“Prelaunches”, also referred to as a soft launch, can be one of the most effective tools to acquire loyal customers and establish brand presence, all while testing the quality your idea. They require little commitment in terms of design and financial commitment, and they provide immediate return for your business, giving you insight on many of the most important aspects of your business, namely on how well customers respond to your offering.
A prelaunch is hosted on a landing page. The idea is simple: push traffic to a landing page in order to convert visitors into leads. They’ll hit the page, check out your idea, and hopefully leave their email address. It’s asking them to sign up, and instead offers them a way to get first in line, in case they want to sign up come launch time.
Here’s an example:
Over the next 4 steps, we’ll check out how to create an effective launch page you can use when starting your subscription business.
Step 1: Set up a Prelaunch page
The first step is to set up a launch page. We’ll use the Prelaunch Basic theme from Cratejoy for this example, but if you’re not on Cratejoy here’s some other platforms for consider:
Here’s what the Prelaunch Basic theme looks like from the Cratejoy Designer without any customization:
You can easily integrate this theme with your MailChimp list by adding the free app in Cratejoy applications page.
The Cratejoy Designer allows you to change text, add social buttons, upload a background, and even re-arrange the elements on the page. The goal is to have a very simple page that primary drives email sign ups.
Extra Tips for Your Launch Page
- Considering adding a lucrative element to presubscribing, like giving away a free month, or special discount or niche-oriented gift.
- Keep it simple: Avoid asking for lots of information – just gather the email address and name, or even just the email address! Less to fill out means a higher chance that the person will complete the form and officially become a presubscriber.
- Get smart on expectations: You should expect launch pages to convert visitors into presubscribers at or around 10%. In better cases, this can reach up to 20% or higher, especially depending on your source of traffic.
Step 2: Build out Social Channels
A strong launch page means you’re ready to interact with potential customers. Now’s the time to build out your social channels, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. On these networks, you should focus on crafting niche-oriented content that will resonate with your audience and relate to your subscription, either culturally or to products you’d include. Be sure to use high quality photos and artfully add your branding whenever appropriate.
Setting up these channels is the first step to pushing free traffic back to your landing page. Here are a few tips for pushing this traffic on each channel:
- Use #hashtags to navigate to pictures related to your niche. For example, if you’re box involves dog products, consider finding pictures under #dogsofinstagram
- Like & comment on pictures. Instagram is reciprocal social network, and these people will like and comment back on your photos.
- Follow potential customers. Like the above, like ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ some of these people will follow you back.
- Instagram has a cap on likes, follows, and comments. When it gates you, give it some time before continuing.
- Design a nice cover photo to attract eyes on your business page
- Add a handful of photos and posts to create some initial traction on the page
- Invites friends & family to Like your page
- Get quick with messaging: Facebook now shows reply time, which can serve as a great badge of service to customers
- Like Instagram, you can use #hashtags to navigate to posts related to your niche.
- Retweet, follow, and comment on tweets for the same interactions as instagram.
- Like Instagram, you can use #hashtags to navigate to pins related to your niche.
- Like, comment and follow pins and users (the same processes Twitter & Instagram)
- Build albums based on specific interests within your niche. Consider making custom cover photos, like in this example.
Now can also be a great to connect with social influencers who fit your niche. Making connections early on can help establish a rapport with potential future marketing contacts, and the prelaunch phase is an excellent time to build a contact list of these people.
When asking influencers to do a review/plan a review, there are two main ways you can do this: asking for a review up front, or asking to send a box, then following up and asking for a review. Here are two simple prompts to start from:
Influencer Prompt 1: Direct Ask
Hi there! We wanted to reach out because we absolutely love your feed, and we’d love to send over a free box in exchange for a post/review. Is that something you’d be open to?
Influencer Prompt 2: Indirect Ask
Hi there! We wanted to reach out because we absolutely love your feed, and we’d love to send over a box as a gift 🙂 Would you like to check it out?
In each case, try to keep the “vibe” of your message non-committal. Make it easy for your reviewers/influencers to get a box and share it with their audience in a natural way. This helps maintain engagement on their posts (because it isn’t structured as an “ad”) and helps keep costs down (favors are cheaper than sponsored posts!).
Step 3: Keep Your Leads “Warm”
As you gain presubscribers in this phase, it’s critical to remain in contact. Keeping your leads “warm” simply means you’re regularly establishing contact with these presubscribers, perhaps in a weekly email, or email every other day in advance of your launch. Entice them with sneak peeks, urge them to continue sharing, and show them that your brand is growing and will be a cool “thing” to be a part of.
Here are some additional email prompts:
- ‘Progress’ Email: An email meant to show the progress of your prelaunch:
Hi [Name]! We’re making tons of progress here at Joy Box. When we launch, you’ll be first in line to experience both our Premium Pack and our Starter Pack (valued at
- ‘Reminder’ Email: A reminder about your launch/the progress:
Hi [Name], It’s almost here… Joy Box’s official launch! Remember: we’re opening subscriptions on October 31st, and there will be only 100 spots open for our first month. With thousands RSVP’d that means you need to order quick to ensure a box!
- ‘Last Chance’ Email: A reminder about entering a contest or participating in prelaunch activities. Example is for a giveaway:
Hi [Name], There’s only a few days left to get your extra entries in for our giveaway of a LIFETIME subscription. All you need to do is share this [LINK] with friends & family. For every person you refer that signs up for our prelaunch, you get an extra entry toward the giveaway. No purchase necessary!
Of course, these emails are completely flexible. Try your own ideas – just keep in mind that this is the time in your prelaunch to excite, entice, and keep your launch top of mind.
Step 4: Build Momentum When You Launch
Finally, in your final days/weeks of your prelaunch, begin to build extra momentum for your official launch.
- In general, bring more and more attention to deadline that’s pressing, emphasizing sign up date and the promotions you’re offering presubscribers.
- Consider a “Countdown Week”, where you post on social media every day with a 7/6/5 Days Remaining etc.
- Plan 2-3 emails the week of your launch to your prelaunch list: 1) A reminder that week 2) An announcement the day of and 3) A reminder within 48 hours, emphasizing the few spots remaining.
This momentum should be carried over into your launch, as this isn’t only a chance to convert presubscribers – it’s also a chance to convert those ‘lingering’ customers from your early marketing efforts. These are the people who may have not presubscribed, but started following your pages. Transition directly from your countdown to launch to the remaining spots left for your first box.
Reflect During Your Prelaunch
Throughout your prelaunch campaign, reflect on your branding, messaging, and value propositions to customers. This is the perfect time to hone in on your understanding of your target customer and the messaging that resonates with them. Try to correlate specific efforts you took throughout the prelaunch to spikes in presubscribers or large changes in conversion rates. Gather as much information as you can during this phase, and you’ll position yourself for success in the future.
Interesting in using a prelaunch to kickstart your subscription box business? Sign up for Cratejoy and install the Prelaunch Basic theme.