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The Comprehensive Website Launch Guide

Website Launch Guide

When I first began my business, I had no idea that a website launch was such an important thing. I also had no idea that it’s an important step for each and every product or service that you offer.

Looking back, I’m honestly irritated with myself for not learning about this sooner, because I could have gotten to where I am now a lot faster.

Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since starting my business, and I’m able to share that knowledge with you now. Hopefully you’ll learn this lesson in time to save you some of the sweat and tears I endured.

Why you need a website launch plan

If you’re new to the biz owner world, you might be thinking a launch is a waste of energy, since you don’t have anyone to launch it TO. But that’s exactly why a launch is so important. When done right, a launch plan can take your day one website visitors from five people (your mom, cousin, aunt, and two best friends), to 50, 100, even 500+. It’s that powerful.

That increase in immediate traffic serves a dual purpose: awesome website stats, and instant reputation building.

A new website (at least for small businesses) usually starts with a homepage, about page, services page, contact page, and blog. That blog generally has 3–5 posts published on it at launch. And if the owner knows what they’re doing, those posts are awesome evergreen content.

Now, when a launch plan is successful and that new website gets 50+ new visitors, chances are good that many of those visitors will check out the blog posts. As they read them, and realize the content is amazing, they’ll make an instant association with the owner of the site as someone who is knowledgeable and helpful. This means those readers will come back.

And some of them might be impressed enough that after a few visits, they hire the owner.

What could be better than that?

What this means for you

A launch plan doesn’t just happen. It takes some work. And it’s honestly almost as much work as building the actual brand and website in the first place.

While that seems counter-intuitive, like it’s a big waste of time that you could be using to write some epic evergreen content for your blog, it makes total sense from a marketing standpoint.

Why would you invest a ton of time and money into a new website if you aren’t going to invest an equal amount of time into putting that website in front of people?

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to make a website launch work for you, and I’m going to walk you through how to plan it out and implement it.

Before you plan

You’ll ideally develop (and build) your launch plan for a month or more before your new website goes live. Yes, this seems like a long time, but you want to have your launch strategy ready to put into action when it’s actually time to start your launch campaign. Trying to finish your website build and keep up with a launch strategy in the week before your launch date is just too much, so do yourself a favor and start early.

Let’s talk about what you’ll need to know before you start planning your launch.

Know your audience

The most important aspect of any launch is knowing who your target audience is, and what they want to see. Since you’ve (in theory) already done market research for your brand and website, you should have a good idea of who those people are.

If not, you need to work it out.

Determine who it is your new website serves. Get as specific as possible, and put yourself in their shoes. How can you help them? What questions can you answer? What do you have to offer?

You need to know all this so you can target them in your launch process. You want to wave your value in front of their faces, and have them dying to see more.

Know your launch date

This seems obvious, but most of us will tweak, finesse, and perfect things on our websites forever. We’re so concerned with getting everything just right that our launch day passes us by. Do yourself a favor and set a date. Then, stick to it.

Whether your website is perfect or not, you’re going to launch on that day. And it’s going to feel so good.

Know your end goal

Like with every marketing effort you put into action, you should have an end result in mind for your launch. It’s not realistic to expect sales—you’re the new kid on the block and people don’t trust you enough to buy from you yet.

Instead, set goals around:

  • Number of visitors to your site
  • Number of email subscribers to your list
  • Number of comments on your epic content

It will be awesome if you get inquiries or sales on launch day, but don’t count on it. Let it be the beautiful icing on the cake at the end of the day.

Making your plan

Once you have those things figured out, it’s time to decide on what your launch will actually look like. There are a lot of ways to go about it, and they’ll mainly depend on your resources and goals.

What type of launch will you do?

You can go simple, or you can go complex. Either way, you have to decide what you’ll do and offer to reach your launch goals.

Things to consider doing for your launch:

  • Build hype on social media by posting hints about what’s coming
  • Create an email launch list from existing and new followers, then send them cool stuff
  • Do a giveaway of your products or services to get people to subscribe to your email list
  • Host a digital launch party on social media with LIVE or stories, and send out invites ahead of time—AND give them swag
  • Put up a launch countdown page on your website and let people sign up for freebies
  • Share behind-the-scenes sneak peeks with your social followers or launch list
  • Create a branded hashtag and use it everywhere—and encourage your list to do the same

How long will it run?

While the planning can take a good amount of time, the actual launch party doesn’t have to be that long. You want it to be more than ‘BAM! I launched. Check it out,’ but that doesn’t mean it has to go on forever. A decent amount of time to aim for is 7–10 days.

Where can you promote?

Besides your own social media followers, and paid ads for your launch, consider doing guest posts on the sites of people who have similar audiences to yours. These shouldn’t be your direct competitors, but rather people who align parallel to you. For instance, if you’re a floral designer for weddings and events, you’d offer to write a guest post for an event planner. Or if you’re a website content writer, you could guest post on a web designer’s blog.

Then, in your blurb at the end of the post, you include a line about what you offer and when you launch. That will drive traffic to your website (which hopefully has a coming soon page up with the option to subscribe to your email list).

