When you launch an e-commerce website, unlike a brick-and-mortar business owner, you don't have the benefit of having a physical space to host a launch party — you can't quite serve wine and cheese at a virtual opening!
So without the ability to host a fun event and invite everyone you know, how do you make the new website launch announcement? And what do you need to do to make sure your new e-commerce website is prepared to capture and convert launch traffic?
Getting Your E-Commerce Website Ready for Launch
Before you announce your launch, you want to have some behind-the-scenes tracking and conversion tools set up so you can capture and convert the traffic you get during your announcement. Why? Because even if potential customers don’t buy today (and they may not), having these tools in place means you can advertise to them later. Not only that, but you can track visits and gather data on where your traffic is coming from, what pages people visit, and how much time they spend on the website — all things that are helpful in planning future marketing campaigns.
What you should have ready when launching your e-commerce website
Set up your Facebook tracking pixel
Your Facebook tracking pixel allows you to track visits to the website for later retargeting using Facebook ads. Facebook ads data goes back 6 months, so it’s good to install this code now so you can gather data going as far back as possible.
Set up your email list AND a pop-up on your website to capture email addresses
Ideally you started collecting email addresses before you even launched (you did that, right?). But either way you want to make sure your email list is set up and you’re capturing visitor email addresses. Installing an email pop-up app helps increase conversion rates here. I highly recommend the Shopify plugin JustUno for this task (read more about my recommendations for the best email pop-up app for Shopify).
Sign up for Google Analytics and install your tracking code
With Google Analytics, you can track data about visits to the website — you want to know where traffic is coming from and what people are doing on the site.
Sign up for Google AdWords and install your tracking code
Even if you don’t plan on using AdWords right away, getting the code installed properly is a good way to track data in case you want to use retargeting ads in the next couple of months (which is how long AdWords holds on to visitor data for retargeting purposes).
Set up a press page on your website
When you reach out to press to announce your website launch, you want to have a press page in place that contains your latest press release, logos, product and lifestyle photos, founder bios, contact information, etc. It helps to have this all in one place so journalists can easily access it — making them more likely to do a story on you.
Complete a sample purchase
Before you invite people to the site, make sure your checkout process is working smoothly. Walk through making a sample purchase and note any glitches in the process. If you’re using any coupon codes during your launch promotion, add them during the checkout process to ensure they’re working.
How to Promote Your Launch (and Get Traffic to Your E-Commerce Site)
Of course you were collecting email addresses before you actually launched (you, were, weren’t you?). When you launch the site, send an email to your full list announcing the site launch and any promos — especially those you’ve offered exclusively to your list.
If you haven’t been building an email list, create a list of your friends and relatives. Ask them to share the news of your launch with friends who would be interested in your products. Word of mouth from people who know you best can really help!
Facebook is another great driver of word of mouth traffic. Share news of your site launch on your personal Facebook page with a single ask: visit the site and sign up to the email list! You might be tempted to ask people to like your Facebook page, but your email list will have a higher conversion rate so try to capture email address rather than social fans. For your social strategy, ask your friends and family to share your site launch or tag people who might be interested in your products.
In addition to building an email list before launch, you should start posting on Instagram before your website is live so you can build up a following. Once the site is live, make a series of Instagram posts announcing your launch. It’s nice to provide a special offer to Instagram follower.
Giveaways are a great way to collect email addresses around site launch. Think about doing a big promotion, such as a gift box or high-value gift card, and use the promo as an incentive for those folks already on your email list, as well as your friends and family, to share it with others. You can also partner with bloggers, influencers and other businesses to get more mileage out of your planned giveaways.
Partnerships with bloggers and influencers
Find a blogger or influencer who has clout with your target audience and get them to make an announcement about your shop launch with a corresponding promo. You might have to pay for a mention here, but if you budget wisely you can get quite a bit of traffic from the right partnership.
Connecting with the media
Connect with journalists to try and get a mention in big news and media outlets to support your launch. (This is what you built your press page for!) You don't need to have a professional PR background to do some basic outreach (read more about how to find and pitch bloggers and journalists in this guest post I wrote for Maker's Row).
Managing Expectations Around the Launch of Your Site
While it may be a big deal to you that your new e-commerce website is launching and you’re eager to see what your sales will be, remember that not everyone is sitting around on pins and needles waiting to hear about a new online shop appearing on the scene. Because of this, you’re not likely to make a ton of sales right off the bat (not unless you have a really eager waiting list) — so make sure you’re capturing info from your visitors to use later. You're doing this in the form of:
- Google Analytics data
- Facebook tracking pixel data
- Google AdWords retargeting data
- Capturing email addresses (ideally using a pop-up)
Your goal with your shop launch should be to get as much traffic as possible to the site using your initial promotions — ideally on a limited budget or for no money — while making sure your tracking is in place so you can capture as much of that traffic for future marketing using email promos, Facebook and Instagram ads, and AdWords Retargeting.