How to optimize your “coming soon” page to acquire customers virally

April 28, 2017

As you gear up for the public launch of your startup, successfully optimizing and leveraging your coming soon page can set you up for massive success. Unfortunately, most founders squander this opportunity by either skimping on the critical components of the process, or by overdoing them in a tone-deaf manner and annoying potential customers.

Put effort into it. The “coming soon” page is a strategic step. 

Many founders put up a coming soon page either as an afterthought or as a bit of a riddle or mystery to potential customers. While you might be tempted to think that mysterious results in curiosity and virality, it usually doesn’t. In fact, if you’re banking only on your team’s network and reputation alone to generate buzz, you are in for a hard lesson. Communicating and spreading your message takes both smart and hard work. 

In fact, there are four common mistakes founders make when it comes to their coming soon page: 

  1. Not providing enough info on your page to inform people about what you are up to. 
  2. Not collecting email addresses. 
  3. Not allowing it to easily go viral.
  4. Not telling the appropriate influencers about it.

Provide enough info to hook people in

Mysterious landing pages can be interesting and all, but unless visitors already know you or have had a trusted friend tell them explicitly to sign up, they’ll likely leave because of the ambiguity. Be sure to put enough info on the page (product teaser video, team bios, etc…) so people know who you are and what you are up to. 

Be sure to collect their email address

This may seem obvious, but there are plenty of times an interesting landing page for a new product is put up in haste that forgets to capture email addresses. This is, unfortunately, a big missed opportunity. You’ll want to smartly follow up with everyone. 

Facilitate virality with simple asks

For example, after someone enters their email, do you kindly ask them to share your page? Do you send them a follow email also asking them to do so? When done tastefully, this helps remind people that it will be helpful to you for them to share it. Believe it or not, there are actually nice people out there who are willing to help you out; all you need to do is ask. 

(Also, pro tip: be sure your page preview snippet looks good on Facebook, Twitter, etc…This requires getting the appropriate meta tags in place.) 

Tell the appropriate influencers about what you are up to

This is why it’s critical to deeply understand who your customers are and who influences them. A simple “hey check this out” tweet from a key influencer, for example, can go a long way. 

But be careful, don’t be tone deaf with your setup & promotion 

On the opposite side of the spectrum from skimping, many founders go way too far overboard with their content and promotion for a coming soon page. The fanfare, media coverage, and various tricks like “share with 5 people to move up in the queue” may work for some audiences, but for most people this will seem inauthentic and annoying. 

In fact, often in the hype of the moment you may get a wide variety of people to write and tweet about you, but it’s easy to miss focusing on the key influencers that will be most helpful for you in the early days. Remember, your product probably isn’t very good at this point, so who you choose to let use it is critical. 

Let some of the most influential people in your queue into the private alpha

One of the best habits to get into as your queue is filling up is to spot key influencers or customers that have given you their email address. These people should be followed up with personally and invited to take a look at your private alpha. If you’re lucky, they might even be willing to tell their audiences about what you are up to. 

Focus on delighting customers

Remember, how you present your startup, ask for and handle customer email addresses, communicate (or not) with interested users, and rope in influencers to promote your product will all affect how the world sees you. What you deliver consistently to people from this point forward becomes your “brand” — your promise. It becomes very difficult to change course from these initial impressions, especially if your “coming soon” announcement is relatively loud. 

Take notes from in-depth case studies

KickOffLabs has a huge list of case studies that I’d recommend reading, Quora has a great list here, and Gleam has a fantastic set of tools and tricks here. Kissmetrics also has a legit post entitled 4 Viral Sharing Tactics For Your Product Launch Strategy.

 

As for visuals that tell the story, here are some examples: 

And for a post-signup UX: 

Again, it’s debatable how effective the “move up in the queue by sharing this URL” tactic may work for your audience, so use it smartly if you decide to. There are services such as Maître, KickOffLabs, LaunchRock, and Prefinery that will help you with the tech & best practices behind this strategy if you need it. 

Ensure your viral coefficient and cycle times are favorable before you make too much noise 

This same principle applies once you are in public beta as well. Make sure your viral coefficient and cycle times are dialed in (above 1.0 and as short as possible, respectively). You want to ensure you are driving traffic into something that is ready to scale.

Author’s note, in the next article in this series I’ll discuss how to invite in waves of users from your email queue into your private beta and how to transition into public beta. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay posted. Also, thousands of startup founders leverage a web application that my partners and I built on top of the “ideate, validate, create, grow, fund” operations framework that this article series describes. We put the framework together from decades of experience at both sides of the funding table. We also have a private Slack community, custom mentoring services, and a ton of resources for early stage founders. Check it out. Thanks!

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