Businesses launching new products are hoping for an immediate impact of their marketing strategies in the form of increased visibility and, more importantly, sales. Today, businesses that launch new products can’t rely on traditional marketing techniques alone to deliver the ROI they demand, they have to also include a comprehensive digital strategy that includes new content, paid advertising and the leveraging of social media channels.
A recent example of using digital marketing to compound the success of a product launch is Ben and Jerry’s new core flavors. The brand, known for making the best possible ice cream in the most sustainable way, found a way to put a core of fudge, caramel or real raspberry jam inside an ice cream flavor, something unique to the market. But the dessert brand couldn’t just put it onto store shelves, it needed a product launch strategy, and for Ben and Jerry’s that meant including digital marketing.
Creating Content that Gets the Word Out
As part of the product launch process, website content development needs to be part of the strategy. Any successful launch will lead to reviews and articles being written and the authors will need specific pages to link to. Consumers who read those reviews will want to be able to learn more about the product and how to purchase it online or in a store. Because of this, it’s vitally important that brands take the time to think through a web content strategy early in the process.
New product webpages should specifically tell consumers what the product is, give them a reason to care and give them a way to act on their interest. In the case of Ben and Jerry’s, its web design accomplishes all of those goals. We learn right off the bat what’s inside a peanut butter fudge core pint, what it looks like, the fact that it’s a new flavor and with a click of the button we can find out where to buy some. The same information can be found in a condensed form on the brand’s mobile site.
One opportunity we think Ben and Jerry’s could have capitalized on is creating original content around the new products. While there is a link to a video about how Ben and Jerry’s makes ice cream, it’s not unique to the core flavors. Because no other ice cream brand is selling this type of product, Ben and Jerry’s could have capitalized by creating several pages of content dedicated to the inspiration, flavor design process and manufacturing of the new core pints.
Spreading the Word with Social Media and Conversation Marketing
Social media conversation marketing is a must for brands launching new products. It allows for brands to spread word about a new product organically without the filters of the media or the high costs of print and television advertising. Brands that focus on social media for product launches leverage their social communities to preview the product before it’s launched and then use those same followers who are now expecting an announcement to spread the word when the product hits the shelves.
Ben and Jerry’s has been building its social community for years, rewarding followers with exclusive deals and using channels like Twitter and Facebook to drive conversations. The Brand has amassed a sizeable following, more than 210,000 Twitter followers, 7.2 million Facebook likes and thousands more followers on platforms like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and YouTube.
When the brand launched its new core flavors, it used Facebook and Twitter as a bullhorn to get the message out, and it worked. A promoted Facebook post announcing the new flavors gathered almost 35,000 likes and more than 8,000 shares so far. The Twitter post about the new flavors, which was not promoted, received more than 2,400 retweets. It’s important to note that every like and share has real value for a businesses, each one results in more visibility for the post and more changes for people to click the link.
One thing we would advise Ben and Jerry’s to do in the future is to create unique content geared toward each site’s demographics. For example, instead of using the same image and wording for both Twitter and Facebook, we would suggest using a behind the scenes photo for Instagram, a video for Facebook and a unique image for Twitter, all with calls to action that resonate with the specific platform.
Building on Success with Paid Advertising
Paid search and social advertising can amplify a message already being delivered through other marketing channels. Paid social ads can bring visibility and engagement to brands looking to reach as many people as possible, but it can also be used to push audience specific content to smaller, concentrated groups of potential customers. Paid search advertising has the ability to reach consumers early in the decision making process who may not already be aware of the new product launch.
While Ben and Jerry’s does have paid ads for keywords like birthday party and wedding, we couldn’t find any paid search advertising specifically aimed at promoting the new core flavors. For search ads, a keyword strategy based around branded terms like “core flavors” or unbranded terms like “organic ice cream” could create conversions and digital engagement. Using the paid ads, the brand could choose to either link to the product pages, hoping to turn clicks into sales, or to social channels where Ben and Jerry’s could look to add to its current following.
Product launches can make or break businesses. Strong sales from a new product can elevate a brand to new heights, while a disappointing launch can set a business back years. Digital marketing has the ability to help boost visibility of a new product and help drive sales through a combination of on-page content, social media marketing and search and social advertising. When combined with traditional marketing efforts such as press mentions and traditional advertising mediums, a brand can know that it has done everything in its power to put its new product in front of as many potential consumers as possible.
Originally published on Dec 23, 2012 11:37 AM, updated Feb 10, 2016