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How to Recover From a Failed Product Launch

Launching a new product requires time, money, and a whole lot of elbow grease.

When the launch goes off without a hitch, all the effort seems worth it — but when it fails, it can send you and your business into a doubt-ridden daze.

Coca Cola’s ‘New Coke’ disaster back in 1985 still draws attention, while Amazon’s more recent failure with the ‘Fire Phone’ is still fresh in our memories.

The good news is even if your product launch was a total dud, there’s a strategic three-step recovery plan that can turn the tables in your favor once again.

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: The Autopsy

There’s usually a very real and quantifiable reason for the failure of your product launch — you just have to find it.

This three-step autopsy will frame your investigation:

Analyze The Data

First things first, you’ll want to analyze every piece of data surrounding the failure of your product launch.

Why? Because your product itself may not have been the reason for its failure — it may have been the customer journey surrounding it.

If you used Google Analytics, or any other entry-level analytics platform, you’ll want to begin investigating the following metrics:

  • Bounce Rate: Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on a page, and then exit before visiting any other page. By investigating the bounce rate on your website on a page-by-page basis, you can identify your weakest pages and then think about how to improve them in order to retain your traffic. To check your bounce rate using Google analytics, go to Audience > Overview.
  • Exit Pages: Knowing where you lose your audience is key. If, for example, most of your traffic leaves your website at the checkout page, you can investigate your checkout process further to see what’s turning people away. You can evaluate which pages are leaking visitors by going to the Users Flow section in your Google Analytics dashboard.
  • Entry Pages: It’s not all about evaluating bad news. By finding out which pages your audience is landing on most, you can work on optimizing that section of your site. You can access these metrics by heading to Site content > Landing Pages.


Additionally, if you are a Kissmetrics user, you can drill down to your website’s most relevant data with features such as:

  • Path Reports: This Kissmetrics feature shows the quickest and most effective route your customers take towards your entire website’s goal.
  • Objective-based Reporting: Don’t know what kind of report to create? Objective-based reporting is a Kissmetrics feature that recommends an appropriate report based on whatever your objectives are. For example, if you’re focused on improving your funnel, you can use the Funnel Report to see where prospective customers are dropping out before they purchase.
  • Cohort Reports: This feature shows how segmented groups behave over time. You can use such information to figure out how well your audience in one particular country is reacting to a piece of content over time, for example.

The bottom line here is that you should try to get your hands on as much data as possible from your analytics platforms. You can then spend time analyzing that those insights in a way that will help you improve your conversion rates. This guide to ecommerce analytics should help you along the way.

Talk To Your Audience

Next up, you want to engage with your audience to find out what exactly turned them off your previously failed product.

Leveraging your email list is the most common way to reach out and survey your audience. It’s as simple as sending out a request for your subscribers to fill out a short survey on a platform such as SurveyMonkey. You could ask questions like:

  • What did you dislike about ‘Name of Product’?
  • How would you improve ‘Name of Product’?
  • What ‘Name of Product’ features did you like?
  • What were you trying to accomplish with ‘Name of Product’?

Or any other question that will help you better understand the perception around your failed product. As an incentive, you could offer them a discount on other products in your store.


You can also reach out to your audience on social media by running Twitter polls and asking for feedback via Facebook and Instagram.

To really make use of your customers, you can continue your outreach by inviting engaged members of your audience to meet you (or perhaps video chat with you), in order for them to further explain the problems they had with your product — and how they propose you fix it.

Reach Out to Experts

Although your existing audience will shed plenty of light on the failure of your product launch, hearing from experts from within your niche will enhance your understanding even further.

Websites like ExpertFile can help you find experienced names in your industry.

Once you whittle down a list of experts who can help you improve your product, you can reach out to them individually — and perhaps send them a free product — in order to get their take on why it failed to resonate with your audience.

Step 2: The Overhaul

Armed with the data from your autopsy, it’s time to revamp your marketing strategy in preparation for your new and improved product.

Apply All Necessary Changes

With the data you gleaned from your audience, and the feedback you received from the experts you reached out to, you need to apply all necessary changes to your product.

Naturally, the specific changes you need to make will depend upon the type of product you’re dealing with — but one rule always applies: don’t rush it.

