Elements Of A Viral Launch Page

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Google+, Hipster, Connect.me and Instagram! They all hit a gazillion users1 in no time at all — and you can even read all about it in everyday media today. This is every product creator’s dream. Ok, granted, Google already had their users well before the launch of its social extension. But how did the other ones succeed in building such a strong fellowship in a few months2 (or even days)?

Turns out that many of these services’ creators were very busy bees and made small details about their product’s launch addictive. It even turns out that many start-ups were indeed able to launch to a strong following (not much unlike Google+) through collecting interested users, email addresses, Twitter followers in any way they could well ahead of their public appearance using a combination of very common and old marketing strategies with clever launch pages.

In this article, we’ll outline some best practices and examples of successful viral launch pages. Let’s define a viral launch page not only as a “Coming soon” landing page, but also as a usable beta page or even in some cases a finished product page.

Fundamentals Of The Viral Launch Or Landing Page

The first rule of viral is of course that you must build something that other people would actually be interested in for one reason or another. Let’s emphasize this, using the words of Robert Scoble3: “The best launch is if you have a product that other people like using so much that they tell other people about it.” The users you target need to know at least one bit of information in advance that will make them care. Then, only then, can you move on to the next step, which is to facilitate and encourage sharing.

Normally, you’ll want to (1) let visitors know what you’re doing, and then (2) spark some interest. Then you should (3) make use of that interest by giving them a chance to subscribe to your news updates, doing so with a bright call-to-action button. Lately, so-called stealth start-ups have become quite popular because of the interest they are able to generate. They typically won’t tell you what they’re doing, which means they’re ignoring step (1), but somehow they still manage to grab your attention.

Here are the basic elements a launch page should have:

  1. A clear value proposition that interests people. (What problem will you be solving?)
  2. If your strategy is stealth, then why should people care? (For example, are you Jack Dorsey4?)
  3. A notification form, with a bright call-to-action button.

Examples of Basic Launch Pages That Spark Interest

Even very basic launch pages can do a great job of advertising the product if they are memorable, viral in some way or desirable to visitors (or all of the above). You can read more about these characteristics in the recent Smashing Magazine article “Building An Effective ‘Coming Soon’ Page for Your Product5.”

Stripe6
Stripe has a simple landing page ready for visitors, with one concise sentence: “We’re making it easier to accept payments online.” This is followed by a simple call to action: “Get notified when you can use @stripe”. The app’s name is also the company’s Twitter handle, so you can opt to subscribe to updates through Twitter. This implementation is very minimalist and suggests that the service does one thing very well. Who wouldn’t want an easier way to accept payments online?

7
Elements: slogan; notification form; call to action; Twitter handle in copy.

Milk8
Milk doesn’t tell you what exactly it’s building, but it makes sure the team can reach you once it has something to say. What makes this landing page so successful? It’s the new venture of Kevin Rose (Digg’s founder). Also note the subtle “pleasantly infrequent updates” for email, Facebook and Twitter, which puts us much more at ease with subscribing.

9
Elements: slogan; notification form; call to action; Facebook and Twitter handles.

VaultPress10
You may need to give more information up front in order to get the message across. Here is how Automattic launched VaultPress, a back-up service to give WordPress bloggers peace of mind. The text does three things:

  1. It sets your expectations of what VaultPress will do (which is to keep your blog and server safe).
  2. It collects data from those who fill out the sign-up form (data that will validate their idea).
  3. It creates a sense of exclusivity, because not everyone can join immediately.

11
Elements: copy that explains what VaultPress does; an integrated sign-up form.

Sumazi12
Instead of focusing on the product itself, Sumazi tries to get you to follow it on its social profiles and to share the news with your contacts. Registration is done through Facebook. It’s a first attempt to add a small viral loop to the launch page.

13
Elements: simple copy; integration with social networks (for sharing).

Let’s see how other start-ups have used the viral loop, and how this effect has sparked real enthusiasm for start-up launch pages.

Additional Elements That Can Make A Launch Page Go Viral

In addition to the basic elements covered above, start-ups have recently been using some of the following elements to make their landing pages more enticing:

  • Viral loop,
  • Exclusivity and scarcity,
  • Glimpses of the beta,
  • Social proof,
  • Viral content.

You will find all of these in the examples below. Many of the elements are often combined in meaningful ways.

Adding a Viral Loop

The viral loop14 is a kind of “sharing cycle” or “multiplier effect” that is built into the launch page. It’s an incentive for people to share news of the start-up and to share the sign-up form with their friends and followers. Forkly’s landing page was one of the first to successfully tap into this effect .

Forkly15
Forkly is an innovator in this popular viral invitation system. If you want to be notified of Forkly’s launch, you can leave an email address in the form on the landing page. Once you hit the “Go” button, the page reloads and gives you a personalized link that you can share with friends and followers. If at least three of your friends join, then you will get early access to the service. And the more friends who join, the earlier your access will be (Update: they’ve just launched16 their app to the public) .

