Planning to boost your holiday revenue this year with pre-order sales?
If so, you’ll want to check out these proven strategies to maximise results with pre-orders.
Note: If you hadn’t considered pre-order sales for this year, you can still make it happen … but you’ll need to act fast!
Benefits of Pre-Order Sales Campaigns
Before diving into the details and tactics, let’s break down the biggest benefits of pre-order sales strategies. These benefits apply to brand-new products and re-release launches.
1. Save Money and/or Time
Pre-order sales can save you the costs and time involved in developing or stocking products that have low demand, or weak product/market fit.
Beyond the development costs, the associated costs and time that would go into areas such as marketing, fulfilment, returns and customer service, can also be “saved” when pre-orders are used with new product launches (or re-releases).
Furthermore, if you’re able to capitalise on sneak previews, remarketing to previous buyers (in the case of re-releases), cross-sales or word-of-mouth marketing opportunities, you’ll be able to reduce your marketing costs as well, potentially improving your return on investment.
2. Make More Money
These benefits are closely linked to the previous points. With new product development, pre-order sales can work especially well for generating upfront revenue to create and produce new products based on guaranteed sales.
Getting those pre-order dollars in advance also gives you an edge on your margins: When you can reduce your associated costs (marketing, fulfilment), you can reinvest more efficiently in those areas and, in turn, further increase top-line sales growth with these or related products (for example, with bundling and cross-sales or up-selling).
3 Ways to Get a Headstart with Pre-Order Sales
Of course, every business is keen to save money and time, and make more money. So what other key factors should you consider to determine if pre-orders fit your business model?
1. Do you have a sizeable, engaged email list of customers?
This can provide a massive head start, especially with product re-releases, at a minimal marketing cost. Some brands sell out new products or re-releases with email alone via sneak previews, VIP segmenting tactics, and countdowns. Email marketing also dovetails with the next area to consider …
2. Do you have a large, active social media audience?
Once again, the more engaged your customer audience is, the easier it is to cut through the noise to reach them, and the lower your marketing spend will be. With social media sharing and digital word of mouth/visibility, this can spread the pre-orders well beyond the email list, and adds the perfect one-two punch. This area includes paid social media marketing, because organic reach and engagement can be very difficult to achieve these days.
3. Do you have compelling sales and marketing content ready?
Pre-orders are a big leap of faith: Most of us want to know exactly what to expect when we buy online, and pre-orders may not always have a clear fulfilment time. What gets a lot of buyers over the line are marketing and sales that tap into urgency, exclusivity and limited-release availability. Photos can be a challenge with products that don’t exist yet, so graphics might be needed to fill the gap. Also, the clearer you can be on the delivery time estimates, the better.
Remember that powerful offers, such as bonuses, incentives, discounts or add-ons, can take an average launch to extraordinary success levels, so plan accordingly.
It’s okay if you don’t have all of these bases covered just yet. While they provide a headstart for sales and marketing at reduced costs, it’s not a deal breaker if you can’t tick every box today. Just remember how important they can be, and get onto them if you haven’t yet!
Pre-Order Campaign Examples – Holiday Edition
While you can use pre-order sales strategies any time of year, the holiday season is usually crunch time for shoppers and businesses, so everything moves a bit faster.
Taking that into account, here are two holiday pre-order campaigns that we think got it right.
A Tale of Two Craft Beer Advent Calendars
This pre-order product has picked up in recent years, and campaigns being run by companies like BoozeBud and Carwyn Cellars have stepped up their game in 2020 (their own claims, but we’d agree).
What we like:
- Pre-order launch email (day of launch)
- Compelling product photography and details (breweries, styles)
- New product design for better fridge fit, shipping (all cans)
- “How Does Pre-order Work” FAQ in email
- Cross-selling related products: Spirit Advents, Cider Advents
This pre-order sales launch email (sent the day of launch) featured personalisation, a photo of the new product in a festive holiday setting, social proof (50,000 sold last year) and copy that motivated readers to order fast.
2. Carwyn Cellars
What we like:
- Pre-sale heads up email sequence to subscribers/customers (4 emails)
- Special $10 discount code sent via email day before sale goes live
- Revamped product line-up, based on customer feedback
- Refreshed packaging, also based on customer feedback
- Exclusive limited-edition products (special indie Australian beers)
- Sneak peek at products (breweries list)
- Clear shipping and pick-up timeframes and costs, well in advance
The initial pre-order promo email was sent Sept 23, teasing the Oct 14 pre-order sales launch date and exact time, with details on what’s new and improved this year. An illustration is used in lieu of a product photo.
Pre-Order Campaign Examples – Anytime Edition
Perhaps we’re all focused on holidays right now, but your pre-order sales strategy can run any time (and it should if it’s working well for you).
Aside from marketing campaigns and email sequences, your site is where the sales happen, so use sharp imagery, price, limited-edition status, shipping date and time estimates, to set clear expectations and increase conversions.
These are all things that Bubble Tea Club does with its pre-order sales approach.
How well does it work? Apparently, the waiting list has a waiting list, so you decide.
Bubble Tea Club promotes new products ahead of launch and relaunch, with a prominent expected arrival date and email notifications. Some of the most popular products have a waiting list for the waiting list!
3 Critical Steps You Can Take Now
By now, your wheels should be turning and you should have at least a few ideas you can apply to develop or enhance your pre-order approach, even if you’re new to this strategy.
Here’s a quick list of three critical areas to think through in more depth, with your own specific products, customers and business in mind, to put pre-order ideas in motion.
1. Your Products
It all starts here: Do you have new or relaunch products in the pipeline? If not, would pre-orders help you revamp and relaunch a product with sales that have levelled off, or is seasonal?
Get a clear picture of how pre-orders could apply to your products and development process, and if there’s a fit in one or several areas, keep going …
2. Your Timelines
Where your product development cycle stands is a key factor here. Are you selling a product before creating it, or does it exist and it’s nearly ready to ship?
If it’s nearly ready, and you have quality marketing/sales content and offers, you’re in pretty good shape. If not, be realistic with pre-order and fulfillment timelines you commit to — and be prepared to deal with more customer service inquiries.
3. Your Marketing
Do your strongest marketing channels fit best with pre-order strategies?
For example, the headstart that email and social media can provide may be more efficient than paid search and organic search traffic when it comes to pre-order campaigns. Plenty of other possibilities exist, too — maybe you have a huge YouTube or TikTok audience, or an app, strong word-of-mouth, PR or other ways to reach an already active customer base.
Scoping out the options more clearly helps you with projecting costs, ROI and timelines of this approach before making a significant investment, or going in an overly expensive direction.