How to run a pre-order campaign

everpress_pre-order_t-shirt_campaign

Now you’ve built your campaign, prepped it for success, and nailed your campaign page, it’s worth getting to grips with the usual flow of a pre-order T-shirt campaign before you hit ‘LAUNCH’. This will give you the best chance of making the most of every stage, from prepping for your launch to taking stock once it’s over. We’ve looked at the key moments, and put together our tips on maximising each stage.

Pre-launch

Taking advantage of your pre-launch period means you’ll be ready to hit the ground running once your campaign goes live.

The period just before you go live is a great time to suss out the appetite for your pieces. If you’ve got a couple of designs and you’re not sure which you want to commit to, try putting it to your community with an Instagram poll. Not only will this help give you a good sense of what your audience wants, but it can also be a great way to announce your campaign and start building an appetite for your designs.  

Which brings us to hyping your campaign. The one thing most of the best-performing campaigns have in common is they’ve been hyped to their community before they’ve gone live. Start with vague messaging, a few “Coming Soon” teasers, and build up to letting your audience know the exact date and time they can start ordering your designs. This helps keep your audience focused on the campaign, gives them time to save, and gets them asking questions about when your pieces will be ready to buy.

Get content ready to help with promotion. Once you’ve finalised your designs, get in touch with us and we’ll get a sample sent out. You can be as creative as you like with promo content, but if you’re in need of inspiration we’ve collected some insights from the people behind some of our favourite campaigns:

 

t-shirt-photography
Photography by Aiste Stancikaite

While not an option for everyone, gifting samples to influential friends is also an idea. Especially if you’re running a charity-focused campaign, it can be really effective to send samples out to influential supporters who are happy to champion your cause on their own channels. This was one of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity’s strategies, the charity sent T-shirts out to influencers who helped spread the word about their fundraiser. We definitely saw the value of collaboration in our own 50/50 campaign; working with 50 artists meant we were able to multiply our own network 50 times over, which was invaluable for reaching new audiences.

And finally… have you campaign’s key moments mapped out. The rest of this guide is packed with tips on when and how to promote your campaign, and this pre-launch stage is the perfect time to make sure you’ve got everything ready to go.

Tip: make sure your campaign page is packed with content to tell your story and the story of your campaign, read our guide on making your campaign page look pro here.

Launch

Making the most of your launch is key, it’s one of the biggest moments in any pre-order campaign.

Your launch post announces that your designs are ready to buy to the world, so think carefully about how to make the biggest impact with your community. This is how you’ll begin launching your promo content out across social media, so it’s handy to have a rough order of when you’ll be using what.

Our team has been taking notes on the most effective initial posts. If you’ve made a new image as part of your design, it tends to work best to post it as you would usually, and use your mockup as a secondary image within that post, like Evan Cohen’s. Photos of you wearing your tee, like Joey Yu, tend go down great too.

 

 

One of the most important things to remember here is the link to your campaign page. This is how your audience place orders for your designs, so it’s really critical that the link is easy for them to locate. Pushing your campaign link at all times is essential so there’s no ambiguity, and be sure to add it to your Instagram bio too.

There’s no right or wrong place to promote your work, and it’s always best to use the platform that you’re most comfortable with, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of our sales, about 40%, come from Instagram (check out our tips on where to promote for more info on this). Whatever you go with, we’ve put together some pointers for promoting your designs on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And, though it tends to get forgotten about in the social media era, if you’ve built up an email database this is a great place to shout about your designs too, Kelly Angood, of Fruit Stickers, found hers really useful.

Tip: When posting on social, give as much detail about your product as possible, you want to make the buying decision as easy as possible for your fans. Illustrator Jor Ros summed this up nicely when he said, “If one of the goals is to get people interested in the product and the story, I think the least they can expect from you is complete transparency, so they know what they’re getting from you.”

Mid-campaign

Keeping the momentum going over the course of your campaign.

This can be a delicate period for longer campaigns; it might not seem like much at the beginning, but 30 days is a long time when it comes to running a pre-order campaign. We typically see the most sales in the launch and final days, so we know the stretch in the middle can sometimes feel a bit awkward from a promotion perspective. The trick to this is finding the balance between your own natural rhythm on your socials, and keeping the momentum going with pushing your designs. These tips should stand you in good stead:

Creating new and interesting ways to talk about the same thing is a big part of this, and this is where a mix of content comes into play:

  • If you ran a photo shoot, keep some photos aside to use for fresh impact later on
  • Make new images with your mockup, if you’ve just made a new illustration or graphic try pasting your design over the top
  • Save some behind the scenes content on the making of your T-shirt, or from your photoshoot
  • Photos of friends in your T-shirt will help your audience see it in a new light
  • Close-ups of your design in detail will add a new dimension to your pieces
  • Discuss the inspiration behind your design, try sharing mood boards for anyone interested in your process

 

 

Use Instagram and Facebook stories. Designed to be more spontaneous, these are the perfect medium for mid-way through, and because they’re only live for 24 hours you can post about your campaign without overdoing it on the main feed.

