Many of the tips on how to market a new product online are familiar. Study what your competition is doing, know your demographics and target the right audience, adjust your marketing message to them, and connect with consumers on social media are all common recommendations. While those may be useful tips, they only scratch the surface of Internet marketing. When looking at how to sell a new product in the digital age, brands must be prepared to create deeper connections via an online engagement campaign that builds trust.
One area where brands may struggle is digital consumer engagement. Most consumers don’t regularly interact with brands in the digital space, choosing instead to socialize with friends, family, and other community users. Consumer interaction is imperative if a brand wants to build buzz for a new product, but getting consumers to speak up in public can be a challenge. Often, a more impactful way to interact with these consumers is to do it on a personal level, via the use of a third-party mobile marketing app. Third-party apps connect brands directly with consumers in the digital space, enabling them to engage with these potential customers when a new product is released.
For brands attempting to market a new product, knowing some essential strategies and techniques—from what to assess in a competitive analysis to how to partner with influential third-party apps—can mean the difference between failure to gain traction and massive industry recognition.
How to Perform a Digital Competition Analysis
When evaluating marketing competition for a new product, brands need to do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of their largest competitors. This will give insight on what competing brands are doing in terms of social media marketing. It will also help a brand discover marketing opportunities their competition may have failed to capitalize on. A SWOT analysis of a social campaign analyzes:
Strengths speak to what the brand is doing right. If it has a high performing Facebook page or a Twitter account with at least a six-figure following, those would be clear strengths for the brand—and practices worth imitating.
Weaknesses are anything hurting the brand’s image and limiting its impact. Having, for example, a weak social media following or being embroiled in a controversy over something posted on one of the brand’s accounts would be considered a weakness.
Opportunities in digital marketing lie where your competition may have left holes in the market. Many brands advertise on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but miss lesser known but still incredibly popular niche sites. Reddit is a prime example: The site boasts 330 million users and has a wide range of categories and subtopics but is rarely leveraged by marketers.
Threats in digital marketing can come in the form of new competitors on a platform, like the possibility that a competitive brand will bulk up its presence on a social media site and target your potential audience. They can also come in the form of a sudden decline in the popularity of a particular site, where a brand may be positioning a new product. If a brand gains a large following on Facebook, for example, only to have consumers abandon the social media site altogether, that could be a threat for the brand.
Doing a SWOT analysis of your competitors’ digital marketing efforts helps you identify their strength and weaknesses—which may be similar to yours—and leverage this knowledge against them. It will also help you find holes in the market where you can advertise your product. If, for example, Brand X has a new product nearly identical to yours, along with a massive following on Facebook, it might be wiser to place your marketing campaign somewhere they are not.
Create Buzz with Social Media
One issue marketers run into with social media campaigns is that advertisements are frequently ignored. While paid social campaigns can deliver some sales conversion, they rarely generate buzz. That’s because ads don’t create enthusiasm, people do. To get people to participate on a brand’s social media page—thereby creating buzz—brands must interact in ways consumers find meaningful. Within social media, there are a few tools brands can use:
Purpose-driven marketing isn’t designed just to sell a product, it’s designed to bring attention to an issue or cause. Del Monte Foods is a prime example. Del Monte uses its Facebook page not just to share information about products, but also to share the brand’s passion for natural, organic, and healthy foods. This strategy has helped the brand align itself with individuals who are also passionate about healthy, organic eating—a built-in audience Del Monte can market to when launching new products.
Purpose-driven marketing campaigns reach consumers on an emotional level, and brands can capitalize on this in order to gain attention when new products launch.
One of the oldest rules of marketing is to know your audience’s pain points and address them with your message. Dannon utilizes this strategy with its #KnowYourYogurt Twitter campaign. Yogurt may fall into the healthy food category, but it’s often not as healthy as consumers think, thanks to high sugar content.
Dannon used a solution-based messaging tactic when it announced new, healthier ingredients and better labels that offered more transparency. Creating a solution for consumers concerned about high-sugar content in “healthy” foods built trust, and promoting that change helped show the brand had addressed consumer concerns. Encouraging transparency also helped align consumers with the cause and the brand.
Hashtags are an essential tool that every brand should use when posting on social media. Hashtags allow consumers to discover content. Brands should also encourage consumers to use their branded hashtag in order to improve product visibility.
