This post is dedicated to entrepreneurs, founders or anyone out there who are using landing pages while they work on their new startups and projects.
With the rise of Launch Rock, a service that helps people quickly create simple landing pages, I feel landing pages are being misused.
Landing pages collect email addresses, but their purpose is not to collect as many as possible. Remember the lean startup approach? Lean startups use landing pages to test if people want their products or services. And to do that, you’ll want to clearly describe it to people. A 1-sentence description is not going to cut it.
What’s that, you’re building something already on the market, so customers would easily understand if you’d just make a reference? Well, if it’s already on the market, then why should we care, let alone give up our email? Why not just go use a working product out there instead of waiting for you? And we’ll do just that, thank you very much.
Who the hell are you anyway? What’s your background? Why are you working on this thing? That’d tell me a lot whether I want to trust this “company”. Why are so many companies hide behind the screen anyway? The way to earn our trust is to be personal. If you’re really serious, tell us who you are and why you’re so passionate about the field you’re in. At the end of the day, we all want you to treat us like a person, not just another row in the database.
While I’m at it, please please stop getting us to share your links to gain “priority access”. Hey, I confess to you right now that I was guilty of this. I’ve done it before with landing pages while following the social-media-facebook-twitter-google-plus-and-a-million-other-social-networks-out-there SHARING fad. What I didn’t tell you is that since our list was small enough, everyone got “priority access” when we launched anyway. I couldn’t deliver on our promise, and it haunts me.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t get people to talk about your product. But ask for permission nicely, appear humble and tell them that they should share only if they like what they’ve read so far. Once again, be HUMAN.
Now that I’m done venting my frustrations about “social media”, let me turn my attention to those landing pages that tell people absolutely nothing, in an attempt to look mysterious and cool to gain attention (and email addresses).
As I’ve talked about previously, the purpose of the landing pages is to test and learn whether you’re building things people want. Let’s say people bought into the hype and give up their email addresses without knowing what you’re trying to build. So you build and launch your product, people realize they don’t like it, and it fails spectacularly, because the number of email addresses you got told you nothing about how useful the product will be to users.
Relying on baseless hype to launch your product, you risk losing months of development time building the wrong thing. You need to focus on the right thing, the end goal, whether your product will succeed, not on the current buzz of your product.
All this sounds a lot harder than just putting up a page with a 1 sentence description, a nice background and an email address field, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. First, it’s never supposed to be easy work in the first place. You gotta mind the copywriting, you gotta think and tell people about what makes you tick, and then you gotta pitch your vision of the actual product. But you know what, it’s also not that bad. You can afford to lose the superficiality. Lose the useless background image. Don’t waste time on compressing everything into 1 sentence. Be detailed instead. It’s a myth that people don’t read long copy. Of course they do, just make every sentence on that page useful to them.
If you’re wavering, here’s a reminder: It’s worth it. Startups are a marathon, not a sprint. It’s much better spending a little more time and do it right than do it quickly and potentially waste months or years down the road. Be human, be the face of the company, be humble and really pitch your product.
Don’t be in it for the wrong reason.