This article has been contributed by Smash Digital.
In today’s day and age, a website is not just an additional marketing tool, let alone a glorified brochure.
It is an essential branding and marketing tool that should be exploited to its full potential to get the maximum benefits.
Launching a new website is far from easy, and if you don’t do it properly, it may end up lost among approximately 1.94 billion websites that are currently active. Mistakes that can be made when launching a website include lack of planning, non-responsive design, improper domain name, high load time, poor content and non-focused keywords.
In this article, we’ll discuss successful website launching, from creating the design to creating the buzz.
How To Launch a New Website
1. Every Venture Begins with a Plan
Creating a roadmap for your new website guarantees that everyone involved is on the same page, the timeline is established and everyone’s aware of their responsibilities, needs and goals.
The team should consist of people of different skills and talents, and the website designer needs to collect the ideas and use them to generate one clear concept.
When creating a timeline, remember that every plan can go wrong, so leave some time for damage repair.
2. Set Goals for the Launch Day
As part of your plan, you will set goals for the site. Having these front-of-mind will give you clarity for the next 15 steps.
Make sure you also set goals for Day 1. Of course, your main goal will be to have as much traffic as possible. But you need to set measurable goals so that you can analyze what you did right and what you can do better in the future. Here are some things to measure:
- Time on site and/or pages viewed
- Shared content on social media
3. Test Your Idea
How will you know if your plan is a good one if you don’t try it out? Too many entrepreneurs rush into projects without testing the foundation concepts first. Most of those end up failing.
Start your research online. Check your competition. Look at Google Reviews and other review sites to find out what people need and expect the most from businesses like yours.
Don’t stop there. There is a whole world outside you need to explore. Head to the street and talk to actual people. Get their opinions and comments. See how you can fit them into your plan. Keep in mind that they could become your clientele one day.
4. Choose a Domain Name
Source: Screenshot from moz.com
Choosing the right domain name is one of the essential components of planning. If the name is not appropriate, you’ll risk losing out on a lot of traffic. The domain name should be approached like a brand name. Because of that, during the selection, you need to consider how it can influence your SEO and Google ranking.
A good domain name should be short, memorable, and easy to pronounce. If you manage to squeeze in keywords – even better. Additionally, you should think about what your audience will be googling when searching for businesses such as yours.
If you don’t manage to come up with a domain name on your own, don’t worry; there are a lot of tools that can help you. For example, Dot-o-mator requires typing a few keywords to generate the ideal domain name. Other websites that can help you create an SEO-focused URL are NameMesh and NameStation.
5. Decide On The Hosting Plan
Hosting is the home you will choose for your URL, so it needs to be a quality one. It’s not something your visitors will see, but trust us, they will know the difference, especially if your website crashes during a traffic spike.
Some small businesses decide for a free hosting service, which leads to an unwanted guest in their name (e.g., mywebsite.wordpress.com). Besides looking bad, this will also cause you traffic problems.
Shared hosting is an affordable option for when you need to operate on a shoestring budget. It’s like sharing an apartment with a roommate. It will free you of the trouble of having the host’s name next to you, but just as any shared living situation, it can have its difficulties – the first one being your roommate having so many guests that no one can fit into your room. In a shared hosting situation, this translates to their high traffic impacting your website.
Finally, a dedicated hosting plan means that you mean business. It allows you to rent an entire server for your needs. It’s the most reliable option for when you’re expecting huge spikes in traffic, and it provides you with more protection and security.
6. Choose a Content Management System
Content Management Systems (CMS) are designed to make your life simpler, especially if you don’t have experience with coding. This tool allows you to change and adapt the front-end appearance of your website, to create pages, design portfolios and add blog articles. It also gives you the opportunity to manage videos, images, and other media. Astra is a great site with an extensive library of templates which you can easily customize without code.
In the early days, CMSs weren’t as easy to use and streamlined as they are today. Most of the ones you’ll find are quite intuitive and simple to use. However, you still need to make a choice.
Some of the most popular ones are WordPress, Squarespace and Shopify. Consider which CMS suits your needs and the specifics of your business the most, then make a research-based decision.
7. Content, Keywords and SEO
These three things will largely determine your website ranking in search results. A content strategy will go a very long way in securing rankings and driving audience engagement. The content should be unique, interesting, and engaging, and for that, you will probably need professional writers or talented people within the company who are willing to share their experience and knowledge.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) tools like Moz, Ahrefs and even the Google Ads Keyword Tool will help you find the most popular keywords. While you can certainly train employees on how to use these to kind the best keywords to target, it does often cost quite a bit in terms of time and resources. For smaller companies it may be better to look for a consultant or an agency to implement an SEO strategy. Travis Jamison, owner of Smash Digital, suggests looking for a fully managed SEO service as this can be a much more affordable option in the long run for many small businesses.
