When you’re looking to make a website or develop a new product, there are often several pieces that need to fall into place before you can make it officially available to the world.
A coming soon page is a valuable asset to have during these times, and not only as a stand-in for your soon-to-be store or the product you've got planned.
Properly used, these pre-launch pages can let you quickly gain traction, gather feedback, and start marketing while you prepare for your big launch.
- What a coming soon page is for
- What your coming soon page should include
- How to create a coming soon page on Shopify
- Pre-launch marketing tips and examples
What is a coming soon page and do you need one?
How to Create a Coming Soon Page and Start Marketing Before You Launch
When deciding how to start an ecommerce business, you may want to start small with a coming soon page. Also known as a pre-launch page, a coming soon page is a landing page where you can direct people to learn more about your business or product, capture their interest, even their emails, and encourage them to help amplify your reach—all before your launch.
As a temporary destination, a coming soon page offers you the flexibility to:
- 🏃♀️Get a head start on marketing: Since it’s a single page and not an entire website, you can “go to market” with a coming soon page in less than a few hours.
- 🥰Build an email list to launch to: Without a product ready to sell, you can double down on building a social media following and email list that you can communicate with leading up to your launch.
- 👂Get early feedback: Put your concept in front of would-be customers, gauge their interest, and use their feedback to inform how you build out your idea.
A coming soon page isn’t necessary for every business, nor should it be an excuse to put off launching. If you’re building a t-shirt store or dropshipping business, for example, you can usually "soft launch" your store in a relatively short time and make improvements as you go.
For others, however, product development, raising money, or building your brand can push your intended launch date up to several months out. Instead of putting off marketing until you can officially open your digital doors to customers, a coming soon page can let you get a head start, build and promote in parallel, and ensure you have an audience to launch to.
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What your coming soon page should do
Your coming soon page can be short and to the point, or it can serve as a detailed sales page that helps you achieve multiple goals. It depends on whether you need a short-term placeholder page or a strategic destination for a longer-term pre-launch marketing campaign.
All marketing needs a destination. Your coming soon page is that destination—as least until you're ready to launch.
While there are many ways you can go about it, most effective coming soon pages incorporate the following objectives.
1. Explain what is “coming soon” and when
A coming soon page can not only generate hype around your idea but help you gauge demand for your concept by seeing how people react to it, even before it’s available to buy.
This is invaluable feedback that can inform how you develop your product, determine your positioning, and design your website.
Even better, your coming soon page can give your audience a concrete timeline for your launch, either by displaying your launch date or even a countdown timer, like ULTIMATE Countdown Timer, to show that your launch date is drawing closer every second.
2. Build your pre-launch email list
If you’re driving people to a page without anything available to immediately purchase, you need to make sure you have a plan to keep them from slipping away.
This is where your coming soon page can also help you capture an audience of potential customers. In most cases, this means building an email list. But it can also mean building a retargeting audience or accepting pre-orders.
You can improve your chances of getting visitors to join your email list by offering them an incentive:
- Early bird pricing
- Exclusive discounts or freebies
- Valuable content
- Entry into a contest
- Behind the scene access (or even a say in what you build)
You can then communicate with this audience leading up to your launch to solicit feedback, share with their networks, or simply to ensure they remember you when launch day rolls around.
3. Give prospective customers a way to get in touch
Feedback is a gift, but you don’t need to wait until you've launched in order to unwrap it.
By opening a line of communication through email or social media, or better yet live chat, you can field customer questions early, convince people to join your pre-launch audience in 1-on-1 conversations, and get honest input about your concept.
4. Encourage visitors to spread the word
If people like your idea, they might share it with their friends or networks—especially if you make it easy for them by including social sharing buttons.
However, you can make it even easier for them by adding an incentive to share your page with their friends or to engage with your brand on social media. You can use a contest app like Gleam, for example, to offer an additional entry for every social action a visitor takes.
Some of the best coming soon pages create what’s called a “viral loop”: where everyone you reach is given an incentive (such as a discount or entry into a contest), not just for joining your email list, but for sharing your page with others.
One popular way to create a viral loop is by adding a referral marketing widget, such as Viral Loops, to your page to offer different tiers of rewards depending on how many referrals a person generates for you.
How to create a coming soon page on Shopify
If you’re wondering how to build your own coming soon page, there are essentially two common ways you can go about it on Shopify—both of which let you easily build your store in the background at your own pace and go live in a couple of clicks when you're ready.
To illustrate the differences between each approach, I mocked up some examples using a hypothetical business that plans to sell camping kits for newbie campers.
