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How to setup a pre-launch landing page for your business idea in 20 minutes

Jun 07, 2013 - Elliott Draper

This is part three of our series on finding, validating and testing business ideas to launch a new business that not only makes money, but makes you happy too!

Part one: Business? What business?

Part two: Validating business ideas

In the last post, we looked at the best ways to validate your business ideas, to find the best one if you have multiple ideas (or at least to narrow them down), and to ensure that there is an audience or market that could be receptive to what it is that you want to offer. We did that by looking at search results and advertising reach, however it’s not as concrete as getting people to actually say they are interested. The next step is to give people a way to do that, so that you can start reaching out to them, and marketing your idea before you’ve even started it.

Before we start

As it’s early days, you might not have a name yet for your business, idea, or product, especially if you’re still evaluating a few concepts. However you need something to refer to it by, and so the users that will see your landing page will have a name to call it. This doesn’t have to be the final name, and so if you’re in doubt about it, just keep it simple, clear, and the most important thing of all - you need a matching domain name to go with it (preferably .com). If a domain isn’t available with the initial name you have in mind, remember to add something to the end - “book” for a book, “app” for an app etc. You can then purchase your domain very cheaply from many different online places, however we’d recommend either 1and1, DNSimple, or iwantmyname.

Options

Now we have a domain, let’s take a look at the options we have for getting a simple landing page up and running to let people register their interest.

Launchrock

Launchrock, as the name indicates, is mainly geared towards pre-launch pages. It includes a lot of features designed to help incentivize users for sharing the page when registering their interest, and to promote social aspects and integration. It therefore fits nicely with any kind of product that is social in nature, as it sets the right tone in terms of engagement. You can turn these options off if it doesn’t fit your business/product, although the more sharing and social options you provide, the more chance you have of an idea “going viral” and being widely circulated.

Unbounce

Unbounce is for building and publishing landing pages, a more general aim also taking into account existing businesses and products that want specific landing pages for ad campaigns, for certain products or offers, or when they’re launching something related but new. They also have a keen focus on what’s called A/B testing - a type of variant testing that allows you to present two versions of the page to different users, and to see which one performs best. This allows you to make small modifications and test them, with real analytics to look at when deciding whether to make the change for good or not.

Another thing they provide which is very nice is an extensive range of templates for your landing pages, coping with numerous different scenarios, and a lot of different well put together styles. This means you can get up and running with a great looking landing page in not much time at all.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit takes a slightly different focus again. The idea with ConvertKit isn’t to immediately try to sell someone a product, or get them to register their interest directly for a product per se, but instead provide an engaging landing page that will allow the user to register their interest in whatever it is you do or offer. It’s a bit more about expertise, with the focus on “drip marketing”, and allowing you over time to demonstrate what it is you can do with informative, useful emails, so that when you are ready to launch a product or new business idea, you have an audience who is ready to hear about it - and not only that, they already trust you.

Putting it into action

As with our last article, let’s run through a concrete example to setup a landing page, and see how it works. Each of the tools we outlined offers something slightly different, and there are numerous other tools and apps that provide similar things. We chose those three to demonstrate the spectrum of aims you might have with a landing page, but now we’re putting it into action, let’s pick a specific scenario, and follow through how to set it up.

Here is where I also give you a sneak peak at something new we’re thinking of building here at KickCode - I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is and setting up a landing page myself! The new app is called Stashlog, and is an app to catalogue your entertainment media, from books and CDs, to DVDs and videogames. We’ll go into more detail on our ideas for the app in a future post, but for now let’s get that landing page up so we can gauge interest in it!

We’re going to use Launchrock, because of its focus on landing pages specific to new businesses or products. It’s also free, which makes it great for trying out new ideas quickly and easily.

Head over to launchrock.co, and enter your email, then a password to begin. When you first login it’ll start a project for you, and ask you to choose between a landing page and an embedded widget. We’ll select landing page:

Select a project type

We then need to choose a theme. Pick one that you like the look of, and that suits the idea. You can select them to preview them. We’ve gone for the mobile app focused theme, as one of the core Stashlog features will be the iOS app:

Select a theme

You’ll need to select “Use Theme” on your chosen theme, and then you can customise it further with your own text, colours, and images. Don’t worry too much about making the text absolutely perfect right now, you can refine it over time. Just make sure it communicates your idea clearly, and proof read it a couple of times to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Customise theme

After that, you can customise the sharing options, including the email that will get sent to users by other users if they share to their friends.

Configure sharing options

You can then work through all of the social options to point people towards Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts etc. Don’t worry if you haven’t set these up, you can add them later.

Configure social options

After that, you can configure the email that is sent out when someone signs up - you generally just want to thank them for their interest, and perhaps encourage them to share the page with friends. You’ll need to enter a physical address to have on record as part of the CanSpam compliance.

Almost there - now we need to decide what domain to set the page up on. You can fill in the subdomain here, and then need to go over to wherever your DNS for the domain is hosted to setup the rest. Most likely the DNS is hosted with the company you registered the domain with - Launchrock helpfully provides a link with instructions for a lot of the main registrars to help you with the DNS setup.

Hosting specifics

Lastly, you can choose whether your landing page will show up in the Launchrock directory, which may attract additional interest - that depends upon how you want to promote the site, as to whether that’s a good fit for you. If you just want as many eyeballs on the page as possible, then it is probably a good idea! Then enter a few tags that relate to your idea to help search engines index the page.

You can also enter a Google Analytics ID to provide page analytics. We’ll be looking at analytics in more depth in a later post.

Discovery and analytics options

The progress bar at the bottom will let you know if you’ve entered everything you need - if it’s still under 100%, hover over it and it’ll tell you what you missed (I forgot to upload the images used on the iPhone and Android devices on the landing page). Once you’ve done everything, it’ll change to a big green “Launch site” button!

Ready to launch

Go ahead and press it, and you should see a “Successfully launched!” message.

Successfully launched!

You can now go ahead and promote this - bear in mind that if you’ve just set the DNS up, it might take a while to propagate so that everyone sees your shiny new launch page, so it might be worth trying the URL yourself first, as well as sending it to a few friends to verify it’s accessible.

All being well, when you visit your launch page URL, you’ll see your landing page, ready to accept email addresses from interested users.

Finished landing page

You can check out the actual landing page I just setup for Stashlog here - remember to signup if it is of interest to you!

Next time

So you have a launch page setup for your idea, or perhaps even multiple pages for different ideas. How do you determine if there is a lot of interest, or which page is performing best? Next time around we’ll look at setting up analytics, and then analysing that data to make informed decisions and to take the next steps for your idea.




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