Want to get your ecommerce store off to a great start? Then you’ll want to plan your launch carefully. There are a number of platforms out there today that you can use to get your online store out there. Some that you may not have even heard of.
One of the great things about using these platforms (as opposed to a traditional website) is that many of them have built-in traffic and customers. This means that you’ll be able to take advantage of that publicity and get more eyes on your product; crucial when you’re first getting started.
Not sure where to begin?
Fortunately, launching a new ecommerce site isn’t as complicated as it might seem. There are plenty of choices when it comes to selecting online platforms to launch from, that help you to get your products out to a wide audience. Some won’t even cost you a dime. Let’s take a look at some of the best free options now.
Why Should You Consider Using a Launch Platform?
On a surface level, using an online platform to launch your ecommerce site will save you money and time. But the reality is that today almost every start-up is using online platforms as part of their launch process, no matter how big or small.
Why? Because these platforms are where everyone in the start-up and entrepreneur community hangs out. They are where investors, customers, early adopters, and journalists all look for information about new startups and equally communicate with one another. In fact, some of the most successful tech startups like Pinterest and Yelp got their start through online launch platforms.
As a result, if you want your start-up to take off in this day and age, choosing a platform to launch from shouldn’t be a question but is instead a must.
But now that the web is overflowing with launch platforms, the only question that remains is which platform should you consider to suit the needs of your online business and hit your target audience.
Five Platforms to Launch Your Start-Up Business
Hacker News 8
(Source: Hacker News)
Hacker News is the perfect platform to launch from for those in the tech industry. The social start-up platform functions similarly to Reddit by using a thread-based interface, however it is entirely centered around delivering updates and stories about entrepreneurship and technology.
Launched in 2007 by Paul Graham’s investment fund and startup incubator Y Combinator, Hacker News now has more than 150,000 actively engaged subscribers, making it an ideal platform to get in front of other entrepreneurs and investors, entirely for free!
Remote worker provider Nomad List is a great example of how a small startup took advantage of Hacker News’ community to launch itself. One day after launching via Hacker News, founder Pieter Levels received more than 70,000 hits on his new site. Not long after, journalists, including from Forbes and Business Insider, started to ring and Nomad List soon went viral.
(Source: Product Hunt)
One of the best platforms to showcase new start-ups right now is Product Hunt. The social media platform essentially uses a voting system, which allows newly posted products to rise and fall based on users’ options. At no subscription cost, businesses from sectors far and wide are using this platform, including startups on games, fitness, and of course tech.
The great benefit of Product Hunt is that if something goes viral, you can significantly grow your startup very quickly, which was the case for Startup Stash. After spending a few months observing what worked and what didn’t work for other start-ups launching on Product Hunt, founder Bram Kanstein decided to give his idea a shot.
48 hours after launching, Startup Stash had achieved 35,000 unique visitors, 230,000 page views, gained 1,140 Newsletter subscribers and become the most upvoted listing of all time on Product Hunt.
AngelList is a great free platform to launch from if you’re in need of investment. As a good directory for exhibiting startups, AngelList’s overall goal is to help tech start-ups and entrepreneurs make connections for possible investments and crowdfunding.
Having been around since 2010, there are several major businesses whose launch on AngelList is what skyrocketed them to success. Hinge, Medium, Yelp, and most famously Tinder all used AngelList in their early days to build connections with investors.
With 25,000 subscribers, made up of early adopters, investors, journalists, and bloggers, Betalist is another platform to consider if you’re an online store or technology start-up. The platform was launched in 2010 by Marc Johlburgge and has been the starting point for many successful startups today.
Betalist allows you to post product descriptions and your start-ups’ information which can then be browsed by and commented on by its subscribers. The platform offers a free subscription, however to get noticed faster there are paid options too.
Cloud computing service Sherbit claims that listing on Betalist was what saw its company take off, after gaining an initial customer base of 400 users 24 hours after posting. Some well-known names that started through Betalist include InVision, Airtable, and Pinterest.
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(Source: Beta Bound)
Beta Bound is a free user testing platform for startups looking to gain detailed and beneficial feedback on their products. With more than 90,000 beta testers and subscribers worldwide, Beta Bound is one of the best free platforms available to receive real-time feedback on your site, but also feedback about bugs, and possible technical problems.
This is particularly beneficial when it comes to testing the performance of search engines and other components on your ecommerce website.
