Ready For Launch!
Thanks for joining us today. Let's clear up the easy questions first -
Do I need a landing page for my startup?
Yes, you do. Empires may fall and oceans may dry, but let there be no doubt about this - your startup NEEDS a landing page.
Have you developed a beautiful app or product to shake up the world? Are you a creative entrepreneur or restauranteur, on the hunt for your first few customers and super fans? Maybe you're a student or devoted hobbyist wanting to throw your project out there, test out the waters, see how far your potential extends.
Whatever your venture may be, the internet has greatly leveled the playing field for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. And having a great landing page will let you show off your business idea, build up your audience, and score conversions to kickstart your early growth.
When am I ready to launch the landing page?
Now, if not yesterday. As Gmail creator and Y Combinator partner Paul Buchheit advises all startups: "Sell before you build."
Many startups wait until they are fully ready to launch, or at least have an MVP (minimum viable product), before beginning to market themselves and connect with audiences. But even a soft launch or bug-infested beta can take months to prepare - months which could be leveraged powerfully with a great landing page. Some of the hugely beneficial moves you could make in that time include -
Collecting feedback to improve your product or idea
Promoting visibility to audiences and potential investors
Building an email list of early customers and fans
A/B testing your key message, and various site elements
We're obviously not telling you to drop everything, drop your pants, and launch a broken business website in the next ten minutes. But assuming you have your fundamentals in place, then a great landing page - even pre-launch - lets you gain visibility, learn what your audience wants, and begin amassing customers to kickstart your momentum.
How do I use this guide?
Each section is a usable mini-guide on its own. But to get the most value here, you should first go through the whole thing, then as you start making your own site piece by piece - probably using a website builder or hiring a designer - refer back to relevant sections and ideas here. We created this guide to provide you with the tools, know-how, and best practices to build and launch your startup landing page.
We've intentionally created this guide using one of our actual site templates, to show you what you can do in the most direct and actionable way we can. Alright - let's get started!
Writing A Good Headline
As Brian Clark of Copyblogger made it known: “8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
Daunting statistic - but even more reason why your headline needs to deliver high impact in the tiny window you have to snag your site visitors' initial attention. The best landing page headlines are short and easy phrases - direct, simple, memorable. Avoid jargon and long words altogether.
Call-to-Action in Your Header?
Given that 80% of people wont make it past your headline, obviously a CTA (call-to-action) must be included in your landing page header, right?
Actually, that depends. It depends on whether or not you have adequately “given” before asking - are your headline and value proposition powerful enough to move your site visitors to action, right off the bat? That’s something you’ll have to judge, and then verify through testing and looking at conversion rate data.
If your startup is pre-launch, then the most logical CTA to put in your header would be an email signup form. Promise them blog updates, newsletters, content updates, and other downloads and offers. Build fans early, and let them be the first in line to get access to your updates, inside scoop, and eventual launch. Mailchimp and Wufoo are two tools that that you embed and manage forms nicely.
Good Landing Page Headers
Take a look at how these three different examples each work well.
No value proposition, no CTA, hardly even a headline - here's a header that succeeds purely on design. Text is bolded and centered, a custom image is used, and the mix of black, red and white feels intense and intriguing. Even if you have no idea what Fire Panda is - which you probably don't - you would scroll down to see more, based purely on the visceral appeal.
Your education. Funded.
With a playful custom logo and blurred background that creates a cheery feel, Scholarflip cuts right to the big idea - "We're changing the way students pay for college". There's no CTA here, but a powerful headline like that leads you right on to the rest of their value proposition below.
Where Muslims match and meet.
The header for Salaam Swipe is all about about emphasizing the CTA. In order to make it work, a simple headline is used - read it once, and you know whether you're in or out - then you have the value proposition, and the signup button in contrasting green.
Let's think about content in three main types - static, interactive, and ongoing - and then look at examples.
Static content - such as header sections about your story, team, and mission - is timeless and reliable. It also helps balance out busier content like rich media. Too many moving parts will overwhelm visitors, and slow page loading speed too.
