July 12, 2022 7 min read

Business sustainability is important. Enabling demand for your product that creates a consistent flow of sales is a key component to ensure this. So how do you do this? The short answer is to make it easy for your potential customers to buy from you. There are many ways you can do this and that can be the danger. Analysis paralysis can actually stop customers from buying. An effective pre-order campaign initiated by your business can help. This article will explains how this works. 


Before we get into how to set up a pre-order campaign, let’s look at what a pre-order is, who they are good for, when they can be used and what you can gain from them.

What is a pre-order?

Pre-orders allow you to offer your clients exclusive access to products not available to everyone yet. As an example - pre-orders can be on products that are not developed or even available to purchase yet. Usually a deposit is required to secure a pre-order. Pre-orders tend to be limited stock and therefore come with exclusivity for clients. 

Using a pre-ordering strategy to increase conversion 

Pre-order sales is something that is commonly used by companies launching a new product. Pre-ordering is a very beneficial tool to increase rates of conversion. This article will expand upon the concept of pre-ordering, why and when you should use it, and most importantly, how to conduct this strategy. Let’s get started.

When can a pre-order be used? 

Pre-orders are a great tool to create a sense of exclusivity and build excitement for a new or returning product amongst your clients. Exclusivity on pre-orders is what makes the product special and exciting. It is a strategy that shouldn’t be used on all launches *as tempting as that is.

Pre-orders require lots of preparation, planning and a strong strategy. Therefore it is best used for events like:

  • Launching a big exciting and exclusive product.
  • Launch of a big promotion on an existing product 
  • Offering limited edition products 

A pre-order strategy should be avoided if your product isn’t offering something new and exclusive or doesn’t resonate with your current clientele. 

Pre-order strategy benefits

Pre-order sales can help your immediate cash flow  by selling directly to your existing customers, saving you the time of searching for investors and pitching your ideas. In addition to generating initial revenue, here are some more benefits associated with pre-ordering

Creates excitement for more sales

Pre-ordering campaigns can be executed in all businesses, regardless of size. If your business has the funds, you can work with PR agencies or run ads across various channels to capture your target audience’s attention. Smaller scale companies with tighter budgets can use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to achieve the same.

Receiving access to a pre-ordered item makes clients feel special. They get a sense of being early in the game to a product and feel on a different level from regular customers of the brand. This excitement of exclusivity can help create a future bond with the clients. Offering them access to ‘limited stock’ can make it feel extra special.

Estimated market response

Pre-ordering helps test the response from your audience on the product. It allows companies to work out the potential demand and helps in predicting the manufacturing quantity. In the case of the response to the product not being as good as expected, the manufactures can create a smaller amount of stock, saving from potential loss and unsold stock.

Pre-orders can be great to generate publicity, even if the sales are not so high.

Pre-order campaign challenges

Operational challenge

As pre-orders are likely with a new product - you have to take precautions to ensure there is no delay in manufacturing. 

You need to ensure all external stakeholders are in full cooperation with the strategy, they are the expert in their field, with the supply chain, shipping costs and customer demands.

Product quality checks are also required to ensure they meet all the standards.

You also need to understand the guidelines of external companies who stock and sell your products, to ensure they can fall in line with your guidelines of the strategy.

Logistical challenge

Ensuring that your business is prepared for both good and bad situations, low sales, but also selling out of stock or being overwhelmed with orders. It is crucial to communicate with your clients and be clear of expectations from both sides.

Software challenge

Make sure that your website is prepared to sell pre-order style products and that your inventory management system can handle the orders along with pick/pack/ship once the products arrive.

You might have customers buying your available products at the same time as the pre-order, again, your website and inventory management system needs to be able to manage all of these scenarios. 

Best practices for creating a pre-order marketing strategy

Have a strong timeline of your promotional plan 

The preparation of a pre-order campaign is almost more important than the launch day of the pre-order campaign. If you do not have a strong promotional plan in hand you risk having a failed campaign and risk losing sales.

Your marketing team needs to develop a solid promotional plan to execute throughout the project timeline to keep customers engaged, to generate constant awareness and excitement. A standard timeline to follow is 4-6 months ahead of launch.

Have a dedicated pre-order team

It is advisable to form a dedicated team around the pre-order project to fully cover all requirements associated with the project. The involvement of marketing, IT, and customer service are all vital in a pre-ordering campaign.

The team working on the pre-order should be passionate and enthused to keep the project going and make it successful.

Collaborate with social media influencers

Social media influencers are so incredibly powerful in these kinds of strategies, stats show 71% of customers are more likely to purchase because of social media referrals.

When working with influencers, there are certain points that you should consider:

  • Look for relevance over follower count. Ensuring that the followers are more authentic and specific to the product launching. 
  • Choose the influencer that is strongest in their field, eg: one on instagram, a different one on tiktok and a different one on Facebook - it will then reach more followers covering all the platforms.
  • It is encouraged, but not necessary, to send the influencers one of the products for free to test, if they like it they will be sure to post about it.
  • Influencers are experienced in their fields, it’s worth talking with them and your marketing team to help create the plan.

Create urgency and the fear of missing out for clients

Creating a feeling of urgency and a potential of missing out can encourage clients to take quick action. This strategy can be a great tool to capitalise on building sales whilst using the opportunity to give clients exclusive access to a product by making it feel urgent.

When creating limited quantities of a product, you automatically create exclusivity, which in turn allows the clients purchasing it to feel excited about the access and the idea of owning something limited.

You could potentially offer future discounts or access to the pre-ordering clientele. On either the pre-ordered product or future products

Maintain momentum

If you have followed all the steps so far, arguably one of the most important steps is to ensure momentum is maintained throughout and up to the launch.

Content marketing is crucial in this phase. Content is needed to be published regularly to keep the excitement alive and increase sales. You should also collect the contact data of the clients who pre-order and nurture them with content as they are more likely to recommend your products to their friends.

How to keep momentum going: 

  • Publish guest posts/blogs on relevant publications about your launch. This will help you reach an audience unfamiliar with your brand.
  • To cater to the audience familiar with your brand, i.e., social media followers and email subscribers; you can share content around the testimonials you receive. Also, share updates and new information about the product. They have already shown interest in your brand by following/subscribing, so they are more likely to convert.
  • Join conferences, podcasts, and public events to meet with the audience.
  • Publish educational content around solving a problem by using your product.
  • Implement a referral program to incentivise current customers to encourage word of mouth.

Utilise ads, influencer marketing, guest blogging, press releases, and keep your content game strong, both before and after the pre-order launch, to create and sustain the hype.

Ensure your platform is prepared to handle increased traffic 

You should also prepare for the fortunate scenario in which your pre-order campaign over performs. Ensuring you have efficient systems and a good cloud based inventory system in place is key.

Most businesses would immediately think about their website and to ensure it won't crash when your customers visit it to place orders. A crash would not only lose potential sales, but a server crash creates a negative impression amongst customers, and could lead to negative word of mouth.

Other than a website crash, how do you manage all of your sales orders? You might have an abundance of open orders that you need to ship immediately with existing stock, some that you are using to manufacture your product and others that are simply buy your pre-order product. Not only having the right inventory management system in place that is integrated correctly, you need to make sure that your workflows and system is prepared for the influx of orders.

Very important - be sure to set a limit on the quantity available based on your ability to manufacture. If orders reach the pre-order production run and clients still want the product, you can collect their emails and reach out to them when restocked.

Your customer service team needs to be prepared and trained in all instances to assist customers with their queries on social media and phone/email.

If you need your systems reviewed prior to commencing your pre-order strategy, SMB Consultants can help.

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