Websites can take a few weeks to get fully cooked up and published. Larger web apps and platforms, even longer. So creating a coming soon page is a good idea, in the interim. Let’s take a peek at what a coming soon page is, and what the well-designed ones accomplish.
What is a Coming Soon Page, Anyway?
A website’s coming soon page is synonymous with terms like teaser and beta. It’s just what it sounds like – a way to tease would-be visitors with what’s behind the curtain and, er, coming soon. Of course, it’s optional. You can work completely in stealth mode for weeks or months until the full website launches. For some, this is the only way to work, as they don’t want to give off any signal of their budding venture, nor tip off would-be competitors. They may also be under a strict non-disclosure until a set time or event. So mum’s the word till launch is the only option. For the rest of us, it’s a way to make an early splash, as well as keeping visitors from hitting that God-awful parked domain page your registrar is kind enough to throw up (literally?) for you…
Goals of a Coming Soon Page
A coming soon page shouldn’t be assembled because the business owner or marketing director is sick, bored or both while waiting for the full launch. Your coming soon page is a marketing tool, just like the full website will be. And with that, you should have the following 4 goals in mind, at the outset: 1. Get found 2. Introduce your brand 3. Announce the product or service 4. Create engagement
No matter how quick and dirty a coming soon page might be, it’s #1 objective is to allow people (read: customers) to find you. Therefore, like all web properties, it’s important to consider SEO when building your teaser page. Use the Google Keyword Tool to discover keywords that relate to your brand and product/service, and then build the content of your coming soon page around them. You want to try and focus on keywords with a large monthly search volume and low competition. Of course that’s easier said than done, but that’s your barometer.
Make sure your page has proper meta info set up; e.g. <h> tags, page titles, image alt tags, descriptions. This is certainly the short list of SEO considerations and recommendations. Point is, pay attention to the tenets of SEO so that your coming soon page is following best practice.
Introduce Your Brand
Outside of business cards, press mentions and 3rd party social/portfolio sites, this coming soon page will likely be the first brush a prospective customer will have with your brand. Make sure you capture all of the branding elements you’ve cobbled together thus far for your soon-to-be-launched, full website, and put them front and center on your coming soon page. This might include your logo, typography, color schemes, icon sets and personas/characters.
For the 225AM coming soon page we designed, the brand is impossible to miss, starting with the logo – a custom-designed alarm clock with 2:25 AM starring you in the face. The black and yellow (no relation to the Wiz joint) color scheme is evident, using yellow to highlight the calls-to-action on the page. We also leveraged some of the best quips of branded copy; e.g. “Get job. Rule world.”
If certain people (e.g. customers, personas and/or characters, investors, your CEO, neighborhood squirrel) are focal to your brand, make sure to get them involved. And on that note, yes, it’s difficult to squeeze every bit of brand awareness into a coming soon page. This is a teaser. If you find yourself designing a slightly “smaller” version of the full site, you’ve gone too far. Pick and choose your elements carefully that most represent the brand and will leave the most lasting, positive impression.
Announce Your Product or Service
Stating the obvious is fun. Let’s try it. Your coming soon page should tell them what’s coming. Duh? You’d be surprised. If you’re working hard to launch a new product, make sure visitors to your coming soon page get the hint. This might be by way of a video, which presents the product in an easy-to-consume format. Dropbox made this concept popular, even before they became the titan they are now. And then, even today, their landing page is dead simple, with a video doing all the heavy lifting to introduce the product to potential customers.
You can try services like Board Studios to have a video made for you. Alternatively, you can use marketplaces like Vidaao to source your video project to many vying producers. Otherwise, your coming soon page might simply contain some screenshots of your product. Like any good movie trailer that make us all tingly inside, you don’t want to give everything away. Leave visitors drooling for more.
For YourOnce, instead of screenshots of the actual website, we used a collage of images that captured the kinds of content users will eventually share on the website. However if you’re a service company, the brand itself may need to receive the majority of the attention, along with (maybe) key members of your team and a short list of services you offer.
Like we were saying, your full site launch could be hours away, or months. In the meantime, you want to keep those visiting your coming soon page to be in the know. There are a few ways ways to accomplish this…
What better way to solicit drum rolls than a countdown timer?
Everyone likes playing Jacques Cousteau – the explorers and early adopters, that drop anchor and then run back to tell their friends they were the first ones here. Ya know, those people that you hear saying “Dude, I was like the 3rd person on Twitter!” Fine, so why not reward these advocates with special promotions and offers, select to them and their early-bird-brethren? Try offering discounts for those that sign up early and help you promote your brand to their network. Marketers using crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndiGoGo leverage this technique via rewards to their investors which are often free/discounted versions of the products they’re raising funds for. And speaking of crowdfunding campaigns, if you’re running one and want visitors to your coming soon page to donate, make sure you share a link to the campaign.
While you may not have a fully functional website to play host to, you can still share good press through a blog. OkCupid used its blog (OkTrends) to not only keep early users engaged in the online dating scene and their product, but it helped fuel the eventual customer base OkCupid was able to amasse before being acquired by Match.com.
Your coming soon page can have a snippet or two of your latest blog entries. We recommend using WordPress to manage your blog posts. The content you pump out should be geared toward the topics your prospective visitors are interested in. Copyblogger is a great resource to turn you into a blogging champ, helping you craft and curate the content that’s most suitable to your prospective audience. Be sure to enable comments so you can create a community within the blog, along with feedback and discussion from within your company, to your readers. And when you launch the full website, don’t forget to let your devoted blog subscribers know today is the day.
If blogging is one way to keep visitors and early sign-ups engaged, newsletters are a close cousin. Both are vehicles to produce content and send out to your followers.
Opting in with a blog is often done via RSS, which gets trickier if your readers are strictly using curated reading apps on their mobile devices. Whereas opting in for a newsletter on your coming soon page is as simple as having the visitor provide their contact info and submit.
On the ZeroBound coming soon page, the newsletter signup form is one of the main highlights, above the fold. Once the visitor provides name and email, those credentials are passed to a MailChimp mailing list so that they can be marketed to, with press and announcements from within ZeroBound HQ.
You can also see the callout to Help Us Launch, which brings visitors to ZeroBound’s IndieGoGo campaign.
In the early days, even before your coming soon page is launched, you can establish a presence for your brand on places like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. Build your followers there with the intent of sending them to your coming soon page, once it launches. Likewise, it’s equally important to make sure your coming soon page links off to your (potentially more active) social profiles. Don’t spread your brand too thin by trying to be everywhere. Pick the social channels where the majority of your potential customers inhabit and start there. Better to build a solid following (of qualified leads) on one, than dribs and drabs on many.
Coming soon pages should be simple to put together and deliver some sooner-than-later traffic to your brand. Like all web initiatives, make sure the goals of launching this teaser are established. Avoid building a slightly pared down version of the full site that’s in progress. Your coming soon page needs to remain a simple marketing tool, used to build early followers and buzz.
Would be awesome of y’all to share some kick ass coming soon pages you’ve bumped into.