Hashtags are something Hallmark manages well on its Instagram page. The brand regularly uses hashtags to draw attention to timely content, such as April stories featuring hashtags such as #AprilShowers, #April, and #umbrellas. The brand also encourages consumers to use its hashtag, #MyHallmark, for a chance to be featured on its page.
While hashtags such as #AprilShowers may be non-branded, they allow consumers to discover the brand when searching for the popular hashtags. Meanwhile, branded hashtags improve engagement.
These social media interaction methods pique consumers’ interest in the brand and make them more receptive to messages about new products. Followers of the brand can then become brand ambassadors for a new product by sharing it on their pages or within their feeds. This creates a snowball effect and can create buzz.
Brands, however, also need to be aware that many of their followers will never interact unless the brand reaches out to them directly.
Get The Likes: How to Market a New Product to Passive Social Media Consumers
Lurking, an Internet phenomenon where someone regularly reads content but never responds to it, is so common there’s a rule about it: the 90-9-1 rule. This states that 1% of social media users generate the majority of content; 9% interact irregularly; and 90% observe but rarely interact publicly.
Being able to connect with the 1% and 9% is imperative, but so is reaching that silent majority. While connecting with users who don’t comment or interact can be a challenge, there are a few ways brands can encourage silents to speak up when a new product is launching:
Keep online channels conflict-free:
Often, lurkers are hesitant to post for fear of conflict. Brands should police their pages so consumers feel comfortable. Ensure there are moderators on staff who will guarantee that topics stay on subject and users remain civil to one another. When someone does post for the first time, they should be welcomed warmly and encouraged to continue participating.
Make contributing easy:
Having to create content or post comments might be a bit overwhelming for lurkers, but activities such as submitting an opinion, engaging in polls, and clicking “like” or “share” can be simple. Encourage lower-key participation from users and you may find the lurkers come out of the shadows.
When a brand rewards interaction—whether it’s with a free product or simple recognition—user engagement tends to increase. Ask consumers to share information about a new product on their own pages for a chance to earn a reward or free product and they will often participate.
Brands must remember that the vast majority of their online audience will never directly interact with the brand. The brand will likely still reach those consumers; however, creating the kind of emotional connection that gets that consumer interested in your new product can be a challenge.
An alternative to attempting to connect with consumers on social media is to reach this audience through third-party mobile apps, especially those that travel with the customer as they’re in the shopping aisle.
The Benefits of Using Mobile Apps to Market a New Product
A mobile shopping app can be a useful ally in the effort to spread awareness of a new product, including when that product is available at brick-and-mortar locations. Mobile apps allow brands to connect with consumers at the right moment, and can even funnel them to a department, aisle, or shelf location. They can help ensure consumers seek out, and can locate, new products on the very day of release.
Mobile interaction is a strategy that Shopkick leverages in its app, which provides users with rewards for finding and scanning products in the shopping aisle. A brand using the app when releasing a new product could offer points to consumers who seek the product out in the store. Once the consumer holds the product in their hands to scan it they may be tempted to purchase it, too.
Third-party mobile apps such as Shopkick also allow brands to identify the ideal consumer and then target the very best message to them. A brand marketing a new puppy chow, for example, only wants to market to dog owners. With a high performing mobile app, the brand would be able to pinpoint those who own dogs and may be interested in the product.
Another benefit of third-party mobile app marketing is that it allows a brand access to an audience it may never have reached before. That’s because the third-party shopping app will have its own set of existing users. Having this kind of built-in audience is a boon for marketers, and partnering eliminates the need for a brand to develop its own app, which can be a challenging and expensive.
Finally, many third-party apps feature rewards programs. Rewards programs allow brands to incentivize product engagement while limiting the expense of discounting. Brands know how expensive a product launch can be, so the ability to leverage a marketing medium that does not rely on discounting is imperative.
Any brand looking at how to market a new product in the digital age needs to study their competitors, find areas of opportunity for marketing, and leverage that knowledge. While interaction with consumers is critical, brands must also recognize that the majority of users on social media do not frequently interact in a public space. Thus, brands should make interaction comfortable for users and leverage mobile apps to connect with consumers. Mobile shopping apps regularly serve as a bridge to consumers for brands trying to market a new product.