Meet the Team
Introducing your team and cofounders is another great choice for static content. It also functions as a form of social proof.
Be sure to pair each member's description with a pleasant, professional profile photo. Regardless of your business or branding, the tone should be cheery and expressive. Nobody wants to see a team of motionless stormtroopers.
"Berlin’s Master Chef 2009" serves his guests modern French cuisine with his signature take at Fischers Fritz. For the seventh time in a row he has been awarded two Michelin stars.
Verena is the backbone of the team, always ensuring that things run smoothly. She looks after our partnerships, manages the finances, and coordinates all PR activities.
Add a Media Gallery
Media galleries let us tell powerful visual stories of our lives and work, because photos and videos transcend barriers. Whatever your startup is trying to do, adding a gallery is universally one of the best ways to engage your site visitors deeply and instantly.
Anything to do with your business or product is fair game - it's up to you how to curate and share your media assets with your audiences. If you're pre-launch, build some hype and suspense with product previews, mockups, and teaser trailers.
Embed a Video
Video is one of the most engaging forms of content - among many other statistics, site visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product, and will stay on a site 2 minutes longer after watching a video.
If you've previously created some kind of launch video or teaser trailer for a pitch or demo, embed that onto your landing page. And if you haven't, you should consider making one - research locally to find a video production agency that suits your style and needs.
Offer 'Premium' Content
'Premium', 'advanced', or 'gated' content is an unofficial category including high-value content that takes more time and expertise to produce. You could justifiably sell premium content - but as a startup making a name for yourself, you're probably better off giving it away or at most, using it to incentivize signups.
Offering premium content is a great way to express your initiative, authority, and commitment to helping your audiences beyond your pure product offering. Premium content gives that extra "wow" factor that potential customers and collaborators are always looking out for.
Podcasts & Webinars
Write a Blog
"We had a blog in place, even before product development. By talking about the problems we aimed to solve, we began drumming up interest with so much advance notice, we had more than 14,000 interested buyers when the product came to market." - Phil Fernandez, founder of Marketo
We're not saying you need to have 14,000 readers pre-launch. But the principle holds here - blogging is one of the best ways to build lasting, loyal audiences, even if your actual product or service is not live yet. Aim at a regular posting schedule, and encourage feedback and interaction. Engage your audience in a direct and meaningful way, addressing their hopes and needs. Grow and lead your readership.
Blog Post Ideas
Expertise and experience sharing
Thoughts on industry movements
Personal and team reflections
Tips, tutorials, how-to lists
Stories and 'behind the scenes'
Guest posts and interviews
Testimonials connect with people emotionally. We can all relate to simple words and feelings from other people, better than almost anything else.
Display your testimonials in a paragraph, slider, or listing as shown in the three examples below. Keep them short and sweet!
Show Off Your Affiliations
If you have partners, clients, and sponsors that you're proud of working with - or if your startup has been featured in any publications, blogs, or other media channels - then by all means, show that off on your landing page.
Like the "resume" section of a personal website, this kind of social proof brings an air of trust and familiarity that is difficult to earn in any other way.
Leave a Contact Form
Leave a Donation Link
For early stage startups, many of you may be looking primarily for funding. You might even already have a campaign going on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which you should definitely provide a link back to on your landing apge.
Convince your site visitors of the worthiness of your cause and the strength of your product with a great value proposition, content, and social proof on your landing page.
THEN, leave a donation button or link to your funding page, encouraging your site visitors to step up to become your invested donors and fans.
Get a Custom Domain
A 'domain' is the essential piece of any website URL – the “website.com” part. A domain functions like a geographic address for a site on the web. We find websites by typing them into the address bar, or by coming in through links to the domain.
A custom domain refers to a unique web address, such as www.google.com or www.parkerlovescats.net.
Why does my landing page need a custom domain?
It would be a mistake not to invest a few bucks in a custom domain name for your startup landing page. A custom domain provides higher professionalism as well as SEO benefits - but main reason is simply that your startup won't be taken as seriously without one. When you share your site with others, you only have one chance at a first impression - and www.Travelsmart.com shows a different level of commitment than www.Travelsmart.somedefaultsubdomain.com.
