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Why Small Businesses Should Pre-Launch

By: SmallBizClub

 

Why Small Businesses Should Prelaunch

I’ve operated a small women’s clothing boutique for a year-and-a-half and there is one thing I wish I knew before I went live with the website: Pre-launching. This doesn’t mean that I was just naïve and launched a site with zero research or any idea of how I was going to manage the website; it’s just that I didn’t place enough importance on gaining targeted potential customers before I went live.

What I Did

Before going live I made sure that I had all the low-hanging fruit covered: easy to use website, products that were categorized well, mobile-friendly layout, etc. Having accomplished all of that I even went as far as hiring a mystery-shopping company to view the website and provide feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t like. The results I received were very positive. They found the website visually pleasing, it looked professional, and the prices were competitive. Having complete strangers affirm that my site was ready I decided to launch. The one thing that these mystery-shoppers didn’t know and I didn’t know was that I had no audience to market.

Sure, I had social media channels set-up, a blog, and even hired an internet marketing company as a way to push people to my site. However, I didn’t have an engaged social media presence and the people who were advertised to didn’t know the brand. As I’m sure you can imagine this wasn’t a good thing. Where I was naïve was in the fact that I expected people to land on the site, love what they saw, and to make a purchase.

Had I worked on an actual pre-launch the first year of business probably would have been a lot better. So below are a few ways to approach doing a pre-launch and how it can help you when you decide to go live.

Social Media

Start your social channels at least six months in advance of going live. This allows you to start gaining a following that can be used as social proof for your brand. Use these channels as a way to showcase some of your products so that people can see what you will be carrying and to get them excited about your offerings. You can also start a countdown with your postings to keep people aware of when you launch. Remember that you don’t have to start using every social channel right out of the gate. Pick three that will work well for your vertical and start building awareness.

Splash Page

Think of a splash page as a one page website. The goal for this page is to start collecting emails from visitors. Below are some basics to help you get started on what to include on your splash page:

  • Include your unique selling proposition. What makes you different? Why should people care? What problems are you solving?
  • Include your social media links. Remember that you want to build an audience that you can market to when you launch.
  • Include an email sign-up so that you start growing an email marketing list.

Remember that people have short attention spans online. Whatever content you are including on your splash page should be short and to the point. Make your brand memorable in as few words as possible. Don’t stick to just one design for your splash page. Try different versions by placing your call to actions in a different spot and vary the text so that you can tell which one is performing the best.

Email

Once you have figured out your best performing splash page and started collecting dozens of emails you want to start engaging with the audience. Don’t bombard them every day with an email. Probably once a week at most is enough to remind people of your brand and to keep them active in your community. Things you can include in your email marketing include stories of how you started, bios on some of your employees, content related to your industry that only you can provide. The idea is to start making a connection with these people so that they feel they can trust you and are willing to open their wallets once you go live with your website.

The main take away is to build as large of an audience as you can before you officially launch so that there are plenty of people who already know your brand, trust your brand, and are willing to make a purchase.

Author: Todd Heyboer currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A fashion entrepreneur by day, Todd loves classical music, poetry, art, as well as foreign and independent films.  He holds a degree from the University of Phoenix. Based in Michigan, Closet Barcode is a fast-growing online destination that offers the best in new tops and handbags at affordable prices to stylish young women.  For the latest fashions, sales, company promotions, and to stay up-to-date, please visit ClosetBarcode.com.  Like us on Facebook.com.  Follow us on Twitter.com and Instagram.com.  

Published: June 16, 2016
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