Embrace the feedback you received, and take your time in applying it properly. The last thing you want to do is rush it back to market in a poorly prepared state.

Return to Your Audience

Remember when I told you to talk to your audience and set up feedback meetings? Now is the perfect time to reconnect and show them the changes you’ve implemented.

You can present new features (or features that have been stripped away), and demonstrate first hand that the product is in line with their feedback. If their updated opinions are now positive, you know you’re on the right track.

On the other hand, if they still have some qualms about the product, you can always go back and tweak it to perfection. Getting back in touch with those experts at this stage would also be a good idea.

At the same time, be wary of abandoning your own vision and intuition at this stage. The experts are worth listening to, but your own experiences with your audience will tell you things that no expert can.

Identify Your Target Market

Getting to grips with your target market is absolutely vital to the success of your future product launches. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to do it.

First up, a quick visit to your Google Analytics dashboard can reveal the age, level of education, gender, and browsing location of your current audience. Alexa’s paid service expands upon all of that by giving you insights into things like the keywords being used by your competitors.

Analytics tools like Google Analytics or, even better, Kissmetrics can also teach you a thing or two about your existing audience. Google Analytics will give you an overview of what pages they visit and where in the world they are, but Kissmetrics is built to tell you far more about the people visiting your website. See where they’re coming from, where they drop off in your funnel, and remarket to your best customers – all within Kissmetrics.

Ahrefs is another handy tool that you can use to identify the audiences of your competitors — an extremely useful tactic for when your product rivals the offering of an existing brand.

Finally, you can use to get the emails of individuals within organizations that you could partner with, as well as influencers who can help get the word out about your future product launches. However, you should be cautious with unsolicited emails by not spamming the receiver’s inbox with multiple messages.


Define Your Keywords

Once your audience has been identified, you can start thinking about the keywords you want your content and marketing copy to revolve around.

The most efficient way to come up with keywords is as follows:

  1. Create a Seed List: Start with a seed list of terms based around your products. For example, if you’re selling furniture, start with keywords like ‘Oak dining tables’.
  2. Expand with Keyword Research Tools: Next, expand your terms by running your seed list through tried and tested keyword research tools like Google Trends and the Google Keyword Planner.
  3. Check Competitors: Finally, you want to check out which keywords your competitors are focusing on. This may sound difficult, but there are in fact tons of free and inexpensive competitor keyword research tools to help you achieve this.

Once you have your extended list of keywords, it’s wise to head back to Google’s Keyword Planner in order to see which keywords will fetch you the most impressions and traffic. That way, you can focus your marketing efforts around those select few keywords.

Select Your Marketing Channels

If you’re struggling to figure out which channels to market through, here’s a hint: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Pinterest are the biggest players — and you should consider marketing through all of them.

With that being said, marketing veteran Neil Patel is an advocate of brands covering as much ground as possible when it comes to social media marketing. In fact, he advocates publishing on a wide range of social media platforms at least once per day. Be cautious of which social media platforms you choose (if any). Make sure it’s a platform that is used by your target market and has a good user base.

But if you’re still unsure of where to really focus your social media marketing efforts, here are breakdown of each of the top players:

  • Facebook: With over 1.79 billion active users, Facebook is the world’s most popular social media platform in the world. Its most popular age demographic is 18-29, although it’s safe to approach it no matter who your target market is. Here’s a guide to Facebook marketing to get you started.
  • Twitter: While not as big as Facebook, Twitter brings brands and personalities closer to their audiences by creating a very direct conversational link. This is evidenced by the fact that 83% of world leaders have a Twitter account. This Twitter marketing guide will teach you the basics.
  • Pinterest: If you’re targeting women, Pinterest is for you. According to recent research, 71% of Pinterest users are female. Here’s how to start marketing on Pinterest.
  • Snapchat: Originally touted as a passing fad, Snapchat is becoming a very serious player in the marketing scene, especially for brands targeting millennials. In fact, Snapchat’s biggest age demographic is the 18-24 age group. It can be a tricky platform to get familiar with though, so checking out this guide to Snapchat marketing is a good idea.
  • Instagram: Like Snapchat and Pinterest, Instagram has a heavy focus on visuals. However, recent updates — such as Instagram Stories — have turned it into a very direct rival to Snapchat in particular. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you should check out this detailed Instagram marketing guide.
  • YouTube: If you’re planning on creating long-form video content, YouTube is the place to publish it. Why? Because it reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. Here’s how to start marketing on YouTube.

