Last updated: February 25, 2020

7 Successful Product Launch Examples That’ll Inspire You

Growth Marketing

How do you pull off a successful product launch? Here are 7 case studies to inspire your own strategy.

As a brand, orchestrating a successful product launch is a lot like getting up on stage as a stand-up comedian.

No matter how confident you are that people will like your product and you’ll have a successful product launch, you can never quite shake the fear that all you’ll hear is crickets.

 

According to Five By Five Global, three-fifths of people weren’t aware of any new launches in the past 12 months, which doesn’t make for great reading if you launched something last year (or are planning to in the near future).

But that doesn’t mean what you’ve created is bad.

It means that it hasn’t been marketed right.

To show you how to avoid the deafening silence of no one noticing your product, we’ve picked out seven of the most successful product launch examples of recent years to inspire your launch marketing efforts, along with some tips on how to implement the tactics.

Let’s dig in.

1. Nütrl Vodka Soda

What they did

When Goodridge & Williams Distillers came up with Nütrl Vodka Soda it faced a big problem — consumers were struggling to believe the core claim that the drink contained only Nütrl Vodka, carbonated water, and natural lemon juice. It needed a way to get people to buy into what they were selling, which was that their product is something healthier than wines and beers containing artificial flavors and sweeteners. They did this with playful videos aimed at men and women who enjoy vodka soda cocktails. With such a broad target market, the company ran its 30-second ads of people “breaking up” with wine and beer during sports games on TV and on social media via co-op Facebook ads with retailers. The campaign helped the drink become the fastest-growing ready-to-drink vodka soda in Canada.

What you can do

Embrace video marketing. Check out these statistics:

  • 45% of people watch an hour or more of video per day
  • Facebook gets 8 billion video views a day
  • 79% of consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a product
  • 84% of consumers have bought something after watching a video
  • Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year
  • Video marketers achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness

Those numbers tell you everything you need to know. People love video and using it increases brand awareness and sales. Create short, snappy videos that get your key message across in a way that encourages sharing. Some things to keep in mind when doing this:

2. Harry’s

Harry's Successful Product Launch

What they did

Harry’s biggest selling point is simple: they offer custom-made razor blades at affordable prices — cheaper than more well-known alternatives. The problem is, cheaper doesn’t automatically equal more customers. People still need to be convinced. Harry’s did (and still does) this convincing with a trial offer featured prominently on its website and in social media ads which then drive traffic to a landing page. The simple tactic has helped the company grow into a giant of online retailing with three million monthly recurring customers and counting, and $200 million in revenue in 2017 alone.

What you can do

Create a trial offer.

A trial offer is a great way to convince customers that are on the shelf. It’s you putting your money where your mouth is. The ball is fully in the customer’s court. If they try it and don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it. The friction of buying a product they don’t fully know is eliminated. What’s more, customers also enter the marketing funnel as a promising lead. They’re interested enough to try the product, which means they’re open to hearing more about what you have to offer. Make trial offers easy for customers to claim with a simple message and calls-to-action. For example, Harry’s has the trial offer front and center on its homepage. That clicks-through to a page that makes ordering simple.

startup-successful-product-launch

Have as few steps as possible between landing on your website and walking away with a trial.

3. Robinhood

-successful-product-launch-startups

What they did

Robinhood is a stock-trading service that lets customers easily trade with $0 commission. It’s also the gold-standard when it comes to building a waiting list. In the year leading up to the launch of its service, Robinhood invited people to gain invitation-only access to its private beta — giving them the chance to be among the first to benefit from what was on offer. The message was simple:

“$0 commission stock trading. Stop paying up to $10 for every trade.”

And there was only one option: Opt-in.

By opting in, users were placed on the waiting list and shown a “thank you” page displaying their position on the list, along with the chance to gain priority access by inviting friends and family to join. And the more people a person got to join, the sooner access would be granted. By doing this, Robinhood created a game. People wanted to jump the queue so they’d invite everyone they could.

robinhood--successful-product-launch

The result:

Nearly one million opt-ins. (Now that’s a successful product launch!)

What you can do

Built a waiting list.

