A launch page is crucial when beginning an online business

Are you launching a new online business? Although your finished product might be months down the road, collecting emails ahead of time lets you build an audience to market to the moment your product is ready.

From Dropbox, which convinced 75,000 people to join its mailing list before it even launched, to tiny niche startups, any type of business can generate buzz and develop an email list with an effectively designed, strategically marketed launch page.

In this post, I’ll share five key factors for you to include in your launch page to generate interest from your target market, increase your email signup rate and give your startup a powerful pre-launch userbase.

1. Have a clear value proposition

What does your startup do? More importantly, what key benefits does it offer for your target audience? All of the startups that have effectively used launch pages to build a lucrative email list had clear value propositions.

Dropbox offered free online storage in an era in which cloud storage was something rare and unusual. Gmail offered 1GB of storage space – a massive amount in the era of Hotmail and AOL.

Both of these solved immediate needs of users. Dropbox gave people confidence that their data was safe and accessible, wherever they were. Gmail gave power users the space they needed to email each other large files without restrictive storage caps.

The majority of launch pages fail not because they’re advertising boring products or services, but because they don’t tap into a need. Use your copy to explain your new product’s purpose and relate it to people’s wants, needs and desires.

2. Make your startup memorable

It’s 2015, and startups are a dime a dozen. There’s an app for this and that, a service for almost every business and a network for every niche and community. What does your product have that sets it apart from the competition?

The best way to stand out is by being memorable. Even if your product improves on something that’s already available, you can stand out by branding yourself as better, smarter or sleeker than the competition.

From a technological perspective, Gmail wasn’t a revolutionary product. It was web-based email just like Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. It stood out from the crowd because it was so much better than its competitors that it made them look obsolete.

You don’t need a revolutionary product to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes, the best design or most creative copy is enough to be memorable. Tell a story using your launch page, show testimonials and use other creative tactics to be different.

3. Add a clear, obvious call to action

Even the best launch page will fail to achieve its objective – building an email list for you to market to once your product is ready – if it isn’t optimized for conversions. A launch page is a landing page, even if the product it’s selling isn’t ready yet.

Whether you’re launching a revolutionary new technology aimed at a mass audience or a niche B2B service, make sure your launch page includes a clear, prominent call to action that makes it as easy as possible for users to join your mailing list.

Smashing Magazine’s compilation of ‘Coming Soon’ pages is packed with examples of great calls to action. From software to consulting services, all of the pages share one common characteristic: a clear, obvious, high-contrast call to action button.

4. Collect data your startup can use

Collecting user data is always about balance, especially on a launch page. If you ask for too much, you run the risk of lowering your conversion rate. Ask for too little, on the other hand, and you risk not having enough data to launch effectively.

As a general rule, it’s best to limit your pre-launch data collection to two fields: the user’s name and email address. This way, you’ll be able to send a customized email with their first name the moment your product or service is ready to use.

5. Use content to educate your audience

When people reach your launch page, how much do they know about your product or service? Launch pages don’t need to be packed with information, but they should tell your audience enough to inform them about your product, service or offer.

In addition to your lead capture page, build out your pre-launch website with other pages covering your product’s features and key benefits. You can even add a FAQs page to answer questions people might have prior to joining your waiting list.

Let people know who they’re working with. An “About Us” page gives people real information on who’s behind the product they’re signing up for. To really connect with prospective customers, you can even add a live chat widget to your website.

Is your product or service ready to launch?

Launch pages might seem easy to design and build, but the best ones have a real strategy behind them. Before you whip up an email capture page, go over the five factors above and make sure your page uses all of them to its advantage.