Everyone has the dream of a “big launch.”
You release your product and get a nice surge of customers within the first few days and weeks.
But most product creators have a different experience. On the day of a launch, they hear…
The worst thing you can do for your business is focus solely on the product until you launch.
The sort of explosive launches you see other businesses are getting didn’t happen overnight.
Instead, they were the result of a high degree of preparation.
When you have a large group of people interested in your product before it’s even created, you have an instant validation of your idea.
Not only that, but you’ll also be able to get many of your first customers from that group. And if you’re smart, you’ll get feedback from them to improve the first version of your product.
The first step in all of this is getting signups. Ideally, you want to create an email list that people interested in your product can join.
The tricky part is convincing people to sign up before you even have a product ready. And that’s exactly what this article is about.
I’m going to break down 6 different ways you can get early signups from people who are very likely to become customers when your product is ready.
Instead of struggling from the start, you will be able to get a nice burst of sales and some invaluable early feedback that will allow you to move your business forward rapidly.
1. It’s never too early for content
If you’ve ever visited any of my blogs, you know how much I love content marketing. It’s been an effective tool to grow multiple businesses to 7 figures in revenue.
Whether you have a product or just a product idea, you need attention from potential customers.
Creating really valuable content is one of the best ways to get that attention.
Once you have that attention, you can redirect it to your product idea within your content or try to get readers onto an email list (recommended).
When you have a targeted email list of potential customers, keep sending them great content until you launch. Throughout this time, you can send periodic emails to inform them about all the ways the product might help them and keep them updated on its progress.
There is no rule in content marketing that says you need to have a finished product in order to begin. In fact, it’s better to start early so you can start building trust and relationships with your subscribers.
You have two options for content: I want to keep it simple here. If you’re launching a product, you don’t have all day to churn out content. Instead, you want to focus on creating a small batch of incredibly high quality content.
If you have a budget for advertising, I recommend starting with a lead magnet (option 1).
The idea is to send traffic (usually from advertising) to a landing page, where you offer your lead magnet.
You offer an incredible guide, tutorial, or e-book in exchange for your visitors’ email addresses.
Assuming you have a good landing page and offer, you can get a conversion rate from 20% to 50% in most cases (depends on your ad targeting as well).
In most niches, this one simple tactic can help you build an email list of hundreds or thousands of people before you even launch.
This will take more of your time but save you money on advertising, and it can also lead to long term organic search traffic, which can be incredibly valuable.
The one key to content success here: The main area where marketers mess up with content and lead magnets in general is targeting the wrong types of people in your niche.
Pretend I’m preparing to launch a custom t-shirt printing company.
My general niche would be people who buy clothes—obviously, a broad one.
Next, I create an amazing guide to sizing and buying a new suit. It gets hundreds of email signups, and I’m thrilled.
Then, when my service is ready, I email those subscribers to tell them about it. Guess what they say?
I’m interested in formal wear, like suits—not t-shirts.
And while you still might get a few sales, you’ve largely wasted your time because you targeted the wrong audience.
If you’re going to create content, create some that you know your likely customers will like. Otherwise, you’ll be promoting your product to the wrong people.
Explode that list with this viral tool: Bryan Harris recently released a simple tool called SmartBribe that works amazingly well when used with a lead magnet.
Here’s how it works:
- You offer the lead magnet as usual and collect the email address.
- The plugin then allows you to offer a second lead magnet on the next page (usually a thank-you page).
- In order to get that second lead magnet, the visitor needs to share your first lead magnet with their friends through email or social media (the plugin handles all that stuff).
It forms a viral loop, and you can grow your subscribers very quickly. In Bryan’s soft launch, he was able to get a bonus 250 signups from an initial 125 signups (turning 1 subscriber into 3).
2. Create a “coming soon” page
Typically, a business puts a call to action to buy a service on the homepage.
Since you don’t have a product to offer, you can’t do this.
That’s where the “coming soon” landing page comes in.
It’s essentially just a landing page, but it’s tailored specifically to quickly get the interest of visitors and entice them to sign up for an email list to get updates about the product.
The main things you’ll want to include are:
- A clear headline (clever might be nice but not necessary) – focus on the main benefit your product will deliver. This should be the first thing that draws the attention of visitors.
- A few sub points – quickly mention other benefits or how the product will work.