17
Top: a simple informative landing page. Bottom: a simple viral loop.

Add an Incentive to the Sign-Up Process

Forkly’s incentive to share is a strong one: you’ve signed up to use the service anyway, so why not share it with a few friends so that you can gain access even earlier. This was a smart move and has been copied repeatedly since. But there are countless other ways to incentivize sharing.

ResourceGuru18
ResourceGuru is giving away an iPad 2 to one of the people who share its link. Who doesn’t want an iPad 2 these days? Think about it: would you subscribe to ResourceGuru if it had only used Forkly’s strategy? Would you subscribe if an iPad was (potentially) waiting for you? These incentives are most effective when the item has an aspect of exclusivity. That’s why you see so many give-aways close to the launch dates of Apple gear, when no one yet possesses the gadget.

19
ResourceGuru throws in the prospect of winning an iPad for sharing a personalized link.

Alternative Ways to Subscribe

In some cases, you might want to offer other ways to subscribe to your news, particularly if your users are mainly on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and like to consume news in ways other than through email.

RumpelDealSkin20
RumpelDealSkin offers various ways to get the inside scoop: email, phone, text message, postcard. Additionally, there are links to its social profiles.

21

Stealth Start-Ups

Lately, the “stealth start-up” method has been quite popular, due to some spectacular successes (including Hipster22, Connect.me23 and Kohort24). It’s a way of making something publicly known without actually letting people in on what you’re doing. This could elicit another level of interest in your start-up, but let’s face it: it’s a tough ride. Are you able to leak as little info as possible but still make people genuinely excited?

Hipster25
Hipster is a good example of a stealth start-up. Hipster managed to gather 10,000 addresses26 in just two days after its public marketing launch. And it happened before anyone knew what it does. The cool name and slogan (“Something cool is coming to San Francisco”) turned out to be the perfect marketing mix. The story was picked up widely and quickly by bloggers and media alike. People wanted to know what it is, and they left their email addresses in bulk and shared the links happily with their friends (Hipster used the Forkly approach) to be among the first to see the service.

27
Elements: intriguing name; fitting slogan; fitting background image; call to action.

Notice the value proposition that complements the name. Then there’s the simple call to action button, and the background that would appeal to San Francisco residents and others. (Wouldn’t you want to know what you’re missing out on?) This happened in January 2011; as of this writing, Hipster is still building its service which will be some kind of local Q&A28. But take a moment to check out the hiring page29 to see how it’s still using its name to tell a story.

Supyo30
Supyo has received a lot of attention as a result of its founders, long-time collaborators Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker31. They have set up nothing but a splash page for now, which means they cannot collect addresses. (Update: they’ve just added an email notification form.) Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker will create buzz even if only for their Web celebrity status.

32
Elements: logo; social proof.

Amen33
The same is true for Amen. Their landing page doesn’t sport anything but a cryptic (and interesting) message of what it is going to be: “The best place for having an opinion in the World”. Rumors of what the service will be and the fact that Ashton Kutcher and Madonna’s manager invested34 here keep the interest alive (also the first Twitter engineer Florian Weber35 is a co-founder).

36
Elements: explanation of what it does; Similarly to Hipster: an unconventional branding.

Allow People to Reserve User Names and Integrate With Social Networks

Connect.me37
Connect.me is another stealth start-up with an incredibly viral sign-up page. Apart from its memorable domain and brand name, it communicated almost no information on what it’s about; an “About connect.me” link appeared in the bottom-right corner, but it didn’t really explain what the app would do.

38
Top: reserve your user name; get early access; register only through social networds. Bottom: revamped landing page with the same structure but with an explanation of the service.

Unlike the services mentioned above, Connect.me did not ask you to leave an email address. You could only register through Twitter or Facebook. Also, did you notice that instead of something like, “Invite friends to get early access,” the copy says, “Reserve your username to get early access”? This makes it clear that early adopters will have dibs on vanity URLs. This can be very effective with people like me, who have common names and want to register a good URL.

If you went through with the registration, the app would automatically tweet or post a simple message on Facebook: “Reserve your Connect.me username [link].”

This simple approach generated roughly 20,000 sign-ups in a short span of time and even provoked fears of a scam39 in the blogosphere shortly after. When you visit the website now, you’ll find a landing page (in green) telling you exactly what the service does. The “Reserve your username” is still there, but it has been turned into a central call-to-action button.

The success of strategies like those used by Forkly, Hipster and Connect.me have even led to the creation of a start-up that takes care of the sign-up process for you. LaunchRock does all the heavy lifting, leaving you to concentrate on building the actual software.