1. Use your Shopify password page as your coming soon page
The fastest way to launch your coming soon page on Shopify is to simply use your password page. By default, most password pages have the basic necessities of a coming soon page (an email signup form, social sharing buttons, etc.). This is recommended if you just want a simple placeholder page to explain your business and build your email list as you build your store.
Since it’s password-protected, you can also allow select people to view your website-in-progress by simply giving them the password.
You can turn on your Shopify store’s password page by going to your Online Store’s Preferences and choosing to “Enable password”. While you’re here, you can also customize your main message to visitors and explain what you plan to launch.
However, to finish setting up your password page as a coming soon page, you’ll need to head over to your theme editor and customize it directly. You’ll be able to turn on the newsletter signup field and add additional copy to frame your form.
In a short amount of time, you’ll have a coming soon page to collect emails as you build your actual store. For many new store owners without a large window until their launch or a pre-launch plan to drive a lot of traffic, something like this will get the job done.
Alternatively, you can also use an app like Modern Pre-Launcher, which lets you launch a clean coming soon page with some extra features, like a countdown.
2. Publish a “coming soon” version of your theme
Another way to build your coming soon page on Shopify is to simply create two different versions of your store: a “coming soon” version that you will publish in the interim as the center of your pre-launch marketing efforts, and a “working” version that you will continue to build for your official launch.
This can be a single page where you can add product photos, an explainer video, calls to action, social proof, and more.
You can make use of the added length and the full set of features available in your theme to further persuade visitors and incorporate other pre-launch goals you might have, such as driving people to specifically follow your Instagram account or supporting your Kickstarter campaign.
To further customize the look and feel of your coming soon page, you can check out these Shopify apps.
Pre-launch marketing examples to learn from
With a coming soon page in hand and a launch date following close behind, you can open yourself up to start your pre-launch marketing.
If you’re wondering how to architect your own pre-launch campaign, it’s worth looking at the following coming soon page examples for inspiration. Each one takes a vastly different approach, but there are key lessons that are worth pulling out.
Harry’s: Capture leads and amplify reach with rewards
Perhaps one of the most celebrated examples of an effective coming soon page is Harry’s pre-launch marketing campaign that generated over 100,000 emails through referrals.
Referral marketing is typically used to invite your paying customers to help you acquire more paying customers by offering both parties a reward. In the case of Harry’s, however, subscribers would receive increasingly better rewards the more subscribers they referred. The price of admission for the referrer and the referee was only an email, making it an easy offer to take.
Consider how you can use a thank you page or thank you email to create an opt-in flow that encourages new subscribers to take further action in exchange for a greater reward.
Molekule: Doing the math to create a pre-launch marketing goal
Generating sales directly translates into revenue. Collecting emails as part of a pre-launch campaign may not. That’s why it’s important to work backwards to determine what the value of an email is to you, what your goal should be, and how much to spend on pre-launch marketing, especially if you’re interested in accelerating your audience-building efforts through paid marketing.
For example, Molekule, an innovative air purifier brand, spent $50,000 to build an email list of 25,000 subscribers, understanding that even if 0.5% purchased their high-ticket product, the list would more than pay for itself.
For more on planning for a profitable worst-case scenario for your pre-launch campaign, listen to their full story on Shopify Masters:
Popov Leather: Accepting pre-orders for a product that's coming soon
Coming soon pages aren’t just assets for new businesses. Established brands can also use them to market products that aren't fully ready to ship yet.
Some brands may collect emails on a “coming soon” page for a new product to gauge demand. In the case of Popov Leather, they listed a new wallet on their Shopify store using the Crowdfunder app and quickly exceeded their funding goal.
GNARBOX: Choosing the right prize for your giveaways
A giveaway or contest can quickly build your email list, but when your products aren’t ready to sell or haven’t been given a chance to prove their worth, it’s hard to offer them as a prize. Instead, you can do what GNARBOX did and offer a product that you don’t sell, but that your target customer would also buy.
GNARBOX sells a rugged backup device for professional photo and video editors. The prize they put up, however, was a DJI drone camera, a product they knew was highly-coveted by their target customer. Along with some of the other list building techniques we’ve mentioned above, they were able to grow an email list of 20,000 qualified subscribers to launch their product to.
Hear more from the founders themselves on Shopify Masters:
Coming soon pages: The centerpiece of pre-launch marketing
Coming soon pages are entirely optional and not every business owner will create one.
But for those who want to run a pre-launch campaign while they prepare for the real deal, a coming soon page can let you start marketing and growing during your downtime, filling seats in your audience so that you can launch to a full house.