There’s a saying that change is the only constant in life. It may be cliche. But it rings true, especially for brands and retailers.
Styles change. Technology evolves. Customers’ needs, values, priorities, and expectations are always in flux. It can be hard to keep up!
Brands and retailers must constantly innovate to keep pace with these changes and continue to meet consumers’ ever-evolving needs and expectations. One key way brands and retailers innovate is by releasing new product offerings on a regular basis. According to Clayton Christensen, former Harvard Business School professor, 30,000 new consumer products are launched each year.
But developing a great product doesn’t guarantee it’ll fly off the shelves and be wildly successful. Per that same professor, up to 95% of new products fail.
Pretty disheartening, huh? But it’s not all gloom and doom for brands and retailers. We promise.
Of course, there are myriad factors that contribute to the success (or failure) of a new product. Some of those factors are out of your control. But a lot of others are in your control.
In fact, we have identified four key best practices for launching any new product. These are intended to provide you with the focus necessary to drive meaningful impact. By adopting these proven practices, you’ll set yourself up for the most successful product launch possible.
Best Practice #1: Collect Reviews with Product Sampling
Research tells us nearly all consumers read reviews at least sometimes when shopping online. And 57% do so when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
Sure, a consumer may be less likely to check reviews when purchasing habitual products, such as their go-to toothpaste, cereal or mascara. But if they’re considering a new product, they’ll seek out reviews. And if they come up short, they’re likely to pass. A recent survey found that 80% of consumers are less likely to purchase a product if it doesn’t have any reviews. 92% of Gen Z shoppers say this is the case.
As such, it’s essential to launch new products with reviews already in place. But how can you get reviews for products you haven’t yet launched? Through product sampling.
How Product Sampling Works
Product sampling involves sending out free samples of a product, and then asking for reviews from those who received a sample. The reviews are then displayed on your product page when you launch your new product.
Product sampling is a great option if you’re launching a new product on your own direct-to-consumer site.
However, you should also consider product sampling if you’re launching a new product that’ll be available on a retailer’s site.
Retailer-only campaigns work similarly. But instead of displaying reviews on your own dot com, the content is displayed on your retail partners’ sites – boosting shopper confidence there.
Product Sampling Works Across all Product Categories
Product sampling is really simple – especially if you work with the right sampling partner. But it’s also a really effective way to collect a large volume of high quality content – fast.
At PowerReviews, we see an average submission rate of 85% on our product sampling campaigns. That means you can expect to generate about 8.5 reviews for every 10 products you send. Some of our customers have even higher submission rates.
And the reviews that result from the campaign are high quality. In fact, reviews that result from PowerReviews sampling campaigns are an average of 29% longer than those generated from other sampling programs.
When you hear the phrase “product sampling,” you might think of low cost consumer packaged goods, like toothpaste or shampoo. But the reality is, product sampling can be effective across a wide range of product categories.
Here at PowerReviews, we’ve planned and executed pre-launch product sampling campaigns for products ranging from makeup and sparkling water to strollers and mattresses – and everything in between.
Time Your Product Sampling Campaign Right
It’s important to time your sampling campaign right. A best practice is to launch your sampling campaign at least 10 weeks ahead of your planned product launch. That way, you have enough time to identify your sampling audience, send out samples, and request reviews. Again, the right sampling partner will do all the heavy lifting for you.
Once your campaign has wrapped, you’ll have plenty of reviews to display on your product page on the day you launch your new product. This content will boost shoppers’ confidence – and increase their likelihood of giving your new product a try.
Collect Visual Content, Too
Chances are, you’ve taken beautiful photos and videos that showcase your new product in the best light. This content is important; but increasingly, consumers want to see photos and videos from others like them.
A survey found that over three-quarters (77%) of consumers always or regularly look for visual content from other shoppers who have purchased a product. And a third of Gen Z shoppers won’t buy a product if there are no user-generated photos or videos available for it.
If user-generated visual content is important to you (and it should be), consider collecting it as part of your product sampling campaign. Those who sampled your new offering should be able to easily upload a photo or video of the product in action right from the review submission form.
Analyze Review Data to Enhance Products
A key benefit of product sampling is that it allows you to display a high volume of quality reviews as soon as you launch the product. This content increases the likelihood a consumer will purchase your new product.
But another benefit is that reviews generated during a pre-launch product sampling campaign provide you with a ton of data. You’ll get rich insight into what consumers love about your new product – and things that aren’t so great. Then, you can share these insights with your product teams to fuel product enhancements – either before launching the product or later on down the road.
Best Practice #2: Perfect Your PDPs
A consumer’s path to purchase might start from any number of places. Perhaps they’re actively searching for a solution to a need – and start the search on Google. Or maybe a social media ad catches their eye while mindlessly scrolling.
Getting the shopper to click through is the first step. Now, the next challenge is to get them to convert.
The product details page (PDP) for your new product can either make or break the sale. So it’s important to get it right.
A Mobile-First Design
According to Oberlo, more than half (53.74% to be exact) of web visits are from a mobile device. What’s more, per Insider Intelligence, mobile commerce (aka mcommerce) is expected to account for more than 44% of total retail ecommerce sales in the US by 2025.
