The whole aim of the pre-launch campaign is to build anticipation and excitement about the product so that you get customers chasing you.

Entrepreneurial marketer Yifat Shirben began her entrepreneurial journey in Israel nearly a decade ago and is the former founder of

Speaking at the South Start Conference in Adelaide, she revealed the critical steps in attracting, retaining and delighting customers when starting a new business or launching a new product.

“Understand that your metric is not to get them to marry you but to give them lifetime value, to get as much as possible out of existing users and get them to stay with you for as long as possible,” she says.

“Long gone are the days when customers will be with you for better or for worse.”

Run a pre-launch campaign

Before a major launch of a product or service, Shirben says it’s critical to run a pre-launch campaign.

“This is the opportunity to test the market in small scale,” she says.

Shirben says it’s also a great way to start educating the market, building a bit of hype and creating an initial database of potential customers.

The whole aim of the pre-launch campaign is to build anticipation and excitement about the product so that you get customers chasing you and giving up their contact details.

It’s the same approach Apple takes when it generates hype around new releases through rumours, presentations and insider images.

“They’re trying to get you to want to buy your product,” she says.

“People want to go on [their] waiting list.”

There are multiple marketing channels available to start raising awareness including through blogs, forums, social media, events and influencers.

“You need to approach every channel differently,” she says.

“The more you put yourself out there the more chances people will know about your brand and want to buy from you later.”

Choosing the right channels and the best messaging requires a strong understanding of the end user.

Like dating, Shirben says founders should proactively get to know who their customers are, where they hang out online, what inspires them, their aspirations and their pain points because these details will answer these questions.

If you don’t know the end user, she suggests running small set of A/B tests to see how they respond to various messaging and learn what works best.

Keep your leads warm with email marketing

With the leads generated in the pre-launch campaign, the next step is getting in touch in the right way, at the right time, and scheduled email marketing is an excellent way to do this, says Shirben.

“If you want do a great job with your welcome email, it must consist of four different sections,” she says.

Start with thank you: acknowledge the person’s effort in filling in their contact details and sharing them with the business.

“Thank you for taking time and showing interest in our new product,” she says.

Then welcome them and make them feel like they are part of something big.

“They’re not buying a product, they’re buying a dream,” she says.

“[You could say] I’m so glad you joined us on this mission of…”

After this, set some expectations on how often they’ll be contacted whether it’s a daily email or a fortnightly update.

“As long as they understand what they’re going to get out of you from you they’re okay,” she says.

Shirben says this will deter recipients from marking your emails as spam and importantly, they’ll read them.

Finally, Shirben says you must tell people what’s in it for them.

This will be the trigger point that gets them to read your emails, whether it’s an early bird special or an exclusive offer.

Keeping this list warm in the months leading up to the full launch are critical to ensuring people are waiting for you.

“The key to any relationship is communication,” she says.

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