LaunchRock40
Once you’ve submitted your email address, you’re immediately given the option to do a few things with your link: tweet it, share it on Facebook or email it to friends. The tweet is pre-written and contains a lot of important elements:

  1. Your brand name, and an announcement that you will be launching soon;
  2. Social proof: “Follow me! I’m first in line.”
  3. Your personal link;
  4. Your brand’s Twitter handle.

41
LaunchRock will take care of your viral launch page.

Even if you don’t use LaunchRock as a service to launch your product, it still has a lot to be inspired by. I would even argue that now with so many newly unveiled LaunchRock sites you would do your launch a disfavor for looking like another me-too.  LaunchRock’s blog provides a good analysis of the viral “Coming soon” page.

Especially Twitter Integration

Many services that succeed in generating some idea or product that people want to share on Twitter (and Facebook) experience a hell of a growth rate. This was the case with Threewords.me42 and Turntable.fm43, which recently became the most shared music start-up on Twitter44, because people love to announce what they’re doing at a given moment (check out the real-time search results of Turntable.fm’s hash tag45). Let’s look at two examples:

Shuush46
Shuush is a Twitter reader that scales back users who tweet too often and amplifies people who don’t tweet as much. As a byproduct, users are assigned Shuush levels that they can tweet out. Users like to share facts about themselves, which we’re seeing over and over again.

47
Elements: explanation of the service; sign in with Twitter only.

Instagram48
Instagram has no conventional landing page (and didn’t have a conventional viral launch page when it launched). Rather, its viral circulation comes from people sharing their images on social channels, mainly Twitter. You can instantly recognize these images by the branded URLs, like of this image by Justin Bieber, http://instagr.am/p/IMhuj/49, which made the service literally explode on July 21st50.

51
Elements: landing page has a call-to-action “Download” button; the viral loop comes from people who share the service’s output (images) on Twitter and other services.

Sell a Half-Baked Product for Half the Price

Minecraft52
Minecraft is an online gaming phenomenon, and its adoption has been mind-blowing, with 2,932,884 licenses sold in the beta phase. People are willing to sign up early, especially if a discount is offered because the product is not yet ready. When Minecraft is finished, it will sell for €20.00. Right now, at 25% off, you can get it for €14.95. Discounts for early adopters are a no-brainer.

53
Minecraft offers a discount during the beta stages. As the product advances, the discount shrinks.

Lifepath54
Lifepath turns this approach on its head. The service is invite-only, and because people might very well want to use it, the company invites visitors to buy an “entrance ticket”. The closer the service gets to completion, the lower the entrance fee gets. Note that registrations fared better when the fee was $10 than when it dropped to $3 . This is an interesting insight that the creator Dustin Curtis shared on Twitter55.

56
Elements: exclusivity; call to action.

Exclusivity

Exclusivity can be a powerful way to convince people to join. Facebook, which started out as private to one university, now has the biggest following of them all.

Sugarhigh57
When you receive an invitation to this invite-only newsletter, you’re redirected to the landing page, where a counter displays the time you have left to register.

58
Elements: invitation only; sign up within 24 hours of being invited.

Turntable59
Turntable is the red-hot music start-up that allows you to join rooms and DJ along with other people, mainly friends. The landing page says, “If you have a Facebook friend already on Turntable, you’re in!” This enables the company to grow the service organically, making sure that only like-minded people join and slowly adjusting and scaling up its servers. If you know no one on the service, you can leave your email address.

60
Elements: exclusivity; social proof.

Tell a Story, Add Personality

Telling a story is a powerful way to interact and tell people about your product (and has a clear psychological aspect61). Stories can captivate an audience, which is exactly what you want for your launch page.

Evertale62
Evertale is an Android app that automatically scrapbooks your life. The creators explain this very visually as you scroll down the page. Your path is marked on a map, and when you reach the bottom you’ll see a call to action, where you can leave your details.

63
Evertale gives its elevator pitch as you scroll down the page.

It turns out that scrolling is a useful technique for making information engaging and telling a story. Check out these other services with slightly alternative approaches:

  • Ben the Bodyguard64
    A Frenchman protecting your secrets is the theme of the viral launch page for this iPhone app.
  • Nizo65
    Another launch page for an iPhone app. Notice how the page elements move around.
  • Kaleidoscope66
    The landing page for a Mac OS app. Each major feature is given its own section.
  • Ala67
    The landing page for a Swiss illustration and interface design studio.

The Last Rocket68
Telling a story has a lot to do with authenticity and staying true to one’s purpose. The Last Rocket is 8-bit at heart and conveys it well on its launch page.

69
Story told exclusively in 8-bit.

Social Proof

Social proof (one of six “weapons of influence,” according to Robert Cialdini70) can be a powerful and compelling way to get people to sign up for your service (or at least for the launch news). In a nutshell, the concept states that people will do what they see other people doing. We have seen this demonstrated with the viral invitation system used by Forkly and the social network-only system used by Connect.me. A complementary feature would be to showcase your sign-ups or Likes front and center on the home page.

