You’re launching your startup in a few weeks time. You’ve finally got a perfect product, awesome business cards… But what about the technical stuff, are you really ready yet?
A launch checklist is vital for startups, as we’re only human and often forget things or make mistakes. By keeping a checklist handy, you are less likely to forget any of the important aspects of your launch. A checklist can be handy for different kinds of launches, like a website launch checklist, or even one for a specific product – but what about that first time you launch your business?
First off, you must decide whether your first launch will be a soft launch or hard launch. A soft launch is when a business doesn’t want to create as much buzz about a new product or service, whereas a hard launch is utilised when you want to create a significant amount of buzz – as most startups would like on their first launch. Unless you’re just releasing a new product and not a new business, I suggest using the hard launch approach. The below checklist will help guide you from planning to launch.
Create Your Campaign
Have you created your startup launch campaign yet? Make sure that you have all relevant materials ready, whether you are going out in person and need product samples, leaflets and business cards etc or if you’re running a digital campaign, have you designed the relevant banners and marketing materials?
Create your campaign around the benefits that your product or service provide and evoke emotion in your audience. The best emotions to use are amusement, interest, suprised, happiness. Buffer have written a fantastic blog about the science of emotion in marketing.
When creating your campaign, implement a sense of urgency as this is more likely to get your audience to act now.
Make your launch campaign happy and interesting, don’t just think of possible buyers but also the audience that may not be interested in buying. Create something unique to make you stand out, marketers often will share campaigns that they think are well thought out or clever.
Create a marketing plan for pre-launch and post-launch, both should be slightly different.
Create Social Media Profiles
Work out what Social Media profiles are the ones that are suited to your business (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are great starting points) and begin building and engaging your audience. Even though you haven’t launched yet, it’s always great to get people talking or interesting in your product or service. Find other businesses in your niche and follow their engaged followers (those who regularly share or comment on their content).
If your business is very visual and creates beautiful products or services (think landscape design, fashion, artists) then it will be worth you setting up a Pinterest account and also Instagram. If you’re planning on creating music, then SoundCloud is the one for you. Last but not least, if you’re creating videos like Vlogs, adverts or webinars then Youtube will be the social network for you.
Bonus: Make sure you fill out your Social Media profiles fully and accurately with a link to your website. Where possible, customise your profile to make it fit your brand identity by changing the profile picture, cover photo etc.
Find Your Keywords
Keywords are what help Search Engines find you and list you properly under the relevant searches. Do you actually know what keywords you need to have on your website? Gone are the days of spamming keywords across your website, hiding them in black text on a black background etc. Moz have put together a fantastic Beginners Guide To Keyword Research.
Check Your Website
Have you actually taken the time to look at your website and read the copy? This is vital, especially if you have written the copy yourself as spelling mistakes can make your business look unprofessional. Make sure that the copy flows well and is accurate with the description of your product or service. Make sure you create a launch landing page which gives details about your product and allows people to sign up for early access. Landing pages for startup launches are fantastic lead magnets and will help you build your mailing list straight away. If your landing page is not converting pre-launch, begin A/B testing and change one element at a time and see which works best. By analyzing the results early on, you can find out what works best earlier. Experiment with different text on the Call-To-Action and different colours (whilst still keeping your branding).
Can your customers contact you within two clicks of a button? If not, then it’s not good enough. Make sure your contact us button is visible on all pages and leads directly to a contact form thus reducing friction between the user and them contacting you. If you have a phone number, keep it visible on all pages.
Install Google Analytics onto your site and set up Goal Tracking so you can see your audience completing individual actions like clicking a Call-To-Action.
Make sure you create a Sitemap so Search Engine bots can crawl your website easier.
Are your images optimised for SEO? If not, why not? Fruitbowl Media have an easy guide for optimising images for SEO.
Set up a 404 page, just in case there are any broken links and have a redirect link to a sales page.
Test Your Payment Gateway
This could have gone under check your website, but it’s important enough to have its own section. Many startups forget to test their payment gateway before launch and can loose out of £100’s, even £1000’s in revenue before they realise that it doesn’t actually work. Try buying one of your own products and see if the payment goes through, and whether you receive an email for an order. By checking this, you can see how quickly orders get delivered to your email inbox or your phone if you prefer.
List Your Startup In Online Directories
Although many people will argue that listing your business in directories isn’t worth it anymore, don’t forget that some people still can’t use the internet to its full capability and still use directories. The best directories include Google Places, Yell, Thompson Local however if your business is predominantly local, a quick search online will find your local directories. Some directories in Kent include Kent Find, iKent and Keep It In Kent.
Send Out Emails And Draft Others
Who would be a relevant target for your business? Reach out and contact them! Don’t come across as sales-y, but write a reach-out email to your prospects to let them know that there’s a new kid on the block, you can even offer them a discount or free trial when it launches. Make sure you add a link to your landing page into the email. Speak to bloggers in your industry for the chance of media coverage and you can even offer discounts for their audience too. If you can land yourself some early users straight away, you can get valuable feedback from them on how to improve.
Draft your welcome email and a thank you for purchasing email, as well as a follow-up for a week after they signed up. Make the email feel personal to most of your audience and at the end always ask them to send you an email back, whether it’s to say hi or for feedback. Buffer do this amazingly and I always feel compelled to reply.
Mailchimp is a great app to get started with. They have signup forms, integrations with most CRMs and beautiful templates that you can use – all for free up until 2,000 users!
With a world full of content, a new business will struggle to keep up with the mounds of content that others have. Before you launch, try to get around 20 blog posts ready to go live – including an introduction to what your business is about. By having a library of content at your fingertips, you are not pressured to write a blog every 2 days when you start up and instead focus on other tasks. Keep your content useful and valuable.
Have a library of images of your product or service ready before your launch, or stock images that are relevant to your industry. This will save you masses of time in the long run, especially if you do create a large library.
Make sure the domain name for your brand is available on both .com and .co.uk. By having both of them, you have less risk of prospects landing on the wrong web page and possibly giving up there and then. Although an obvious one, I didn’t do this when I set up my eCommerce store, Violet Vibes. I later realised that the .com of my domain was a website selling adult toys… A bit of a difference compared to Bluetooth speakers! Make sure you don’t make the same mistake.