Step 3: The Lessons Learned

Now that you have thoroughly investigated the failures of your last launch, and addressed any holes in your marketing campaigns, it’s time to gather the lessons you learned for future reference.

The lessons, expert advice, and customer feedback that you gleaned from your failed launch should be compiled in the form of a marketing strategy document: which will be your smoking gun for all future product launches.

A marketing strategy document is an in-house guide that your sales and marketing teams can refer to when setting up marketing campaigns, and whenever a new product is getting prepared for launch. The lessons learned from the previous failure will prove invaluable in such times.

This marketing strategy template will help you to frame your content, although the following articles are also worth reading:

You want the document to be the embodiment of your recovery process, ensuring that the same mistakes never get repeated in future.

To sum up, here’s how to finalize your recovery from a failed product launch:

  • Gather all your analyzed data, expert opinions and customer feedback
  • Put together an improved marketing strategy, with a redefined audience
  • Create a marketing strategy template to house all your findings and new objectives

Once you have your final marketing strategy document, your team will be able to easily extract the lessons from your failed product launch — making it more like a successful experiment.

The Value of Failure

As serial-entrepreneur Richard Branson once said, “don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

In light of that quote, it’s fair to say that not every move you make is going to be a win, so gleaning the positives from your worst moments is a vital skill.

Not only will this recovery process improve your product, it will also highlight your mistakes and give you a better understanding of your audience. Not a bad return for a complete failure, right?

Has your brand ever had to recover from a failed product launch? Let us know how you handled it in the comments section below!

About the Author: Anja Skrba is a content manager at First Site Guide, and she has been in the world of online business and content marketing for many years! You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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6 ways to grow your podcast audience with SEO

Columnist Stephan Spencer explains the benefits of podcasting, as well as how to optimize your podcast for visibility in search engines, YouTube and platforms like iTunes or Google Play.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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It’s time to get ready for the holidays (Yes, really!)

It's February, and you know what that means -- the holidays are just around the corner! Okay, maybe not, but columnist Dave Davies explains why now is actually the ideal time for SEOs to start preparing for holiday season 2017.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Valentine’s Day is Tuesday
Why is content marketing so hard?

Welcome to the week before Valentine’s Day! As it happens, it’s connection and engagement week at Copyblogger — and the content this week is all about how you can create a more profound bond with your audience.

On Monday we had a fun day, because we got to finally let you know about something cool we’ve been working on behind the scenes — StudioPress Sites. This new product was conceived and shaped based on our in-depth conversations with customers, and we’re super proud of it. If you’re looking to launch a new site with all the flexibility of WordPress — and without the irritating parts — check it out.

On Tuesday, Brian gave us an in-depth post about how to create content that deeply engages your audience. This is a meaty post, so plan on giving it your full attention and spending some time with it (and your caffeinated beverage of choice, if you choose).

And on Wednesday, Jerod talked about cognitive biases — how your brain is wired to work, whether or not you’re aware of it. He explained ethical ways we can use these biases to shape content to work with our natural tendencies, instead of against them.

Finally, a little earlier today we announced our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for February. These are community challenges we do together every month. This month, I’m giving away five copies of Jonah Sachs’s fascinating book Winning the Story Wars, which is stuffed with ideas about how to connect more closely with your audience … and persuade them to take action.

You can learn more about Winning the Story Wars on the Copyblogger FM podcast this week.

Hope your weekend is an excellent one, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

not just another wordpress siteIntroducing StudioPress Sites: WordPress Made Easy … Without Sacrificing Power or Flexibility

by Brian Clark

What you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference.How to Create Content that Deeply Engages Your Audience

by Brian Clark

we tend to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions.5 Cognitive Biases You Need to Put to Work … Without Being Evil

by Jerod Morris

2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts

by Sonia Simone

Copyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story WarsCopyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story Wars

by Sonia Simone

Creating a Productized Service, with Dan NorrisCreating a Productized Service, with Dan Norris

by Brian Clark

How Screenwriter and 'All Our Wrong Todays' Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part TwoHow Screenwriter and ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid

[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

The post Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers appeared first on Copyblogger.