Gidsy71
Gidsy is an online marketplace, and as such it needs the trust of the community. Therefore, the company shows the love it’s gotten from real users on its home page, along with two key elements: a few explanatory words, and a sign-up form with a call-to-action button. You’ll find a button labelled “Host an activity” in the header, although the service is not yet fully operational. By checking it out, however, a lot of people will be convinced to come back once it’s ready to go.

72
Elements: copy with slogan; subscription form; call to action in the header; social proof.

Fellody73
Fellody has taken quite an interesting approach with social proof and exposure. If you’ve signed up and uploaded an image to your profile, the picture could be included in the background of the home page.

Fellody is a music social network with dating elements, so showing off its members to prospective users makes sense.

74
Elements: social proof.

Honestly.com75
Right after you sign up (through Facebook), Honestly.com sends you an email showing your friends who have already signed up. It establishes trust in those few moments after sign-up, while helping you find people you know on the service.

76
Elements: confirmation email (social proof, instead of the usual gibberish).

Fab77
We saw earlier with Justin Bieber on Instagram how social proof from celebrities can create an instant surge in traffic and sign-ups. Ashton Kutcher78, who actively invests in start-ups, knows this well. Whichever start-ups he invests in get not only funding but an instant push in visibility. Fab is a start-up that recently pivoted from Fabulis79 and has gotten funding from Kutcher among others. TechCrunch even did a celebrity endorsement face-off between him and Kevin Rose80.

81
Element: social proof from celebrities.

Sharable (i.e. Viral) Content

Another strategy for gaining traction ahead of launch is to create sharable or viral content. This could be anything that people want to consume and that solves a problem they have. (KISSmetrics covers the topic in depth on its blog82.)

BestVendor83
BestVendor shared a statistical document on its blog (“The Startup’s Toolkit84”) that was picked up widely in the blogosphere and start-up world, which is exactly the market it is targeting. Its launch page, however, is a simple sign-up form for collecting email addresses.

85
BestVendor shared its document “The Startup’s Toolkit.”

Visual.ly86
Visual.ly spread around its video explaining what its service is about, along with its “Coming soon” page. The video was well done and for that reason was shared by others.


A good video is enough to get attention.

Fake Readiness and Skip “Coming Soon” Altogether

Recently, doubt has been cast on the effectiveness of these viral launch strategies. Some of the criticism questions how much a sign-up is worth if people don’t really know what they’re signing up for. Turning someone who has signed up into a user after launch could prove very hard. So, you could skip the “Coming soon” approach entirely and make it look like you’re ready for users to sign up. Make the launch page look like an actual landing page for your product.

By skipping the “Coming soon” page, you can test your idea on visitors directly. The goal is still to get as many sign-ups as possible, but in the process you are gaining validated insights into your start-up87. Is your page ready, but no one is giving you their address? That’s a good sign that you need to clarify your vision.

Joel Gascoigne, who launched his start-up Buffer that way, has this to say88:

“Treat your idea as a hypothesis that needs rigorous testing, and treat the emails as people who are happy for you to get in touch to discuss your product idea further in order to validate that it would solve a real problem for them and that they might actually pay. I don’t think the idea of having a conversation with the people who give you their email comes into the minds of new start-up founders enough.”

EyeEm89
EyeEm currently has an Android app out in the wild. And if you browse the company’s landing page, you might assume that the iPhone app is ready to download, too. But if you hover over the iTunes button, it lets you know that it’s “Coming soon,” and then you can leave your email address on the dedicated iPhone launch page. You sign up for an email notification by setting up an account, so once the app is out, you’re already registered and ready to use the product (you will no longer see this, since the launch has now been done).

90
EyeEm’s App Store button tricks you into thinking that the iPhone app is available.

The OpenFeint Bluff91
The developers behind OpenFeint, the social gaming network for iPhone, started with a bluff. They sent a press release to TechCrunch and got the blog to cover the story92, which claimed that they were almost done and would be releasing the product soon. Only after many people signed up did they decide that building out the concept was worthwhile; till then, they had not written a single line of code. So, they worked away at it for 45 days straight. The company later sold for $104 million.

Websites That Respond to Visitors

Thermo93
Thermo, the landing page for an iPhone “pocket thermometer,” does a great job of telling you what the app does and being responsive to you. It tracks your location, fetches the temperature there and then displays it in a graphic on the left. Moreover, the developers allow you to tweet the results (not unlike what Shuush does), thus gaining even more exposure.