- A clear call to action – Make sure visitors understand they are signing up to hear about your product. Make it large or colorful so that it can’t be missed.
Optionally, you can add a countdown to the page if you know when you’ll be launching. This can help improve conversion rates if the launch is coming relatively soon:
Just like the other times I’ve mentioned email lists, make sure you’re staying in contact with your subscribers. Send them fun updates and any content you create.
Tools for a great “coming soon” page: Since these pages are relatively simple, there are many tools that can help you create them in just minutes (although coming up with the text might take longer).
One popular tool is Kickoff Labs. Once you choose from over 20 different “coming soon” themes, just replace the sample text with your own.
This is a great look, but it costs a few dollars.
Another option is to use Unbounce.
Unbounce is a general landing page creator (and one of the best), and they have a good variety of “coming soon” page templates you can customize:
If you’re going to be creating other landing pages, it’s worth investing in Unbounce. But if all you want is a “coming soon” page, pick a cheaper specialized option.
Finally, I’ll give you one last option – Lander.
Again, there are a variety of “coming soon” templates, and you can try them with a 14-day free trial:
At the end of the day, none of these tools do anything particularly special other than make an attractive “coming soon” page. If you’d like to make one yourself, go ahead.
3. Create an incentive
A lead magnet may be an incentive, but an incentive isn’t always a lead magnet.
Here, I’m suggesting creating an incentive where you give free (or reduced) products to people who refer others who become early signups.
The great thing about this tactic is that it works with most products.
For example, a person completing an early signup for Harry’s (a business that sells shaving accessories) would see this thank-you screen:
Simply put, the more people someone got to sign up (with a referrer code), the more free stuff they got.
Obviously, the first prizes that are easier to get to are pretty cheap, and you work up to more expensive prizes that only a few people will be able to get.
The one thing you need to do is prepare against fake accounts. You can learn about the specifics of that in this complete write-up of the Harry’s launch.
4. Guest posts are just as effective
I’ve written many times about using guest posts to drive traffic to your website:
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
- The Advanced Guide to Link Building – Guest Posting
- 7 Lessons Learned from Publishing 300 Guest Posts
You can learn how to get great opportunities and how to create great guest posts from those articles.
The only reason I’m bringing up guest posts here is that they can still be effective—even if your product hasn’t launched.
Many marketers assume you should use guest posts only after you launch.
However, when someone clicks that link at the end of a guest post, it usually means they were blown away by your post and want more from you.
In most cases, they’ll sign up for anything you offer. If you have a “coming soon” page up or a lead magnet landing page, send them to that, and collect their email addresses.
5. A quick way to get an extra hundred subscribers…
This is an extremely simple way to get extra signups that just about everyone should use.
How many emails do you send on a regular basis? Probably at least a few dozen a week, if not more.
You can take advantage of this by adding a line about your product/website into your email signature.
Here’s an example of one. It’s the email signature Stuart from Gleam used:
He was able to get over 100 extra signups for Gleam using this tactic and over 250 for his next project.
Adding a line summarizing your product to the bottom of your email to get an extra 100+ signups is well worth it.
6. Offer beta access
Most products will need to go through a few versions before they are ready to be sold publicly. You want to make sure your product is ready, or you might make a bad lasting impression.
These initial versions are typically called alpha and beta versions (at least in the software world).
It turns out there are quite a few people who are interested in testing new products before they become mainstream.
By showing your product to these communities, you can get some initial signups.
You won’t get thousands, or even hundreds, but you’ll get enough to make it worthwhile and get some great early feedback.
Here are some sites you may want to post your product to:
- Reddit alpha and beta subreddit
- Product Hunt – although you’ll need to get someone to post it for you (see this guide for more)
- Erli Bird
- Show Hacker News (mainly for tech products)
Granted, these sites are most useful for software-related products, but if you think your product is a fit, give some of these a try.
If you get popular on a site like Product Hunt, it can send you thousands of visitors.
The fact that you’re trying to promote your product before launching it is a great sign.
If you want to get early customers and start growing quickly, it’s a necessity.
I’ve shown you 6 different ways to get early signups, but you do not need to use them all. Pick a few to focus on, and spend your time and budget wisely.
If you’ve done a product launch and know of ways to get early signups that I didn’t mention, please share them in a comment below.