It’s imperative to ensure mobile shoppers have a great experience on your product pages and can easily find and consume all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. If your PDPs aren’t mobile-first, you’re going to lose customers.
Comprehensive Product Information
Online shoppers don’t have the luxury of seeing and touching a product prior to purchase. Instead, they rely on the product information on a PDP to fill the gaps.
Be sure the PDP for your new product features plenty of product details, including:
In addition, be sure this information is organized in a way that’s easy for shoppers to consume.
A Winning Review Display
Reviews have become the most important factor when consumers are making purchase decisions. So it’s really important to showcase this content on the PDPs of your newly launched products.
For starters, feature the average star rating and number of reviews “above the fold” on your PDPs. 77% of consumers consider the average star rating when reading reviews, and 75% consider the quantity. Seeing this content front and center will entice more shoppers to explore your new product.
However, it’s important to remember that 88% of shoppers always or regularly look beyond basic summary information to read the actual content of reviews. But they don’t want to read through every single review that’s available. Instead, they want to quickly hone in on the content that’s most relevant to them.
Make sure visitors to your PDPs can easily sort and filter reviews by factors including recency, star rating, helpfulness, and inclusion of visual content. In addition, be sure those reading reviews can filter content by specific factors that make sense for your brand.
For example, if you’re a beauty brand, it makes sense to allow consumers to filter reviews by factors including skin type, skin concern, and age. If you’re an apparel brand, filtering options such as height and weight make sense. You can capture this information directly within the review submission form.
Finally, consumers value reviews because this content is written by others like them. So be sure to disclose who wrote reviews. For example, remember those reviews you generated from your pre-launch sampling campaign? Be sure to add a badge so future shoppers can easily see when a reviewer received a free sample.
In addition, add a “verified shopper” badge when you know the reviewer bought the product in question. Research tells us 69% of shoppers say such a badge positively impacts how they perceive that review.
Best Practice #3: Leverage Email Marketing as a Core Channel
There are plenty of tools out there that promise to get your products in front of more consumers in more places. But email remains one of the most effective.
According to HubSpot research, 77% of marketing pros have seen an increase in email engagement over the past year. What’s more, the ROI of email remains high. Per Litmus, marketers see a $36 return for every $1 spent on email marketing.
Spread the Word with Email Campaigns
Plan and develop email campaigns to get the word out about your new product. Our own research found 36% of consumers are more likely to click through a marketing email if there’s information about a newly launched product.
In addition, consider incorporating star ratings and excerpts from reviews you generated in your sampling campaigns into your email campaigns. Why? Because the presence of positive ratings and reviews in marketing emails increases the likelihood of click through for almost half (46%) of shoppers.
Here’s a look at some other components that can help increase clickthrough in your email campaigns.
Give Loyal Customers a First Look
Blanketing your entire email list with the same, generic promotional email isn’t effective. Instead, segment appropriately.
For example, make a list of your loyalty program members and frequent shoppers. These are the folks who should be the first to know about your new product. Send a targeted email that lets them know they’re seeing the product before everyone else. This feeling of exclusivity will entice them to learn more and ideally, convert.
As an added bonus, those who get an early look at your new product are more likely to write a review after they’ve made a purchase. Our research on reviewer motives found that 85% of consumers are more likely to submit a review if they received a product before it’s sold to the general public.
Best Practice #4: Promote on Social
These days, just about anyone with a mobile phone uses social media. According to the Pew Research Center, about seven in ten Americans use some kind of social media site.
Consumers use social media to keep up with family and friends. But they also turn to social media sites like Instagram to get inspired and discover new products. A Statista study found that 77% of social media users indicate these channels help them get ideas about brands and products they’d never thought about before. And 71% say social media has inspired them to shop, even when they weren’t looking to do so.
Clearly, social media is an important channel to incorporate into your product launch plan.
Promote Your Product through Organic and Paid Posts and Stories
Be sure to promote your new products via your own social media channels. For example, create organic posts and stories on Instagram announcing the new product. Or, run paid promotions to increase your reach. Our research found that 34% of consumers are more likely to click on a social media post or ad from a brand or retailer if it has information about a newly launched product.
Incorporating star ratings and review excerpts for your new product can also catch the attention of more social media users. 47% of consumers say the presence of positive ratings and reviews in social media posts or ads increase their likelihood of clicking through.
Tap Into Influencers
Leveraging influencers can be a great way to get your new product in front of new audiences on social media. If there are influencers you already work with, send them samples of your new offering – and ask them to spread the word among their followers.
In addition, encourage your happy customers to share photos and videos on Instagram by tagging your brand and using your hashtag. Again, this extends your reach.
What’s more, you can curate this visual content from social media – and then display it on your own product pages.
Go Forth and Launch Your New Product
Consumers may love your brand’s offerings today. But their preferences and expectations are constantly evolving. You’ve got to continuously innovate to keep up. One key way to do that is to develop and launch new products on a regular basis.
Creating a great product is the first step. But it doesn’t guarantee success. By following the four, proven best practices in this guide, you’ll set yourself up for a successful product launch.