I’m thinking a lot about pre-launch for Keepify these days and I thought I’d organize it all here. There are a lot of different ways to try to collect traffic, attention, etc. Some of it is more effective before launching that others. Much of it depends on your product and market. Peldi from Balsalmiq has a famous and excellent post on launch marketing, but pitching bloggers on Keepify is a bit different than a mockup tool.
To demo and feel out the product requires data, time, and perhaps even effort. It’s hard to create a great experience without critical mass to show. The point is that what I decide to do may make no sense for you to do. Jason Cohen has a great post where he records honest thoughts on getting your first few customers. He points out that there is no formula. Every route has a champion and a detractor. You have to try a bunch of things and learn what works for you.
I sat down recently and wrote a list of things I could do as marketing activities. I wanted to start by brainstorming before I cut things from the list.
- Guest post
- Long tail SEO
- Pillar Post Big SEO
- HN/Reddit/similar placement
- Testimonial or writeup
- Press Releases
- Article sites
- Craigslist Ads or Requests
- Quora, Forums
- Case Study Articles
- WordPress Plugin
- Mailing List
- Lifecycle Email
- Discount for sharing
- Facebook Ads
- LinkedIn Ads
I reexamined 8 Ways to Build Pre-Launch Mailing List Episode 72 of Startups for the Rest of Us and I built the notes below.
- Use your audience (blog, podcast, etc.)
- Infographic/Viral Content
- HN or equivalent
- Facebook Ads (affordable and working)
- Social Media Network
- Niche Ad Networks
- AdWords (last because it ain’t cheap)
I also checked in on 7 Catastrophically Common Launch Mistakes Episode 121 for the reverse perspective.
- No landing page before coding.
- Not tracking key metrics from the start (traffic sources, conversion rates)
- Relying on Word of Mouth (it isn’t really there)
- Open betas (be direct with early leads)
- One single launch email (do a sequence)
- Free plan or low price tier
- Slow growth (loss of interest)
My last stop for the podcast was Episode 122 4 B2B Strategies.
The strategies are Inbound, Outbound, Paid, and Partnership. Inbound is SEO, guest posts, infographics, and podcasts. Outbound is phone, email, direct mail, etc. Paid is various forms of advertising. Partnerships are joint venture deals. If you don’t have a big network or mailing list to trade, offer a revenue share.
Rob Walling also has a post on why you should start marketing on Day One which ties into the 7 Mistakes podcast above.
You don’t have anything to sell yet, but you want to get attention. You need beta users. You would like to have a list of people pre-purchase or at least sign-up for a launch list. You need to collect emails for people that come by and learn about you. It’s the most essential activity you can do for marketing right now.
You need a landing page with an email signup form. You probably also want a list to connect to on MailChimp or similar. You should install Google Analytics and at least use click tracking for conversions. This will really help when you have multiple traffic sources and you want to know how well you converted and from where. It also lets you compare ad network numbers to a baseline (though they may legitimately disagree).
Your landing page should probably be using some form of A/B testing. I found Optimizely to be affordable and easy to get started with. They do a very nice job of on-boarding and engineering the first-run experience. It’s almost worth signing up just to experience.
In the past I have resisted A/B testing for a simple landing page collecting email addresses with small amounts of traffic, but in reflection it was a catastrophic, arrogant, silly mistake. Don’t be me. Be the guy A/B testing. You can absolutely learn from A/B testing small traffic loads and you’ll be surprised how quickly executing these techniques can change your traffic outlook. So start now.
Most of the things listed above drive traffic to your landing page. It’s important that you do well with those activities, but the landing page is really critical. If you don’t know how to write copy it’s probably worth reading some good resources on copy. I’ve also read Ogilvy, The Copywriter’s Handbook, CopyBlogger, a headline book, and more. I’m starting to get a good feel for what should be in my copy, but I still frequently write tremendously bad copy. It’s a process. Every time. I’ve changed my conversion rate from < 10% to 33% with copy changes and A/B testing (It’s still not as good as it could be). Some variants are more than 50% better than an alternative. Would you like 50% more signups? Yeah. Do that.
You might be wondering what is working best for me. Some niche ads are doing well, but content has performed admirably and I’ve yet to really focus there. The truth is that I’m going to keep trying things up until it’s Launch Marketing. Many things only work after a launch (like joint venture deals) and I’ll have a better idea of what to keep doing, what to try, and how to structure my copy or content. I’ll write more on traffic strategies as I pursue new ones. Happy hunting.