You just launched a new product. You want people to tell others in their social network. You want word of it to spread like a virus from person to person, eventually resulting in more buzz, attention and sales.
And you want to do it using the internet. Purely online. No TV, newspapers or radio. No print ads. Assume you’ve already done all of the above (you should have) and just want an online strategy that will work.
There are many things you can do. Every experienced online marketer will agree that the first step is to set up a home base or launch pad. Some website where people can find you and your product online. Some place where you can funnel attention and traffic towards. It’s where you pitch your work. It’s what people will be sharing.
This article will talk about how to create an effective website to promote your new product (or just about anything you want).
How People Usually Promote Products Online
The most common way of promoting a new product involves the development of a new website or web page to showcase it. In both cases, the goal is to provide information about the product, capture attention, generate interest/desire and sales.
If a new webpage is built, it usually takes the form of a straightforward sales page and is hosted on an existing domain. If a new website is developed, the sales page format can be extended into an informational site with a community built around the product.
It’s impossible to say what works for every product out there. So let’s avoid generalities and assume a specific scenario. Say your product is a new book and you want to promote it. Here are some of the common methods used:
- Method One – Set up a landing page for the book on your existing personal website or blog. A product page is also often created on the publisher’s website or a distributor like Amazon.com. This is usually a page with promotional blurbs or recommendations, along with a synopsis of the book and reviews from the press.
- Method Two – Buy a new domain name exactly similar or related to the book’s name and set up a website just for the book. This will include a blog where you can share knowledge by posting essays, articles related to current events or updates/news regarding the book. Press reviews, testimonials and author bios are included too.
From what I’ve seen, all book authors or publishers take either one of the above two approaches. If you’re really savvy and smart you’ll do both method one and two: Optimize your own personal website and set up a new hub just for the book. Connect them together.
Then proceed to put up regular articles, not veiled infomercials for the book but actual content that informs and benefits the general reader. Provide value first. Sales is almost an after-thought. First thing to remember when creating successful product launch websites.
Develop a Laser Like Focus on Delivering Maximum Value
Image Credit: Dashu Pagla
Let’s retrace our steps. You want people talking about your book and telling their friends and family. You want word-of-mouth to spread naturally and ripple outwards. Every day you want someone who has never heard of you to discover your book and tell someone else about it.
In order to do that you need to increase the value you offer to everyone who lands on your website. You need to sculpt that value until it has a laser-like focus. It should be extremely engaging and incredibly tangible.
For most book marketers, method one and two is the extent of what they will do. But it often results in a pretty boring website. And boring doesn’t help you to get word of mouth.
Here’s what I think: Method one and two do work. But they aren’t focused enough to deliver maximum impact. People can be easily distracted online. After getting to your site, they first have to orient themselves and then after that, search for the value you offer. What’s so cool about you or your book? What’s your message? Why should I care about your book?
Imagine being a visitor who lands on your website. What do they see? A bunch of testimonials and blurbs floating around somewhere to the side, a blog with content related to the book’s topic, news of a book signing in a city they don’t live in and even if they do get so far… a bio of someone they don’t know and most probably won’t care about.
Is that the best way to encourage word of mouth? Refine your website. Make it better.
Create an Experience to Magnetize the Attention of Your Visitors
Image Credit: roujo
Thought-provoking blog posts are valuable for your audience. So is a free chapter from your book. Sure, they are all beneficial. But there are many other types of value. Some of them are better for encouraging massive word of mouth.
You goal is to make your entire website a buzz generator. The whole website functions as a congruent whole. Every page has a certain mood. It is designed to elicit a specific thought in the viewer’s mind. That thought could be ‘this is intriguing’, ‘this is really cool’ or simply ‘wow’.
Ideally, that thought should end with ‘I have to let others know about this..‘ or ‘XXX will be really interested in this..’. You want them to pull the pass-it-on trigger and share your site.
Follow the AIDA model. Get their Attention first with your landing page. The first image they see. Hold their Interest and lead them through your site so they don’t wander off and click away. Make them Desire to know more by teasing with your best bits. Get them to take Action by asking for the sale/share and making it easy for them to proceed.
Want an example of how to do it? Check out PhoneSextheBook.com
It’s a website set up to promote a book featuring interviews with phone sex operators. There’s still room for improvement but I think it’s a good example of a product launch website. Apart from the naturally stimulating topic, the entire website is designed in a minimalist way which provides maximum value up front. Here’s a picture of the homepage:
The only way you can navigate through the simple but inviting front page is to click. And you will click. Because you’re curious.