Another way to promote is by reaching out to the owners of sites with your similar audience and asking them if they’d be willing to promote your launch. Before you do that, you should start engaging with them on social media—comment on their posts, like their photos, and reply to their stories. You could even do a mention of them in your IG stories and invite your followers to follow the person you’re trying to seduce.

You want them to recognize you as an engaged follower and worthy partner before you approach them and ask for a favor.

Then, when it’s time to ask, make it a simple request. Make sure you lead with how it would benefit that person’s audience, and say you’d love it if they mentioned your launch to their audience or people they know would enjoy what you’re doing.

What will you give away?

Defining this—and then creating it—should be a big task on your to-do list. You need to create or offer something you know your audience will want.

Make it specific to them. Don’t offer a Starbucks gift card or something else generic, because that will get the wrong people on your list. Instead, create a guide, checklist, or how-to on something you KNOW they need for their business.

Another option for a giveaway is your services. Draw a name from a hat and have one lucky winner get your basic package for free. Besides helping to build your email list, this has the added benefit of becoming a portfolio piece or case study to use on your website as proof of your skills. It can’t be beat.

Creating your content

When you’ve officially decided what your launch is going to involve, you need to start creating the content for it. You’ll need copy for your sign-up page, emails, giveaways, and social media posts. You’ll also need images and graphics for those same pieces.

Decide which (if any) of your social media posts are going to become paid promotions. While not everyone can afford to pay for advertising right at launch, a budget of even $10 will get your post in front of 300+ more people, which can mean a huge increase in signups or followers.

Be sure you’re writing all content in your brand voice, and that all your launch graphics match your brand look. This will help your new audience immediately start associating your brand with the style they’ll be seeing in the future.

Scheduling all your pieces

Just like with blogging, you need to put all the pieces of your launch into an editorial calendar. This will help you keep everything on track.

With your launch date already scheduled, you’ll start from there and work backwards. If you’re intending to send 6 emails, schedule them out in a way that makes sense to you and aligns with your content.

Once the emails are in, add the social media posts where they logically fit. Then, fill in all the other elements you’ve included in your launch strategy.

The final step of scheduling is putting all your social posts and email content into your various apps (I use Planoly for IG, Hootsuite for FB, and ConvertKit for emails). Doing this ahead of time ensures you don’t miss a posting date. Your launch content will publish automatically without you having to worry about going in and pushing it on a daily basis.

Engaging with your audience

During the pre-launch activities, you need to be present on social media to respond to comments on your posts. Thank people who express excitement, answer any questions, and provide responses to anything and everything else.

While this should be a regular aspect of your business, it’s especially important during a launch, because you want people to become familiar with you. You need them to feel as if they’re a part of the process, and you can only make that happen if your talk to them.

You should also respond to any emails you get in response to your email blasts. What better way could there be to create real relationships with your subscribers than by personally answering them? Since building a brand is all about relationships, you definitely don’t want to skip this very powerful method of building trust with your list.

Launch Day

On the date of your website launch, you’ll have a couple main goals.

  1. Hit publish. Or take down your coming soon page. Duh.
  2. Send out an email to your email list announcing that your website is officially live. Ask them to share your new website when they go to check it out.
  3. Email your promotion partners and let them know the site is live, and mention any special opt-in incentives or resources you’re offering on your site. Mention you’d appreciate it if they shared your site with anyone it might benefit, but don’t be pushy.
  4. Announce your launch on every social media platform you have (and don’t forget about stories). Make it super exciting, with great graphics, and invite people to come take a look at your new site.
  5. Stay present on social. This is SO important. You need to be available to answer comments and questions immediately.
  6. Stay logged in to your website so you can respond to any blog comments that come in.
  7. Do any launch day activities you’ve planned and prepped for.
  8. Announce any winners of prizes towards the end of the day, but still early enough that people will see it. Usually 6–7 pm on a weekday, or 3–4pm during the weekend.
  9. Post a wrap-up video on your stories, thanking everyone who participated and speaking to your thoughts and feelings since launching.
  10. Pour a glass of wine and reflect on the monumental step you’ve taken in your business. Celebrate with a friend or two who understand how hard you’ve worked.

Post-Launch Wrap Up

Launching your website doesn’t mean the work is over. In fact, it’s the beginning of a whole new kind of work. But for now, I’ll just cover the things directly related to your launch.

You should send out a final email thanking all of the people who’ve signed up to your list, and any who’ve participated in your launch through promotion or other methods of support. You’ll also need to send out an official email announcing the winner of any prizes you offered up.

Continue to monitor your launch post comments for at least a week after launch, as the algorithms won’t show them to some people until days after they’re posted.

Keep creating new content to keep your momentum going strong. You want to show consistent value to your new readers to keep them coming back.

Final Thoughts

It’s definitely worth the time and effort to put a launch strategy in place, but don’t try to do more than you can handle. Boasting about an extravagant launch and then not following through would be a letdown to your new fans—and that’s something you don’t want to risk.

Most of all, it’s important that you have fun with your launch. This should be an exciting time, and while it’s important for your business, it’s just as important for your mental and emotional states while you ramp up to this very important moment.

I sincerely hope this helped give you ideas for your own launch process. If it did, please share so your friends can have an awesome launch too!

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