BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST
Well before your official launch, you need to begin getting people signed up to your email list. Why email? We’re starting with email because it’s by far the best way to keep people engaged and convert them into customers.
It’s so much more powerful to be able to email people directly with the announcement than to post it on social media, where many of your followers will miss it among all the other noise.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR SIGNUPS
Even if all you have is a basic “Coming Soon” page, you can use it to generate interest in your launch and entice people to sign up. It’s about giving just the right amount of information to grab people’s attention, but leaving an element of mystery to pique their curiosity.
Also consider offering a special bonus for early subscribers. Have a look through the some ideas on how to set up a popular launch page. Don’t forget to test your page using A/B split testing, to find out which configuration gets the most signups.
START TO COMMUNICATE REGULARLY
Many people focus on getting signups, and forget about engaging their audience immediately. You don’t want your first email to be about your launch; the danger is that if it’s been weeks or months since they signed up, people will have forgotten who you are and why they were interested. They may even have forgotten that they signed up at all, and treat your email as spam—not a good way to start a relationship.
So send out emails regularly, and keep offering people something useful with each message. That way, they’ll stay signed up, and will be primed to respond positively to your official launch.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
The first step, obviously, is to set up profiles on the major sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and begin engaging in conversations both with potential customers and with influencers.
But also think more broadly. Personal blogs were the original social media, and many of them still have large and devoted followings.
Think about integrating social media with your email marketing too.
If you want to get attention, giving away something valuable like an iPad often works well too. If you can run popular contests, or create fun and shareable video content, then you’ve got a great chance of garnering followers before launch. Even people who don’t sign up will at least have been exposed to your company, giving you some level of name recognition.
DON’T FORGET TRADITIONAL MEDIA
If you think print is dead and it’s all about social media now, think again.
An article in a popular publication, or a spot on the TV news, can have a huge impact on a startup’s growth. Not only does it get you instant attention from thousands of people, but also it gives you that precious commodity in the world of startups: credibility. Long after the article has come out, you’ll be able to impress potential customers by saying “As seen in The New York Times,” or wherever you were mentioned. Even with smaller publications, media mentions count for a lot.
PLAN THE LAUNCH EVENT
Of course, a great way to get attention is with your actual launch event. This gives journalists a news hook, provides people on social media with images and videos to share, and if you’re creative or have a great story to tell, it can create a big splash.
If you’ve prepared well, then the launch itself should be a success. You’ve got a base of eager users on your email list and on social media, and have already been communicating with them and feeding them sneak previews of your product. And a well-organized event, either at a major conference or on your own turf, has given you some extra buzz.