audience likely has more interest or familiarity with what you’re offering or at least can resonate with it.

Perhaps you can send one of your products to them, have them experiment with it, and review it online. If you’re offering a new type of software, you might offer a demo or send assets that can be used in the influencer’s blog or social media content.

To help you get started with this channel, be sure to check out these influencer marketing strategies for finding the right people, developing content, and getting the most from your relationships.

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3. Create Excitement With a First-Look Opportunity.

Depending on which industry your product or service aligns with, a unique “first look” opportunity could be an enticing prospect for that audience. You know, FOMO and all that.

For example, if you’re about to release the next best fashion brand, you might collaborate with an established online retailer to offer a limited-time sneak peek to their best customers.

Or let’s say you want to soft launch your new mobile app. A great idea would be to offer subscribers of an online tech magazine the unique chance to demo your beta version.

The soft launch campaign can be extra valuable for brands that want to dip their toes in the water but aren’t ready to dive in yet. Not only can you acquire valuable feedback to improve your product or service, but you can also refine your overall strategy before going to market. It’s possible to experience a hard-hitting soft launch with a few smart ideas in play!

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About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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