This is the first post in our series Growing Your Startup to 100k Users, today we’re going to be looking at how you can use launch pages to build an initial invite list for your business.
Why should you build a list?
Building a list of potential users for your app is one of the best ways to validate your idea, it is also one of the most efficient ways to get people interacting with your startup on launch day.
How can you build your list?
There’s a number of ways to build a list of people interested in your product, we’ll be covering quite a few throughout this series. In this post lets assume you are building your business & want to start building a list before you’ve launched.
One of the best ways to do this is to build a landing page, the beauty of this is that you can also use a landing page to validate your concept (before you spend all that time & money building something that people might not want).
One caveat is that a landing page won’t work in all situations, you could have a perfectly viable product but just don’t end up driving enough traffic to your page.
Build a Landing Page
In order to get people excited about your product you need to build some sort of landing page that explains a few key things:
- What your product is?
- What problem is it trying to solve?
- What are the benefits?
- Any hook or reason for signing up early (i.e. discount, VIP access etc)
A great example of this is how the guys over at Buffer originally validated their concept:
They were able to track how many people clicked on Plans & Pricing (indicating that they were interested in the product), then they captured the emails of those people. An instant mailing list of interested customers that are ready to purchase on launch.
Examples of Great Landing Pages
Hipster teased out a really simple landing page in January 2011, when you enter your email address it asks you to invite 3 friends to get bumped up the list. Using this method they generated 10k signups in just two days & generated a huge amount of buzz.
Forkly created an extremely simple landing page for their iPhone app, notice how this has all the right elements:
- Visuals of the app – Allows you to connect more with the intent of their application.
- Description – What does the app do? Why should you use it?
- Link to Blog – Need more info, read more info on their blog.
- Invite List – Gets emails of interested people.
- Viral Effect – Creates a referral link to refer more users.
- Twitter – Follow them on Twitter for more updates.
You can also use landing pages or specific mailing lists to help you enter new markets. Stripe does a great job of doing this by capturing the email of anyone outside their serviceable markets.
Software You Can Use For Building Launch/Landing Pages
There’s a number of solutions out there to help you build landing pages with little or no coding knowledge. Most startups with developers & designers may opt to roll their own, but for the rest of us here’s some viable alternatives:
Instapage is a free landing page builder with lots of pre-designed landing page templates, A/B testing, drag & drop elements allow you to get a launch page up in minutes.
Lander is a free app that allows you to visually design landing pages for up to 500 visits a month. There’s paid plans for additional features such as email integration & CRM integration.
Unbounce has oodles of landing page templates to use, they also allow you to split test between designs & elements to find the optimal design for your launch page.
KickoffLabs allows you to use pre-existing templates or roll your own. They have powerful form editing capabilities which you can also embed on your existing site.
RocketStart allows you to build very custom landing pages via a drag & drop interface. All of these pages revolve around a big background feature image (similar to what you see in the Hipster example above).
LaunchRock were one of the pioneers in the startup launch page space, they have a very specific look & feel to their landing pages & have recently launched a custom editor.