The hassle-free guide to a successful hot drop

One of the most exciting moments for an eCommerce team is when a “hot drop” lands – in other words, when a new product is launched and flies off the virtual shelves.

But the excitement of the hot drop does not come without a measure of stress. With profit and reputation on the line, what can eCommerce businesses do to make new product launches go as smoothly as possible?

Top tips for a successful new product launch

Set goals and targets

How do you measure the success of not just a hot drop, but any campaign or activity? By setting clear goals! One of the simplest structures for measuring success is SMART objectives:

  • Specific – Use real figures, such as how many you want to sell.
  • Measurable – Any sales target should be measurable so you can report this back to the rest of the business and use the information to guide future activity.
  • Achievable – Ambition is admirable but setting unachievable goals will only lead to disappointment. Use past trends and market research to set realistic goals.
  • Relevant – It might not just be sales figures that are relevant. You may also want to set goals for how much media coverage your marketing achieves, or how many upsells or overall website traffic you generate with the new product launch.
  • Time-bound – Are you looking for a solid hit of sales on launch day or a longer-term impact from your campaign?

Set out your goals well in advance but use them as a guide to track how well you’re doing rather than a strict “success or failure” indicator. Conditions can change suddenly and goals can always be tweaked if needed.

Promote the new product launch with content that resonates

You might have the perfect new product that your key demographic will love and want to buy in droves. But if your promotional material and marketing messaging aren’t on point, the hot drop will fall flat.

You probably know your target audience well, so speak directly to them. Demonstrate the value or desirability of your product, or at the very least make it stand out in the marketplace. What is your product’s USP (unique selling point)? What does it offer your audience that they can’t already get? And most importantly, does your marketing convey all these points clearly?

Reach your audience through the right channels

The perfect content strategy will be wasted without the right promotion strategy. Setting the right budget, defining your audience and posting content in places they will see it are all key.

ROI (return on investment) is important here. You might get better results with well-placed influencer campaigns that can build hype and anticipation in the days and weeks leading up to the big launch day, rather than a big budget TV spot.


Make it exclusive and build the hype

Speaking of hype, nothing builds anticipation like the countdown to a hot drop. This is a useful sales tool as people are conditioned to automatically want something more if they are made to wait, or see that others want it as well. You can even build your marketing contacts list by incorporating a signup form on the product page before the new product launch.

Many high-end brands are now creating a sense of scarcity and exclusivity by utilizing virtual waiting rooms on new products upon launch. By adding a slight wait before allowing customers to buy, an element of urgency is added, which boosts conversion rates and can even be used to increase the price customers are willing to pay for items.

You could even take the hype to the next level by placing a signup form on your virtual waiting room queue page to increase the sense of urgency.

Reward and foster loyalty

Another way to boost sales through scarcity marketing tactics is to offer early access or limited-edition variations to your most loyal customers. Your high-spending regulars will appreciate the special treatment and be more likely to buy sooner, whilst those interested in your brand or products who aren’t eligible for the offer will see the exclusivity and want to get involved.

You can also use a virtual waiting room for this purpose. When bookmaker William Hill anticipated huge volumes of traffic on Grand National weekend, they smartly used TrafficDefender’s virtual waiting room technology to place new visitors into a site-protecting queue, whilst loyal customers were rewarded with immediate access to a faster-than-usual web experience.

Prepare your team for the new product launch

All your preparations will come down to one big day, or in fact the moment the new product drops. Your team needs to be organized to deal with any eventuality leading up to, during and after any “hot drop”.

Make a playbook for the day with responses to every eventuality planned for in advance so that you can monitor and be reactive. Follow Murphy’s Law – assume everything that can go wrong, will go wrong – then if it does, you’ll know how to fix it fast.

Anticipate demand and plan to cope with it

Your goal with any hot drop is to spike demand for your brand or products. To not have a plan in place to process extra orders and deal with this increased interest would be disastrous.

A sudden influx of interest can cause bottlenecks in three main areas:

Obviously, you need to match your available stock levels as closely to expected demand as possible to maximize profit margins. You also don’t want to disappoint too many fans by selling out before they can secure their purchase.

But it’s also important to consider how you will fulfil orders – do you have enough staff available at warehouses? Are your delivery partners in the loop with your plans and ready to scale up operations to deliver your delivery estimates?

Web traffic is harder to get right because each website reacts differently to a flood of traffic. Capacity is affected by infrastructure, features, third party plugin dependencies (such as payment gateways) and the sheer velocity of traffic. Robust performance testing ahead of any hot drop is a necessity, but it can still be challenging to create realistic tests because you never know how real traffic will behave “on the day”.

Site-crushing traffic can easily turn any hot drop into a nightmare for everyone. Slow sites kill conversion rates (just one second of delay causes a 7% drop in conversions), and outages can cost millions in lost sales – not to mention the time and cost to fix the problem.

Once again, virtual waiting rooms can come to the rescue and save retailers a lot of stress (not to mention sales). By diverting excess visitors, who would otherwise push the website beyond its capacity limitations, into an online queue, retailers can maximize the throughput of customers without risking website outages or slow loading pages.

You can even tie your virtual waiting room into the above steps to combine creating hype, rewarding loyalty and protecting your website from performance failures into one project.

Get started with a free demo of TrafficDefender ahead of your next hot drop.

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