94
Thermo responds to your location and temperature.

Sign-Ups as a Qualifier

Joel Gascoine proposes taking the conversation with prospective users to the logical next step. Whenever someone signs up or tries to sign up, you could give them a few questions to answer. There’s a thin line, though, between annoying visitors (and thus driving them away) and making them feel valued.

Monotask95
Monotask asks subscribers key questions that will immediately inform its product decisions before launch.

96
This looks like a normal, simple launch page.

97
After you sign up, Monotask asks why you subscribed and how it can build a great product for you.

Joshua Porter analyzes Monotask’s implementation more in depth in this article “Using Your Sign-Up Form as a Qualifier98.”

Make It Easy for People to Love You

The last and simplest advice is this: make it easy for people to love you. This love could be for any number of things: your design, your ideas, your approach. Or perhaps they just love that you make their lives easier in some way. Visitors will always reward you for that.

Akismet99
One detail on Akismet’s home page is a good example of making people’s lives easier. When you right-click its logo, a window opens that asks you, “Looking for the Akismet logo?,” followed by links to download it. How many bloggers and journalists try to copy logos into their articles? I don’t know how many, but everyone will love you for such attention to detail and for making their life a little easier.

100
When you right-click the logo, a pop-up lets you download files in different formats.

Conclusion

The strategies listed above provide a glimpse of how launch pages could be made more intriguing and shareable. Many of the start-ups we’ve analyzed have made use of various strategies to grow their numbers. Most importantly they built a service that people were interested in and they managed to share their vision among the right people making use of the viral loop.

But the list is by no means exhaustive and certainly the launch page was not the only reason the services took off. A well thought out placement in blogs, social media and among friends is often a necessary accompanying move. However: the launch page is always the first thing a potential user sees of a new idea and it would be wise to cater for the best possible conversion right there.

And Now It’s Your Turn…

Which launch pages have you recently given up your email address for? Are there other tools you use to launch your web projects that you have not seen in this article? Feel free to share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below!

Articles and Galleries

Tools

Disclaimer: I know two of the mentioned start-ups’ founders personally.