Keep tabs on how your sales are doing and use this info to your advantage. Did an Instagram post at the start of your campaign get great feedback and lead to a spike in sales? There’s no harm in posting a similar version later on when initial interest has flagged a bit.  

The middle of the campaign is a great time to focus on advertising your campaign on social media to audiences beyond your own. Instagram and Facebook advertising is reasonably easy to get started with and we recommend looking into it.

Countdown to campaign end

Take advantage of the countdown urgency to maximise last-minute sales.

The end of any pre-order campaign is when you should be making use of urgency to help maximise last-minute sales. Remember, the majority of our pre-orders tend to come at the very start when you launch and then right at the end as it closes.

Think of the last few days of your campaign as a timeline of key countdown moments, from 48 hours to go, to 24 hours, to 12 hours, to 1 hour to go. When your campaign has only 24 hours left, the ‘X days left to pre-order’ counter on our site will automatically switch to red. Drawing people to your campaign page during this period will get the most out of this feature.

 

 

In terms of what to post, this is the time to really double-down on the content that’s worked best for you so far. Hopefully, by this stage, you’ll have a fair idea of what resonates well with your fans.

Phrases like, ‘Ending Soon’, ‘Only X hours left’ and ‘Last Chance!’ will help emphasise to your audience that this is their last opportunity to buy. Be really clear about how much time is left too, it doesn’t hurt to include your campaign’s end time will close as well as the hours left to go, that way the message is clear for anyone who doesn’t see the post immediately: “24 hours left! My campaign ends at 5pm tomorrow.”

everpress_instagram_stories_EXAMPLE

Again, Instagram and Facebook stories might have been created just for this purpose; they’re a great way to post regularly in the final days of your campaign without feeling like you’re bombarding your fans. And you can also use the ‘archive’ option on Instagram and the ‘hide post’ option on Facebook later if you want to post to your main feed or profile but don’t want to keep it on your main feed permanently.

Post-campaign

This is the time to take stock of how your campaign went, and build upon your knowledge for future campaigns.

Folio

A pre-order campaign is a great promotional tool even once it’s over. Your social media channels should now be packed with great content showcasing your beautiful physical products, and these posts won’t go to waste.

Think of your campaign posts as folio pieces. Keeping them live on your feed after the campaign has ended doesn’t just show off your aesthetic, it also signals to your followers that your output is dynamic and unique. Did you promote your campaign on Instagram Stories? Try keeping them as an archive for anyone newly arriving to your feed to check out.

everpress_t-shirt_campaign_pre-Order

Re-launch

When your campaign ends, it’s not ended forever. You have the option to re-launch your campaign at any time, just get in touch and we can do this for you. If you saw a last-minute surge in sales, it could be worth immediately re-launching your campaign again for a shorter period of time, to give anyone who missed out a second chance to buy. Using messaging like, “Back due to popular demand” or “We’ve had loads of requests to make the T-shirt available again, so here it is!” will avoid any confusion around why it’s live again.

Plus, when your campaign is over fans and potential customers can still access your URL on our site, and our ‘re-launch request’ feature lets them leave their email so they can be notified if your campaign goes live again. If you get 10 of these requests, we’ll email to let you know. As well as making sure you don’t miss out on any post-campaign demand, this is great for building email marketing lists and measuring interest in future campaigns.

Future

Keep future campaigns in mind. The period when T-shirts begin arriving with their customers can be a great time for content, be sure to engage with people tagging you in photos of their new T-shirts and save any of their posts. You can either repost these straight away or use them later to help promote a second or third campaign or a relaunch; “Here’s Jess wearing my Fast Lane T-shirt. They’re available again for a limited time only, hit the link in my bio to grab yours!”.

Gather and make a note of any feedback, whether that’s on your design, the fit of your T-shirt, whatever, it’s valuable, free advice that will stand you in good stead for future campaigns. Likewise, if you got any feedback on us then we’d love to hear it.

Lessons

Finally, review your expectations. Did your hopes for your campaign match the reality? Although there’s a range of benefits to running a pre-order campaign beyond sales, not least building your brand awareness and engaging with your community, it can feel easiest to judge our success solely on T-shirts sold. Sales can often exceed expectations, but if they were slower than you’d hoped it’s worth bearing in mind that some of our biggest sellers have taken 2-3 campaigns to really hit their stride and maximise sales.

You should think of your first campaign as something of a test-run. While some people excel on their first run, it’s often the case that you’d have areas to improve on in a fresh campaign. As with anything, the more pre-order campaigns you run, the better and more effective you’ll become at managing them. And the best way to improve on any mistakes and to learn going forward is by looking at your campaign with a critical eye – How did I go? How can I improve? What content worked?

Share
THE EASIEST WAY TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM MERCHANDISE ONLINE.