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A good digital product is worth its weight in gold. While most content can be recycled (and indeed, recycled content may be part of your new digital product), having something stationary to offer your audience – whether that be an ebook, a webinar, a video series or anything else – is great for building brand loyalty, increasing visibility and generating conversions that your blog just won’t give you.
But how exactly do you properly launch one? We all know that good things take time. Giving your digital product the boost it needs to be successful takes a bit of preparation.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice on the internet about the ‘right’ way to approach launching a digital product, and not all of it is worth your time. In this post, I’m going to give you a set of guidelines based on my own experience and the usual time block I use in order to launch my own digital products.
These guidelines are based on the assumption you have a clear idea of what your digital product is and you are almost done building it – so it doesn’t include obvious things like brainstorming the concept and researching the demand in the market. All of that should be completed in the product conception stage.
Checkpoint #1: Six weeks til launchAt the six-week point, I am assuming you have almost built and proceeded to revise your new digital product. This is a very important period because this is where all the planning into the product itself takes place. The number one thing you need to do is research your keywords.
You have probably already done due diligence researching your keywords when brainstorming your product (if not, you’d better start now!). But it’s not just about choosing your core keywords you are going to optimize your product for; it’s about finding all those extra (probably longer-tail) search queries which will help you form your marketing strategy.
Look for keywords for:
- Optimizing your future digital assets (promo video, infographic, etc)
- Brainstorming ideas for guest posts that you’ll use to spread the word
- Optimizing social media assets that you’ll use to support the promotion (like a separate Twitter account, Facebook and Instagram business page, etc)
- Developing extra landing pages that will form your conversion funnel
From there, you can create a marketing roadmap of what should be written and published. Look into relevant hashtags and seasonal trends which can be used to attract more attention.
I tend to advise against creating a detailed editorial calendar at this point as it could be too overwhelming at the six-week mark. You will just need something that will give you a bird’s eye view of your future promotional efforts. A marketing roadmap puts everything in perspective and ties different pieces together.
Use dates, but try to avoid being too specific. Think of it as a draft before you go into more details.
Here are some ideas that you can use for your marketing roadmap:
- Visual marketing assets: explanatory videos, instruct-ographics, etc
- Newsletter blasts one week prior to launch, and on the day of launch
- Twitter party on the day of launch. Many of your readers will be more than happy to sit down for an hour and chat on Twitter celebrating your launch, which is a boon for promoting digital products you know they can benefit from
- Email to influencers on the day of launch
- Promotion of an announcement article, press release, video and/or infographic through Viral Content Bee on the day of launch
- Freebie marketing one week prior to launch. Plan what you can give away for free to generate some initial buzz. For example, if your digital product is a book, you can give away a chapter, or turn it into a mobile-friendly flipbook using a tool like Flipsnack, then use their lead form integration to collect more sign-ups:
Checkpoint #2: Five weeks to launchThis stage is all about making sure your site is ready. You are obviously hoping to bring a ton of traffic and conversions to your site with your product launch. So take care of the basics:
- Make sure your site is speedy and mobile-friendly. That’s the most important part! Don’t lose conversions because of a slow loading time! Traffic spikes cause downtimes which translate into lost leads and revenue. Use Google’s tool to make sure your pages load fast as well as tools like Pingdom to monitor your uptime.
- Switch to a secure connection and test that everything works smoothly. You’re planning to set up email sign-up forms and/or “buy” buttons, right? Unless you want Google Chrome to warn your users that your forms are not safe and scare them away, you need to switch to https:// now. Here’s a very thorough guide on what SSL is, how SSL/TLS handshake works and how to set this up.
- Check your site for error pages, outdated information and non-functional forms. You may want to make sure your basic SEO is properly set up too: look for missing or duplicated titles, ugly search snippets and broken images. Topvisor can help you diagnose most of the issues above with a page-by-page analysis.
Of course, if you are making something else like an ebook, webinar, video series, etc, it becomes even easier. Just create an ad that offers a glance into the content itself; like a trailer, single page preview, or a podcast first-look.
This is also the time to set up your project mini-site or landing page to make sure you know where to direct those early birds to. You’ll want to start building your pre-launch email list early!
Here’s a quick overview of which options you have when it comes to creating a mini-site to promote your new project. And here’s a great tutorial on creating a landing page with WordPress.
Checkpoint #3: Four weeks to launchThis is where you need to identify the influencers who will support your launch, if you haven’t already. During this week, start looking for places to promote your product. For example, if you know some owners of good blogs, ask if you can write a guest post promoting it. Offer anyone who wants to review it on their site, video channel or podcast a chance to get it ahead of launch. Offer opportunities for interviews, or even ask for interviews to publish in your own posts that relate to the topic of your product.
Email your existing contacts and start building new ones. Come up with powerful incentives that will encourage influencers to help you. Create a spreadsheet or a separate email list of those well-known names in the industry who agreed to help you to easier contact them when the time comes to launch.
Getting all of this lined up now means you won’t have to rush when it comes time to launch.
Checkpoint #4: Three weeks to launchNow that you have all of your ducks lined up, it is time to put together a very detailed editorial calendar. Be as specific as you can to make sure you won’t forget any important pieces of content once you launch. List specific days and timing for everything: when you are sending out newsletters, when and where you will announce your Twitter party, who you plan to tag in social media announcements, etc.
Refer to your marketing roadmap often to make sure you can still see the bigger picture once you start working on those details. This is also the time that you start making those promotional posts and materials. You could also start planning your social media strategy and consider creative options that work for you.
By now you will have an exceptional idea of what your audience wants and needs, so use this knowledge to come up with taglines, brainstorm promotional angles and produce captivating content. Plan to spend the majority of this third week working out those kinks, scheduling blog posts and social posts, designing promo visuals and preparing for direct social engagement.
Checkpoint #5: Two weeks to launchNow it is time to begin building hype. Many people will choose to do this early, which I can understand for certain products or services. However, my own digital products tend to be media based, so I find two weeks is the sweet spot for getting the word out and keeping the flames hot until launch day. Any sooner and the enthusiasm is at risk of running out before the product itself is actually released.
I usually put up a blog post explaining what is coming and when – I also write a few social media posts and answer any questions. I generally start promoting in places where I already have a basic presence, or by finding relevant platforms where it can be organically promoted. One such platform is Quora, which revolves around asking questions. If people ask questions that my product can help with, I can provide an answer by inviting them to sign up for an update on the imminent product launch.
A landing page is crucial here because it gives you a place to put a sign-up form for the public to be informed when the product launches, which has the crucial added benefit of creating an email list (and we all know how great those are).
Lastly, set up some paid ads to generate more email sign-ups. I personally prefer Facebook, but other platforms like Instagram are also helpful. You can set a budget for yourself, so don’t worry about it getting too costly.
Checkpoint #6: One week to launchEverything should be in place now and ready for action. Take a day or two to go over every detail to make sure things are all in place and that there are no outstanding issues. Also make sure to have a plan for post-launch, as you will need to continue to fan the flames and get your product out to wider and more diverse audiences.
But this week is also a very exciting one because the big day has finally come when you will be launching your digital product so try to look after yourself, get enough sleep, and trust in the process.
Wrapping upWith these tips, hopefully your first or latest digital product launch will run smoothly and be wildly successful. You can no doubt see how important it is to plan – there’s a lot to think about! But proper planning is how you achieve all the benefits you set out to achieve when you first created it.
Have a tip to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
Guest Author: Ann Smarty is the brand and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and co-founder of Viral Content Bee, the free platform helping your content reach social media influencers!