(al) (il)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/08/03/idINIndia-58589020110803
  2. 2 http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/03/instagram-150-million/
  3. 3 http://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-launch-strategy-for-a-web-startup
  4. 4 http://twitter.com/#!/jack
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/05/24/building-an-effective-coming-soon-page-for-your-product/
  6. 6 http://stripe.com
  7. 7 http://stripe.com
  8. 8 http://www.milkinc.com/
  9. 9 http://milkinc.com/
  10. 10 http://vaultpress.com
  11. 11 http://vaultpress.com
  12. 12 http://sumazi.com
  13. 13 http://sumazi.com
  14. 14 http://www.viralloop.com/
  15. 15 http://forkly.com/
  16. 16 http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/23/forkly-app/
  17. 17 http://forkly.com/
  18. 18 http://resourceguruapp.com
  19. 19 http://resourceguruapp.com
  20. 20 http://rumpeldealskin.com/
  21. 21 http://rumpeldealskin.com/
  22. 22 http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/17/hipster-2/
  23. 23 http://mashable.com/2011/03/10/connect-me-scam/
  24. 24 http://mashable.com/2011/05/04/startup-launch-buzz/
  25. 25 http://usehipster.com
  26. 26 http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/17/hipster-2/
  27. 27 http://usehipster.com
  28. 28 http://www.quora.com/What-is-Hipster-useHipster-com
  29. 29 http://jobs.usehipster.com/
  30. 30 http://www.supyoinc.com/
  31. 31 http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/15/supyo-yo-fanning-parker/
  32. 32 http://www.supyoinc.com/
  33. 33 http://amenhq.com/
  34. 34 http://eu.techcrunch.com/2011/07/22/ashton-kutcher-and-madonnas-manager-invest-in-tiny-berlin-startup-what-gives/
  35. 35 http://www.businessinsider.com/twitters-first-engineer-hard-at-work-on-secret-startup-2011-5
  36. 36 http://amenhq.com/
  37. 37 http://connect.me
  38. 38 http://connect.me
  39. 39 http://mashable.com/2011/03/10/connect-me-scam/
  40. 40 http://launchrock.com/
  41. 41 http://launchrock.com/
  42. 42 http://threewords.me/
  43. 43 http://turntable.fm/
  44. 44 http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/28/music-tweets-spotify-turntable-fm/
  45. 45 http://twitter.com/?q=%23turntablefm#!/search
  46. 46 http://shuu.sh/
  47. 47 http://shuu.sh/
  48. 48 http://instagram.com/
  49. 49 http://instagr.am/p/IMhuj/
  50. 50 http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/21/biebergram/
  51. 51 http://instagram.com/
  52. 52 http://www.minecraft.net/
  53. 53 http://www.minecraft.net/
  54. 54 http://lifepath.me/
  55. 55 http://twitter.com/#!/dcurtis/status/80174846721540096
  56. 56 http://lifepath.me/
  57. 57 http://sugarhigh.de/
  58. 58 http://sugarhigh.de/
  59. 59 http://turntable.fm
  60. 60 http://turntable.fm
  61. 61 http://mannerofspeaking.org/2010/08/24/the-psychology-of-storytelling/
  62. 62 http://evertale.com
  63. 63 http://evertale.com
  64. 64 http://benthebodyguard.com/
  65. 65 http://nizoapp.com/
  66. 66 http://www.kaleidoscopeapp.com/
  67. 67 http://ala.ch/
  68. 68 http://shauninman.com/lastrocket/
  69. 69 http://shauninman.com/lastrocket/
  70. 70 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini
  71. 71 http://gidsy.com
  72. 72 http://gidsy.com
  73. 73 http://fellody.com
  74. 74 http://fellody.com
  75. 75 http://honestly.com
  76. 76 http://honestly.com
  77. 77 http://fab.com
  78. 78 http://twitter.com/#!/APLUSK
  79. 79 http://www.betabeat.com/2011/08/16/fab-coms-fabulis-pivot-800-percent-growth-and-500000-users-in-ten-weeks/
  80. 80 http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/03/kutcher-rose-tweets-fab/
  81. 81 http://fab.com
  82. 82 http://blog.kissmetrics.com/
  83. 83 http://bestvendor.com
  84. 84 http://blog.bestvendor.com/2011/07/survey-results-the-startups-toolkit/
  85. 85 http://bestvendor.com
  86. 86 http://visual.ly/
  87. 87 http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/2009/04/validated-learning-about-customers.html
  88. 88 http://joel.is/post/6452586162/coming-soon
  89. 89 http://eyeem.com
  90. 90 http://eyeem.com
  91. 91 http://openfeint.com/
  92. 92 http://techcrunch.com/2009/02/17/openfeint-a-plug-and-play-social-platform-for-iphone-games/
  93. 93 http://thermo.me/
  94. 94 http://thermo.me/
  95. 95 http://monotask.com/
  96. 96 http://monotask.com/
  97. 97 http://monotask.com/
  98. 98 http://bokardo.com/archives/using-your-sign-up-form-as-a-qualifier/
  99. 99 http://akismet.com/
  100. 100 http://akismet.com/
  101. 101 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/10/designing-coming-soon-pages/
  102. 102 http://betali.st
  103. 103 http://startupli.st/
  104. 104 http://thegodfounder.com/
  105. 105 http://launchsoon.com/gallery.php
  106. 106 http://takara.posterous.com/a-major-flaw-with-viral-coming-soon-pages-83204
  107. 107 http://hackerne.ws/item?id=2796674
  108. 108 http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2827747
  109. 109 http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2830787
  110. 110 http://okdork.com/2008/06/03/startup-tips-how-i-grew-a-waiting-list-of-20000-at-mintcom-part-i/
  111. 111 http://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-launch-strategy-for-a-web-startup
  112. 112 http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-good-ways-to-drive-traffic-to-the-email-sign-up-landing-page-for-a-product-before-its-launched
  113. 113 http://www.quora.com/Which-are-the-best-startup-homepages?
  114. 114 http://www.damniwish.com/2011/08/viral-marketing-this-always-works.html
  115. 115 http://dshipper.posterous.com/why-social-proof-matter-to-your-startup
  116. 116 http://www.prefinery.com/
  117. 117 http://www.kickofflabs.com/
  118. 118 http://launchsoon.com/
  119. 119 http://woork.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-to-implement-launching-soon-page-in.html
  120. 120 http://launchlist.net/
  121. 121 http://launcheffectapp.com/
  122. 122 http://themeshaper.com/2008/01/23/wordpress-domain-parking-theme/
  123. 123 http://www.woothemes.com/2011/01/placeholder/
  124. 124 http://upthemes.com/themes/holding-pattern/
  125. 125 http://www.woothemes.com/2010/05/apz/
  126. 126 http://www.cssjockey.com/freestuff/custom-coming-soon-pages-wordpress-plugin

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Simon works on iubenda, obsesses over details at The Godfounder, and tweets at s2imon.

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  1. 1

    Great article, but I would like to add two things:

    1. Stay connected – Even if you aren’t launching next week you can keep adding value to the people that have given you their attention. Send newsletters, encourage more signups, and keep giving them insights and value as you go.

    2. Add KickoffLabs as a tool. (http://www.kickofflabs.com) Is available today for people to use. No lines and no gimmicks to get people to sign up. We support everything you’d expect from a #launch service as well as newsletters. :)

    1
  2. 2

    Wow, this is a definitely gold mine for new startups & website designers and it couldn’t come at a better time for me, since I was actually preparing to launch a coming soon page next week (currently in stealth mode) and I was about to implement the viral loop tonight but guess I’ll be doing a little reading before I send it to the developers. So thank you for this smashing article Simon Schmid & #smashingmag.