A waiting list driven by incentives like sharing to earn special privileges can help create exponential growth. It allows you to build a database of actively interested users, builds hype for your product, and lets you engage with customers to gather feedback on beta launches. Create a landing page for your new product launch that makes it easy for people to opt-in, making sure to include the following elements

  • Strong benefit-focused headline
  • Clean, distraction-free landing page design
  • Clear call-to-action
  • Simple sign-up

Once people have opted-in, keep them interested in your brand and product by sending them useful information. For example, if you were launching software that helps customers with their online shopping by finding the cheapest products, you could send weekly newsletters with curated suggestions on how to save money on shopping or meal recipes or low-cost gift ideas. Every email gives your waiting list value and maintains an interest in your launch.

4. Unsplash

Unsplash-successful-product-launch

Image: Unsplash

What they did

As a way to thank photographers that had contributed photos to help its site to 50 million downloads, Unsplash launched a Kickstarter campaign for a book featuring inspiring photos and essays from creators. The goal for the campaign was to raise $75,000, however, they were able to exceed this target by $25,000. How? By getting influencers involved. The work in the book was curated to include key people in the creative industry and their influence helped catapult the book to new levels.

What you can do

Partner with influencers.

70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions. And with 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile users using ad blockers to hide traditional ads, using an influencer might well be the most effective way to reach your target audience. According to a study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions and TapInfluence, the ROI of influencer content is 11X greater than traditional campaigns. That’s because influencers quickly build trust and relationships, and improve brand awareness. Find popular people in your niche and reach out. SproutSocial suggests the following tips for breaking the ice on LinkedIn, but they can be applied across all social channels:

  • Start liking their shares and posts before adding them to your network
  • Send a meaningful message about their content
  • Ask them to join one of your LinkedIn groups (or join theirs)
  • Let them know how you found them (be honest)
  • Explain you’d just like a moment of their time (value their time)

When you’ve found influencers, discuss ways to collaborate. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Guest blog posts
  • Sponsored content
  • Affiliate arrangement
  • Product reviews

5. Tommee Tippee

advice-wipes-successful-product-launch

What they did

In trying to gather momentum for a campaign aimed at encouraging moms to trust their paternal instincts, Tommee Tippee took a uniting problem and turned it into a PR stunt. That being the often useless, unneeded advice from others about how to parent.  Tommee Tippee turned parenting help books into limited-edition baby wipes as a way for moms to literally wipe butts with other people’s advice. In doing so, it created a useful product that supported its main aim: to get eyes on the brand. The launch helped increase awareness, not only in the brand’s #ParentOn theme but in the brand itself as it tried to penetrate the U.S. market.

What you can do

Turn engineering into marketing.

Listen to your audience and create experiences around their needs. Find their problems and create something that solves them. Another example of engineering as marketing is from Hitlist, a website that helps users find the best deals on flights and travel deals. It created the Wandertab — a Google Chrome extension that shows users a stunning photo from an amazing place, as well as how much it costs to go there, info from friends, and travel tips whenever a new tab is opened. It’s useful for travelers as it allows them to explore destinations and enjoy targeted alerts, while still achieving the brand’s main aim: getting people to use its service. Provide something that gives value to the customer. This will help to build trust and make people more receptive to what you want them to do or hear.

[midchimp]

6. Absolut Vodka

What they did

When Absolut wanted to engage young consumers with its release of a limited edition “Unique” vodka in Argentina, it decided to throw a launch party which involved people interacting with a fictional doorman named “Sven” via WhatsApp. A WhatsApp number was released on all Absolut marketing and advertising materials with details on what to do — charm Sven to get yourself on the guest list. Cue all kinds of hilarious messages and a huge social buzz around the product launch. Through WhatsApp, Absolut was able to enjoy three days of uninterrupted chat with over 600 contacts, during which more than 1000 images, videos, and audio messages were created. All for the price of a sim card.

What you can do

Explore new channels for your launch marketing.

