Over the last two weeks, we used a pre-sale and strategic discounts to “crowdfund” Tortuga Backpacks’ latest product: a packable daypack.
We chose to run a pre-sale, rather than do a Kickstarter, because
- Our email list is large enough (low 5-figures) to fund a minimum order with our supplier.
- We can shorten the process from one month (typical Kickstarter length) to less than two weeks.
- Running the pre-sale through our store means more of the money goes toward inventory, not fees. We also have all of the buyers’ information, including their email addresses, stored in Shopify.
Since we don’t do many sales, we only offered a pre-order discount code to past customers, email subscribers, and social media followers. No sale price was shown on our site. Our audience got a nice perk ($15 discount) for ordering during the pre-sale, and we still kept our brand image and pricing consistent for random site visitors. The discount was key to driving pre-sales during this period as you will see in the data.
Using Email to Drive Pre-Sales
Much like with Kickstarter, our sales were concentrated at the beginning and the end of the campaign. The discount codes were only valid from March 2-13.
Seventy-six percent of sales were on the launch day, the next to last day, or the last day of the campaign. We sent emails on two of those three days.
Sales on the day of the reminder email were 89% as high as on the launch day.
Emails = sales.
Sources of Pre-Sales
We used unique discount codes for newsletter subscribers, daypack wait list subscribers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our podcast.
Seventy-five percent of orders used a discount code sent by email to newsletter or wait list subscribers.
Facebook (4% of orders) and the podcast (2% of orders) were the next most popular sources.
Email also accounted for 81% of total sales by dollar amount.
What Didn’t Work
To help generate interest in the pre-sale, our supplier made a sample order of twenty daypacks to send out to evangelists, partners, and friends as a “beta test.”
People loved the bags, wrote postitive reviews, and were generous in helping to promote the pre-sale. However, the beta test was not necessary to the success of the pre-sale. Sales generated internally, via our email list, would have easily covered the minimum order quantity (MOQ). Plus, without the sample order, we could have started the pre-sale sooner and, consequently, had the daypacks in stock sooner.
The beta test was useful for strengthening relationships with our partners, introducing people to the daypack earlier, and for having reviews live when the pre-sale launched. The social proof offered by the latter was important to converting as many people as possible.
TL;DR Lessons for Next Time
- Get early samples into the hands of beta testers, don’t wait for a sample order
- Seed real, honest reviews before the pre-sale
- Tease the benefits of being on the email list (discounts) and push for more subscribers before the pre-sale
- Limit pre-sale discounts to customers, subscribers, and followers
- Keep the pre-sale period short to maintain exclusivity