Digital marketing for startups and new websites is more difficult than it has ever been.
Competition is more fierce, existing budgets are more robust and customers are more distracted, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
It can now take 3+ years for new websites to emerge out of the hypothetical Google Sandbox and start ranking for thousands of keywords:
Seth Godin has a best-selling book titled The Dip.
And while it’s certainly shorter than most of his other books, it’s arguably one of his best. It centers around the concept of knowing when to quit on an idea and when to continue pushing through.
The basic premise is that most people have an unrealistic idea of what growth in business looks like. They believe it happens exponentially from the start (something Godin calls the “Naive Curve”). But this is rarely true – even with the best ideas.
In reality, most people start with lots of energy and excitement. And as they launch a new business or website, they experience an initial jolt of results, which sends positive feedback and encourages the entrepreneur to put in more effort.
But then something inevitable happens: Results flat line while effort simultaneously increases.
It’s at this point that people experience “The Dip.” Unfortunately, most people throw in the towel at this point. But as Godin puts it, this is a “bad quitting point.” Because the dip is typically followed by a rebound (which is where the real results occur). One of my favorite quotes from the Godin’s book:
A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner
When launching a new website, you have to resist the tendency to believe in the “Naive Curve” and instead embrace “The Dip.” This isn’t a pessimistic outlook – it’s just a realistic one.
If you launch a website correctly, you’ll experience your fair share of results over the first 24 to 72 hours. But then things will flatline a bit. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel. However, as you now know…true growth is just on the other side. By developing a proactive website launch plan to market your new website, you’ll reach this point faster and more efficiently.
In this article, I’m going to show you:
If you’re ready to learn the correct way to launch and market a website for maximum impact and lift, you’re in the right place. Keep reading and I’ll dish my favorite secrets for success.
I’d venture a guess that 95 percent of new websites don’t have any sort of formal launch plan. They simply hit “publish” and then take a wait-and-see approach. But I’d also venture to say 95 percent of most websites flop faster than a middle-school boy jumping off the diving board at the neighborhood swimming pool.
All of that to say this: A website launch plan is not a requirement, but having one typically improves results and could even put you 90 to 180 days ahead of where you’d be if you just started publishing content without any real marketing or promotional strategy.
When you first launch a website, nobody knows you exist. Google doesn’t know, strangers on the internet don’t know, even most people in your personal and professional networks don’t know. And it’ll stay that way for several months if you don’t develop a plan to intentionally systematize your launch.
A launch plan is basically a formalized strategy for announcing and promoting your website to the right people in an effort to gain initial traction that can be parlayed into exponential growth over the following weeks and months.
As the classic saying goes,
a failure to plan is a plan to fail
Without any formal launch plan, you’re basically publishing content for an empty room. It’s possible that some people will eventually wander into the room by accident, but why not send invitations?
There’s no singular formula for developing a website launch plan, but it’s typically going to encompass three major phases:
You need each of these three components to give yourself the best chance of a successful website launch. And in the rest of this article, I’m going to show you some of the specific ways you can master each phase.
Your pre-launch strategy starts with a clear understanding of your launch day goals. In other words, what do you actually want to happen on launch day?
Generally speaking, most entrepreneurs and marketers are looking for as many of the following actions to take place:
If you set specific targets related to these items, you’ll get things pointed in the right direction. Here are a few recommendations and suggestions for getting the most out of your pre-launch plan:
The average human attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. This means you have just seven seconds to grab someone’s focus and reel them in. If your website takes any longer than seven seconds, your conversion rates will tank. This is why I recommend coming up with a quick seven-second elevator pitch that you can use to guide your content, promotion, and marketing efforts.
I recommend actually writing out your pitch and memorizing it. You’ll use this brief one- or two-sentence pitch as you reach out to your network, share the website with friends, and optimize your promotional strategy.
Your abbreviated elevator pitch needs to clearly explain what your website is about and why people should care. Try to develop a benefits-focused pitch, rather than one that’s feature-focused.
It doesn’t matter how good your promotional strategy is, it’ll all fall flat without content. And while we’ll discuss the “bread and butter” of your launch content in the next point below, you need to start with one piece of pillar content. This is the piece that you ideally want to go viral. It’s the beefy resource that you’ll peddle and promote the most. Examples of good pillar content include:
These are just a few examples. The basic point is that you need one piece of content that you can really focus your efforts on. This is the piece that you’ll use to draw people in.
On the pillar page, you want to include an opt-in that offers readers some sort of related piece of content…if they give you their email address in return. This is known as a lead magnet. If the magnet is compelling enough – and closely connected to your pillar piece – you should be able to build a pretty solid email list from day one.
Most people make the mistake of only putting out one piece of content on their initial launch. And while they have a content calendar with plans to post one new piece every week, visitors don’t know that. So they come to the website and all they see is a thin website with very little to show for it.
