The idea behind launching a new website is that you are going to make a big splash, a splash large enough to catch the attention of many people in your target field.
The strategy I outline here is one that uses a four week period to build up increasing interest in your site.
Amongst those you initially contact you want to develop and grow a level of excitement that encourages them to draw in an ever-widening circle of others as the launch program progress. The key tools will be email messages, social media posts, bonus giveaways and a social media competition.
What is described here is a generic launch model that can be highly effective in delivering fresh and valuable traffic to your new website.
The article looks at the elements required for a successful launch and provides links to several expert articles to provide greater depth and insight.
Use this information as a guide, because every launch context is different. Choose and adjust what will work for your audience while being mindful of the resources you have to marshal in order to deliver your launch program.
Above all, ensure that your program will allow you to keep up a steady flow of interesting communications that foster growing anticipation as your website launch day approaches.
Elements of the launch
The email list
Here you have to pull together every relevant email contact you have. If someone has dealt with you in the past, add them to the list. They may not have been in contact for many months, even years, but that’s not to say they cannot be informed about what your organisation is doing now.
Haven’t got a list to start with? Go through your email address book. Not even in business yet? Then your list should definitely include personal contacts, people who know you, even friends and relatives. They will be interested to learn what you are doing now and they’ll be happy to forward your email to anyone they think might be interested. Personal contacts can be one of the quickest ways to build your professional list.
The Social Triggers website has a thorough article on email lists.
Before the launch, your website needs a temporary landing page with messages to help build the list. Invite people to leave their email addresses to be kept up to date with your launch program and the useful bonuses you will offer.
Those requesting a bonus offer will provide an email address and hence be informed of site developments and further giveaways.
Your email messages will promote the new website your bonuses and your social media page, as well as providing the landing page and social media links.
An energetic social media campaign and well-chosen bonuses will also encourage those on your mail list to forward your mail to their colleagues. You just have to make a point of asking them to spread the news and show them good reasons for doing so.
The website holding page is a key part of this, and will need several revisions to add additional and changing information as the launch day draws closer. If you monitor traffic, you should also see the visitor numbers progressively build up.
One bonus might be sufficient but two are far more powerful. During the launch you can add value to your offerings by providing bonuses that are directly related to your new website. In the first instance you should look to something that’s at the upstream end of your regular business services.
What does upstream mean? Here’s an example. Supposing your website is about a course on video production. One obstacle to someone getting started is that they have to purchase a camera, microphone and video editing software. You can help them over that hurdle by offering a checklist of proven, won’t-break-your-budget equipment that will produce quality results.
Your downstream bonus might be something else they can use after video production, like a guide on how to set up and promote their videos on YouTube.
Or the second bonus might be a another upstream offer, something that’s going to help smooth their path into video work.
To choose the bonus, first think about the people who you want to visit the website. Why are they coming? What are their needs? What’s holding them back? What are the bonuses that will fit with those needs and help them get started?
Your bonus will ideally be something that can be transmitted digitally and delivered right away. Typically, that could be
- a checklist (one pagers are popular because of their brevity), a blueprint, a guide
- a free trial
- a consultation or support session, either personal or as a live online Q & A.session
- a discount coupon or free voucher
- a special product offer
Bonus benefits are immediate and direct for everyone who can use them. This makes them an efficient way of connecting with your audience and generating website momentum.
Keep in mind another useful strategy: a permanent bonus on your website can deliver lots of value, not just when the site is up and running, but as a bonus promotion that builds anticipation. Pick something that is right for your target audience, the one thing they probably ask about or hint at when they talk face to face or when they post on line. Make it as a website feature that provides a thorough guide or solution for this issue. Drop hints during the launch to build curiosity.
The key social media messages are
- briefly, what the new web site will do and how it will help people
- the current bonus available with a link to the website’s holding page
- a separate social media competition based on likes or shares
In addition, you will need to maintain your usual social media interactivity with followers and friends as this will help extend your audience reach. There is a guide here.
Social Media Contest
One thing that works really well with social media is a competition, managed quite differently from your bonuses. Consider a contest that rewards the person who achieves the most social media shares or the most referrals to your website holding page. The reward should be related to your core activities, because you are trying to build your specific audience and only need to engage those who will come back after the contest closes. So the best prizes will be your products, services, consultation time or, at a pinch, something from a very closely-related field.
