Launching a new product? Does that mean another web-site?

WordPress Platform

Launching a new product or service typically involves creating an unique and marketing plan focussed on communications and sales operations

Typically, organisations dive straight-in a create a new micro-site. But does it have to be that way? Can you work smarter?

Building new sites used to be expensive, time-consuming and, with new products, fraught with lots of micro-decisions. Usefully, the emergence of fast-deployment web platforms such as WordPress (there are others, we just prefer WordPress but you might consider Drupal or Joomla for example. For this article, I will refer to WordPress as the generic web platform) allows you to create clone sites pretty quickly and for about 1/3rd of the cost it used to be just 5 years ago.

However, that doesn’t mean you should automatically create a clone site and then make a handful of changes. The planning staging is unique to the new product and therefore this must still go ahead as if you’re building on a greenfield space.

There are broadly 3 solutions to the challenge of launching a new product online

  • Create a whole new web-site, focussed tightly on the new product. This is the standard go-to solution as you’re reducing the risk of cannibalising existing sales process, nor sending mixed and confusing messages.
  • Build a Micro-site to cover the unique needs of the product and rely of your main site for the bulk of the supporting information. After all, your company isn’t different, nor is your culture or brand (sometimes) so there is limited need to repeat content.
  • Add a page or two to your existing site, maybe add a couple of new signposts and trust all goes well. This is the cheapest option and generally should be avoided unless your new product is largely derivative of another product.

So what’s best?

It large depends on a number of factors including, USPs, budget, importance of product, size of launch, targets and brand. Generally if the product launch is significant then the last option is a poor choice, you really should create a unique digital space that mirrors the needs and expectations of your visitors.

If the brand is staying the same (for example BMW launch a new car, the M2) then it makes perfect sense to clone the brand elements for the new pages or site. This would include the usability (UX), colours, styles, layouts and tone. As these elements typically consume 25-50% of the cost of a site, the savings can be dramatic, especially if you’re using WordPress.

Caution not to automatically clone the whole site, this may seem easier but in all likelihood will end up being a huge drain on resources as you try to re-write the whole site. So start with the basic elements, the stuff you really need and focus on how that should be presented and the flow the site visitor is expected to take.

If the product is not derivative then you need to establish the key items you want to communicate (sometimes called messaging or USPs). These will be different from your other products so tread gently. This is the time to consider market research and competitor analysis as your product stands in a sea of other similar products and you need to stand out.

Sometimes the sales process is wildly different so you need to document that flow, both on-site and off-site, and make sure that whatever you launch fits tightly into the sales journey. If the journey is similar then you can re-use your existing calls-to-action and automated-marketing processes.

When you’ve completed the planning phase, you can then evaluate whether a standalone site is worth the additional cost. Typically, the best balance for most is to create a dedicated micro-site using a similar design to the main site but with a focus that is 100% on the new product.

The challenge then is about keeping your visitors inside the micro-site until they are ready to move along the sales funnel, this means re-using content from the main site where needed but taking care not to pick up a Google penalty for duplicate content. The visitor should be able to complete their site journey entirely on the micro-site.

You’ll need to signpost the microsite from your main site, but not to the distraction of main-site visitors. And vice versa.

Finally, if you’re trying to build a standalone product then you should consider using a unique, and relevant, domain name that can be separately registered with the search engines and also act as landing zone for paid and outreach traffic.

Talk to us, no obligation, if you’re considering launching a new product and service and we’ll share our 15+ years of digital marketing experience and help you get the best solution.