Coming Soon: How a Launch Page Can Bring You Customers
Driving around your city, you’ve undoubtedly seen “Coming Soon” signs posted on empty lots, letting you know a business would soon be occupying that space. It’s a way for that business to drum up early interest and anticipation, especially if it’s something that appeals to you. If your town is lacking a good pizza joint, and then you see a sign saying one is being built, you’re going to look forward to opening day—and probably keep checking the place’s progress—so you can go try it out.
The same is true for a business website. Building a site takes time, and it’s a good idea to let potential customers know when your products or services will become available. But we’re way beyond the old school “coming soon” pages that contained clip art and .gif images of construction workers in hardhats, and a cute little “Under Construction” message across the screen.
Now, you can build a launch page that begins building buzz, and even an audience, before you even open your virtual doors.
Why Should You Use a Launch Page?
In addition to letting potential site visitors and customers know when your site will be up, a coming soon page can help you establish a presense in the search engine results pages (SERPs) before you even launch. It’s an opportunity to describe your business site, and include the specific words people are searching for online.
For example, if your site is going to sell custom purple widgets, you can explain that on your launch page. Even before your site actually launches, the “coming soon” page may be indexed, and when people search for “custom purple widgets,” there’s a chance your site will appear in the results even before you’re actually selling those widgets.
You may think this is counterintuitive because there won’t be much content on the page, which may cause the search engines to give it low rakings. In fact, Google has said that having a “coming soon” page is not detrimental to a site, and if done well, can even add value.
This is just one way you can begin building an audience and a customer base so that when you do launch, you have a group of people waiting at the door to come in and browse—and hopefully buy.
Launch Page Design
While you’re building your business website, you have a few options for how your home page is displayed:
- You can go with the old school “Under Construction,” with those cute little dudes in hardhats, and make people think you’re stuck in 1995 and probably don’t really know what the heck you’re doing.
- You can put up a clean launch page, either with text only, or with contemporary images
- You can come out swinging with an interactive launch page that gets people interested in your site, and serves a few functions
It shouldn’t need to be said, but just in case, don’t do the first one. The second one is all right, definitely better than the first option, and maybe you think it’s your only option because you’re not a designer. How are you supposed to put up an awesome launch page without developer skills?
How to Create a Launch Page
Whether you’re having your site professionally designed, or you’re using a theme to easily spruce up your WordPress site, you don’t need to be a developer to create a functional and fun launch page yourself. This is the Internet of the 21st Century. You have options.
If you’re building your site in WordPress, you already know it’s user-friendly, and gives you the ability to perform complex customizations through plugins. As you might have guessed, there is no shortage of “maintenance mode” and “coming soon” plugins for WordPress sites.
Its basic mode is a very plain page to which you can add your own text and a clock that counts down to launch. But Maintenance Mode will also allow you to design and customize the page if you know CSS or HTML.
Ultimate Coming Soon Page
This plugin from SeedProd does Maintenance Mode one—actually, a few—better. Image customization is easier, and is as simple as uploading an image to be the launch page’s background. You can add whatever text you want, with basic formatting like bold and italic.
Where this plugin really shines is in the option to paste code into the text box. This opens up a whole other world of possibilities. For example, you can create a mailing list in an email marketing program like Mailchimp, and then paste that code into the coming soon plugin. Then add text to the page offering to notify your visitors of your site’s launch.
You collect names and email addresses during construction time, and on launch day, send an email to the list letting them know you’re open for business. Not only do you immediately get visitors to your now-published website, you also have a list of names and email address that can be the foundation of an email marketing list.
But use that list wisely. Anytime site visitors and potential customers give you their contact information, you must respect their privacy. Don’t spam your list. Send those who supported you pre-launch a grand opening coupon, or a newsletter full of helpful tips, something that relates to your site and that offers your list members value.
Ultimate Coming Soon Page is free, but you can upgrade to Pro and get a handful of extra features. The personal license is $29, while the developer license costs $99. (At the time of this writing, the developer license was on sale for $49. Get in on that while it lasts! And if you missed it, keep an eye out for future deals from SeedProd.)
You don’t have to rely on WordPress for an impressive and functional launch page, though.
This is essentially the Cadillac of “coming soon” pages. You can load it up on your site’s home page, regardless of whether you’re using WordPress, another content management system, or just coding the page from scratch yourself.
LaunchRock not only gives you the tools to build a custom launch page from the ground up, it lets you do things like:
- add your Google analytics code so you can track visits to the page
- include social sharing buttons so visitors can spread the word about your site
- add your own social network links to get early followers
- build an email list of people who want to know more about your business
If you don’t have a domain yet, you can register one right from the LaunchRock site. They’ll also connect you with several partners—logo designers, theme producers, e-commerce solutions—to help you get your business site off on the right foot.
Before you start actually building your website, take some time to build your launch page first. Aside from all the tangible benefits you’ll get, the one intangible may be the most important—you can slow down. Having a page up that helps promote your site while you’re still building will take some of the pressure off so you can build a high-quality site, not just slap a few pages up so you have something there for customers. Do it right from the start, and your business will be that much easier to manage.
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