8. Design that Leaves a Great First Impression
Source: Screenshot from zillow.com
A well-designed website should be clean rather than visually overwhelming, easy to navigate and in coherence with your industry. It should include visual branding elements, such as the company logo, tagline and other graphical elements related to your business. The visitors should be able to tell exactly what the site is about in the first seven seconds of being on the main page.
9. Speaking of the Company Logo and Tagline…
Think of the logo as an ID of your business. It’s something you will show to people when you want them to get to know you. Hiring a professional is the right call, but don’t sweat it if you can’t afford one. Find out how much to pay for a logo design.
Here are some things that would make a killer logo:
- Try to wrap more pictures into one to enable the site visitors to interpret the concept.
- Use the color palette to communicate your ideas.
- Avoid something that’s currently popular and go for the classic choice – you don’t want to go through the rebranding process when the fad is no longer in.
- Keep it simple and easy to read.
If the logo is your ID, the tagline is the first thing you say to someone when you get to know them. In the marketing sense, there’s no easy way to come up with something as important as this, but if we could give you one suggestion, that would be trying to sum up your business in a few sentences and trimming it down to a phrase. It should be catchy and engaging.
10. Prepare Highly Valuable Content for Day One
First impressions matter, and if you don’t have something to attract visitors on the first day, they won’t be coming back on the second. First, you need one viral piece of content that deserves heavy promotion. You’ll also need cornerstone content that can be relevant for other readers and that will lure them to stay on your website longer. The content should answer the most important questions your target audience is asking in regards to your industry. It will help position your website as the future go-to place for these types of answers.
The content should also be easy to share on social media, and all the videos should have an option for embedding.
11. Create A Teaser Page Before Launching
Just like movie teasers and trailers serve to build up the excitement about the upcoming event, a “coming soon” page will create an environment of anticipation and convince people to pay attention to what you’ve got in store for them.
Source: screenshot from blog.wishpond.com
The teaser page should include information about your company, its goals, and what you’re working on. You should also use taglines and hints to generate buzz. Use this opportunity to collect email addresses and notify people when the website is launched.
12. Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Launch
Launching with a bang means building relationships before the actual launch. What you need is people talking about your website. And not just any people – strive to capture the attention of influencers with a similar target audience. Investigate the influencers from your field before the launch. Share their content and reach out to them to see how they feel about being an advocate for your brand. Offer them the opportunity to share their content on your social media and website.
You can create a “street team” by inviting people to be part of the launch team via Google Forms or Survey Monkey and then share teasers and other website updates.
It’s also important to have a clear call to action on your site. You want anyone who visits it to know immediately what to do if they are interested in your product or service. An example of a company that does this well is Cube Funder. Right at the top of their homepage they have a descriptive tagline about exactly what they do along with the clear call to action button “Apply Now”.
Source: screenshot from cubefunder.com
13. Let the Press Know
Regardless of the omnipresence of social media marketing, you should still go a little old-school with your promotion. Yes, this means issuing a press release about your launch. A press release can get picked up by bloggers and journalists, and not only those from your local community, but also storytellers around the world who follow the news from your niche. Some of the press release platforms you can turn to are PRWeb and PRNewswire.
You can go beyond this practice and give them a face-to-face conversation. An interview could put you on the map as a leader in your industry and a rising star on the market.
14. Test The Website
What if you launch your website and it turns out it has bugs or it’s too slow? This would hamper your reputation, and it would take a lot of damage control to fix the disaster.
Fortunately, there are people who will test your website for free. The people from Peek by User Testing will give you valuable insight into how visitors interact with your website. They will also let you know if there are errors that can be fixed before the launch.
15. Put Your Startup On The Map
There are several startup sites that can be used to additionally promote your website and let people know you are here to stay.
Check out Product Hunt, Betali.st, Reddit Startups, and Promote Hour.
16. Throw A Launching Party
Now, you could go all the way and throw an actual opening party for the influencers and all the people who helped you get there, but here, we’re talking about a virtual launch celebration for the website visitors.
For that, you need to schedule a date and create social media buzz. Create a Facebook event inviting your friends and asking them to invite theirs. Head to Twitter and generate a hashtag unique for the launch. This will make your invitations more shareable and catchy. Finally, send out email invitations.
Once you have all that under way, you can organize giveaways and activities that will keep the site guests interested.
On the launch day, interact with the guests, answer questions about your business and yourself. As for the activities, you can organize a scavenger hunt for things hidden around your website and give rewards.
17. The Work is Not Over After the Launch
After the launch, email your subscribers and let them know you’re online. Thank the people who helped you make it all happen. It’s highly likely that you’ll be getting a lot of comments, reactions, and feedback on the launch day, so make sure you answer them and build trust with the audience from the get-go.
Source: screenshot from 99designs.com
In the end, you need to keep in mind that there is no end. Continue generating quality content, feeling the audience pulse, and staying on top of the new trends and technologies.