Find out where your audience is and reach them there. Listen to your audience, research the market and test new channels. Not every channel you test will be of value, but if you keep exploring and tweaking, you’ll eventually find an untapped niche that offers good ROI. Keep in mind that marketers tend to overuse marketing platforms to the point where they’re no longer of any benefit (see: Facebook organic reach), so stay ahead of the curve by reading industry publications like Search Engine Journal, Marketing Land and Search Engine Watch to identify new channels.

7. WePay

WePay-successful-product-launch

What they did

Taking on the competition is nothing new in product launch marketing. Think Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Samsung vs. Apple, and Xbox vs. PlayStation. When PayPal received some negative publicity around freezing member accounts, WePay saw an opportunity to get one over on its competitor. During PayPal’s annual developer conference, WePay showed up and dropped a huge block of ice with frozen money and a simple message to PayPal users:

PayPal Freezes Your Accounts

It wanted people to know that the same thing wouldn’t happen to its users. And it worked. An hour and a half after the ice arrived, the stunt was on the front page of TechCrunch and other popular tech sites. The publicity resulted in:

  • 3x more conversions on the stunt landing page
  • 225% increase in traffic
  • 300% increase in signups

Not bad for a startup with a limited marketing budget.

What you can do

Promote your strengths through competitive marketing.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors with ads related to your product
  • Run targeted video ads that show whenever a user searches for YouTube videos related to the competition
  • Target the Twitter followers of competitors
  • Use Google Ads custom affinity audiences to target the websites of competitors
  • Come up with a wacky PR stunt à la WePay

When targeting competitors, it’s important to compare yourself to the market leader. It makes no sense going after someone smaller. In doing so you’ll come across as a bit of a bully which will leave a negative impression. Get your message across in a fun, engaging way that promotes your strengths. In order to tempt consumers away from the big boys and over to your product, focus on hitting what the ReWired Group call the four forces that influence a customer’s decision to switch products.

  • Problem with current product — show how well your product solves the customer’s problem
  • Attraction of new product — highlight where your product betters the competition
  • Anxiety and uncertainty of change — show customers how simple it is to make the switch
  • Existing habits and allegiances — change the customer’s thinking by reducing their attachment to a product

How to create your project launch marketing plan

To launch your product successfully using any of the methods we’ve talked about, you’re going to need a plan. As with every good plan, that starts by establishing some goals and objectives. You can do this by answering this single question:

What does a successful product launch look like?

Do you want more sales? More leads? An increase in traffic or signups? Or do you just want to raise awareness for your product and brand? When you’ve decided on the objectives and goals, you can begin putting together a product launch strategy that delivers results. This can be done in four steps:

Step 1: Define your target audience

Find your target audience using demographics, interests, job title, and locations and then go beyond this to find their pain points. Be clear about who your audience is, their problems, and why they should care about your product.

Step 2: Establish your unique value proposition (UVP)

What do you do that competitors don’t? In the case of Robinhood, it was offering $0 commission trading in a market where $10 is standard. Establish what makes you different and build your message around it. Your UVP is what will spark interest in consumers and influencers and drive conversions.

Step 3: Find the influencers

Who are the key figures in your niche? A well-defined target audience will make it easy to find them. Look for the bloggers, social media celebrities, and reporters that can help your product gain traction. Target them with good, valuable content and offers that benefit them as much as you.

Step 4: Plan your content marketing

The success of your product launch comes down to how well you market your product. This means providing valuable content on the channels where your audience hangs out. It’s important to test and tweak different types of content and measure results. Depending on your audience, videos might be more beneficial than blog posts and social media might be more effective than media coverage.

Wrap up

Launching a new product is about creating a buzz — getting people to give you a second look and choose you over the competition. And, as we’ve shown here, there is no shortage of ways to do it. But choose your tactics wisely.

  • Research the market
  • Find the channels where your audience hangs out
  • Play to your strengths
  • Create a successful product launch marketing plan based on your goals
  • Maybe even hire a growth marketing agency to help along the way 😉

Combine these elements, along with one or more of the strategies we’ve talked about, and you’ll give your product the best chance of a successful product launch.  

Jim Huffman

Founder & CEO GrowthHit. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. Author of The Growth Marketer’s Playbook #1

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