Product management tool Easy Note is one success story to come from Beta Bound, who noted that through receiving direct recommendations from beta testers, it was able to improve its functionality and further develop.
Your Next Steps After Selecting a Platform to Launch Your Business
None of the companies listed above launched solely by creating a posting or thread on a single platform like Product Hunt or BetaTesting. They put in work elsewhere to have their business take off.
It may seem obvious, but you cannot forget about social media when launching an ecommerce platform. Effective and strategic social media will always help maximize your online presence and support your launch strategy. Take Bram Kanstein for example; it wasn’t just Product Hunt that fast-tracked his startup. His careful use of Twitter played a huge role in Startup Stash taking off.
Another simple tactic to help spread the word about your ecommerce website is reaching out to journalists. There are plenty of niche online news sites to consider that are specific to your sector and make it easy to get in touch, such as Springwise.
And lastly, don’t forget the power of your own community and connections. Business growth stems from forming meaningful relationships and partnerships. One way to do this is by connecting with other professionals you know via LinkedIn, which, by doing so effectively, can quickly extend your reach into wider circles.
Some Tools to Help You Organize Your Ecommerce Launch
All of these extra tactics can be made simpler by using several other free online tools including:
Social media presence is always extremely valuable, especially when marketing a new startup. Hootsuite is the perfect tool to help you achieve this. The tool allows you to strategically schedule social media posts across multiple social media platforms and provides you with important analytics on how each post and channel is performing.
Whether it’s a press release or a simple pitch kit, sending information to journalists who write about ecommerce business is a great way to gain traction early. Submit.co is a free directory of tech and start-up focused media that you can reach out to as part of your launch plan.
Email marketing is just as important as ever and on average sees a 4,300 percent return on investment for businesses in the USA. As a result, it is vital to start building an email list from day one.
Every connection you make, whether it’s on one of the platforms we’ve mentioned, or through direct contacts, you should have them sign up to your mailing list. Mailchimp is a tool that makes that easy, with plans starting from as little as $10 USD a month.
If your start-up is a team of one or 20, staying organised and keeping communication flowing is the key. Luckily there are plenty of free tools available to help your business stay well managed. Zapier is a great free tool to consider that connects well with Google Apps and is now one of the leading management tools on the market.
When to Consider Crowdfunding For Your Launch
While you can find investors through some of the above platforms, such as AngelList, crowdfunding can be another option when you’re seeking funding (and validity) for a product launch.
Unlike angel investors, who are typically high-net-worth investors looking to invest some of their own net worth for a share of ownership, crowdfunding opens the investment door to almost anyone online who is willing to bet on a new product or start-up.
If your business is looking to crowdfund as part of its launch, here are two major platforms to consider:
Launched In 2009, Kickstarter has successfully helped people pledge $3.7 billion, funding more than 143,000 projects worldwide.
As one of the most well-known crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter is used by a wide range of entrepreneurs and startups to help bring their products and businesses to life. Most famously is Apple Watch competitor the Pebble Watch, which raised $20 million USD from 78,471 pledgers using Kickstarter.
Kickstarter does not charge a fee to create a project. However, if it becomes successfully funded, the site will apply a five percent fee from collected funds.
Another hugely popular and success driven crowdfunding platform is Indiegogo, which has helped raise more than one billion for over 650,000 projects. A great benefit to Indiegogo is that there are no fundraising targets or deadlines, meaning you can keep your listing live for as long as you want.
Similarly, to Kickstart, Indiegogo charges a 5 percent platform free across all its campaigns.
So you’re looking to start a business? Perfecting your company’s launch, or a product launch, can help you to get your concept off to the best start possible, allowing you to gain that much-needed traction that you need to get off the ground.
These launch platforms can help with early production adaption, building investment, aid in critical feedback, and help you start your customer base. However it’s important to remember that they should not be the only part of your launch, and not the entire plan.
It’s important to get the basics right and ensure that you have a good website, a strong social media strategy, and solid marketing plan (ideally, one that includes email) in addition to the launch platform.
Still, these platforms can be an excellent resource and are something that you’ll want to consider incorporating into your launch strategy.
Looking to get started in ecommerce? Then you’ll want to ensure you have a solid marketing strategy in place. Be sure to check out my other articles on my blog including: 10 Marketing Experts Share Their BIGGEST Mistakes. Or, get in touch today for your FREE 20-minute consultation call. Let’s narrow down how you can help your business scale faster.
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