By now you know the mantra here: validate first, launch second.
But what if, during the validation process, you could accumulate an email list of contacts eagerly awaiting the release of your product?
While this won’t necessarily guarantee a blockbuster launch, it can certainly help create the type of hype your product needs once you’re ready to sell to the public.
Why an Email List
Attracting customers and building an email list – before you even have something to sell – serves two purposes:
- It helps validate your business idea if people are willing, in advance, to sign-up for notifications about your upcoming project; and
- It pre-qualifies these email addresses as legitimate potential customers – people who genuinely want you to contact them once you launch your business.
While this may seem tricky, often people don’t need much convincing to sign-up before you even have your product ready IF they’re receiving something in return.
This “something” in return could be early notification, early access, a related incentive or advanced beta testing/participation.
Depending on where you are with your business idea, you may be trying to wrap your head around this key logistical issue: collecting addresses for your email list.
If don’t already have an email management system (i.e. I use AWeber) – you could simply collect the emails in a spreadsheet, such as Excel or Google Sheets.
Email lists can always be migrated from a spreadsheet into an email (for sending a mass message – addresses in the B.C.C. field is preferred) or into an email management system once you’re at the stage where this type of a service would make sense for you.
Building Relationships through your Email List
Generally when testing the muse, we’ve designed a mock sales page which funnels interested buyers to a page where they must enter their email address to learn more and/or continue with their potential purchase.
This technique is still crazy efficient for collecting very clear signals of interest for your product idea.
However, there are also other value-added ways to gauge customer interest, collect emails, and generally build a relationship with your future customers.
These methods are a little more upfront about the status of your product, which may result in an email list that is more responsive and eager to support your concept – knowing that it does not yet exist, but who’re still willing to wait.
The following outlines 4 ways that you can encourage people to sign-up for your product – that hasn’t even launched yet…
Make a “Coming Soon” Page
A “Coming Soon” page is a landing page with the sole purpose of having the visitor opt-in to be notified once your product is ready.
This type of a page is fairly simple to build, and should include (at a minimum):
- A clear headline – the first thing that catches the attention of your visitors;
- A few sub-points on the benefits and features of your business/product; and
- A call-to-action so that the visitors clearly understand that they are signing up to hear more about your product.
I continue to use Weebly as my primary website/webpage builder, but there are many online services specifically designed with templates for “Coming Soon” pages, such as: KickoffLabs, Unbounce, and Lander.
Probably one of the best tools for this purpose is Leadpages.
Since I’m often late to the party, I’ve only now begun experimenting with Leadpages on some of my WordPress sites, but it really is becoming the industry standard for landing pages. Leadpages has templates that are proven to convert web visitors to opt-ins.
One challenge with the “Coming Soon” page is that you still need to draw traffic to this landing page – whether via social media, paid advertising or otherwise.
The next method provides one of the best (and cheapest) ways to direct traffic to this page.
Create Great Content
Short of paid advertising, creating great content is an effective way to gain customer attention. Once you have that attention, you can now redirect it to your idea and ask those same people to join your email list.
What is “great content”?
It’s content that is valuable and targeted to your specific niche. It may be a highly actionable How-To instructional article or a hilarious “listicle” (article of lists). The more relevant to your audience, the more valuable the content will be to the reader.
Therefore it’s imperative that, if you are trying to entice this audience to sign-up for your product’s email list, that the product and the article are aligned or complimentary; otherwise your marketing efforts will fall flat.
Another aspect of this technique is that, if you don’t already have your own platform (i.e. blog or social media following), it’s possible to “piggyback” on the audience that others in your network have built – namely by writing Guest Posts on their platforms.
Guest posts have the ability to extend your network. If possible, include a backlink to your website (or “Coming Soon” page) in your bio, and/or at the end of the article so that interested readers can learn more and connect with you.
Offer a Bribe or Incentive
Want to crank your valuable content up a notch? Create a downloadable “bribe” or incentive that relates to your article which your visitors can opt-in to receive.
Just to clear the air, the term “bribe” is also referred to as an “ethical bribe” – more of a cheeky use of the term. It’s simply offering an incentive (e.g. downloadable ebook, etc.), in exchange for their email address.
Make this a fair trade by creating something extremely useful, and people will happily join your email list.
Again, there are some logistical issues here when delivering your incentive to people who sign-up for your email list. This is precisely why I turned to Leadpages in the first place, as their system takes care of all of this hassle by automatically delivering emails and downloads to people who opt-in to my email lists.
However, if you’re not ready for a service like Leadpages – simply send the emails and downloads yourself. It may take a bit more time and effort on your part, but it can be done.
Give Beta Access to your Product
Regardless of how niche your business is, you might be surprised to know that there are quite a few people interested in testing new products – just like yours – before they become mainstream.
People generally love the prospect of getting early access to cool stuff – even stuff that isn’t 100% perfected yet.
Another primary draw is that they get to experience and contribute to the development process.
Allow Beta Testers to use, comment and provide feedback directly to you.
This has the compounded effect of providing you with valuable insight from the market, while allowing others the opportunity to potentially help contribute to shaping the final product (in exchange for their email address, of course).
No matter what stage of business someone is in, preparing to launch a new (or first) product or service requires a ton of preparation.
Using the above noted techniques to build an email list will ensure that there’s a line-up of people waiting for your product by the time you’re ready to “open your doors” and launch your business to the world.