    9
    • 3

      Forgot to mention that another addition to the list may be http://www.archwaves.com which is an architecture related startup that aims to fix common problems that architects & archviz experts face on day to day basis, while also promoting young talent & fueling your inspiration with amazing architectural concepts.

      It uses:
      - a side scrolling parallax effect to get users engaged;
      - directional arrows so users know what to do;
      - highlighted text to make the keywords, features pop out;
      - the early access incentive;
      - compelling story that highlights features & benefits of using it

      Disclaimer: one of my latests projects

      0
      • 4

        Nice landing page, I really like the art style! There is one minor issue though, “unvealed” is actually spelled unveiled, the only drawback on an otherwise perfect site. All the best to you as you launch!

        1
        • 5

          Thanks Ty for taking the time to look over the website, regarding the little bug I really don’t know how that passed by me, but it’s fixed now so thank you for pointing it out!

          Also feel free to tweet or like it if you find it interesting.

          G.R.

          1
  3. 6

    This is a great article with a lot of insightful information for anyone looking to start a web business. Should I ever think of the next big idea, I’ll be sure to come back to this article!

    0
  4. 7

    Great article! I wish I could have read this before I started my last viral launch page.

    2
  5. 8

    Fantastic article! Some very great concepts being used.

    0
  6. 9

    Instagram: es ist ein schneller, schöner und lustiger Weg… lol. Sometimes it’s better not to use automated translations. Very nice article, though, thank you Simon.

    2
  7. 10

    Great article as usual SM. I have seen a few sites that have a visitor meter on the site, and as the number of site viewers increases so does the content that is revealed. This works great for movie, or game teaser sites. For example only the logo is first visible, next after 10,000 views a screen shot, after 100,000 a video, etc. This could also be linked with facebook likes

    I may have a few such launch page projects coming up, and this will be a great resource to refer to.

    2
  8. 11

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks for the research! I am drawn to the idea of the viral loop and how it can be integrated in post launch… But I must say that I am more impressed with ecommerce sites that have the ability to gain leverage for pages that are not local, dynamic or even interesting. Are there any case studies on the ROI of a pre-launch viral campaign?

    0
  9. 12

    This is just awesome! Thank you for sharing this super-valuable information!

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  10. 13

    Lots of great stuff here. The “Mad Libs” one confused me for a second, but once I realized what they were doing I rather liked it.

    I wonder if RumpelDealSkin has noticed the ugly typo in their page (get “updates,” not “update”).

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  11. 14

    The most important thing to note with all of these is just because these pages have been successful for these companies, the same technique may not work for your company.

    I’m talking mostly to those that would hire a designer to make their page. Just because you like the way one of these looks, doesn’t mean it will make your site or app successful.

    The main point with these pages is they compel people to sign up or be interested by relating something that’s about the product itself, really that’s the key to a good landing/sign up page.

    0
  12. 15

    Great article. I’m getting ready to launch my fashion related site myself. Could have used this one a month or so ago, but there’s still some very useful information I can use for launch.

    0
  13. 16

    This is a really great article with some great tips for startups. Will definitely be referring back to this before I decide to launch my own project.

    0
  14. 17

    I feel somehow that there is a huge pile of cash lying in pockets of hipster creators. To create a pre-launch buzz you do not need to have excellent product, just a pile of cash to get PR firms to do the job of contacting the right people. Most of the great stories behind the launch in garages, or launching auction site to sell PEZ dispensers are there just to be more appealing to customers, The truth at the moment, get some decent idea, write business plan, get VC funding, hire PR firm for couple of millions to do buzz. Then launch and after one year go bust. While people who believe that each tech start up is gonna be facebook, there will be this hype machine. As for us the simple people without web-star contacts it is a heck harder to launch even a good product with solid user base.

    0
  15. 18

    Very interresting. I think this one is very good too. festicket.com/

    0
  16. 19

    now, the question is, how can i apply this to an album launch? ideas percolating… more ideas welcome.

    0
  17. 20

    Thanks! Could be a great help while doing a complete on and offline media launch.

    0
  18. 21

    Interaction with user like a game is also a good approach for viral launch page.
    15start.com/

    0
  19. 22

    The element of the unknown is a very powerful marketing strategy. Grabbing the attention of customers is so important, having a great hook will bring people in and once they are there you get a much greater chance to interact and use all the marketing tools you can bring.

    0
  20. 23

    This is a great article.
    Adding a Tumblr iframe follow button is also a great way to keep in touch. Seen here: Plrbr.com

    5
  21. 24

    Thanks Simon for there great article.

