The toughest part about launching your project online is attracting attention. Whether you are trying to launch a blog, service, product, or something entirely different, making yourself heard above the cacophony of noise and distraction that is the Internet can be extremely difficult.
A weak launch is disappointing (to say the least), but fortunately there are many ways to launch with a bang. In this post I want to focus on just one: Facebook.
I am going to take you through a step-by-step process in which you build a targeted and engaged Facebook following, convert that following into an ever-valuable email list, and utilize that list to launch your project with a bang.
Why Email Subscribers Are So Valuable
As you no doubt know, more and more people are connecting with their friends and family through social media networks like Facebook. Social media is a key communication and discovery platform for many people, so it's an ideal place to find your target audience and customers.
However, ExactTarget found that when it comes to marketing, email is king:
Consumers' preference to receive permission-based marketing through email has actually increased 5% since 2008. A staggering 77% of consumers told us that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. In fact, email is the top channel in terms of acceptability across all types of marketing message we asked about in the survey.
If a person trusts you enough that they will allow you inside their inbox, you have already built a strong connection. On the Internet, which is known all too well for suspect pop-ups, snake-oil salesmen and the like, that kind of connection is invaluable.
People tend to be far more picky about email subscriptions than Facebook likes, and it is due to this simple fact that funneling people from Facebook to your email list can be an effective strategy.
With that said, let's explore exactly how you can build a strong Facebook following and subsequently convert that following into an even stronger email list.
1. Build Your Landing Page
The first thing you need to do is build a platform. You may be hard at work on creating your website behind the scenes, but make sure you have a targeted landing page in place that your Facebook page will refer to.
Why Do It?
A landing page is a means of public accountability. Once you have a Facebook page with ads leading to a “Coming Soon” page, people begin counting on you to follow through with your promises.
Most importantly, the landing page is the centerpiece of this marketing strategy. It is here that you will funnel and collect email addresses.
How to Construct Your Landing Page
Each landing page will be different. Your overall goal is to communicate that your launch is coming soon and that you will offer something of value to visitors; that way, they have a reason to sign up for your email list.
Here are some of the elements you should consider including:
- a logo or some form of brand identification (critical)
- some blurb explaining how your upcoming launch will benefit your target audience (critical)
- a sign-up incentive such as a PDF download (optional but highly recommended)
- an email sign up form (critical)
- a countdown timer or progress bar (optional)
- the latest comments and tweets related to the site (optional)
- social media buttons (optional)
- contact details (optional)
You can incorporate all of this by creating a new page on WordPress and setting it to be what users see when they visit the site. Once you've created a new page with your desired elements, just set it as the home page. If you don't know how to do that, check out this tutorial.
Alternatively, WordPress offers tailored methods of creating a great landing page. There are two plugins that I like in particular.
The plugin Ultimate Coming Soon Page streamlines the process of setting up your landing page. It shows one chosen page to new visitors, but allows logged-in users to see the full site. This is useful when working behind the scenes to prepare for your launch.
It has a free version with decent functionality, but the premium version boasts integration with MailChimp, AWeber, Get Response, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor. All of these are programs that help you develop and organize your email list.
Another plugin option is See You Later, which includes some neat features: a countdown, social sharing buttons, and an email subscription bar.
It includes an option to display only the essentials, which allows you to quickly set up your page. At the same time, it includes many customization options, including several default themes that you can set to your liking.
Unlike the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin, See You Later does not have a free version. You'll have to pay $39 for the functionality offered by this premium plugin.
2. Create Your Facebook Page
Once your landing page is ready to show off to the world, you should start work on your Facebook page. However obvious this may seem, there are some things to keep in mind when designing it.
Your profile picture is key, as it is the first impression that people will get of your page. As a general rule, if you're working with a personal brand then you should include a smiling face shot to build rapport with your followers. Other elements, like your cover photo and page information, are important too. To delve deeper into these aspects, check out our post on how to configure your Facebook page.
How to Craft Effective Ads
While there are ways to gain likes organically, for the purposes of this article you'll be driving traffic to your Facebook page via paid ads.
You should start by double-checking Facebook's ad guidelines. Most of them are pretty straightforward, but it's better to spend five minutes reading them now, rather than running into hassles later.
Next, you need to decide who to target. You should list key characteristics of the audience you want for your launch since you can tailor your ads to certain demographics.
You want to target the right audience so that you can design an ad that will work specifically for that group. Facebook gives you some choices in ad design. You can upload up to six different images in addition to editing the specific text of your ad.
That's the basics, or dive deeper into how to write the best Facebook ads possible.
The Internet has brought with it an explosion of data to analyze, and Facebook is no exception. Page managers have access to the (recently updated) Facebook Insights, which allows you to view a number of statistics relevant to your page.
You can track tends in the number of likes you receive, the reach of your posts, the people who have engaged with your page, and more. You can look at all of this on Facebook itself or download a spreadsheet for further analysis.
You can use these analyze Facebook Insights to change the way you interact with your audience on Facebook. If you notice that certain types of posts are achieving a wider reach than others, then consider shifting more emphasis in that direction.
3. Convert Your Likes to Subscriptions
Once you have set up the landing page on your website and collected some Facebook likes with your ad campaign, you need to turn to linking the two efforts together, which is the heart of this strategy.
Nobody will visit your website if they aren't at least somewhat interested, so it is your job to generate goodwill among those who have liked your page. You can do this by posting engaging content on your Facebook page.
Post links, questions, pictures, and anything relevant to your target audience. You should aim to only share content that your fans will find valuable: things that are interesting, funny, useful, etc. Post content that will keep reader's engaged.
Optimize the content that you post to your Facebook page based on the information you glean from Facebook Insights. It's important that you change course based on what people actually want. They are more likely to follow a call to action to visit your website if they regularly interact with and enjoy your page.
For that reason, you should sprinkle posts with links to your landing page throughout your Facebook content. Be sure not to overdo it. Only share your own page no more than a couple of times per week.
With your Facebook page and Facebook ads driving targeted traffic to your coming soon page, you will have been collecting those valuable email addresses. You've built a fan base you can leverage for launch. Now it's time to schedule a hard launch date.
You need to work out a sensible compromise between building enough anticipation for an effective launch and not overdoing it.
Make sure your site is ready to go by that date. Whether you’re starting a blog or releasing a product, you don’t want your project to hang in limbo forever. In theory you could run this pre-launch buzz building for quite some time, but in reality you need to carefully manage this time. You want to launch at the peak of excitement.
If you leave it too long people will lose interest. You need to work out a sensible compromise between building enough anticipation for an effective launch and not overdoing it. It’s a delicate balancing act. When you are ready to act, consider a date two weeks to a month off and mark it as your target launch date in your calendar.
When that date comes launch. Now announce your project launch to your shiny new email list and the Facebook fans you've built. Ask them to share the news and help you jumpstart your site.
For those with a little cash to put towards Facebook ads, the above strategy is a highly effective way to pull in email subscribers as you build buzz for your launch. Whether your online project is a blog, service, product, or something entirely different, you can leverage this launch strategy.
If successful, it leaves you with a large fan base on Facebook and a smaller but more dedicated group of email subscribers, both of which can be leveraged to generate income in the form of advertising, product sales, or other means of monetization.
It takes the guesswork out of building a subscriber base, which is often what dissuades people from taking action. Although you’ll have to spend a little money, if you execute the above strategy effectively, you’re on track for a highly anticipated (and successful) launch.