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Using Preorders to Boost Customer Interest & Sales

This is a guest post from Jeff Campbell. Jeff is a digital marketing veteran, eCommerce entrepreneur, and professor at Wake Forest University. His strategic vision and operational approach have yielded multiple successful business acquisitions and exits. Jeff co-founded aiCommerce in 2020 and is responsible for its strategic vision, client services, P&L management, revenue growth, talent development and the overall success of business operations. aiCommerce is an eCommerce brand owner and global digital marketing agency with a focus on marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

In eCommerce, staying ahead of the competition and capturing customer interest is a challenging but vital task. One effective strategy that can help you not only generate buzz but also boost interest and sales is the introduction of preorders on your DTC website. Preorders allow you to build anticipation for your products, engage with your audience, and secure sales before items are available on the market.

In this guide, we’ll explore how eCommerce brands can utilize preorders to their advantage, offering tips and strategies to harness the full potential of this powerful sales tactic from its development through post-preorder success.

Product development

Start by choosing products that are likely to generate significant interest and demand among your target audience. The more demand a product has, the more likely a presale will see success. To identify high-demand products, conduct market research or surveys to gauge interest or need for a given product.

Once you’ve settled on a concept, ensure your chosen product is not only appealing but also unique and valuable. Items that satisfy a need in the lives of consumers are more compelling and thus likely garner higher sales. High-quality products with unique features or benefits tend to attract more preorders.

Why preorders matter

Introducing preorders into your business model can bring multiple benefits, including:

  • Generate excitement: Preorders create a sense of excitement and anticipation among your audience. Customers like the idea of being the first to own a product, especially if it’s something many people desire. By offering them the chance to be the first to receive a new release, you generate buzz around your brand that can increase interest and sales.
  • Secure sales in advance: As the name implies, you can secure sales before a product is officially launched. Preorder buzz typically lasts about one week on average, with almost 30% of preorder sales made on the first day of a presale. This can provide your eCommerce business with essential cash flow and insights into demand, helping you manage inventory more effectively.
  • Gather customer data: Preorders provide an opportunity to collect valuable customer data, including email addresses, customer behavior, and preferences. Analyzing preorder data like conversion rates and customer demographics can inform your marketing and product development strategies. That information can then be used for future marketing efforts and to build stronger relationships with your audience.
  • Test product viability: Launching a product through preorders can help you gauge its viability in the market. If you receive a significant number of preorders, it indicates strong demand. Conversely, if preorders are slow, you may need to rethink your product strategy and adjust to avoid a major loss.
  • Competitive advantage: In the saturated eCommerce landscape, preorders can give your brand a competitive edge. Being one of the first to offer an exciting new product helps you stand out and capture market share before competitors catch up.

Preparing for successful preorders

Follow this step-by-step walkthrough to maximize your preorder strategy:

1) Build hype with teasers

Before launching a preorder campaign, start building anticipation through teasers. Post on social media, leverage email marketing, and showcase sneak peeks of the new release to pique interest in your upcoming product.

2) Set a clear launch date

Announce a specific launch date for your preorder campaign. Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and encourages potential customers to act quickly. Publish the release date on social media and your website and post timely reminders as the day draws closer.

3) Dedicate a landing page

Create a dedicated landing page on your website where customers can learn more about the product, see teasers, and sign up for preorder notifications. You can also include a countdown timer here to induce excitement.

4) Offer exclusive incentives

Encourage preorders by offering exclusive incentives. This could include discounts, early access, limited-edition extras, or bundles. When customers feel important to a brand, they feel inclined to buy, with 84% of consumers asserting they’re more likely to shop from brands that offer personalized experiences. The more attractive the offer, the more likely customers will commit to preordering.

5) Prepare adequate inventory

Ensure you have enough inventory to meet the demand your preorder campaign generates. Overcommitting to preorders without the ability to fulfill them can diminish your customer experience and damage your brand’s reputation.

6) Streamline the checkout process

Make the preorder process as seamless as possible. Minimize the steps involved, offer multiple payment options, and provide clear instructions to prevent cart abandonment. Consider a guest checkout option as well so buyers can reach the finish line more quickly.

Marketing your preorder campaign

Once you’ve built your campaign, you’re ready to launch it. For maximum visibility, leverage these marketing channels and strategies.