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2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts


Leave a comment with your entry for this month’s content challenge. You’ll have the chance to win a really good book!

Hey, it’s February! And that means we have two new prompts for our 2017 Content Excellence Challenge.

This month, we’re going to send a copy of Jonah Sachs’s book Winning the Story Wars to five randomly selected commenters. (See the details below for more about who we will and will not be able to send books to.)

Remember, you have two weeks before comments on the post close, so don’t dawdle. :) Give the creative prompt a try and show off how it turned out.

February’s Creative Prompt: Speak to one person

This is one of my all-time favorite ways to make your writing much better, instantly.

The prompt is:

Craft your writing to speak to one, and only one, person. As you write, imagine you’re sitting down with this person over a nice beverage.

Keep in mind that this may take some courage. The political climate at the moment is so charged that even rather innocuous statements can take on a political meaning.

But fortune favors the bold. The courageous voice will always win out over wimpy, dull, “safe” content.

Why it works

When you write for a crowd, you start to pontificate. That verb comes from the word pontiff, and it means to speak to an audience as if you were the Pope delivering a speech from a balcony at the Vatican.

That works great for the Pope, but it won’t work for you.

In your content, imagine one perfect human who’s the exact right match for your business. (Re-read this post if you need better clarification on who that might be: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer with Perfectly Positioned Content.)

I like to visualize this person in great detail. Not just gender, age, or other raw demographic information, but the kinds of details a novelist notices.

  • What kind of drink are you sharing? A beer? A coffee? Kombucha?
  • Do they have freckles?
  • Are they tall or short?
  • What are they wearing?
  • Where are you meeting?
  • What color eyes do they have?

This mental exercise is just to let you imagine a real, warm, flesh-and-blood human across the table from you.

Now, with your next piece of content, write individually to that person. Choose your words, your tone, your metaphors, the stories you tell, and the points you make all with that human being as your audience of one.

If you’re going to play along in our contest this month, leave a short paragraph in the comments showing us how it looked. No more than five lines — just enough to give us a flavor of the tone and voice.

February’s Productivity Prompt: The pivotal technique

This month’s prompt for productivity is one I’ve used for many years, detailed at some length in my post on The Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done.

It comes from Robert Fritz’s Path of Least Resistance, and in a nutshell, the technique is:

  1. Visualize where you want to go. In other words, what will the world around you look like when you’ve achieved what you want? Get extremely clear on this.
  2. Notice where you are now. What does the world look like as it is today? Get extremely clear on this.
  3. Without a lot of drama or self-flagellation, notice the specific differences.

The point here is not to beat yourself up about all the ways in which you don’t live up to your dreams. The point is simply to get very clear on where you are, and where you want to be.

The next step is just to figure out … what the next step is. What action, large or small, would move you in the right direction?

You can keep cycling through these steps — today, tomorrow, or quite literally for the rest of your life. Each cycle “pivots” you in a small way in the right direction. Over time, small pivots, with forward movement, add up to major changes.

Notes on the contest

A few caveats and clarifications for the free books:

  1. We’ll choose five folks at random from those who leave a comment with a brief (five lines or fewer) example of how they used this month’s creative prompt.
  2. You’ll need to be in the U.K., U.S., or Canada, so we can get a copy to you without a lot of delivery stress. If you’re somewhere else and there’s an easy way to get a book to you, we’ll consider it.
  3. If we choose your comment, we’ll contact you via the email address you leave in the comment form.
  4. We won’t share any of your info or use it for something weird, because that would be really dodgy. We’ll just send you your book.
  5. Comments that look spammy will get deleted. The editorial team, as always, has the final word on what looks spammy. If you want more specific advice, check out my podcast episode on Leaving Much Better Comments.

Let’s hear those one-to-one voices! Drop your entry in a comment below …

The post 2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts appeared first on Copyblogger.

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