In addition to pillar content and SEO power pages, you want at least three to five additional pieces of “sticky” content that naturally spin off the pillar. For example, if your pillar piece is all about how to buy a house, the sticky pieces would be related to finding a moving company, top ways to fix up an old house, interior design tips, etc.
One of the big keys to a successful launch is having people who can get the word out for you. But this isn’t going to happen magically on its own. I recommend planning ahead by creating what I would call a “dream list” of contacts. These are people you may know (or know of) who have large networks or audiences. These are individuals who have the influence required to magnetize people to your website (either through an email list, social media following, or personal influence).
I would recommend creating something called a “Dream 100 List.” This is a list of at least 100 people who you want to share your website. It’s called a “dream” list because you’re allowed to be bold. In addition to including people within your own networks, you can also put social media influencers, industry experts, and other people you may or may not know personally.
After creating your dream list, reach out in advance and give them a compelling reason to care. You’ll have to figure out the best way to do this with each individual, but just remember that nobody cares unless you give them a reason to.
If you’ve done all of the pre-launch work, launch day is actually pretty easy. You don’t have to do a whole lot (other than a little promotion and engagement). Here are a few suggestions:
If you have an existing email list from another business venture, notify this list that your website is going live. You may also want to incentivize them to share with others by offering some sort of prize or reward. (Unless your previous business venture is closely related to this one, don’t expect to see a huge amount of lift here.)
While you should have already reached out to everyone on your “Dream 100 List” as part of your pre-launch promo strategy, you’ll want to send out a reminder on the day of. Keep it short and sweet. Encourage them to share your content, but remember that there has to be something in it for them!
If you have a following on your personal social media profiles, create some sort of social media content where you reward people who share your website. You can require people to tag a certain number of followers in order to qualify.
You’re basically “on-call” during launch day. You’re observing what’s happening, engaging with people on social media, interacting with your “Dream 100 List,” and responding to any issues that could crop up. The hope is that everything goes smoothly, but you should be ready to respond should something go wrong.
If your pre-launch promotional strategy sort of lays the foundation, most of the traffic building actually happens in your post-launch promo plan. Here are a few helpful suggestions:
Whether you managed to garner several dozen email opt-ins or several thousand, you should include some sort of welcome sequence as part of your post-launch strategy.
A good welcome email sequence usually consists of three to five different emails sent out at a predetermined interval after opting in (like one day after, three days after, and seven days after). Each one of these emails helps clarify your brand, share content, and provide actionable next steps that the individual can take.
You might not be able to respond to every comment on launch day, but you should make it a priority to respond within 72 hours.
By replying to every single comment, you not only show each individual commenter that you’re listening, but you send a message to everyone else who is casually browsing that you’re engaged.
Send out some sort of thank you note and/or gift to anyone on your “Dream 100 List” who helped you by sharing a social media post, emailing their list, or promoting the website in some other form or fashion.
I would also encourage you to send a thank you note and/or gift to anyone who didn’t help. You’d be surprised by how many people will be taken aback by your generosity. A certain percentage might even reciprocate by sharing your website and content after the fact.
Content is your website’s currency. The more of it you create, the better your chances of generating a steady flow of traffic on a long-term basis. The mission is to continue producing quality content that keeps people coming back for more.
If you don’t already have an editorial calendar created with a 90-day content and link building plan, go ahead and create one. You want to be as consistent as you can over the next several months to keep the momentum going.
Truly effective SEO can take a really long time. So, consistency over subsequent months and years after your launch is critical. Starting a blog is one thing, continuing to scale your regular content writing is quite another.
You can’t depend on referral and paid traffic forever. In order to eventually take your website to the heights you want, it’s imperative that you invest in link building. This will help you improve your search rankings and reach more people organically.
There’s certainly an art form to link building, but guest blogging is one of the preferred methods. It involves finding publishers with guest contributor programs, submitting content to be published on their site, and including backlinks to your website within the content. Google picks up on this and passes the authority from those websites on to your own (hopefully improving your search rankings in the process).
Continue to build your network and make people aware of your website. Appearing as a guest on podcasts is a great place to begin. You can also share content on your personal social media profiles and tap your own networks to meet with people who have influence and power in your niche. You’re never too busy for networking!
Launching a website and then marketing that website on an ongoing basis is time-consuming work. If you’re trying to do it all on your own, you may be disappointed to discover that it depletes your internal resources and leaves no time for the rest of your business. This puts you in a compromising situation where you’re forced to choose between the business and the website – both of which are essential.
The better strategy is to launch your website with a team of people that you can deploy in very specific areas. This includes folks responsible for design, content creation, marketing, analytics, promotion, etc.
At SEO.co, we don’t try to be all things to all people. But if there’s one area that we’re exceptional as an SEO company, it’s scaling organic traffic with high-quality content and links. And if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you launch and market your new website with a bang, we’d love to chat. Contact us today to learn more!