It is the year 2019 and small businesses that aren’t on the internet yet are scrambling to get their own websites and online stores up so that they don’t miss out on the vast number of internet users who primarily shop online. The first thing any business owner would want to do is register their business’s domain name to ensure that their competitors don’t grab it before they do do. But what happens during the in-between stage, when your domain name is yours, but your business’s website is still not up? Surely, web designers take their sweet bit of time to transform your ideas into a fully functional website, more so if it is an e-comm one.
So, will you choose to display one of those run-of-the-mill ‘Coming Soon’ messages when somebody stumbles upon your URL? What about when your website needs a revamp? Will you put up another boring ‘Under Maintenance’ message for all those customers who are singling out your business’s website from a multitude of competitor websites? Instead of looking at these situations as impediments, try to think of them as opportunities to be creative and set yourself apart from everybody else running with cliched content and design. Here are ways to inform your users about what is happening on your website without any of the banality.
1. Optimize it for conversion: It is not enough to inform your users that your website is unavailable. Instead, ensure that the design and content retain new visitors, collect new leads, and appeal to potential early adopters. Include a clear value proposition and images of the product/service you offer. Your page should woo anybody who lands on it, whether accidental or otherwise.
2. Add a sweepstake or contest: If you were thinking of adding an input box and a CTA to get users to sign up for your newsletter while they wait for your website to be up, chances are that it won’t sway the masses. But sweepstakes and contests on the other hand incentivize the very same action, and you will be surprised to see people’s mindsets change! Offer people a chance to win a free product sample or a month’s subscription of your service. Word will get around and your mailing list will be sorted by the time your website is up. Feel free to add a countdown timer to convey a sense of urgency to your users.
3. Play around with words: Do you remember when Gmail was invite-only once upon a time? The mobile phone company One Plus also successfully employed this tactic to create a hype for their products. What we have learnt from these two scenarios is that exclusivity makes a product/service more coveted. Try to frame your content in such a way that it evokes feelings of luxury and exclusivity. Instead of asking a user to ‘Join’ your mailing list or online community, make them ‘Request an Invite’.
4. Add social proof: If your website is temporarily down, any new user who stumbles across it would be skeptical about its authenticity. That’s why it is a good idea to display your social media following (if you have a pretty large following, that is!) along with the option to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your business’s page or account. This psychological phenomenon leads the user to believe that they are doing the right thing by choosing to click ‘like’ simply because so many people have done it before them.
While all these are generic industry tips, at the end of the day, it is the entrepreneur who knows their business better than anybody else. So, the next time your website is under construction/maintenance, keep these tips in mind, but remember to tailor your content and fine-tune your design to suit your target audience.