Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The 5-Part Tech Stack to Drive Pre-Launch Hype for your Brand

Brand Launches
February 13, 2022

Two links that I owe you from previous newsletters:

  • The Levels podcast I did with Ben can be heard by clicking here.
  • The Trader Joe’s essay I wrote and forgot to link can be read by clicking here.

If you were forwarded this newsletter, please take 11 seconds to click here and subscribe for free. You’ll join 24,000 CMOs, investors, CEOs, founders, and marketers from companies as large as Bacardi and as small as your high school friend who has “Entrepreneur” in his bio.

Last week, I asked in my newsletter if anyone wanted to see how we've tested brands to see if they'll "pop" upon launch and thousands of you replied with emojis! So, here we go.

First, let's cover what the "stack" looks like here:

  • Advertising platform — Snap, TikTok, or Facebook
  • Website CMS — I prefer Unbounce
  • Creative production — examples will be below
  • Product — this is what you're testing
  • Brand — you'll need a brand to sell a product

For advertising, you can use Snap (and get up to $2k in credits here), or TikTok. You can also use Facebook, which is a bit more expensive, but allows you to get more data around messaging, headlines, and imagery that works, whereas Snap and TikTok require you to push video. Either way, I would set aside about $5k in ad spend for this. That amount gives you enough to properly test and learn both on the creative side, but also on the landers, which I will get into shortly. 

For the website front-end and back-end, I like to keep things simple. If you already have a Shopify instance setup, you can use that for your backend and use Builder's LP template on top so it's easy to build pages. If you don't have Shopify setup, then I would recommend using Unbounce. Even with zero coding or design skills, Unbounce makes it pretty easy to whip something up quickly. Years ago, I made this page, with zero design or development skills, just drag and drop.

Unbounce makes it easy to install pixels as well. Speaking of, here's what you'll want to make sure you add to the page:

  • Ad platform pixel (whether you use Snap, FB, or TikTok)
  • Microsoft Clarity
  • Quantcast Measure
  • Google Analytics

What is Microsoft Clarity? You may know of HotJar. Microsoft Clarity is HotJar on steroids with zero cost. Completely free. It gives you heat maps for desktop/mobile, scroll-depth maps (so you can see how far someone goes before leaving), and user session recordings. The user recordings are the most useful in my opinion because you can see where someone spends more time than others, and adjust your messaging or where it sits on your page to increase conversion. For example, if you see that a comparison chart or a specific review has more time spent looking at it, then you might want to move that higher in the page, or change your opening headline text to be something more along those lines.

Quantcast Measure is like a pixel from the Gods of data. Quantcast is probably the smartest digital programmatic advertising company (think banner ads) and they have some of the richest data. Their publisher product, Quantcast Measure, allows you to place the pixel on your site, and get data like:

  • The type of car your audience drives
  • The media outlets they read from
  • The education background
  • What kind of companies do they work at
  • What type of job they have

Is it creepy? Uhh... maybe? But it's all anonymized, and you can't track this data back to any single person, so maybe not as creepy. It's all data that's "public" anyways. When we go to websites or swipe our American Express credit cards, we consent to this data being anonymously shared, so that sneaky advertisers like us and see who lands on our websites.

Google Analytics you want to have because it's the standard analytics pixel, but also make sure you set this up with Google Tag Manager so you get GA4 (their new version of GA) versus the older Universal Analytics product.

Once you get these pixels set up, create an Unbounce account and start getting familiar with the platform. 

You want your page to hit on a few key things:

  • A compelling hero section (headline, imagery, maybe even video to demonstrate the product, social proof)
  • Why does this product exist? 
  • How does this product help me to live a better life?
  • What does this product do versus what is currently in the market?

You might add certain sections to help explain it like a comparison chart, a reviews/testimonials section, a founder story section, etc., but it's not required. You can explain it in your own way.

From a copywriting standpoint, write the copy as if someone could copy and paste it to their best friends in a group chat. It should be concise, benefits-first, and focus on how it improves their life. No one cares about the nerdy features, they want to know how it helps them.

Here are a few examples of pages that either Sharma Brands has run with clients in the past, or I've found and thought were great:

Jolie Pre-Launch Sign Up

Skincare Test Brand

JuneShine New Flavor Capture

Ok, now let's talk about creative. You can get as grand as you'd like, or as small. It's up to you and the budget you have available to play with. To be honest, you can get great results with either a large budget or a small one.

You want your creative to address:

  • What are you selling?
  • Who is it for?
  • Why does it help you?
  • How will I defend the purchase to my friends?

You want to make sure it feels native to the platform you're in. So if you're running on Facebook, Snap, or TikTok, make it feel like something that would do well organically as well. That's how you can stretch every dollar as far as possible. The creative that feels like an ad from the get-go always eats more money to get the same effect.

Production-wise, you can get a fancy video editor to create assets for you, or you can film something in the TikTok app, edit it there, download it, and run it. This FB ad for Immi was an example of something I made for TikTok and they turned it into an ad. Not-so-surprisingly, it's one of their best UGC ads with a 2.5x ROAS. UGC feels native to social platforms and they tell a story without the "As Seen on TV" ad feeling with it. 

Another example of a great ad is this Jolie ad using the iMessage style. Simple and easy to make and great for telling a story as well.

You can also always use statics, either exclusively or on top of the video as well. When running statics I like to test a few "this vs that" things like:

  • Black & white VS color imagery
  • Studio vs Lifestyle
  • Older vs Younger models
  • Text overlay vs plain 

Now with actually testing on paid media — it's easier than you might think it is. Once you have the pixels set up and your page works (test it yourself, ask a friend to test it, try it while you're drunk to triple check), then you want to learn how to run some basic ads. Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok all have fairly similar ads platform. I would recommend going to YouTube and learning the basics from YT videos if you don't know how to do it — it's the same way I learned a few years ago. 

Sure, you could hire an agency, but for two reasons, you shouldn't: 

  1. You'll end up paying way too much to manage a few thousand dollars in ad spend, for a good agency
  2. Having a good understanding of ad platforms is smart because down the road when you DO hire an agency, you can call them on their BS when you see it

When running these campaigns, I like to set up the campaigns to all be focused on Conversion, with the conversion event being the submission of the email. When you run campaigns in a conversion setting, the platforms automatically go for the best users on the platform, because they want to show good results. Website clicks, Video Views, Reach, etc. are all valid campaigns, but they don't bring you the most qualified users. Running a conversions campaign where you map the "Submit" button to be the conversion event has always proven to be the best way to set these up for me.

Now the fun part — the results. 

With results, look at these metrics:

  • CPA (cost of email acquisition)
  • CTR (click-through-rate)
  • CPM (cost per 1,000 people reached)
  • Video watch time
  • Hook rate (3-second views over impressions)
  • Page conversion rate (signups over visitors)

CPA: Tells you how much it costs to acquire an email address

CTR: Tells you how effective creative is. Higher CTR with specific copy or visuals means it's stronger or weaker

CPM: Tells you how it plays in the platform. High CPMs mean you're not doing a good enough job of playing to what the platform wants. The opposite is true, too.

Video watch time: Tells you how long people are engaged with your creative.

Hook rate: Tells you how good your intro is to your creative, how catchy your copy is, etc.

Page conversion rate: Tells you how good your page is at converting a user. 10-25% is solid. 25% to 50% is great. 50-75% is amazing. 75%+ means you've got a $100M idea.

Run the tests. Look at the numbers. Make iterations based on the numbers. You'll find a winning combination soon enough.