In Australia, competitions have different legal requirements in each state.
Graphics and other material
For the launch, it will be handy if your team produces a number of images and artwork for use in social media, emails, and on the website’s holding page. Other helpful content could include testimonials, case studies and media releases.
The 4 week launch schedule
Readers are free to use this as a model for their own launch, but you may need to make adjustments to suit your own needs.
The lead-in to the launch
- the new website is hidden is pre-launch mode
- the website holding page announces the launch date, some helpful benefits the site will provide, and invites visitors to leave an email address if the want to be kept informed about the site and bonus offers.
Minus 28 days
- the new website (which remains hidden from public view) should be complete (as you’re going to be otherwise busy)
- the website holding page adds Bonus One (with email address being required to access it)
- first email: alert readers that a new website is coming, goals of the website, achievements in the past and expectations for future; invite them to the holding page for more information
- social media: post that the new website is in preparation and a launch program with visitor bonuses is underway; also give the link to the holding page.
Minus 21 days
- the website holding page has more information about what the website will provide
- second email: remind readers that a new website is coming, say how the website will benefit its visitors, tell them about visitor Bonus One (which expires in 2 weeks), hint that there will be a special feature (the “permanent bonus”) on the new website to assist visitors
- social media: the new website is being finalised (add an image), promote Bonus One, give the link.
Minus 14 days
- the website holding page adds some photos and a little more information about what the new website will provide, and it announces and that Bonus One offer expires in 7 days
- third email: briefly say how the website will be helpful to visitors, that Bonus One offer runs for 7 days more and another limited time bonus will follow it, give more hints about the special feature (the “permanent bonus”) on the new website, announce the social media competition
- social media: similar message to the email, however split this over 3 or 4 posts. Put a strong emphasis on the social media competition and the bonus expiry date.
Minus 7 days
- the website holding page adds some photos and a little more information about what the website will provide, and it announces the Bonus Two offer that expires in 7 days when the site goes live
- fourth email: give more details about how the website will be helpful to visitors, what problem the special feature (the “permanent bonus”) on the new website will solve, tell them how the website will benefit its visitors, Bonus Two offer expiring in 7 days, and mention news about the social media competition
- social media: similar message to the email, however split this over 3 posts. Again give a strong emphasis to the competition and the Bonus Two expiry date
Minus 1 day
- website holding page is changed to stress the imminent launch time and the expiry of Bonus Two
- an email is sent 24 hours ahead of the launch to announce its expected arrival and the limited time left for Bonus Two
- social media posts (2 or 3) to announce imminent launch, imminent expiry of Bonus Two and to highlight the social media contest.
- social media: pre-switchover message about the benefits the website will provide and a last day reminder message for the contest
- website switchover
- email to announce the launch and features of the new website including the permanent bonus
- social media: messages prior to and after the launch both mentioning features of the new website, also final promotion of the competition which closes tomorrow. The pre-launch message will stress the the impending closure of Bonus Two, as the site launches.
Day after launch
- close the launch competition and send prizes to the winners
- email – announce winners; mention the successful launch and how you will ensure the website will continue to help its visitors
- social media – announce winner and highlight best entries; look for an interesting story from the competition or launch for an additional social media post.
Planning your own launch
Any number of variations can be made to this schedule, not just removing inapplicable elements, but even adding to it as well. For example, if the site is for a product launch, including a live event and an on-line webinar might make good sense.
The key decision is to define what elements you should have and what you can effectively work with. You then need to make the specific preparations for each of them.
Be aware that you are offering bonuses for two related reasons. In the first place you want to build trust and acceptance in your website and services. Secondly, you are going to ask for favours in return by politely requesting readers to forward messages to others and to engage on social media.
And by the way, you can reuse some of your material again later in other ways. You’ve got two bonus offers and images that can be very valuable later. Your email list will have been expanded with new names and provide you with a more effective means of staying in contact with a relevant audience.
A launch can be a lot of work, but you can look forward to a payoff through new traffic.
Best of all, a promotion strategy like this one will create a momentum of continuing interest in your website.
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