Once you’re in the curious mindset, you’re presented with a short introduction to prime your thoughts. Notice how the minimalist design is maintained after the first click. Just one click after the introduction and you’re IMMEDIATELY in the frame of exploring the product. There’s no need to search for anything, scan headlines, read testimonials or click to download a free pdf. It’s just there. Right in your face. You cannot avoid it.
People don’t come into this website looking left and right for something interesting or cool. The juicy value-added content is shown directly in the middle. The best bits come first.
Instead of putting out large chunks of text that may be a turn-off, this website uses only brief snippets of content and pictures. This is a great because of two reasons: 1) It teases by providing only a taste. 2) Less information to process facilitates movement through your site. Not everyone has the time to invest 10 minutes on each individual page.
If you don’t like just sharing snippets and want to share more content, try using infographics. They can pack a lot of usual information into an image that can be read in a glance or two.
The last page of the website has the publisher/author details, link to a PR agent, a downloadable press kit as well as a link to Amazon.com. Not pushy at all. No hard sell.
Personally, I would have included a few other elements to enhance a product website like this:
- A blog. This could be created as a sub-directory at phonesexthebook.com/blog. On the last page, a ‘find out more‘ link to the blog could be added. This blog will use a more conventional layout and will include news, more info on the making of the book and other related topics. It can also be used as the place from which to create content that will attract links and traffic.
- More pages. Since the pages displayed are visually engaging and not text-heavy, more of them could be included to make the whole site more substantial. This might not be suitable because the whole book only has 50 pages but in general, giving a little more away increases the overall value for your visitor. People don’t want to share 5 pages and a sales pitch at the end. People want to share something that’s worthwhile enough to add value to their social network.
- Click prompters. For additional usability, I would prefer to have a small but noticeable ‘next’ or ‘continue’ button/link somewhere on each page, which will encourage continuous click movement towards a definite end. It’s like turning a page and taking your visitor on a journey through a story. If you design the site well, they WILL keep clicking and seeing what you want them to see.
- Opt-in form. Depending on the type of book or product, you may want to collect emails so you can update your prospective audience. They may not buy immediately but want to stay in touch. You can set up an opt-in email newsletter to share news about the book or general research tips on a certain topic. Other types of capturing attention include displaying a RSS of your blog or a link to your Twitter profile. This is all optional of course, but it never hurts to nurture a following.
- Pass-it-on buttons. After going through the content, many of your visitors will want to share what they learned or experienced with others. Make it easy for them to do so by including a simple email-a-friend form or post-to-Facebook-Twitter button on the last page or somewhere on your site. Don’t underestimate their ability to generate word of mouth traffic. Assuming you get 10,000 visitors in a day and 1% of them used the pass-it-on buttons. That’s 100 people. And they may refer a substantial amount of people to your site, especially if some of them are influencers with a large social network.
- More copy. I liked the introduction used because it seemed like an authentic artist statement. It’s not snobby or sale-sy and it succeeds in giving the book some gravitas. If you’re selling a different type of product you may have to use a different style of copy. The words you use are extremely important because of the minimalistic set up. The introduction page sets the mood for the rest of the pages so prepare your text carefully.
I like the idea of telling a story but choose what works for you. At the last page, it would be useful to include one or two high profile testimonials. This works very well to seal off the experience. Look at it this way. Your visitor has just finished perusing content and their opinions might not be fully developed yet. Testimonials reveal what others think and tune your visitor towards a favorable perspective.
Such a site is noticeably quite different from a salespage or a blog. Simply put, it’s a distraction-free experience that’s 100% content-focused. But careful. Don’t go overboard with the design. The site should be easily usable and the pages must load really FAST. I cannot emphasize this enough. Slow loading pages built with flash or other unnecessary design elements will result in impatient visitors clicking away.
Can minimalistic multi-page slide-style websites work for every product type? Of course not. But I think it works really well for many products and offers. Can this work even if you don’t have your own product to sell? Of course. Affiliates, non-commercial organizations, artists and individuals promoting themselves can use this method as well.
The key point is to lead them through your web site towards a result you want. Be it a new subscriber, greater awareness on an important issue or an affiliate conversion. Go test it. It may work better than what you’re doing now.