If you read through to the end of the post yesterday, you may have clicked through to www.theshoutmap.com where the Shoutmap prelaunch page is. I want to talk about the theory behind launch pages and how you can easily set one up for yourself if you're looking to launch a product, gain more followers, or create buzz around anything, really.
Prelaunch pages have been around for a long time and they are nothing revolutionary. You visit the site and it has a small amount of information followed by a text box for you to input your email address. But why is there this barrier into the rest of the site? Why spend so much energy in getting your email address? Well email addresses are one of the most important tools we have to promote things and to communicate with you guys. Facebook followers are great, but emails provide so much more engagement from each subscriber. It's more personal. It sits in your inbox. It's just a surefire way to get more out of your followers. But just having a text box on a website isn't the most effective way to spread your idea.
You may have heard of the little shaving company called Harry's. They started just a handful of years ago, but have grown at breakneck speeds. Their secret to getting off the ground was to create a 'viral' launch page. Of course there is no formula to create a truly viral phenomenon, but Harry's made something that, like a virus, spread from person to person to gain traction. They started with a standard prelaunch site with an email text box like any other site. The Thank You page was much more than just a confirmation of you submitting your email address. They built, from the ground up, a social sharing rewards program. In it, each subscriber would be rewarded if they shared a custom unique URL with their friends. As more of their friends signed up using their own email addresses, the better rewards the initial referrer would receive.
With that simple two-page website they were able to collect 100,000 email addresses in one week! That's an insane number of possibly-interested customers! But it wasn't just the website that did the trick. At the time the website launched, Harry's had a dozen employees to help seed the initial burst of pitches. Each of the employees had a list of things to do on launch day.
- Like the Facebook page
- Follow the Twitter account
- Tweet about the campaign
- Update their profiles to say they work at the company
- Respond to shares and mentions with a thanks.
- Post a personal Facebook post about the launch.
- Email as many of your contacts as possible.
This list, spread over a dozen employees, makes for a very strong foundation to get started. Unfortunately, most of us that are making launch pages for a new product or idea probably don't have an advanced web developer to work with or a team of plenty. Thankfully, there's a service out there that can get you started with a launch campaign with no knowledge of coding whatsoever!
Launch page builders and referral tracking software are a dime a dozen, but I was able to find one service that successfully mimics the functionality of Harry's campaign. KickoffLabs is a fully-featured website-building platform for all sorts of launch campaigns. The best part, though, is that they offer social reward sharing right out of the box. In about five minutes, you can get a nice looking site up with tons of functionality.
Before KickoffLabs, I was working with a developer friend who knew Ruby on Rails enough to get me started in using code supplied by Harry's to create a website. We met up a few times to parse through lines and lines of code and countless little files full of more code. It was daunting, confusing, and unorganized. On top of that, we had to host the site on one platform and have some code on another. If you're familiar with Ruby, GitHub, and Heroku, then this would be a great option for you, but for the other 99% of us, we need an easier solution.
So instead of continuing to struggle through that, I signed up with KickoffLabs and got a customized landing page within a couple days of light work. To enable a few of the pro features, I signed up for a $49/month plan which I can cancel anytime. I don't see this campaign running for more than a month, so I won't pay more than $49 here. Not bad for a 'viral' campaign!
Here are a few notes to keep in mind if you're thinking about starting a campaign with KickoffLabs.
- You can edit all of the HTML if you have any knowledge of the language.
- You don't have to use any code at all if you don't want to.
- You are limited by their templates, but thankfully they have plenty to choose from.
- Plans range from free, $29/mo, $49/mo, to $149/mo depending on what you need.
- The customer service rocks! I got a reply within a couple hours.
- You still have to work to get people to your site in the first place.
So there you go! If you want to build a campaign and need a solid platform, I highly recommend KickoffLabs. I've been very impressed with them so far. If you don't need to launch the next big thing, you can always go to www.theshoutmap.com and check it out! Because it will be the next big thing. Really.