Social media

Capitalize on the power of social media to promote your preorder campaign. These platforms are highly influential, with 71% of customers more likely to make a purchase due to social media recommendations. In 2023 alone, it’s predicted almost $1.3 billion eCommerce sales will take place on social media platforms.

With the increasing popularity of social commerce, now is the perfect time to invest in your brand’s growth on these channels. Share engaging content like product images, videos, and customer testimonials to capture attention and drive traffic to your website.

Email marketing

Build compelling email campaigns to target your existing consumer base and subscribers. Although it may seem old-fashioned, eCommerce brands that utilize email marketing see an average return on investment (ROI) of 122%. You can boost your sales and customer interest by incorporating eye-catching visuals and personalized messaging that highlights the benefits of preordering.

Influencer collaborations

Since over half (61%) of consumers trust the opinions of influencers, embracing this marketing tactic can make a huge difference in your sales. Influencers can create authentic content that showcases your product and encourages their followers to preorder. Look for influencers in your niche to reach a wider audience.

Paid advertising

Paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads targets your ideal customer. Also, use retargeting campaigns to reach potential buyers who’ve shown an interest in your product. Retargeting ads boast a 400% increase in engagement rates compared to regular ads, proving customers do take notice and interact with retargeting efforts. This will keep your brand top of mind as people regularly see your advertisements and promotions, in turn increasing the likelihood of a sale.

SEO optimization

Optimize your website and product pages for SEO to increase organic traffic. Include relevant keywords in product descriptions and meta tags to improve visibility in search results. Keeping your site optimized will also produce a smoother shopping experience, making it more enticing for customers to become repeat buyers. Also, ensure your site can accommodate mobile devices, as mobile shopping is expected to account for 43.4% of all eCommerce sales in 2023.

Managing preorders effectively

Because you’re collecting purchases in advance, it’s crucial to stay on top of preorders so nothing falls through the cracks. To oversee them properly, be sure to:

  • Communicate transparently: Maintain open and transparent communication with your customers throughout the preorder process. Regularly update buyers on production, shipping, and delivery timelines.
  • Provide ready access to customer support: Offer exceptional customer support to address inquiries and concerns promptly. A positive customer service experience can greatly enhance your brand’s reputation.
  • Manage expectations: Set realistic expectations for delivery dates. Underpromise and overdeliver to ensure customer satisfaction. This avoids disappointing customers who then leave negative reviews, resulting in fewer sales. Inform customers of any delays and offer solutions or compensation as needed.
  • Monitor inventory: Keep a close eye on your inventory levels to avoid overselling. The last thing you want to do is sell out before a product is even available. That’s a surefire way to upset customers and earn negative brand reviews. Implement inventory management software to track preorder quantities and available stock accurately.

Continue to drive success post-preorders

Your work isn’t finished once your preorder campaign ends. Besides actually fulfilling orders, there are other actions you should take to cultivate stronger ties with your buyers and attract potential customers to your new release:

  • Collect feedback: After fulfilling preorders, gather feedback from customers to gauge their satisfaction and gather insights for improvement. Showing you care about their feedback and enjoyment encourages customers to become repeat buyers and recommend your brand to others.
  • Nurture customer relationships: Continue to engage with consumers who participated in the preorder campaign to keep them coming back. Offer exclusive discounts, early access to future products, or loyalty rewards to foster long-term relationships. Buyers are more likely to interact with and purchase from brands that provide benefits they don’t receive from other competitors.
  • Analyze metrics: Evaluate the performance of your preorder campaign by analyzing metrics such as conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and ROI. Use these insights to refine your future preorder strategies. Over time, you’ll find the right combination of tactics to enjoy continued preorder success.
  • Continue to promote: Once the product officially launches, continue your marketing efforts to reach customers who didn’t participate in the preorder but are still interested in the new release. Retargeting those leads could provide a boost in sales.

Wrapping up — Get ahead of the sales game with preorders

Preorders are a powerful tool for eCommerce brands to generate excitement, secure sales, and gather valuable customer data. They’re a win-win for both your brand and your consumers, who enjoy the exclusivity of being “first in line.”

Remember that successful preorder campaigns require careful planning, transparency, and a commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience. When executed effectively, preorders can help your brand thrive in the competitive eCommerce landscape while building strong, lasting relationships with your audience. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can harness the full potential of this sales tactic to propel your business to new heights. With the right approach, preorders can become a cornerstone of your multi-channel eCommerce success story.