For help on how to choose and actually claim a custom domain, read more here. But basically - keep it simple, clear, and memorable with www.(yourstartupname).com. If that's taken, go with the closest and most natural variation possible. No funny business here.
SEO Quick Fixes
Search engine optimization makes your site more highly ranked and visible on Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on. This is hugely important if you are trying to gain authority in your niche, build a focused content strategy around certain keywords, and also be found by the seas of digital writers, investors, and potential customers who live online, looking for emerging startups and businesses like yours.
Page description and meta tags
Fill in as much info as you can for your page description and meta tags. Your description should be several sentences long, with several meta tags.
Put keywords in headings
Search engines give additional weight to headings, so you should add descriptive keywords into them. For instance, “About Johnny’s Bakery” is better than “About” .
Social & Email Sharing
Now that your landing page is ready for the world, it's time to promote it! Start by shouting out on social media, and sending an email out to everyone in your and your team's contact lists.
Shout out on social media!
Social media has become so prevalent and powerful that every startup should be leveraging it to reach audiences. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest are some of the best choices. Go after the two or three where your main audiences are.
When your landing page is live, shout out across your platforms, using hashtags, mentions, and brief and catchy copy to help increase reach. Encourage people to follow your page, and sign up to your early access list.
Send out an email -
Send an email out to your contacts, providing the link to your landing page and inviting them to check it out and then take some action (email signup, product feedback and so on). Make the message exciting and sincere - your earliest fans will be some of your most important ones all the way.
Outreach & Exposure
There are countless ways to go about this, so you need to prioritize which few channels would work best given your startup and audience. If you're setting up a physical business, focus on local press and word of mouth. If you're testing a tech product, go after ProductHunt, BetaList, and other relevant news & listing sites. Choose the promotion strategies that will let you most effectively find and engage with your best potential users.
You'll need to find a balance between reach and relevance. Since you (should) already know who your target audience is, it's best to start with them - stay smaller and highly targeted, and build some success in a niche market before expanding your reach and taking over the world.
Connect with influencers
Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find influential figures, journalists, and bloggers in your niche. They're always on the lookout for promising stories, so pitch them and see if they're interested in sharing or writing about your startup.
Engage with niche communities
Your best potential users might not all be on Facebook. Find them on boards and forums, through local meetups, and other less obvious places. Usually, hitting just one niche ends up kickstarting your startup growth.
"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard." - Guy Kawasaki
Keep track, and keep improving.
The beauty of the modern web is that you can test, learn, and iterate quickly to continually find what works best. Use Google Analytics to gather data on your landing page and blog visits. Try Mixpanel or Optimizely to A/B test important page elements, like your CTAs and social proof format, to find meaningful improvements in conversion. Analyze which demographics, social platforms, and blog posts your traffic is coming from, and pursue those channels and efforts.
Talk frequently with your users, friends, and mentors to better understand how to improve your startup and landing page flow. Reply to every comment, question, call, and feedback email you get - always let your customers and fans know that you care about them.
Don't forget to K.I.S.S.
For all the careful thought and work you've put into crafting a great landing page, don't forget at the end of the day to keep it simple (, stupid). Does my landing page -
Give a great first impression, visually and emotionally?
Show and tell audiences what we're doing, and why?
Lead people to a clear and easy action to take?
If so, awesome.
Keep your landing page short, shorter than our pitiful attention spans. Simplify or remove navigation entirely, so your visitors don't even have to think about sections and where things are. Write purposeful content, but don't kill yourself stuffing keywords everywhere; A/B test a few CTAs and important sections, but don't drown yourself in infinite tweaks.
As an entrepreneur and startup team, your landing page is one indispensable tool that will help you grow, to launch and beyond. Use it to bring your unique value to the world, and welcome on board all who wish to be a part of your journey.
Give us some feedback?
Thanks for staying with us until the end! Leave a comment, question, suggestion - let us know how you liked the guide :)