Months of careful planning, objective setting , design review, content building, and preparation have all come down to this moment’s time to go live and unveil your amazing new website to the world! Of course, as part of your launch strategy, you may be considering an electronic message blast to your core constituency, to get the word out, and build enthusiasm (= get traffic in the door), for the new site and your business. You know, tell them about the whys, whats and goals for providing them with another must visit place on the web. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast.
In your zeal to introduce your website, you may inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot right from the get go. How? Not focusing or narrowing the initial communication to your users/constituents, sharing too much information too soon, or by treating the launch itself as a “trial run”, just to name a few. Here are 7 tips to help avoid “failure to launch”:
Tip 1: Don’t treat the launch as a beta test. Go forth with gusto!
Like the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present”, and all those months of planning and prep have led to the present. Seize it, announce your website with confidence, and avoid the temptation to put it out there on a “trial” basis. For example, in your launch announcement, refrain from
- language that implies (or, says so directly), that the new site is not yet ready for prime time, and
- including a survey at the end of the message, to gather comments and suggestions.
Instead, don’t set expectations amongst your users and visitors that the site is in a “test” phase; let them cozy up to the new site, (and, e-newsletter if applicable), before hitting them up for feedback. Launch it, and let it catch on. (More on this in Tip 6.)
Tip 2: Don’t tell the full story right out of the gate.
Give them a reason to keep coming back. You may have a mountain of information you’d like to share, but the announcement message is not the place to do so. For example, if you have several initiatives and projects in the pieline at the time of launch, resist the urge to include a detailed description of each. (We know you’re excited, but…) Instead, include a brief blurb or teaser about one or two of them, and then link to the related page or post on your website. Then, be sure to consistently update your content with all the exciting happenings and progress being made on those initiatives, to keep interest growing. This is of particular importance, if you will be incorporating a regularly scheduled e-newsletter into your communication strategy, as well as hooks into social media outlets, such as your Facebook page.
Tip 3: Have content ready to publish for at least a month
This ties into Tip 2 re: not telling the whole story on the first day. Keep in mind that the early stages of a new website are filled with many tasks, including generating fresh content. One timesaving deed you can do for yourself is to have content ready to publish, so that you can follow up your launch with great content. Consider drafting a publishing schedule, so you can visualize what you have in the pipeline, as a means of staying ahead of the game. This also frees you up for the many other activities involved in this stage of your website’s growth.
Tip 4: Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation
An “under construction” message on your current website is a great way to accomplish this. It lets people know that something new is coming soon, and helps to bolster the launch announcement. This type of subtle hinting can pique the interests of your long-time supporters and constituents. And, those are the people that count the most when your website launches. If you don’t have an existing website to post an “under construction” message on, get the word out the old-fashioned way…talk about it every chance you get!
Tip 5: Show site visitors a roadmap of what’s to come
This ties into Tip 1 re: treating the launch as a test. No one gets a new site right on the first day. Unless you release your website, anything you think your users will want and need is just a guess. The people who will best help you figure out what works for your users are your users. Including information and posts on your website about your plans for improvements to the site, what’s already in the works, etc., is an excellent way to entice your visitors to make suggestions, and share their preferences with you.
Tip 6: Solicit feedback down the road
Once your new site has been up and running for awhile, (perhaps a month or two), survey your constituents, (i.e., the folks you sent the initial announcement to + any new subscribers to your mailing list since the site launched), to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they’d like to see, suggestions for improvements, etc. There are a number of online survey tools you can use to easily and quickly create a survey for no or low cost, such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. you can then embed the survey on your website, send as a link in your e-newsletter, or send as a separate e-communication. Of course, it goes without saying (but, I’ll say it anyway), if you take the time to draft and send a survey, take the time to read the responses and “listen” to your users. Let them help you create the best web presence for your company or organization!
Tip 7: Provide easy ways to contact you
When you first launch a site, you have to give visitors ways to communicate with you easily. Your initial visitors are early adopters, and as such, they’ll be critical and will help you find things that might be wrong with the site. Make sure you include an e-mail address folks can send comments/questions to in your initial launch announcement, and, of course, include a “Contact Us” page on the website itself.