    Once the pre-launch website is set up, does anybody know some best practices how start-ups drive traffic to their sites? Or does anybody know any good article like this one on this topic. Thanks.

    0
  22. 25

    I really like the launch page of http://junglr.com. The bar at the top makes it easy to add emails to the list, but scrolling down, it’s actually got some info about what the site does.

    0
  23. 26

    Is this really good advice? I signed up for Google+, but not for the reasons given here.

    I find these sorts of pages abhorrent. They’re really no more than a squeeze page, which is a spam technique. I see one, I close the browser window.

    I suspect that these startups succeeded in spite of these strategies, not because of them. Why did Google+ grow so fast? For one, it was integrated with Google, a product everyone used, and notifications showed up on the homepage. Two, they enabled easy ways to invite and share with people who were not on Google+. And three, it was a good product…faster and more responsive than Facebook and Twitter…and launched during a timeperiod where both Facebook and Twitter had made some changes that caused a bit of a learning curve, and that introduced time lags.

    Hipster a “success”? I haven’t even heard of it, and it doesn’t even rank on the 1st page of google results for the search of its own name. You call that a success?

    I say, avoid the squeeze page at all costs.

    You want to see a startup that I’ve signed up for before it launched? YardMap. I’m not particularly impressed by the visuals. But I signed up because of what it *IS*…and because it was advertised on eBird, a service I use. Sounds familiar? Like Google+ launching from an existing product…

    If you want a startup to go viral I give different advice: (1) Actually say something on your page instead of having a mostly blank squeeze page (2) launch from an existing product that people know and trust, or get the endorsement of ones at least and a feature article.

    1
    • 27

      Alex,
      Smashing magazine is a popular magazine. The writers and editors entertain the readers. Their articles are meant to wake you up and get the thinking going, don’t take them so seriously. Many articles are made out of nothing! Yet this is just a showcase of launch pages, the narrative analysis has minor value :)

      0
  24. 28

    While I understand why people are tempted to automatically sign up for a service created by celebrities such as ‘supyo’ as well as the incentive hooks that offer free stuff, I share some of Alex’s thoughts in his response.

    Likewise, I didn’t sign up for Google+ because of the above reasons but simply because I’ve always been a big fan of Google products such as their search, email, documents, and tools. I also don’t feel inclined to sign up for most of the landing pages above seeing as they don’t really say much about their product. Whenever I do sign up for something that I don’t know a lot about, or they offer some kind of free incentive, I tend to use my spam email account instead.

    I think while obtaining lot of signups early on is great and amazing, it might not be effective if the product itself doesn’t meet the user expectations. What if, it could backfire? 10,000 users sign up for a product that’s terrible. 20% of them tweet about how terrible it is and a waste of a time to download- would that be considered a backfire?

    Lastly, I prefer the simplistic approach in some of the landing page examples above because they’re clear and concise- but in my opinion, doesn’t give me an option to explore more of what I’m about to sign up for.

    The site http://www.grooovy.me takes on the simplistic approach and keeps it clean with viral elements listed in the examples above, but allow viewers to continue and see additional information if they want to through the use of scrolling.

    Another great example would be http://campl.us/ (Camera plus app) which immediately has the CTA buttons and loops in place to try and get you to download the app. Scrolling down though offers additional information as a chance to persuade you to buy the app if you’re not sold yet.

    Disclaimer: I was involved in the creation of grooovy.me

    0
  25. 29

    Awesome thorough, insightful article. Whilst I’m not setting up a viral campaign in the immediate future I will make sure I bookmark the page.
    Cheers.

    0
  26. 30

    Thanks for the inpirations.

    0
  27. 31

    Thanks for this. Gave us a lot of inspiration for our launch page.

    Check it out at SixSaw.com

    0
  28. 32

    Just to let you know, Resource Guru has now launched – http://resourceguruapp.com! The pre-launch teaser site mentioned above was so worth doing. We collected over 700 email addresses which we have just used to announce our launch. It’s help us launch with a bang and given us a huge boost. We made some slight adjustments to the teaser site and there are a few other lessons we learned here http://blog.resourceguruapp.com/lessons-learned-from-our-teaser-site/.

    0
  29. 33

    Does anyone know how Forkly generated the individual shareable URLs for each person that signed up for their beta launch? Did they use a plugin, build it themselves, or use something else? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    0
  30. 34

    Wow.. Pretty Cool Pages..
    Love to get them at the Launch It Platform.. http://www.launchitnow.co Its also a pretty cool service, help you launch the page within couple of minutes without writing any piece of code :)

    1
  31. 35

    prefundia.com/ is a pre-launch platform that lets you set up your own pre-launch page and, being a platform, has the added benefit of spill-over traffic from other projects.

    0
  32. 36

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Glad you enjoyed the article. @Bruno is that thing you are referring to implemented somewhere? I imagine it could be hard one though.

    2

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